I thought this would be a great time to share something about me you probably don’t know! I love to travel. We were fortunate to live overseas for 5 years. We tried our hardest to use this time to its fullest and visited 21 different countries! We were always on the go!  We did thousands of miles of traveling with a toddler and elementary child in tow.

Traveling with kids is often daunting. Making sure everything is packed and keeping kids entertained in an unfamiliar environment can be a monumental task, but the rewards are tremendous and well worth the effort!  I love that my children see the world as small, nothing is out of their reach!

Our Trick

We carried a special bag in our back pack with a few very small toys and activities that we traded out frequently. The only time we used this was at dinner time. We quickly found that many countries have a much slower paced meal time that was difficult for small children. This little bag of tricks kept them entertained so we could savor the meal.

I also can’t say enough for  children having their own pocket sketch book! Even a toddler can be encouraged to”sketch” their experiences!

Our Attitude

We  learned the more open minded we as parents were and how eagerly we met new experiences the better our children reacted to new situations.

Preserving  our travel memories

From the first step off the plane we saw that the “need”  for souvenirs would be great! We decided to choose one thing for each of us to collect. This was probably the best travel decision we ever made!


One son collected ink pens. Usually the kind filled with water and moving objects. These at the time were readily available all over the world. The only requirement for the pen was that it said the place we were visiting. My brother has built my son the most amazing display case to show off all of the pens. It is fun to see this collection grow and grow.


My other son, whom was a toddler at the time, started a postcard collection. We were worried that he would not remember most of these experiences, so for each place we visited we wrote a little about the day and mailed it home to ourselves. This was a simple way to keep a journal, with a built in picture and time stamp! As he got older we would have him write about the day, something we have continued into his teen years.


For my husband and myself, we collected beautifully decorated ceramic plates. Our wall of plates is now a focal point in our home. A simple walk through the room and a glance at the plates triggers a flood of wonderful memories!

Do you have special tricks and tips about family travel? Please do share in the comments!

Your kids might enjoy these fun games!

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  1. I have always collected postcards and Christmas ornaments. I do the same as you with the postcards in writing a blurb about my trip and mailing it to myself; but I want ideas on what to do with these postcards now that I’ve got quite a large collection! I used to have them clipped on a long piece of twine as a boarder around my room. I’ve considered framing them in a huge collage-type fashion, but I want to be able to read the backs. Any ideas on how to display a postcard collection?!

  2. We pack a vitamin/pill containr with small snacks for the little ones. They have to work to get a small snack by opening each container. It also keeps them guessing about which snack will come next, and if they spill it, no problem, clean up is easy!!!

  3. Playdough is my very best secret! The homemade kind though — the storebought stuff dries out mid-flight.

  4. Hmm…..now I feel like I SHOULD collect something. that would mean I have to GO somewhere! 😉

  5. Those are wonderful tips! I especially like the postcard souviners. I LOVE that you wrote a little about your day on the postcard and mailed it to yourself. What a wonderful way for your children to remember your travels!!!!

  6. When my child was young we traveled through the US and Canadian National Parks. Back in the days when you could easily copy car keys, we would make a copy of the rental car key (less chance of us getting locked out) and my daughter would get to select a souvenir key chain for the key. We also purchased a christmas ornament each summer and dated it. To keep her occupied she also had a sketch book and special drawing pencils. When older she became the keeper of the species list, recording what we saw – where how many, etc, – a role that she took quite seriously. She is now in college and we still have her lists!

  7. Oh my gosh Laurie, we bought those silly balloons (with who knows what inside) also while traveling overseas!

  8. Now I know why I keep seeing Polish Pottery dishes used to display edible goodies!

    We have lived overseas for the past 6 years – since the kids were 2 1/2 and 4. The kids tend to remember our trips based on the toys they played with. While I thought it was crazy to spend 1 or 2 euros in a gumball machine for little Winnie the Pooh figures in Sicily, they kept the kids occupied at every meal and other “slow” times. They remember Venice for the balloons shaped with who-knows-what-kind-of-powder that had eyes and could be shaped into funny faces.

  9. I love the idea of collecting things! I started collecting post-cards and love that they remind me of the wonderful adventures I’ve had.

  10. We try to find a local artist or sketch of the place we visit. I frame them and keep them where I can remember our time away! For my son on our trip to Disneyworld we bought him an old world map from one of the exhibits he enjoyed and that is on his wall.

    Love your plate idea!!!

    For traveling we always pack my son’s backpack with small games, drawing items and snacks and it has become a real tradition for him to pull that pack out prior to leaving and find what he wants to bring with him! For a longer trip I pack something that he doesn’t know about and pull it out when the trip seems entirely too long 🙂

  11. With family living 1,000 miles away, traveling has been “the norm” for us. We also travel extensively for my husband’s job.
    Whenever we travel somewhere new, we buy a Christmas ornament that specifies that place. It is always fun to set up the Christmas tree and remember the places we’ve visited.
    We often drive to our next destination, so we print out black and white US maps. Whenever we cross the line into a new state the kids color in that state. Then they open their individual notebooks, which I have loaded with printed games, coloring pages, etc. pertaining to each state we will travel through.
    Not only does this keep the trip “fresh” for them and help with boredom, they also have learned their geography quite well!
    I love the ideas you shared. Especially the writing notes on the post cards. Wonderful!

  12. I love these ideas! Whenever we travel, we collect Christmas ornaments. It’s so fun to remember each trip as we hang the ornament on the tree each year!

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