How to Capture and Relive a Family Trip

WAYB is all about family travel, but the trip never seems to last long enough! Make that family adventure last a bit longer with these tips to capture and relive the memories.

  1. Journal to the Max
  2. Print as You Go
  3. The New Home Movie
  4. (Nearly) Free Photo Books
  5. Social Media (The Good, the Bad, and the Alternatives)

A few years ago I did some research for an airline, mapping the emotional highs and lows of trips, from planning to return-to-reality. We all know that TSA is the pits, and arriving at your destination rocks, but I was a little surprised to find that the absolute peak vacation happiness… isn’t on vacation. It’s the instant nostalgia of thinking back on the trip just as it’s ended. Why? My guess is that flipping through photos or recounting highlights accentuates all of the best moments – and any bad moments get turned into a good story. It’s when people say “that was awesome!” and start dreaming about the next adventure. Over the years I’ve found a few great ways to capture the trip, especially with kiddos who may not remember the adventure if they are still little. 

1. Journal to the max

This year I’m homeschooling (er, boatschooling) my kids so we can travel by sailboat from Maine to the Caribbean and back. As we visit museums all over the east coast, I am reminded of how much history relies on diaries. I suppose in a hundred years some poor scholar will scroll through Instagram to see how people lived their best lives, but I still feel that journaling is a worthwhile endeavor. It helps you capture and process the moment, acts as a confidant, and helps you relive the journey later. Buuuuut.... like regular exercise, I just can’t seem to stick with a journal. And while I’d love to get my kids to journal, that’s even harder. Last spring we went to Costa Rica and brought a handy Polaroid Bluetooth photo printer (more on that in the next tip), and every day I let my kids print two pictures from the day and then journal about them. 

For this journey, one hack was to get both of my kids and myself academic planners. Remember those little spiral-bound books that organized your life in college? Every day we just jot down where we are, one headline about the day, and something we feel grateful for. It’s at least a quick reminder of all we are doing, and a good jumping-off point for longer journal entries when we get time. I also recommend more of a sketchbook than a journal, and getting some decent pencils. When my daughter and I journal, we just try to write one page, and do one 5-minute sketch. I’m not an artist by any stretch, but it’s a good exercise to capture what we are seeing. 

2. Print as you go

As I mentioned above, I love the Polaroid ZIP printer. It’s inkless, wireless, and you don’t even need to be online to use it. You just connect it by Bluetooth to your phone and it prints small, sticky-back prints. They aren’t the very highest quality, but they are great for journaling, or for sharing pictures with new friends you meet on your travels.  

3. The New Home Movie

I’m a big fan of getting off devices when you travel, but I also understand that since our phones are cameras, it’s hard to put them down. On the upside, it’s never been easier to make a fun home movie with highlights of the trip. During our Costa Rica trip, I took short videos (like 3-10 seconds) of top moments and places and just plopped them into iMovie with favorite still photos. I could shorten clips within iMovie and by the time we landed back home, I had a 7-minute video of our entire trip that the kids loved watching and sharing with grandparents. I didn’t try to narrate anything; it’s a lot more fun to just let people see what you saw. Top tip: shoot everything horizontal so you can watch it on a laptop or TV later and feel like it’s really a travel documentary. 

4. (Nearly) Free Photo Books

Since we do use our phones as cameras, we take a lot of photos. But since we don’t want our kids attached to devices, they never really get the fun of scrolling through them. Gone are the days of getting pictures printed and putting them in albums, but you can get the same result with a photobook. There are tons of apps and services for this, including FreePhotoBooks which only charges shipping for a book up to 20 pages. 

5. Social Media (The Good, the Bad, and the Best Way to Do It)

Family travel is one of the best ways to reconnect with those you love most. In the day-to-day, it’s just hard to block out the distractions of home and work, the scheduled classes and playdates, the temptations of screen time. Being out on an adventure is a precious time to really be together, and tethering to your devil box, ahem, phone can ruin that. Yup, it’s a great camera. And yup, you may need maps. But you can always get updates on what everyone is doing back home and share pics from your amazing trip later. I will admit, keeping people posted on your trip via social media is another good way to relive the memories later. Instagram can feed into the photo book app I mentioned above. Just remember, it’s about your memories, not how many people gave you heart-eyes for that waterfall picture. Instead of posting during the trip, try a big recap on the end. It’s a great thing to do while waiting for the flight home: the trip is done, the memories made, and the chance to share the pictures is that moment of “instant nostalgia” that I mentioned at the top of the post.

About the author: Amanda Reid is the former Head of Brand and Social Impact at WAYB, and is currently living on a sailboat with her family. She spends her time writing, steering, boatschooling, and planning the next adventure, big or small.