Keep Your Travel Memories Fresh

February 19, 2008

marketplaceWhen you’re on vacation, you find yourself experiencing incredibly intense or serene moments. There are little restaurants, funny tour guides, and amazing views that you swear to yourself you will never forget.

But you will.

Sure, you might remember that one perfect chocolate éclair, or the gondolier who serenaded you as he guided your boat under quaint bridges. But for every one thing that remains picture perfect in your memory, there are a dozen things that will slip right out within a month of being back home among fast food joints, MTV, and all that is American.

To keep more of your favorite memories alive longer, try one of these simple ideas, or use them as a starting point for your own scrapbook creation.

Taking pictures is great, whether you use a camera phone, a disposable camera or a fancy-schmancy professional one. But pictures are useless if you wait two months to get them developed and then can’t remember where any of them were taken.

To make the most of your film, keep a small notepad with you to jot down what you’re taking pictures of. It can be as short as “Pictures 1-7, Notre Dame. Pictures 8-13, Latin Quarter,” or more specific, shot-by-shot notes on specific buildings, people, streets, times of day, or whatever you think you’ll want to know later and could possibly forget.

Also, besides taking pictures of the big landmarks, look for smaller details of everyday life to remember the flavor of a city. Maybe the phone booths are remarkable, or the street signs, cars, or shop windows will remind you about everyday life there.

If you’re better with words than images, a journal might be perfect for you. Use your own style and rhythm to capture each experience. Maybe you want to write in it throughout each day, writing just a few sentences here and there about your thoughts and impressions of each new place. Or you can plan to write in it every night, looking back on the day’s activities. Your journal could double as an address book for new people you meet, or you can carry a separate small book to collect people’s information.

You can also incorporate drawings and sketches into your journal if you’re the artsy type, or tape or glue in matchbook covers, ticket stubs, drink coasters, fliers, and receipts from restaurants, museums, and attractions (which will usually have a date on them). Make note of local and international news headlines and collect newspaper clippings so that when you look back years later you’ll be able to put it all into context.

Collect postcards and write notes on the back about where you are and what you’ve seen. You can mail them to yourself if you don’t want to haul them around. Plus, you get a nice collection of stamps and postmarks. Binding them together when you return will give you a great book of memories and pictures.

The Web
Internet cafes are fairly accessible in most well traveled places, and even in some locations you would never expect. If you aren’t too web savvy, that’s ok. Lots of places offer simple, free blogs, so you pick your color scheme or template then start writing and posting photos. Track your journey so friends and relatives can log on to check up on you, and you can look back on it later to read about all the little details you’ll forget over time.

Email is another great way to record your experiences. When you write to friends or relatives make sure you save a copy to your Sent folder. Once you’re home you can print out all of those emails and track your trip through your correspondence.

Talk to Yourself
The most important thing to remember when saving your travel memories is that time is your enemy. As soon as you get home, or even on the plane, train, or bus ride back, jot down as many notes as you can while it’s all still fresh in your mind. One of the reasons we make great memories is so we can relive them, and the more details you remember, the more you’ll enjoy thinking about the places you’ve been and the people you met for years to come. 

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