“What was that place called? Why didn’t I write the name down?”
In the excitement of spontaneous road trips, endless tours, or romantic getaways, documenting your day is probably the last thing on your mind when you face-plant your pillow at night.
But eventually the time will come when you wish you could remember the little details of what you did or where you ate, of making a local friend or witnessing a breathtaking view. Just because you didn’t write in a diary during the trip, however, doesn’t mean you can’t still document those memories.
If traditional diaries aren’t your thing, you’re not alone. There are dozens of ways to keep up with your adventures. Find one that fits your style, skills, and personality.
You don’t have to pick up your mother’s hobby of scrapbooking with flowery paper, paints, and funky-shaped scissors to document your life. One of the coolest trends to recently sweep through craft stores is the Smash Book.
What are you smashing with said journal? While you could probably use it as a weapon against rogue bugs daring to cross your path, it does in fact have a much more lasting purpose.
The concept is that you, as a traveler, collect endless numbers of tickets, stubs, brochures, receipts, postcards, pictures, and other mementos during your trips. If they’re special, you might keep them tucked away in the dark recesses of a closet or in an unofficial junk drawer until you finally decide to trash them. But with a Smash Book you can skip the pointless storage and collect these mementos all in one journal.
Official Smash Books can be found at craft stores, starting around $13. They include a special pen with glue attached, and a variety of colored and zany patterned paper. There are various sizes and types of journals to choose from. But if you are on a budget, you can make your own cut-and-paste journal by picking up a blank notebook, a glue stick, and a Sharpie at the grocery store.
After you’ve gathered your materials, start smashing—it can be as creative or simple as you make it. Just arrange your plane tickets, photos, and stubs, then glue ’em and stick ’em on the page. If you’ve got a heavier museum pamphlet or postcard that just won’t stick, paperclip it in.
For all the doodlers out there, you may have found your calling. Doodling is a key part of this journaling. Scribble art between your mementos or blurbs describing what you did. To spice things up, you can add stickers or pockets to your book.
Forget Photo Albums
Do you take gobs of photos during your trips but then never do anything with them? Photo books might a perfect solution to your art debacle. While the idea of a photo book isn’t new or groundbreaking, it often gets overlooked as a feasible option.
Creating a professional-looking book doesn’t have to be expensive. With photo book–making websites popping up all over the Internet, prices are reasonable and vary from $10 to $50, depending on your customizations. If you’re not in a time crunch, pick a website with templates you like, create your book, sign up for email alerts, and then wait for a juicy coupon or sale—you can often save at least 20% on your purchase.
And don’t count this option out just because you’ve never put together a book before. With sites like Shutterfly.com and Snapfish.com, there are hundreds of templates that allow you to easily personalize your book. All you have to do is “drop” your photos into the template, and you get an awesome coffee table book that shows off your publishing skills.
If you want to take publishing a step further, websites like Lulu.com can help you compile your photos and journal entries into a regular book. A compilation of personal travels can be a great gift for family or friends.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth ten thousand words. For the tech savvy traveler, high-definition video journals are a cinch if you’ve got a smartphone, tablet, or compact camcorder with you. Whether you’re hitting up landmarks or waiting for a flight, shoot some video with personal commentary detailing your day. Down the road, your friends and family can watch your video diaries and travel the world with you.
Apps like iMovie, Viddy, and AndroMedia allow you to edit video on a portable device. If you’re not familiar with shooting and editing video, don’t worry. Almost all these apps include demos or step-by-step instructions, so even the most novice user can make professional-looking videos.
If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, post videos on a multimedia diary app or blog or post them to a personal YouTube channel so family and friends can vicariously live through your adventures.