Thoughts on Scrapbooking a Vacation

Scrapbooking Vacations by Natalie ParkerI’ve scrapbooked two big vacations now, so I’m taking the time to reflect on the experience.

I didn’t take that many photos back then.  When Mr. P and I went to China last year, we took over 2000 photos.  For the honeymoon, I had less than 200 to work with.  Granted, it was only a week and the China trip was much longer, but I think it’s an interesting look at my changing ways.  Sometimes less is more – I need to keep that in mind for my next trip.

I only took “big time” photos.  I only took big scenery pictures and not much else.  No food.  I repeat: no food!  I also didn’t get many other details.  Big scenery pictures are great, but it’s very useful to have other bits to break up the pages and to show other people things you saw.

I mean, I didn’t even get a picture of the boat we took on our Na Pali Coast tour in Hawaii!  Or the speakeasy we ate at in New York that has since closed down and is trying to reopen!

I need to do a better job telling the stories.  Vacation layouts are hard.  There’s so much to include and I don’t want to do a mega-scrapbook for each one.  I do have vacation photobooks, but I still want the scrapbook layouts to have a lot of pictures.  That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the smaller interesting stories.

I showed Central Park but didn’t add the detail that it was windy and all the couples in rowboats were getting blown into the bushes (it was really funny).

Does the story about our crazy bus ride across rural China and being accosted by cab drivers deserve its own space?  Is it better to leave some stories to oral tradition?  I’m still debating about the right balance here.

I can’t capture everything in my scrapbook, I’ve long accepted that.  But I want to capture the “right” things but I’m not 100% sure what those are.

Have you scrapbooked big vacations before?  What have you learned?

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on Scrapbooking a Vacation

  1. I think it’s really important to tell your story, not what you think someone in the future will want to read. Because, let’s face it, we scrapbook for ourselves! If the boats blowing into the bushes is something you want to remember, then go for it.

    When I scrap big vacations, I usually keep an online journal (Evernote is great for this), and then I print it out and put the pages at the end of my scrapbook. That way the whole story is there, even if all the photos aren’t.

    I’m sure whatever you choose to do will be perfect for you!

    • I hope things will come together when I get more practice! I keep a handheld journal but it’s mostly to capture the facts of what we did and where we were so I don’t forget them. I’ve been getting better at noting interesting things or feelings. My plan is to paste the journal into the scrapbook.

  2. I think there is something to be said for leaving some stories as oral history v. scrapbooked. A certain amount of bonding with the storyteller takes place when we hear rather than read a story. Also, we remember things differently if we hear them compared to reading them. I might include a synopsis of the stories to tell orally to serve as memory prompts, but perhaps the page/photo is enough to be that prompt. I might also go back and add a more detailed story later if I find that I am telling the same story over and over again. Perhaps it is important enough to include. Ultimately, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here.

    • The idea of having a list of prompts in a scrapbook to stimulate oral stories is such an awesome one! My husband is amazing at telling stories, but when he writes them, the tone is completely different. This list idea is something I’m going to have to try, especially for pages I make about stuff from his life!

      • I’m thinking about this more and realize that I did the prompt thing in my latest baseball layouts. Instead of telling the entire story about how I got an autograph from a baseball player, I captioned “the game where I got Omar Vizquel’s autograph” underneath the autograph itself. It will definitely remind me to tell the story!

  3. I’ve scrapbooked a few big vacations… Some are in my “regular” albums as a series of 12×12 layouts (, some are mini albums (Iowa mini album:, Myrtle Beach mini album:, and some are photo books/digital scrapbooks: (Corsica:, Myrtle Beach:

    Some vacations haven’t been scrapbooked yet. (And maybe they won’t be… for years and years…or maybe never???)

    BUT, in recent years, I’ve become more okay with that, as long as I have the stories written down in some way or another. Recently, I rely most heavily on adding captions to the metadata of the photos. (This applies to my “everyday life” photos, too.) I can’t always rely on my memory, and so to have as little as a few words or as much as paragraphs written down is invaluable to me. I try to write the captions as soon as I get my photos onto my computer (which is usually at the most a week after I take the photos, so they are fairly current/immediate descriptions of the photos). Metadata captions served as the majority of the journaling for the Iowa mini album and the Myrtle Beach photo book!

    In a slightly related sense, I have tried to be better about writing letters to myself, my husband, or even my daughter, recounting special things that have happened (usually about my daughter right now). I email them to myself or my husband, or I write them in a little journal I keep easily accessible. Someday if I ever get to scrapbook those stories, they will be there– I’ll just have to find them, haha! Right now I’m working on an album project about what could quite possibly be considered the opposite of a vacation, haha! — my daughter’s first month. At the time, I didn’t know when I would get to scrapbook it, but I knew I wanted to. So, each day, I wrote one memory (sometimes a couple, but not usually) in my day-planner. Reading those notes two+ years later was amazing. They weren’t very full-fledged thoughts, but they brought back memories in an incredible way! I’m so glad that I at least took the time to jot a little something down.

    I’m not very good at writing my thoughts and feelings– especially on a scrapbook page, but even in a private journal. But I’ve found that even just writing a few facts on a scrap of paper or in a note to myself (digital or physical) is enough to conjure those deeper memories and feelings when I re-read them.

    Wow, I’d better stop here, because I’m definitely getting myself off on a big monologue 😉 Hope you don’t mind. I guess in summary: if you have notes (long or short), it’s a great way to save memories. They don’t all need to go into the scrapbook in “scrapbooked” form, but at least you have them if you want them: they can be powerful.

    • You’re reminding me I need to do a post about my current method for jotting down things that need to go in the scrapbook later!

      Metadata – I add metadata to my photos very soon after I get back from vacation. Probably not as detailed as yours, but I find myself adding more and more as time passes as I realize I’ll need it more. I add very descriptive metadata to photos that I decide to keep after I scrapbook them (need a post on that too, drat).

      Re letters to your daughter and husband – I love this! I love Elise Cripe’s posts to her daughter. Did you see Google’s Dear Sophie commercial? The one with the dad that set up an email account for his daughter and then emailed to it?

      I can’t wait to see how Vivian’s first month album turns out. It looks like such an exciting project and it’s so different to see life tracked on such a micro-level, but when a baby is born you experience life that way.

      • I set up an email accound for my 5-year-old a couple of years ago. Every now and then, I’ll send an email to it with a few photos attached and tell the story of the photos. I don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like, but I figure even if I only do this once or twice a year, she’ll have at least 18 stories and photos when she’s an adult.

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