7 Tips for Preserving Your Travel Memories

12:00:00 AM

As you may well know by now, I took my first solo trip (to Barcelona) this winter. I knew even before I left that I wanted to somehow keep track of my memories because while they may be vivid for a short time, I want to be able to look back years from now and know exactly how I experienced it. These are just some ideas, but I also haven't had much traveling experience, so let me know if there's something you find more/less helpful.

It was my first trip to Europe, which has been a dream of mine for a long time. I absolutely love the architecture and aesthetic of Europe and knew that I would be taking lots of pictures. Unfortunately, I only had my phone to use as a camera, but I took lots and lots of pictures. Three Facebook albums' worth of photos, in fact. I uploaded pictures to Facebook at the end of each day (I couldn't upload them directly onto my laptop because my USB connector doesn't work well) so that I could empty my phone for the next day. This helped me to be able to look back and see what I did each day, as well as to look at how I saw my environment and how things physically looked. 

As wonderful as photos are, I've found that people online will always take better pictures (at least compared to mine). Yes, some of my pictures show unique perspectives or are of people I spent time with, but though I also treasure the ones I took of specific buildings, I know that if I ever needed to, I could just do a quick Google search. 

So I recommend keeping a journal of some sort, whether it's a photo journal that includes some more intimate looks or a traditional journal or even a blog! 

I meant to document my trip via my blog but spending so much time alone by myself and keeping my itinerary fairly full each day left me exhausted by the end of the day, and I'd just rest (or do my homework when I was at the Spanish school). I also intended to keep a detailed journal and did so during my first few days, but I've always been notoriously bad at keeping one for more than a few days, so that quickly stopped. But that's okay! I was able to create such vivid memories that I can go back and write about it now (though I wish I could have added photos to my entries now). 

If you're like me and will go back and write about your trip, I suggest writing down what you did and what you saw each day, as well as anything that sticks out to you about the day. For me, just noting a few things down on my itinerary document helps because I noted things that I knew would jog my memory and that reminded me of the things I could further elaborate on later. 

A great way to mix photos, stubs, postcards, trinkets, writing, and anything else that may help you document your trip. 

Yes, I will remember all the museums and monuments and churches and restaurants and streets that I roamed, but you know what my most vivid memories are? The ones that I created with others, the ones where I was with other people. Traveling alone is great for many reasons, but oftentimes, it's being with other people that can push you into new situations. 

Sure, I'll remember the Dali Museum, but I'll remember getting on the train in the wrong direction and being stuck in Llanca, Spain with my friend much more. Yeah, I'll remember how beautiful and grand MNAC is, but I'll remember going up on the roof with my roommate and seeing the sunset even more. Yeah, I'll remember Placa de Catalunya, but I'll remember playing football/soccer (and spraining my ankle) with my friends even more. And to be honest, those memories will help me remember those places more and will help me to remember my trip more.

Although I didn't end up keeping a daily journal, I tried to write a song (lyrics only) every few days or so or when I was hit with inspiration. For months I had been struggling with writing material/inspiration, and then Barcelona happened, and there was so much to write about. Let your travels fuel your creative writing or artwork or whatever it is you do, in whatever form it may take, and let your surroundings and experiences seep into the piece. 

For me, my lyrics are usually very personal and document my emotions. I played around with a wide variety of emotions--from loneliness to homesickness to wonder to happiness to anxiety to conflicting emotions to friendship to gratitude to bittersweet. I then participated in February Album Writing Month, where I ended up writing almost every song somewhat inspired by my trip. I think I've dried that well for now, but I can imagine myself going back to that and/or writing more when I'm there. The song lyrics capture a different side to my experience, and they're some of my favorite pieces of personal creative writing. And one day I'll be able to look back and see how I felt when I was there or when I was standing in a certain place. 

I talked about this briefly in my travel safety post, but walking around, taking in the sights, and remembering how you feel as you look/walk/etc can make the memories so much more vivid. You're not looking at the world through the lens but through your own eyes, and you truly get to experience being in the moment and being in the location. And just wandering around can help you find small gems and really experience the less touristy areas. Don't be afraid to get a little lost. And I personally found that, looking back, the buildings and paintings and all of that are already a little blurry, but the way they made me feel and the way the sights and sounds and life of Barcelona seemed to me are still fresh in my mind when I think back on my trip. So yes, take those pictures for when it gets blurry, but if you want vivid memories associated with those places that will last you much longer, put the camera away afterwards and just take it all in. After all, that's what you're traveling for, isn't it?

Those are all of my basic tips for preserving your travel memories, so that they can hopefully remain as vivid as possible when you look back. These will be so valuable, no matter who you are or what time of traveler you are. Each experience is unique and everyone will find their own unique ways of tracking their time away, but these are some that I have found helpful after my first trip. 

What are some other ways in which you preserve your travel memories? 

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  1. Hey Jessica!

    Since I have been inactive on my blog/email for many months now, I just came across your new blog and absolutely love it! I especially love this post! I personally want to travel to Europe (and have felt this way for many years now) and I love these tips that I can take along with me when I do travel there. I hope all is well and your freshman year in college was great! :)

    ~Klaudia @ The Observant Girl Book Reviews


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