When we became parents we wanted our kids to see the world, believing that travel could provide an unparalleled education. So, when the opportunity to take our kids on a 4-month adventure based out of Italy came along, we figured out how to do it, and then we did it. With the kids’ school’s help, we removed our three sons from spring semester and my husband and I became their giddy school teachers. In addition to the two seasons of clothes we packed for 5 people, we also filled a HUGE green suitcase with relevant novels and history books so they could apply what they were seeing and learning and we could earn our titles as educators.
Our middle son was in fourth grade. He was our creative one who loved to write stories and draw pictures more than he loved reading thick history books on the Renaissance. Still, I was surprised when he had the foresight on his own to bring along an empty journal for our trip. We were barely to the airport gate when he started to jot down his thoughts. He wrote about how it felt to leave home without saying goodbye to his best friend (he ran out of time) and to be on an airplane with so many movie selections. After we arrived, he wrote about how hard it was to stuff that big green suitcase into the small European car we bought. He wrote about the apartment we settled into above a cafe and the room he shared on the top floor with his brothers. He chronicled the ordinary events like pizza restaurants, a playful day in the snow, and our grocery store runs. He also captured the iconic sites with his pencil sketches, like Milan’s grand cathedral and Pisa’s leaning tower.
When this son was a junior in high school, our family hit the road again, this time on a summer-long world adventure that took us from Mexico to Guatemala and Belize, then on to Thailand and Vietnam, Slovenia and finally, back to Italy. With an even greater dedication, he kept up with his notes every single day that we were on the road – 59 according to his entries. Sometimes he sketched. At other times he creatively wrote a story about a segment of a day. Often, he narrated our movements with the precision of a reporter. It included disappointments, curiosities, introductions, and joyful surprises. It was all there. Years later, when I was trying to remember how something felt or tasted, or when I wanted to know what we did on a certain day, I would ask him to retrieve his journals. It was remarkable how he captured the details of the memories that we shared. He was paying attention for all of us!
I have journals like this from the years I spent abroad in my twenties–long ago memories made fresh again when I came across them just the other day. It’s hard to express what they mean all these years later. A great motivation to get back into this habit of getting my adventures down on paper.
Now it’s your turn…
Do you want to explore the art of creative journaling for your own future travel adventures?
You don’t have to be an aspiring novelist or a professional photographer to capture your experiences. This month, we are offering a FREE online opportunity to anyone interested in discovering ways to capture memories for a lifetime! It is sure to be a fun night with Niteo’s creative facilitators – Rachel Greenhouse and Teri Sommer. Teri and Rachel will lead you through simple prompts to guide your creativity, encouraging you to experiment with writing, photography, and art in EASY ways. All you have to do is register here to get started and we’ll get you all of the information you’ll need to join in the fun!