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10 Creative Ways To Preserve Travel Memories

I guarantee that if we flash forward 40 years from now, you’ll want to remember every detail possible from living abroad. No experience will ever be the same. Before too much time goes by from your abroad experience, scroll through this list to get unique ideas for keeping and sharing those cherished memories!

If you’re into…

Photography

This is probably the easiest and most common way to save memories while you’re abroad. However, here’s some things to keep in mind:

  • Pay attention to the content in your photographs and think outside the box.

In addition to taking pictures of the scenery and famous buildings, take pictures of the people you’re with, ticket stubs, your favorite pair of shoes for traveling, your hostel rooms, your favorite pubs, the public that surrounds you (without being creepy or inappropriate), each room in your place of residence, your classrooms, your work place (if you have one), your most-used form of transportation, your favorite foreign weather, your favorite foreign animal or insect… the list could go on forever.

  • Save every Snapchat you send.

Going back and looking at those Snapchats helps me relive the little moments during my old everyday abroad life that I wouldn’t remember otherwise.

  • If you can, start printing your photos before you leave your foreign home.

Or, even better, invest in a Polaroid camera. Once they’re printed, write on the back of the photograph (just like in the good old days) who’s in the picture, where it was taken, a little blurb from the day… anything that could trigger the memory associated with that photo. Even your handwriting on the back of the photo could help you remember your old self years from now!

  • When you get back home from your time abroad, post throwback pictures on Facebook or Instagram.

And not just on Thursdays! Do it every day, or every week, add a caption that reminds you of the moment you took that picture, and maybe tag the people who were with you when you took that picture, too. They’d love revisiting that memory spontaneously as much as you do.

Writing

Journaling or blogging is at the top of the list for most common ways to remember things too, but again, there’s ways in which you can switch it up:

  • Write in live time.

While I lived abroad in Ireland, I traveled one weekend independently to Scotland. I decided to not take any pictures except one while traveling in Scotland and instead of relying on images, I relied on words to record my experience. Every so often during my days there, I stopped and typed a short entry using present tense in my laptop to record what I just did, saw, heard, and felt in the past couple hours. You could take this to extremes, even recording everything down to the half hour, but no matter what, write as if you were narrating your own biographical video.

  • Keep a small notebook to jot things down.

One thing I regret from when I lived abroad is not recording the quotes or conversations from other people who inspired me. I love listening to people’s stories and picking up on new words, and it is nearly impossible to remember every word distinctly without writing them down. Do this especially if you are learning a new language — you’ll never know when a new slang word will pop up in a conversation that you’ll want to have in your back pocket for later!

Collecting

Physically keeping things can be an awesome way to travel back in time, and it’s pretty fun looking for little trinkets. Try this when you’ve started collecting a bit:

  • Buy souvenirs.

Purchase things like boxes, bowls, cups, baskets, or frames) that can hold your lesser-expensive, smaller collectibles – collectibles such as transportation ticket stubs, foreign currency coins, travel notes, special receipts (those that are in different languages!), sports game/museum/tour/concert tickets, a tear-out from a restaurant’s menu that had your favorite foreign food (from disposable menus, of course), Polaroid pictures, decorative napkins, jewelry, buttons, sea shells, bits of pottery, rocks, or anything else you pick up along the way…

Videography

We’ve probably all seen super awesome video compilations from people’s world travels, but how can you make videos that are special to you? Try these suggestions:

  • Just like for photography, switch up your content.

Make a compilation of your foreign friends speaking in their accents or native language; instead of just filming the scenery, have a friend film you doing the same action in every shot on different travels or hold up a sign that has your home country’s name on it; create a video journal of your everyday life while abroad (have fun with it — strap your GoPro to your body and go about your day); compile shots of different forms of transportation you use while abroad; the list is endless, so be creative!

Music

It wasn’t until I arrived back home after living abroad that I truly understood how powerful music is; I’ve been able to re-experience complex emotions from being abroad just by listening to a certain song that I used to listen to while I was overseas. If you’re into music, consider these ideas for remembering your time abroad:

  • Create a playlist.

This is probably the easiest thing you could do with your music to collect your music-associated memories. Has someone suggested a song to you while abroad? Put it in the playlist. Heard someone covering a song on the street? Find the title of it and put it in the playlist. Having way too much fun dancing to a song in the pub or the club? Add it to the playlist. Listening to a song while studying that made you stop and listen? You know what to do…

  • Buy street performers’ albums!

Collecting authentic foreign music or unique cover songs can be a great way to transport back in time and to your favorite past travels. Those albums are special, and it will be easy to picture the artists’ faces and the place in which you bought their music!

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Rachel Helgeson


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