It’s no secret that I love creating travel albums for my adventures. But you may be wondering (and yes, some people have asked me this before):
How do I remember all the details from my trip?
I’m sure you’ve had this experience in the past: while scrolling through the photos you took, you stop at a lovely shot of yourself against a beautiful wall mural and you can’t, for the life of you, remember where the heck this photo was taken. You know this happened sometime between Day 4 and Day 6, around the time that you went to that silly store with overpriced postcards. This used to happen to me all the time.
Whenever you go to a new environment, there are SO MANY new experiences, new factors, new names and new sights. It can be very difficult to keep up with managing your itinerary, handling your budget, actually enjoying and experiencing your trip on top of trying to document every single thing.
There are so many details - street names, monument names, mountain names, the chronological order of your entire trip, people you’ve met, stores you loved, food that you ate - that are all begging to be remembered.
It’s overwhelming, I know.
Which is why I’m writing this for you! I’ve been traveling a lot for the past two years and I’ve figured out a system that helps me document most of the details of my trip, both the monumental and the mundane.
How good would it feel to recreate your entire trip down to the food you ate from that obscure pizza joint? Or be able to research more about a statue that you saw in Rome? Or to be able to remember the names of the places you went to when recommending it to a friend?
Here’s my entire system for documenting the details - small and big - of my travel adventures!
Before anything else, I designed a coordinating workbook for this blogpost! I'll explain more about this in detail below but if you want to get started (yay you!), then you can grab your free workbook right here:
01. Create an itinerary and update it as you go.
Raise your right hand if you’re one of those people who just loves planning and creating itineraries. Hands up? (Mine is definitely up in the air, waving like I just don’t care!) Good for you - you already have one part of this system perfected. Not one of us? Don’t fret, I won’t tell you to start making detailed itineraries BUT I will still tell you to make an itinerary.
An itinerary in the most basic sense is just a plan of your journey or route. It doesn’t have to be a fancy ten-column spreadsheet or a color-coded planner. All you need is a chronological list of where you’re going for each day of your trip.
Print out a copy of your itinerary and bring it with you wherever you go. When you make changes to your schedule, go ahead and scribble those down on your printed itinerary. At the end of your trip, you’ll have a pretty good overview of what you *actually* did the entire time!
02. Take photos of signage and informational posters.
This one is a simple-but-also-genius tip. Since you’re already lugging around a smartphone and/or a camera and you’re probably also taking five hundred photos of everything, make it a point to take a photo of a signage / information poster every time.
This way, when you look through your camera roll, you’ll know where each photos are taken from. Here's how this would look like:
Especially when I don't have the luxury of spending hours at a certain place, I can at least take a photo of the information posters and read more about it later. This neat hack helps me remember the names, numbers and specific details about each attraction that catches my eye.
Quick commercial break // This has been in the works for about a year and a half already... I'm launching an e-course on analog travel memory-keeping! I am PASSIONATE about introducing a better way to relive your travel experiences (yes, I am throwin' some slight shade on social media...), a way where you can TANGIBLY flip through the stories of your past adventures.
This course - Craft Your Travel Story - isn't launching until May 2017 BUT I want to help you get started with travel memory-keeping while you wait excitedly ;) This is why I created this FREE comprehensive five-day e-mail course, The Travel-keeper Bootcamp!
In this bootcamp, I will be sharing very practical + actionable tips, intentional systems and methods to help you document the details your travel experiences, take photos that accurately tell your stories, and gather ephemera as your "hard evidence." This bootcamp will prepare you a lot when it comes to finally creating your analog travel album.
You can join this bootcamp - did I mention that it's completely free? - by clicking here and signing up on that page or just leaving your name + e-mail below:
03. Use a daily note app / diary on your smartphone to document the little details.
Think of it as keeping a private Instagram app just for your travels. Snap quick photos (nothing too fancy or styled), add a descriptive caption and finally, add in the geotag. Keep doing this for the entire duration of your trip and you’ll have a stream of stories and small details that are usually forgotten. You can reference the library of stories when you’re creating your travel albums to make it richer - less generic and surface storytelling, more personal.
Here are some apps that you can try out:
- Collect App (iPhone only)
- Instagram - create an additional private account
A cautionary note: these micro-blogging updates are meant for your personal use only so don’t take too much time trying to take the perfect shot, write a caption that could win awards or adding a zillion hashtags to it. The purpose of this is for YOU to capture the mundane details and use it when creating your travel albums.
04. Consolidate and summarize everything into Your Travel Log.
The final part of this system is meant to be done after the entire trip. In this phase, you will use the outputs from Part 1, 2 and 3 to fill out this super cool workbook called Your Travel Log.
Your Travel Log is an organized summary of your entire trip, down to the stories that you want to document and the photos and ephemera that go with it. I designed this workbook to house all the facts and the feelings for your adventures.
This log is meant as a guide as you create your travel album. It will help you remember the chronological order of events, the technical details such as names of people and places, and the little stories that will make your travel album feel more personal and complete.
Your Travel Log consists of five sections:
- “What Actually Happened” Itinerary
- Personal Landmarks
- Daily Check-in
- By the Numbers
- Ephemera Index
Let me explain each section a bit:
“What Actually Happened” Itinerary
When traveling, you normally create an itinerary beforehand but often, you end up doing something different due to time constraint, unexpected issues, getting lost, etc. Because of this, you can easily get confused about the chronological order of events.
In this section, you can list down what actually happened so you’ll have a chronological record of your trip! It's so much easier to recollect this information when you just came back from your trip so make sure that you do this as soon as possible OR you can just resurrect the itinerary that you printed and updated in during your trip and transfer it over neatly into this section.
Normally, we remember all the typical touristy landmarks well (and capture it in our itineraries) but we often forget our “personal landmarks.” These are the places that really spoke to you and places where you thought, “Ahhh, I really love this place. This is so me!” This could be a hole-in-the-wall store, a small snack stand or a wall mural that you just adored.
A great way to remember your personal landmarks is to review your camera roll. The signage and infographics that you took photos of should help you recover the details of any place you’ve been to, despite how unusual it is.
Check back on your diary app to review the stories that you’ve accumulated throughout your trip. For each day of your trip, pick a couple of stories as your Superstar Story and Not-so-super Story for the day.
This could be something small and super personal or something big that really stood out to you that day. Singling out these stories will help you document your travel album in a very intentional and personal way; sometimes, we fall into the trap of being superficial about what we record (I ate this…, I went there…, I did that…) that we forget the small details, feelings and emotions that make these experiences unique and of big impact to us.
By the Numbers
One thing that I love recording about my travels are the numbers. It can be quite fun tracking down all the different numbers in a trip - steps taken, money spent, distance traveled, temperatures experienced - as it provides a very objective aspect to your documentation. This section includes a list of popular numbers-related prompts that you can fill in for later use in your travel albums.
I usually like to decided beforehand which numbers I’m going to track so that I can make the necessary preparations for it like setting up my smartphone’s step counter. You can also use the blank spaces in this section to make your own prompts!
A simple worksheet that gives you a visual overview of all the travel ephemera that you've collected. While your creating your travel albums, you can reference this index to make sure that you include all the ephemera that you have into your layouts.
It may seem like an overkill but it really isn’t! I made sure that each hack doesn’t quite interfere with actually living in the moment and your experiences. Each hack is integrated into something that you already do while traveling - looking at your itinerary, taking photos, uploading on social media - but the last hack, Your Travel Log, is what takes all of these hacks’ outputs and organizes it into a master document that can be used as reference for your travel album.
For your next adventure, try out at least one of these hacks and see if it helps you improve the stories that you tell about your trip! It certainly did for me ;)
Don’t forget to download Your Travel Log - it’s seriously one of my favorite resources that I’ve made recently.
What methods do you use to document your travel details?
I'm curious (and eager to learn a thing or two) so comment below and let me know :)