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. Not up for old-fashioned diary writing? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other creative ways to capture and document your travel memories – here are a few.
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1. Do some shadowboxing
Shadow boxes add a dimension to the old framed photo and allow you to work in 3-dimensions. 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 Carnival throws from our trip to New Orleans. I arranged them in a shadow box, and display them alongside a picture of me and my husband wearing our beads during that trip. Shadow boxes are great for displaying foreign currency, tickets, programs and trinkets from the road.
2. Sit right down and write yourself a letter
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. After returning home, she retrieves those emails from her sent box as a ready-made travel diary.
Another variation on this theme is to 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.
3. Create a digital-age photo album
Don’t let your digital pictures get trapped on your camera, computer or floating around in a cloud. Create a beautiful photo album using online services such as Photobook and Shutterfly. 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. See this post: for my top tips on creating your best travel photo book.
4. 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.
5. Record some audiovisual
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.
6. Document your travel in pencil 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.
Peace, love and inspiring travel,