Junior Traveler: A Guide Book for Young Explorers

When I think about what draws me to traveling, I can’t help but notice how much the planning process captivates me. I love collecting resources to do my research, and taking notes to come up with a tentative itinerary. I also love capturing moments of travel; whether that is through a photograph, sketch, journal entry, or other momento. As we begin to introduce Edwin to travel, I want him to be able to feel that same excitement and wanderlust that takes me over.

This summer, we are planning three possible long weekend getaways. Although Edwin is still very young, I’d like to be able to share part of the planning and record-keeping responsibility with him. This inspired me to create a guide book for young travelers. My goal is to create one of these travel journals/field guides for each trip we take in the future. I want to include sites to see with fun facts, things to do that our family might enjoy, and interactive opportunities for Edwin to make personal connections on the trip. Using Canva, I have started creating several books that we can have made and share with Edwin during our travels. To be honest, I see him getting much more use out of this when he is 5+, but I’d love to start the tradition now.

Here are some snippets of what I’ve created and how I’m hoping to use it.


Introduction Pages

Sample Page Layouts

I hope these are projects that can help Edwin feel invested in the travel we do and make it meaningful for him. I’m so eager to have more experiences with him. There is a world out there waiting for the Majewski clan to explore!

New Travel Companion

Just over a year ago, our new travel buddy was born. With Covid, there was zero travel that actually occurred during his first year of life. He didn’t even leave the state! That is about to change. Now that our family is on summer break, we are ready to start showing Edwin the world. Some of our travels will be local, and some will take us out of Illinois, but all will incorporate enjoying our time together, having new experiences, and exploring our curiosity. We look forward to instilling a travel bug in our sweet boy, and taking steps to helping him open his mind to all that traveling can teach us.

We started small for our first day of summer break, but it was a wonderful experience at Brookfield Zoo. Edwin mostly enjoyed the people-watching, but he also took an interest in the triceratops.

Indianapolis: A City Full of Surprises

Day 281I love Indianapolis.  I love it so much that I tried to move there a couple years back.  Although the city is more like a big town, there seems to be so much to do.  One of my favorite moments is turning onto Meridian Street and seeing the range of architecture with the houses/mansions.  I always feel like I am somewhere completely different.

If you’ve ever thought about visiting, here are some of my favorite sites with links for more information.  By the way, all the amazing places are not listed here.  These are just some of the many things you can do in Indy.

Sights to See:

Indianapolis Museum of Art-Meet many artists you’ve heard of before.

Crown Hill Cemetery-Go on a tour or just drive by to visit some famous dead.

Broad Ripple-Great for food or hanging out with a young crowd at the bar.  I like Chumley’s on Thrusdays because it is schooner night!

Speedway-Stop by if you feel the need, the need for speed.

Indiana State Museum-I went many years ago, but still enjoyed it.  I had no idea Indiana could be so cool.

Fountain Square-This up and coming area is pretty hip with shops and restaurants.  There is even a cultural trail you can hop on.

Canal-Feel like a venetian as you cruise down the canal in a gondola.

Children’s Museum-This has got to be one of the coolest children’s museums in the US.  I actually want to go back even though I am far from being a child anymore.

Antique Malls-I own several items from the antique malls in this area.

Garfield Park-Visit the tropics at the conservatory.

City Market-Stop by the Smith Winery stand and talk to Mr. Smith.  He has an amazing personality.  Your mouth will be watering as he describes how different forms of barbeque will go well with each wine.

Goose the Market-If you like artsy delis/markets, you should stop by.

Butler University-Great grounds for walking or biking.

Circle Center-Get your shopping fix.

Charming Towns Outside of Indy:

Zionsville-My favorite!  I love this town.  Be sure to visit Brown’s Antiques.  I own a pair of great shutters from there that bring back great memories of this area.

Noblesville-This is a cute town square great for more antique shopping.

Nashville-This is further outside of the city, but a fantastic day trip.

East Coast US in 2006

13-0851After National Treasure came out, we knew we had to go back to the East coast.  Yes, I was that kind of dork.  On this trip we didn’t go as far north so we could go further south.  This road trip included:

-Gettysburg (again, this is my favorite civil war battlefield)


-Philadelphia (one of my favorite cities in the States)

-New York

-Washington D.C.

Have you ever followed the trail of your interest?  A movie?  An artist?  Hopefully I’m not the only one…

National Treasure Trip: East Coast 2006

13-0851After National Treasure came out, we knew we had to go back to the East coast.  Yes, I was that kind of dork.  On this trip we didn’t go as far north so we could go further south.  This road trip included:

-Gettysburg (again, this is my favorite civil war battlefield)


-Philadelphia (one of my favorite cities in the States)

-New York

-Washington D.C.

Have you ever followed the trail of your interest?  A movie?  An artist?  Hopefully I’m not the only one…

East Coast US in 2005

My dad recently recovered files from old computers, and I discovered some of my 1-031photos from past trips.  This was in my early days of photography.  Digital cameras were very limited with megapixels back then, so the quality of the photos may not match what I’ve shared recently, but I still thought it would be fun to post.  More photos to come along with previous trip itineraries.

French Market in Chicago

French MarketVisiting markets is one of my favorite activities whether I’m traveling or at home.  Chicago has a wonderful little French market for the public.  The “French” title may be a little misleading.  Yes there are cheeses, wines, macarons, and more, but there is also lobster, falafel, and bahn mis.

If you are in the area, and you’re looking for something a little different, check out the market.  If you spend $20 or more, parking is free!  Check out the vendor websites ahead of time to see what tugs at your curiosity.




Prepared Meals

 Bread & Pasta


 Baked Goods and Sweets

 Ice Cream/Gelato

 Specialty Coffee/Smoothies/Health Drinks

 Special Essentials

Beer, Wine, and Spirits

On a side note, word on the street is that the current ESPN Center in Chi Town will be turned into a giant indoor market.  This is all rumor, so don’t take my word for it, but if it is true, then my dreams are coming becoming a reality!

Labor Day in Chi Town

Buckingham Fountain-8806Mid 70s, bright sun mingling with fluffy cumulus equals perfect weather for a day off.  When these moments arrive, one must get out and explore.  I reminisced about my days in Paris as I tried to mimic my routine.  It doesn’t quite work the same when you’ve got a car to park everywhere and the public transportation is not quite as accessible.

The highlight of the day was seeing the Impressionism and Fashion Exhibit at the Art Institute.  It was a great combination of art and fashion.  I never thought about how the fashions of the time influenced the impressionists, but it is so obvious now.  I also loved seeing paintings related to my time in Paris.  Unfortunately, I can’t share the exhibit with you because pictures were not allowed.  Later this week I will be sharing a recommended walk for the permanent collection of the Art Institute for anyone interested.  It is probably one of the best art museums in our country.

I hope you are out enjoying the day!

Dabble into Something New

TiramisuI came across a website yesterday that I am super excited about.  Do you ever find that you are different person when you travel?  You take more risks, you try new things, you meet new people?  Why can’t I do that at home?  I do live next to the 3rd largest city in the US…  I don’t know why I reserve such exciting moments for when I am thousands of miles away from home.  I think it is time to start changing that.

I came across a site yesterday called Dabble.  Their slogan on Facebook is, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”  What do I love so much about travel?  The first time experience.  How exciting, nerve-racking, and new.  I think I almost love the nerves that come with trying something new on my own.  Questioning the people I could meet and the experiences I could have is thrilling to me.

I am excited to share that I have at least a couple classes planned and several on the wish list.  Next month I will be taking a tiramisu cooking class (with a little Italian) and a tapas cooking class.  It is probably sad that both classes are cooking classes, but just so you know, I’ve got a flash fiction writing class on my wish list.  Life isn’t all about food (but it is petty important for bringing cultures together).  Dabble cannot be found everywhere, but they are featured in many cities throughout the world.  In the end, I hope you find something that allows you to feel like you are traveling while you are waiting for the departure date.  I’ve been guilty of counting down till each new adventure.  Don’t let that time in between go to waste.

Cantigny Park in Northern Illinois

DaisySometimes we have to enjoy the treasures close to home when we can’t get away.  One of my favorite places to visit is Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois.  The estate was owned by Robert McCormick who is known for establishing the Tribune company which contains the Chicago Tribune and WGN.  The estate is named after a French village that McCormick was in during his time in the First Division during World War I.  Just so you know, it is pronounced can-teeny, not can-tig-nee.  It took me awhile to learn that.

The grounds contain one of the best gardens I’ve ever been to.  The landscaping changes with the seasons, keeping the designs fresh.  Besides the bee-filled fields of color, there are also tanks for viewing,or climbing (if you get the urge), and two museums.

The First Division Museum takes you through America’s history with war.  They offer a great program for teachers that includes history trunks with uniforms and other artifacts.  I’ve used both the civil war trunks and revolutionary war trunk in my classroom.  The uniforms are accurate reproductions, and the other items bring the human perspective of war to life.  Imagine wearing brogans where there was no right or left, or check out the deck of cards soldiers would use to pass the time.  Just don’t eat the hardtack.

The McCormick Museum is situated in the house.  I love the Chinese mural that covers the walls in the dining room and the gold leaf ceiling in the theatre downstairs.  There is even a secret bar in the library.  Unfortunately, pictures are a no-no inside the house.

Perhaps Northern Illinois is not on your bucket list of travel destinations, but if you do happen to make it to this corner of the Midwest, stop by the Cantigny Park for a special treat.