Preserving Your Vacation Memories

Our 10 favorite ideas to help you remember your “unforgettable” family travels.

by Lisa Andrews


You’re just back from an epic family vacation – like oh, let’s say, Sarah Hart’s trip trekking in Patagonia (!) shown above. Now you know want to do something to document your time together but you aren’t sure where to start.

People tend to overthink the vacation documenting process, get overwhelmed, and then end up not doing anything. Don’t let that happen to you!

There are many simple and fun ways to document your family vacations. Here are my favorite ways to record our family’s trip memories, some to record the trips you’ve taken and some to consider for the next time you head out on the road.

  1. Paper Journal Let’s start with the classics: Pen and paper 😉 Pick up a small, dedicated journal to use on each trip – or even when you’re back. I like to use Traveler’s Notebooks or something similar because they are compact, don’t have too many pages, and refillable. Keep it in your bag on the road and pull it out to jot down memories when you have downtime while using public transportation, waiting in lines, or before you go to bed. On some trips, we’ve successfully had everyone (kids included) journal every day at the breakfast table. This works after you come home, too – before you’ve forgotten “the little stuff.”
  2. Polaroid Photos We love our little Instax Polaroid camera and use it mainly when traveling. Use this to take photos that instantly print, tape them into your journal, and you will have a completed album before you even arrive home! This also works great for kids’ journals.
  3. Postcard Album Pick up a few postcards from each spot while you are traveling and write a few trip highlights on the back. You can hand these out to your kids and let them do some writing, too. Punch a hole in a corner of the postcards and tie them together to create a complete album.
  4. Photo Book Everyone plans to create a photo album when they get home, but often this doesn’t actually get done. I try to get online and get started   I’ve used Snapfish, Shutterfly, Costco, and Mixbook (see Terrie Murray’s gorgeous covers, below) but there are a lot of services out there. Collect your favorite trip photos in a folder on your computer and drop them into the photo book software. The photos should load in chronologically. Add some captions and you are done! If you are traveling with another family, consider printing off a book for them too.
  5. Social Media Chronicle While it is common to document your trip on Instagram or Facebook, there are a few things you can do to better preserve your online memories on social media. Consider using a dedicated travel ID for your family or at least a trip hashtag on each post so it’s easy to find and organize your photos later. Add details for the shots, including place names and little stories. This digital record will live forever on social media. You can stop there or print a record of your trip using a photo book service like Chatbooks.
  6. Story Books After you’re back and before the everyone runs off to resume their busy lives, take a moment to remember the 10 or 20 most funny, exciting, nail-biting and extraordinary moments from the road. Take snippets from your journal or interview your kids, using their exact words in the retelling of the adventure. Add these short travel tales to one side of a journal (I like to write on every-other page while I’m on the road) or printed photo book, and use the opposite side to display photos.
  7. 1 Second Everyday This is a fun app where you can make a simple video of your trip with one-second video clips. The app will string the clips together and you will have a little movie documenting the trip’s highlights. This is a great project for teenagers.
  8. Vacation Movie Video is not an easy medium to work with, to be sure. But if you’re taking videos as you travel, you may as well compile a summary to share with friends. Again, there are a variety of online services you can use to compile the clips. And if you’ve got a tween or teen who’s into video editing, you hit the jackpot!
  9. Keepsake Box or Jar If you’re like us, you’ll come home with a variety of maps, ticket stubs, coins, seashells, brochures, and other random mementos from your journey. Corral all the items from one trip into a shoebox or Mason jar. Ask younger kids to decorate the outside of the container and stack them together on a bookshelf or in a closet. Opening the container and sorting through the keepsakes lets us relive the vacation again. We’ve got a special box for our leftover foreign coins and paper money. (Every time I open it, I wonder why American currency is so boring!)
  10. Framed Maps We dedicated one wall in our home for maps of where we’ve journeyed together. The tradition began with the actual dogeared, highlighted, ripped and crinkled map from an especially impressive road trip. Sometimes we pin up the map and sometimes we frame it, but we always try to post something. There are also beautiful maps and globes that allow you to scratch off the names of states and countries you’ve visited, if you want to see all your trips in one place.

Plan Now!  To ensure the good times are not forgotten, make a plan for how you’d like to document your trip before you leave on vacation. Make sure that it’s something that is fun for you and won’t interfere with your family time. Keep it simple, get the kids involved, and make documenting enjoyable!


by Lisa Andrews, April 2020

ROAM Contributor   


Lisa Andrews is an Arizona native who credits her parents for instilling her with a love of travel. She wanders the West, the U.S. and abroad with her husband and three teens, blogging, posting and podcasting at This Travel Tribe.

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