Vacation Memories start with departure

Getting there is part of the story

When we first come home from a trip, we’re excited to show off our photos and talk about our vacation memories. But, as our tans fade, so does the gumption to write about our adventures.

Don’t keep your vacation memories to yourself!  This doesn’t mean you have to write everything down during or right after vacation. (See 5 Tips for Writing about Travel Memories.)  However, when you do start describing your vacation memories, don’t just preserve your itinerary. Take your readers with you as you re-live your trip.

Capture the mood of your vacation memories:

Vacation Memories in Washington DC

Sight-seeing vacation memories are quite different from beach vacations.

When you’re recounting your vacation memories, capture the little stories. Go a little further than stating that it was a romantic getaway, business trip with a little time squeezed in for leisure, or a family vacation. For instance, if it was a family trip, what were the kids like? Describe the family dynamics in story form.

I remember one trip to the Grand Canyon with a scared-of-heights 7-year-old and a fearless 5-year-old. Neither kid walked down the middle of the paths. One was clutching the interior walls and the other was peering curiously over cliffs. My husband and I were either running edge interference for our younger son or talking our older son into opening his eyes. Needless to say, we didn’t hike very far.

How was your vacation destination different from your everyday?

Knowing what your “norm” is will help your readers understand how exotic your vacation memories are. For instance, when I flew to New York City from Germany, I experienced extreme culture shock. I was used to medieval buildings and an ordenlich society. When the pedestrian light signaled it was safe to cross, I naively assumed it was. I was nearly run over by multiple cabs!

Explain why your destination made such an impact—or why it didn’t. Why are your vacation memories so precious?

Describe your mood and expectations

Vacation memories are colored by our pre-trip expectations. If you went on a romantic getaway cruise you probably weren’t psychologically prepared for adventure. What was your expectation of fellow travelers? Your transportation? How did that affect your memories?

Include the less than picture-perfect moments

I won’t get on my soapbox about how boring perfection can be.  However, I will say that stories of chaos and misadventure do resonate. For instance, in Mother Bear versus a Whatsit, you can read how fun these stories are to tell years later.

vacation memories of an orca

I still remember the thrill of my first glimpse of an orca. Such moments are seldom captured on film or memory card.

Capture the moments:

Pictures can be worth a thousand words, especially if you had a camera at the ready when the moment happened.  Sometimes, though, the pictures don’t do the scene justice. Regardless of what the moment was—romantic love, beautiful sunset, bustling city, or nature sighting, write about how you felt in that moment. Also include how you feel about it when you look back at it.

Use (clever) Captions

Go a step beyond including images. Use captions to help those images tell the story of your vacation memories. Captions can add humor and information. In addition, if your readers are ‘scanners,’ they’ll read the captions before the story.  Caption can help draw them into your text. (See Captioning the Past: Using Photo Captions to Tell Stories.)

Keep your maps and momentos

Orient your readers.  Include maps with your route, stops, and high points. If you scrapbook, include things like ticket stubs.  Foreign currency? Include either a picture of it or a spare bill. Such “embellishments” do exactly that. They embellish your story.



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