David Edwards

One of the best things about good books is that each page holds new adventures and surprises. That's especially true of scrapbooks, only with scrapbooks, you are the star of the story! You are also the author, illustrator, and editor!

Scrapbooks are a terrific way to preserve a vacation, and there are some things you will need before you get started. There's the scrapbook itself. Choose one with thick, acid-free pages. White pages are best, because you can make them any color. The pages should be big enough to hold postcards, brochures, and small menus. Be sure your scrapbook has at least one page for every day that you'll be gone.

Other materials you will need include:

  • Acid-free glue sticks (Bring one glue stick for every week.)
  • Small bottle of liquid glue
  • Photo corners (You may use them instead of glue sticks for your pictures.)
  • Pens (Bring at least two, in case one stops working.)
  • One regular and several colored pencils
  • Small pencil sharpener
  • A big eraser
  • Blank envelopes
  • Camera(s)


Polaroid cameras and film are great for scrapbooks; just be sure you'll have enough film to take at least one picture a day. Digital cameras are also great, remember to bring extra batteries and memory sticks. Disposable cameras, especially those that can go underwater, add to the fun.

Here's a helpful tip: If your pictures won't be developed until after you get back from vacation, take along an index card that's the same size as the pictures will be when they are developed. You can use this card over and over again by tracing where the day's pictures will go on that page. Be sure to write a brief description of the picture inside the boxed area; don't worry, the picture will later cover these words. This way, you can draw and write and glue things from that day around where the photographs will go. Another tip: Most people suggest placing an odd number of pictures on each page.

Before you leave, and after you come back, be sure to visit the Internet with your parents. There are some great places (including the sites listed below) offering printable pages for backgrounds, borders, clip art, alphabets (fun fonts!), and more. Craft stores also provide excellent scrapbooking materials and advice.

Most reading books describe the main character. The same is true of scrapbooks. The inside front cover is the perfect place to write about you—print and sign your name, write down your address, a list of those who will be with you, and where you are going. You can mention your favorite foods, books, music, movies, TV shows, games, grade and school, friends—whatever you want. You can also trace your hand. One family I know even takes a small snip of their children's hair and tapes it (using acid-free tape) into their books! If you have an extra school picture or a recent photograph, this would be the perfect place for it.

Maps are a great place to begin your vacation scrapbook, showing the places you will be visiting and how you will get there. Be sure to keep your travel tickets (airline, train, bus, etc.), as well as other tickets—park, movie, shows, and so on. Brochures are also helpful. You can pick them up in airports, hotel lobbies, and visitor's centers. In restaurants, you might bring back take-out menus (You can mark what you ate and how you liked it.), placemats, empty sugar packets, even empty straw wrappers! Don't forget candy, gum, and snack wrappers, including those handed out by flight attendants. Labels are also fun, peeled from soda bottles or canned foods. Even cut-out sections of cereal boxes look great in scrapbooks. Hang onto receipts and business cards from hotels, restaurants, stores and shops. Also, be sure to buy postcards for your scrapbook.

When Columbus and other explorers set out on their travels, they gathered flowers and other plants they found. So can you. Slip a flower or leaf into the pages of a guide book or an extra brochure, and keep it in a place where it will be pressed flat. It takes about 10 days for most flowers and plants to dry. You can later glue them onto a scrapbook page using ordinary liquid glue, or you can buy something called Botanical Glue, which is a little thicker.

You may be wondering about those blank envelopes. Glued onto a page with the flap facing you, envelopes are great place to store pinches of sand from the beach, dried snippets of plants and flowers, feathers and other flat finds, foreign bills (coins are too heavy and bulky, but they can be rubbed by putting them beneath the page and rubbing over them with a pencil. Be sure you get both sides!) and stamps, and so on. Don't lick the seal shut. Instead, close the flap by tucking it into the envelope, so that you can easily open it again.

Above all, have fun. Christianna, age 10, has been making scrapbooks of her family's vacations for most of her life. "I love scrapbooking," Christianna says. "If you have to do a school report, you can show your class what you did and places they can go to have fun." Her older sister, Deirdre, agrees. "It's fun to decorate and draw stuff."

Scrapbooks should be a part of your vacation, not apart from your vacation. You'll discover, long after your tan has faded and that bathing suit no longer fits, that your scrapbook will bring you back to that special time and place in a way no other keepsake or gift-shop souvenir can.

Text by David Edwards