Teen Travel Journal with Writing Prompts
Or…A Desperate Attempt to Convince My Son to Write!
Our sixteen-year old son is heading to Peru in a few days! This is his first real time away from home.
Happy + Nervous
So…we are excited and a tad nervous about the whole experience! He’ll be with a big group from our church, and will have a wonderful experience, we anticipate. Our son will help with medical work, eye glasses clinic, and spare jobs around the nightly evangelistic meetings. We are praying that he will have a life-changing trip.
The Travel Journal
I really want for my son to have great memories to cherish, which I know is a given! However, I’d like for him also to have a record of his trip, in case he’d like to look back at his thoughts about it all!
I remember when I went to live in the Amazon for a year. Writing my thoughts down really helped me to work through my reactions, and I’m super thankful for the written record of my trip. This also helped me to coordinate my thoughts, so that when I’d write letters, I could flip through and take those experiences to share! Remember writing letters on paper? Those were the days!
A Travel Account to Read
Just for fun, on the theme of travel journals, one book that I got for Austin to read on his trip is actually the travel diary of a girl. The book is called Rebekah’s Diary. I’ve heard good things about it. Rebekah tells her account of her missionary experience as a young woman. I suspect a friend who also likes to read will nab this book to read before he gets the chance though, since she’s going to Peru as well. I hope to read it when he returns
When you’re sixteen…
When you’re sixteen, and a boy, you don’t always (do you ever?) want to be stuck writing! It’s hard enough when it’s school, but write while traveling? I can almost hear him thinking, “Forget it, Mom!”
So I had to come up with a little plan. Nothing tricky or anything. Just a little help for a reluctant writer, who I believe will want these memories written down someday.
Ditch the blank pages.
Any writer will tell you that there’s nothing worse than the blank page, (or the white computer screen) staring back at you when it’s time to write. There’s no inspiration in that blank page.
The key to this travel journal is to add a few well-chosen writing prompts. A few, because too many will make it seem like an assignment, plus the goal is to make him think, not just fill in little blanks and boxes.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Journal. I like lines as opposed to dots. Grids would be ok too. Your preference. I chose a medium-sized one, with no frills. (Sixteen-yr olds really balk at cute or fancy. It has to be cool.) For a teen boy, Simple is cool. I know girls are way different. That’s ok.
- Stickers. These are optional, but they do make the travel journal a bit less boring. I chose very simple stickers–plain Jane. Your teen boy doesn’t want cute.
- List of Writing Prompts.
Here’s what to do!
- Fill in your dates. Give a couple pages per day, depending on how much you think your teen will write. I allowed a double side. My boy doesn’t write much, and he writes small. Me? I’d need 5 pages per day!
- Embellish as desired. I wrote his name name with stickers on the front. Then I put the very plain stickers at the tops or sides of the pages. Just so it’s not boring. For girls, you could go haywire!
- Add questions, little notes, or whatever you think will get your teen to think about what’s happened so he can write it down.
Here’s a list of some of the Writing Prompts I included.
- What do you think Peru will be like?
- How do you want God to work in your life on this trip?
- Later…were your thoughts accurate?
- Leaving…first day…Write about your first day’s travels:
- Plane trip
- Anything funny, crazy, or scary happen?
- What is your prayer?
- Arriving in Peru:
- What does Peru smell like?
- Look like?
- What do you hear?
- Your thoughts…
- What did you do your first day?
- What is your hotel like?
- Write a few lines to God
- Tip: A SMILE is understood in any language!
- What did you:
- Talk to
- How are you communicating so far?
- Write about your sight-seeing, people you’ve talked to, favorite things.
- Reflection: how can God help you tomorrow?
- What do you want to tell God?
- How are you sleeping?
- What did you enjoy the most today!
- What are you praying for today?
- Thoughtful tip: maybe if you found some nice post cards, you could buy a few to send
- Where are you flying today?
- Who are you talking to most often?
- What about?
- What kept you busy today?
- Prayer needs…
- Are you keeping up with your family back home?
- Where are you staying?
- Where are you working?
- What happened that you like?
- What happened that you’d rather not have happened?
- First Sabbath: what was church like?
- What were the people like?
- What did you do do after church?
- Did you enjoy lunch?
- Did you miss your brothers? Your friends?
- Tip: you may want to write a post card to special people
- What happened different today?
- What did you eat for breakfast?
- Can you say more words in Spanish now?
- What are typical lunches like?
- PS…we really miss you!
- Write down ten things really like so far about Peru? Put the LOVE sticker beside your favorite!
- PS. Drink lots of clean water!
- Try to say something new in Spanish to someone today!
- Write down your favorite so far!
- How did today go?
- Any interesting things that you learned today?
- You’re never alone…God always hears…❤️
- How can you See God working in your life today?
- Are you glad you came?
- Are you working hard in clinic?
- What is your job?
- Do you help at the meetings?
- How do you like them?
- Answered prayers?
- PS. We are thinking of you! Can’t wait to hear of your adventures and see your pictures.
- How many people are coming to clinic?
- What’s your favorite part of the trip so far?
- Do you mind Tennessee yet?
- Be careful!
- Always pray in every situation!
- Can you understand the preaching?
- Last day in Peru…what did you do today?
- What did you see–last day
- Did you go shopping?
- Will you miss anyone that you’ve met?
- Do you sleep on the airplane?
- What book are you reading?
- Do you like getting back to the USA?
- Did you get lost in any airports?
- What’s going through your mind?
- Trip reflections…
Simplicity is the Secret
You can see that the only secret in creating a travel journal for teens is to keep things simple, and to use your imagination of what your child will experience on his/her trip. Only add what is necessary to get their mental gears going.
If you have time…
If you think it’ll make a difference, or if you just love to create things, you could get really fancy and stuff with your travel journal. I didn’t feel a need to. I’ll just be happy if my son fills in a good number of these prompts!
Reading and writing
I went a little crazy and bought Austin a bunch of missionary books to read while he’s traveling! I’m sure he won’t have time to read them all, but I always hate the idea of being bored, and we’re NOT sending him with devices!
Here are a few that he’ll be taking with him:
You can guess why I chose that book it just came out! If you buy the print book you can get the Kindle version for $2 on amazon. I’ll probably do that so we can read it at home while Austin’s gone.
Cell 58 (Formerly called Imprisoned in Iran) This one was Austin’s top pick to try. He enjoys exciting stories, and this one sounds like it’ll fit the bill. This is about a man accused on international espionage, captured, then imprisoned in Iran’s most high security prison. The story tells the account of how love triumphed and how even the guards lives were changed.
River People I chose this one because secretly I want to read it! I worked on a launch boat on the Amazon River in Brazil when I was younger. This book tells the story of a couple doing that same kind of work on the Amazon.
We actually read this book as a family probably 5-6 years ago, so Austin doesn’t remember much about it. This book is excellent, about a man who successfully has run an operation to smuggle Bibles into closed countries for 35-40 years! Many miracles in this book! It’s truly inspiring!
We ordered a couple more, and he’ll be taking a couple that we already have if these don’t arrive in time. I accidentally ordered them to our old address, so that’s slowing things down .
The bags have been packed, bug repellent tucked in, papers in order, and we think all the components are in place for a good trip to Peru!
What inspirational mission-minded stories do you like? What questions would you add if your teen were traveling? Add them into the comments, and maybe I’ll edit my list to add something I’ve not thought of!
Praying for a bon voyage!
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For another creative and simple DIY project see Vera Bradley Bible Cover Makeover.