How do we preserve those magical memories of travel long after we’ve unpacked and the tan has faded? There is always the illusion that we’ll never forget until time and distance inevitably fog the past. I regret the times I’ve been too lazy to keep a written diary of my travels. While pictures are worth a million words, they can’t capture everything.
My first overseas trip as an adult many years ago saw me and my dear friend Kate share diary duties. Teaming up on the task eased the burden of writing lengthy accounts after long, exhausting days of adventuring and turned them into fun storytelling sessions. Our dual diary captured the holiday from different points of view, adding interest and entertainment value. Reading it now is a wonderful way back to those fun/silly/terrifying/disastrous moments…like when your best friend points out that there is a cute guy (wearing headphones) in front of you in the boarding queue for the plane, instigating jovial banter about his boyfriend potential. That is until he turns to give you both a wry smile and you realise his headphones are silent and he heard everything!
However, if you’re not up for old-fashioned diary writing, maybe try one of these creative ways to capture and document your travel memories.
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Shadow boxes add a dimension to the old framed photo. Small collectibles find a dust-free zone alongside tickets and tokens inside a deep frame that can be hung on a wall or stand on its own. The below is a sampling of Mardi Gras throws arranged in a shadow box, accompanied by a picture of me and my husband wearing our beads during a parade.
I credit my friend and travel companion Susie with this idea! She takes time every few days of her travels to write extended emails to her family and friends recounting her travel experiences thus far. Back on home soil, she retrieves those emails from her sent box as a ready-made diary.
Photo albums for the digital age
Don’t let your digital pictures get trapped on your camera, computer or floating around in a cloud. Create a photo album using online services such as Photobook and Snapfish. Photo books can be purely pictures or add text, like in my South America book pictured below, where I accompanied my photos with entries from my travel diary.
TIP: I have used Photobook America, Australia and Singapore to create albums and find their service and quality to be excellent. Join their mailing list for sizeable discounts on their products.
Piece it together
Back in the day before digital photos – yes I’m that old – I used to create physical scrapbooks of my travel memories, including maps, tickets and brochures of the places I saw, and things I did. While I have now turned to photo books, I still create scrapbooks in a sense by arranging all the bits and pieces I collect along the way on a flat surface and photographing them for inclusion in my albums. I’ve also framed some of these memorabilia collages for my walls.
TIP: Sometimes it’s tricky to balance the look of a random collection, so I usually convert my picture to black and white, which brings more harmony to the collage and makes it more readable.
There are a few alternatives to capturing your thoughts and happenings on the road with words or photographs. Create audio recordings on your smartphone or tablet to either make mental notes or an audio diary that won’t give you hand cramps.
If you are so talented and inclined, why not compose and record a poem or song. Maybe even take snippets of video you can edit into a highlights reel when you get home… check out one of my recent attempts below.
Write yourself a postcard
Send yourself a short and sweet postcard from each key destination. Not only do you get the thrill of receiving snail mail that isn’t a bill, but you will have an illustrated diary of your trip in the post by the time you’re home. The Travel Channel has a great video tutorial on creating an easy postcard journal.
Sketch and paint
Maybe you’re not a wordsmith but you can still wield a pencil, paint or paintbrush. Try documenting your travel using your artistic talents. If you need inspiration and aren’t following Liz Steel on Instagram, do it now!! Liz is a Sydney-based architect and avid sketcher who creates THE most exquisite watercolour travel diaries I’ve seen.
Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration in this post to help document your travel memories; to remember and relive your experiences good, bad, embarrassing, life-threatening and hilarious. For more DIY travel souvenir projects, hop on over to my Pinterest board.
Peace, love and inspiring travel,