2013 Travel Christmas Ornament

Kangaroo Ornament by Natalie Parker

Here’s this year’s travel memento for our Christmas tree!

To recap, we pick up an ornament to represent each of our travels.  I was in Australia twice this year, once for work and once for school.  We actually haven’t had our big vacation trip of 2013 yet.

Sometimes with these ornaments, I love a piece of local art.  Sometimes, it just feels right to go with straight up kitsch.  How could I say no to the kangaroo?

Earlier: 2011 – Camel from Egypt, 2012 – Great Wall from China & Double Decker from London.


Collecting Travel Keepsakes

Euros and a Hotel KeyIt’s funny, what I used to save from my trips is so different from what I do now.  Now, I have a system.  I always have a system.

With few exceptions, everything I bring home is 2D.  Yep.  If it can fit in my scrapbook, I’ll bring it home.

If I want to remember something that can’t go in the scrapbook (as in, I’m not saving a wad of cash), I take a picture of it.  This goes especially for when I have to return reusable subway cards.  I love transit keepsakes!

Shanghai Subway CardThis system helps because I don’t feel like I have to buy a lot of knick knacks to “remember” something.  There are a few exceptions:

  1. Food: If it’s edible and will go through customs, it’s coming home.  I always bring home champagne when I visit Paris.
  2. Art: Mr. P and I always look for a piece of street art when we travel.  Read more about that tradition here.
  3. Christmas Ornaments: I wrote about this a while ago, we always find something for our tree.
  4. Something for my desk at work: I like having these reminders when I’m getting through my workday.

What about you?  What do you save?  Do you try to keep your scrapbook in mind?

Egypt Tickets

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

Paris by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerHow about Paris with a little side of Belgium?  And Easter!

Even though I took the telephoto lens like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t use it as much as I thought I would.  I don’t consider this a real test though – it was really really cold during the trip.  I anticipated using the telephoto more outside, but when we were outside, we were usually shivering and rushing to the next place.  Brrrrr.

I found a lot of my pictures this jaunt were still-lifes.  This is probably because it was cold and I would get my camera out when we were inside or sitting down.  I took a lot of pictures of flowers again!

It was odd being so bundled up yet having so many colorful things to capture!

How do you handle taking pictures when it’s cold outside or in bad weather?  Do you still go for it or does the weather dampen your spirits?

This Year’s Travel Ornaments

2012 Travel Christmas Ornaments

We put our tree up recently and one of the most fun parts is taking out the new ornaments I’ve been saving from our trips this year!

We like having an ornament on our tree for each place we’ve traveled.  Last year it was a little camel from Egypt.

From London, we have this tiny little double-decker bus.  It’s only about an inch tall!

In China, we picked up this cool red and gold design.

They’re both keychains, in case you were wondering!  Christmas ornaments can get expensive, very large, or even difficult to find in some places.  Getting a keychain really opens the possibilities!  I remove the key ring part, add a hook and it’s done!

What about you?  Any special new ornaments or travel traditions from this year?

China Vacation Photobook

My China photobook is done!

I now have 5 out of 6 vacation memory keeping steps complete!  Technically I think it’s 5.5 steps because I have half of step 6 (careful storage of mementos) complete.

I create a photobook for each vacation before I work on the scrapbook.  I discussed all the reasons why when I got back from Egypt last year, see the post on that here.

Same drill as last time, this is a 5×7″ photobook from MyPublisher.  Their software has gotten even better since last year and they make everything so easy.

I always start the book with a statement picture – this time it was the red lanterns on Gui Jie (Ghost Street).

I put text on each page where I started a new city but left the rest text-free.

Then I made lots and lots of pages.  This book is about 60 pages.  MyPublisher’s standard pages are very thick and high quality.

On the last page, I used a grid of pictures from everywhere on the trip, plus the cool “End” sign.

On the back cover, I put a picture of us.  I decided to make it a “thing” to put us on the back since I did the same with our Egypt Photobook.

Again, I’m really pleased with the quality and MyPublisher isn’t paying me to do an advertisement here.  When the book arrived at my office, my coworkers were very impressed with the quality and how good the pictures look when they’re printed and bound.

More Pictures from China

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerSummer is coming to a close.  My next vacation being far off, let’s have some fun and look at pictures of my most recent trip to China!

The picture above is from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.  It’s right above a moving walkway between the Maglev station and the main terminal.  Mr. P was halfway down the moving walkway before he realize he’d lost me.  The sign was too perfect, I had to stop!

Next, a fruit salesman outside of my friend’s apartment.  China has lots of interesting dichotomies, in this case food on a bike cart outside quite modern high rise buildings.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerAn unrestored section of the Great Wall.  Most pictures of the Wall you see are actually restored sections.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerA trip to the Beijing Zoo to see pandas!

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe summer palace in Beijing.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerFamous Shanghai soup dumplings (xiao long bao).  These were sooooo very good.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerQuail eggs on a stick for sale in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe Terra Cotta Warriors outside of Xi’an.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerAmazing sandstone pillars at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.  This is the land that inspired the movie Avatar.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerWild monkeys on the valley floor of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerStanding above the clouds over three thousand feet up at Tianmen Mountain National Park.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerOn Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, looking down at the city.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island in Hong Kong – the largest sitting Buddha in the world.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerFried rice inside a pineapple Shek O Chinese & Thai Seafood Restaurant on the southern end of Hong Kong Island.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerMr. P and I on the last day of our trip standing above Shek O beach.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerCue wistful sigh.

I never understand the enormity of anything I do until way after the fact.  Looking at these pictures, I keep thinking “my gosh, we went everywhere!

On Traveling and Taking Pictures

Mr. P, being ever so thoughtful as normal, brought this CNN article to my attention recently.  It’s about travel, social media and technology and how those things affect how much of our travels we share with friends.

It’s a very interesting read and I agree with many of the author’s points.  It made me realize that there isn’t a right answer to this issue and it’s up to me to balance.

For example, I will still show pictures from my vacations on Facebook.  However, I do not “photo dump” every single picture I took for my friends to see.  I very carefully pick the best ones.  There’s nothing that makes me not care anymore about looking at someone’s trip as having to thumb through blurry pictures or 10 pictures of the same thing in a Facebook album.

Putting down the camera.  The author’s thoughts about putting the camera down are well taken.  Again, it’s balance.  I try to learn each trip how to better capture my experience with the camera.  Still, there are times when I just enjoy myself without worrying so much about photos.  That’s especially true when I’m at an overwhelming or famous site – sometimes it’s impossible to capture the enormity of a place.  I have surprisingly few pictures of the Egyptian Pyramids for this reason.

What do you think?  How do you handle these things when you travel?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the article.

Yup, that’s me trying to figure out my friend’s camera on top of the Great Wall.

Minibook: Everything We Ate in China

China Food Travel MinibookI’ve never made a mini-book before.  Funny, right?

I wanted to do some sort of fun project about all the food we ate on our trip to China.  I started by taking a picture of everything we ate, beginning on the plane ride.  Mr. P and our friends were gracious in not touching anything on the table until I got a shot of it – they even reminded me to take photos!

Shopping in Beijing, I found this awesome little book.

China Food Travel MinibookI printed the food pictures as 2-inch squares when I got home, and then left a 1/8-inch white border when I cut them out.

China Food Travel MinibookI was a little concerned that the thickness of all the photos was going to mess with the binding of the book, but the finished product is actually pretty cool!

China Food Travel MinibookI sat in front of the TV with these supplies and went to work.

China Food Travel MinibookI used a date stamp to stamp each page with the date the meal corresponded to.

China Food Travel MinibookThen I taped in each picture and wrote a few words.

I also wrote divider pages for each city we were in.

China Food Travel MinibookNot bad for a first attempt?  I like how minibooks have an effortless look, so I hope I succeeded.

I’ve included a bunch of pages below so you can look at them.  I used over 80 photos, so this is just a sample!

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Why I Don’t Scrapbook on the Road – My Memory Keeping Strategy for Travel

Vacation Memory Keeping StrategyI don’t scrapbook on the road.

Scrapbooking on the road is very popular.  It’s one of those things that works for some people but doesn’t work for me.  Scrapbooking on the road is generally about taking a small minibook and some supplies and at least starting a vacation album while on vacation.

Why I don’t scrapbook on the road:  I’m too busy relaxing I don’t have time.  I wish I could say I spent time relaxing.  Truth is Mr. P and I pack way too much into our vacations.  I don’t think I could scrapbook if I wanted to.

Even if I could, I don’t want to spend the little downtime I have working on a project.  I barely have enough time to keep caught up on my travel journal.  Any extra time I try to spend actually relaxing.  Plus, I like being able to fully digest a trip before scrapbooking it.

Here is my memory keeping strategy for vacation/travel:

  1. Take a ton of pictures.  I took about 2000 in China.
  2. Collect all tickets, programs and other mementos in an envelope during the trip.
  3. Keep a travel journal documenting what we did on each day.  Instructions on how to make your own travel journal are here.
  4. As soon as I get home, go through my pictures and delete blurry/bad ones.  Finished this for the China trip already!
  5. Make a MyPublisher vacation photobook to take around to family.  More information on why I create vacation photobooks here.
  6. Carefully store mementos and get to the scrapbook when I want to.

The last one is key.  I don’t want to pressure myself to get scrapbooking done by a certain time.  It’s a hobby, I’ll get to it when I have time and when I’m feeling creative.  Anything aside from that wouldn’t be my best work and I wouldn’t enjoy myself.

Do you have a travel memory keeping strategy?  I’m all ears!  If you scrapbook on the road and it works for you, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

China . . . in Red

China in RedBeijing | Shanghai | Xi’an | Zhangjiajie | Changsha | Hong Kong

19 days, 15,400 miles, 8 airports, 2 bus stations, 4 public subway systems, too many boat & taxi rides to count, never once asking for a fork, 1 suitcase that lost a wheel and over 2000 photos taken.

A trip of a lifetime to be sure.  I’m furiously going through photos and still adjusting to the time change.  This trip, I experimented with color and captured as many red things as possible.  I thought of trying many colors, but it was too overwhelming!

Left to right, top to bottom:

The Bird’s Nest, Beijing | Chinese Flag, Shanghai | Cherry Blossom Art, Dirt Market, Beijing | Hutong Tour, Beijing | Fish in Shanghai | Tourists on the Great Wall | Airport, Changsha | Gondolas through the Fog on Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie | Bikes on City Wall, Xi’an | Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an | Central MTR Station, Hong Kong | Wishes in Trees, Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie | Pudong Skyline, Shanghai | Sign at Tian Tian Buddha, Hong Kong | Lanterns on City Wall, Xi’an | Fruit Salesman, Beijing | Shopping Bag, Shanghai | Dipping Our Toes in the South China Sea, Hong Kong.