Everyone feels the same way when they get back home after sipping tropical drinks for a week on a white sandy beach. It’s hard to believe the week passed so quickly. You close your eyes and imagine dipping your toes in the crystal clear water. But as soon as you’re picking up your baggage, the memories of the sound of the waves start to fade as you hear the shuttle buses picking up passengers. By the time you’ve gotten to your car and remembered that you have a report to turn into work tomorrow, the marimbas in your head start sounding like honking horns. That vacation you waited to take for a year is slipping away into your mental archives. How do you keep it alive and fresh? Remembering your trip inspires you to plan another one and makes you feel happy in between.
1. Flickr– If you take a lot of photos with your phone, you probably have thousands of pictures that don’t really go together and when you clear out your phone, they end up in folders where they might get misplaced. Flickr gives you 1 TB of free space to post your photos. As soon as I get back from a trip, I sort my pics into a folder, put them on a backup hard drive and upload them to my free Flickr account. I can access them from anywhere and share them with anyone I choose. One of the coolest features is that you can use your Apple TV or Roku to create a slide show from your Flickr account. You’ll always have your memories on your TV screen while you’re listening to music or not watching a program.
2. Refrigerator magnets– They’re pure kitsch but who wouldn’t rather look at a cheesy Cancun magnet than actual real cheese in the refrigerator. Every country, big or small, usually has them for sale. The greatest thing is that you can review your geography conquests without having to decipher illegible visa stamps in your passport.
3. Youtube Videos– I record the highlights of my trips and edit out most of the boring parts out in Movie Maker. Then I put them on Youtube and I can look at them anytime I want and share them with my friends. You can list your name in the tags as well as the places that you visited to make them easy to search later, or create a channel just for your travel videos. If you don’t do video in your travels, you can always create a video slide show from still photos, add music and upload it as well.
4. Restaurants– A friend of mine lived in Japan for a couple of years. Whenever she visits a Japanese restaurant, it transports her back to her life overseas as she experiences the smells and tastes of the country. Trying out restaurants that specialize in cuisine from countries you’ve never visited can sometimes feel like you’re having a mini-vacation. Most people have had Mexican or Japanese food, but what about Korean?Ethiopian? Some specialty imported stores carry foreign foods as well. Hong Kong Food Market and the Phoenicia in Houston have an amazing selection of interesting wines, meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables from around the globe. Sampling new flavors and savoring imported goodies can transport you to a whole different continent without ever leaving your town.
5. Decorating your Home-My entire home is geared around my trips abroad. I have a Chinese room, an African bedroom, an Egyptian game room with mummies and Easter Island statues by my pool. Most people aren’t quite that obsessive about travel decor, but collecting paintings, musical instruments or carvings from your adventures can put a smile on your face when you’re sitting at home on a rainy day. Collect coffee cups or shot glasses if you don’t have a lot of room for souvenirs. The strangest items usually make the best stories.
6. A journal or blog– If you really want to remember vivid details about your travels, a journal can be very entertaining to read later and be full of facts that you couldn’t possibly recall from memory alone years later. If you feel that other people might enjoy your ramblings, put your journal online. Not only can it be helpful to others making a similar trip, it is accessible from anywhere unlike a notebook that might get lost or destroyed.
7. Surprise Yourself!– One of my friends emails pictures from his trip to himself with setup time delays. Six months after his vacation, he still has photos being delivered to his inbox. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to time traveling. Ship home some souvenirs too. You won’t have to carry them and you’ll be happy when they show up in your mailbox a week or two later.
8. Book another trip– Subscribe to travel sites and follow airfare deals and promotions. Traveling regularly if even for short trips can make your life happier. I always have my next trip booked or somewhat planned as soon as I complete my last trip. It gives me something to look forward to and I have an answer when my friends ask me where I’m going next.
9. Learn another language– You could enroll in a class or even learn a foreign language from listening to language CDs or free YouTube videos in your car. You can’t help but think of chocolate croissants and the Eiffel tower while you’re repeating French phrases back to your car stereo. You’ll be inspired to go someplace where you can use your newly discovered vocabulary.
10. Visit a Festival– Many cities host a Greek, Italian, Eastern European, and/or International festival. Watching folklore dancers, sampling foods and wines and meeting expats can make for a great Saturday afternoon. Who knows? You might even make a great connection that you can use when you visit the country.
These are a few easy ideas to keep your memories close and inspire you to create more. As you put them into practice, you’ll think of even more ways to take a little bit of your adventures home with you and make them tangible.