Choosing to travel, more often than not, has to do with a desire to collect memories. By opening up to adventure, we are seeking out new challenges, new cultures and new ways of living, that all add up to a wealth of experience to draw insight and awareness from. We seek to understand the world better, and to discover our place in it. For this reason, being able to revisit our travel memories, whether by flicking through a diary or sharing a photo album, is a vital way of being able to revisit, not just the amazing experiences, but also the life lessons we picked up along the way. With this guide, we take a look at some of the most creative, inspiring and up-to-the-minute methods for organising your travel memories.
Don’t wait until after – write them down as they happen
There’s no consensus when it comes to diary-keeping whilst travelling. Some consider it a useful way of making note of what you did and when, whilst others dismiss it as a waste of time or something that “takes you out of the moment.” However, it’s amazing how quickly the individual details of each day blur together.
Sometimes, even writing a brief list of what you saw that day, where you stayed and who you met, can help jog the memory and bring it all back. Some diarists pay less attention to the details and prefer to write down the feelings; the outcome of a great conversation in the bar of a hostel, or an inspired idea for further travel. If you can’t bear to waste time writing in a notebook, why not even record a quick voice memo each evening, to come back to later on?
The days of keeping pictures stored on a camera, to be reviewed at the end of a trip, are long gone. Nowadays, most people take all their pictures on their phone, and even those with DSLRs and GoPros have them easily transferred across. When the worst comes, and a phone gets misplaced, don’t have the added trauma of losing all your travel pictures at the same time. If you have access to the cloud, or other online storage options, make sure to get it set up before travelling, so all your pictures are safely backed up.
Though it can be tempting, try to avoid taking 30 pictures when one good one would do. Get in the habit of selecting the best pictures from a shoot and immediately binning the rest, otherwise you’ll have a nightmare trawling through thousands of images on your return. Pay attention also to what you might actually value revisiting later. Did you really need fifty pictures of the same sunset, when in fact you would love to remember the faces of the people you saw it with? Try to get a balance between aesthetic image-taking and documentary-style pictures.
Scrapbooks can be a beautiful and creative way of remembering a trip. Save up ticket stubs, receipts, photos, coasters and any other small item that might stir up a memory. Look online on websites such as Pinterest for creative ideas and layout styles and don’t forget to add the details, such as people’s names and the location under any images. Scrapbooks also make great gifts for any friends you travelled with.
Digital & Apps
Scrapbooks are pretty, but nowadays, the more obvious option is to keep your memories stored digitally. As well as organising your pictures into albums on your laptop, there are other great resources online for keeping your memories organised. Apps like Skratch allow you not only to mark where you’ve been and lived, but also to attach memories to different countries. Whether it be a short video clip or a series of pictures, the app makes it super easy to bring up a memory from a trip and share with friends and family. Just click on the country and relive the best moments.
Creating a shared drive online is also an easy way of compiling pictures from a trip, allowing friends to easily add their own to a digital album. Keeping pictures stored online is also a good way of being more selective about which pictures you store on your laptop, as you are able to handpick your favourites to download and keep. Alternatively, stick your pictures on a memory stick and take it with you wherever you go, ready to quickly and easily show relatives and friends all the highlights of your travels.
Souvenirs are rarely useful, and in our modernised world, have started to look the same wherever you go. We all want to bring back something local or meaningful, but after seeing the same hand-painted bowl turn up in market stalls across different continents, this becomes an increasingly difficult endeavour. Instead, maybe consider starting to collect a specific item, picking up local variants wherever you go. This could be something simple like a fridge magnet or ashtray; but consider what you could really value having a large collection of. For example, how about picking up a local cooking ingredient, such as a spice or sauce that you can add to your spice rack? Or what about making a collage for your wall made of different bills of local currency? Get creative, and be selective about what you purchase, perhaps limiting yourself to one meaningful item per place.