A friend told me about a recent discussion she had with her mother. This discussion revolved around their first family trip to Florida. At the time, my friend was barely 4 years old. She listened to her mother tell the story of this trip:
“In the car, you kept singing with your big sister “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston, which was looping on all the radio stations at the time. ”
“When you saw Pocahontas at Walt Disney, you cried so much you were happy to see her. ”
“During a restaurant meal, I ordered myself a starter of garlic shrimp. You wanted to taste and as soon as you held the shrimp in your fingers you threw it on your plate saying it was gooey like boogie.”
My friend then told me that she felt her mother was recounting someone else’s trip because she had no recollection of these events.
Unlike my friend, my Emma-Kate has a lot of memories of her travels, even the ones she took when she was 3-4 years old. Why? Because I stimulated her memory so they would be immortalized. How did I do it? Let me explain it to you so that your young kids can, when they are adults, recount the memories of their childhood travels.
Before I tell you my 5 tips, you must understand a scientific fact about memory: the more the 5 senses are challenged (hearing, smell, sight, taste, and touch), the more likely a memory will stick. So, stimulate your kids’ 5 senses.
The Mini Journal (or Notebook)
The mini journal (a notepad can do the trick very well) is used to jot down (or draw depending on the age of your child) each day the highlights of your child’s day. Easy to carry around, the mini diary lets you jot down on the fly instead of waiting around at the end of the day.
When she was 4 years old, my Emma-Kate was very impressed, on one of our trips, by a fisherman at the end of a dock who had caught… A BABY SHARK! Rest assured. The fisherman then threw it back into the water. So she had drawn in her mini journal (as best she could lol) a guy who was fishing a baby shark.
*Note: If your child is too young, write down the date and time of the day in the notebook. Older, she will appreciate knowing the precise moment of these memories.
Senses involved: sight, touch (holding a pencil and drawing on paper is part of the sense of touch), and hearing (the sound of sea waves).
I could have been happy with my Emma-Kate drawing the fisherman, but I thought the memory would be more vivid if we went to meet him. So we went to join him at the end of the dock. I kindly asked him if he could explain to my Emma-Kate how he fishes. He was so kind. He showed her everything from A to Z, including his many morning catches in his big blue cooler.
“Wewwww! It smells bad fish,” said my Emma-Kate, pinching her nose. Indeed, the smell was … lingering lol
He also made her hold his fishing rod, touched his various hooks, and my Emma-Kate even had the courage to touch an eel.
“The skin is much smoother than that of a fish with scales,” the fisherman specified to her, who, before leaving, presented my Emma-Kate with a funny hook in the shape of a small fish.
Obviously, I captured several moments of this meeting in pictures and videos on my camera (in the old days, cellphones were not so hi-tech).
Following this meeting, my Emma-Kate improved her drawing in her notebook, and to conclude it in style, and add a sense of taste, we went to a dinner to eat a fish and chip plater.
*Note: Do not hesitate to go out and meet people. You will be surprised to realize that they enjoy talking about themselves and about what they do. Besides creating memories, these moments are great opening experiences for your child.
Senses involved: Sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing (sound of sea waves).
Invite your children to collect meaningful objects, whether they are brochures or entrance bracelets of places they have visited, placemats of restaurants where they have eaten, seashells from beaches where they had fun, etc. My Emma-Kate always has her funny hook in the shape of a fish which reminds her every time of this magical encounter with the kind fisherman.
Senses involved: sight and touch
Travel Album (Scrapbooking Style)
When you get back, plan a time when your child can put together pictures and objects in a scrapbook-style travel album. Your child can stick small souvenir objects, drawings, or writings from her mini journal and the photos you have printed on it.
You can also create a digital photo and video album or even use social networks like Instagram or Facebook to create a page where you can upload photos and videos.
Senses involved: sight and touch
Photo, Video and Popcorn Night
All our trips are crowned with the traditional family video, photo, and popcorn night where everyone remembers and talks about their memories. We show each other our albums, discuss our highlights, burst into laughter to review our stupidities captured on video. I think it’s that moment of retrospection that definitely cements the memories.
Senses involved: sight, hearing, touch, and even smell and taste, courtesy of the popcorn ;-P
Finally, I offer you my personalized world maps which will allow you to pin all the places in the world that you have visited as a family. Why do I know it’s good for memories? Because I myself, every time I walk past the map I’ve displayed in my office at home, I have no choice but to stop for a few moments and let the memories come back to me from each destination pinned by a pushpin.
I wish you all to immortalize your travel memories to keep them forever alive!