Thursday 10 August 2023

Different ways that you can document a holiday or vacation

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

I'm fortunate enough to have enjoyed some amazing travel experiences around the world, and I love reliving my holiday memories whether that's looking through photographs or re-reading my old travel journals. Documenting your travel memories is a great way to preserve them, whether for your own personal reminiscences or to share with others, and so I've put together a list of different methods. 

A written travel journal (with ephemera)

This is my personal favourite! A travel journal can either be written as you go along or on your return. I used to keep notes in a temporary notebook and copy them up later, but recently I've been writing straight into my current journal. A lot depends on the type of holiday - if you will be rushing about from place to place then you might just want to take quick notes, if you will have time to sit and write while you are travelling or in the hotel during the evening then you can take more time over it.

I always preferred to write on my return because I didn't want to run the risk of losing it or of anyone else reading it. I also didn't want to be distracted from enjoying the holiday or feeling too much pressure to keep up with writing it. But these days our holidays tend to involve a little more chill out time, and I don't have as much free time at home to catch up with it all!

You can either have a journal just for writing, or go with more of a collage style. I personally love collecting bits and pieces to stick into my journals - leaflets, tickets, maps, food packaging, business cards, coins or paper currency, stamps, stickers, themed washi tape and so on. I like to include practical details in case I want to refer back to them - the addresses of where we stayed, attractions that we visited and prices, what and where we ate, important dates.

Pile of travel journals with ephemera

If you are writing while you are away you might want to include sensory details - sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures. You can also write lists either as you go along or at the end - favourite places, best meals, top beaches, most memorable moments, favourite souvenirs. Also think about whether you are writing a personal journal or one that you want to share with others, because your writing style will likely change depending on your audience.

An illustrated travel journal

An illustrated journal is more like a sketchbook, containing drawings, paintings and perhaps also travel ephemera. It could be scrapbook style with photographs (either polaroids, using a mini photo printer, or added in on your return). Drawings can either be done in situ or else working from photographs when you get back. 

For my next travel journal I'm intending to add some quick sketches and watercolours. We don't often have time to sit still long enough to work on a picture so I'll probably use photographs, hopefully finding some time in the evenings!

A printed photobook using your travel photos

If you enjoy taking photographs, a great way to make sure that you don't forget all about them is to have them printed into a photobook. There are lots of different companies that offer this, and you can usually arrange the photographs how you like, along with captions and larger sections of text. 

It would be nice to include candid photos rather than just staged shots of the main sights. You could also include pictures of your accommodation, meals, photographs taken while travelling for example in the plane. Just make sure to live in the moment and not worry too much about getting the perfect shot!

Photobook showing a couple on the beach
Photo credit Arun Prakash via Unsplash

An online journal or blog

If you want to share your experiences with others then a blog is a great way to do this. You could set it to private for friends and family, or open it up and share it with the world. There are plenty of free blogging platforms, for example Blogger which is what I use, and it's easy to add texts, photos and links to the different places that you've visited.

It's easy to update anywhere as long as you have an internet connection, so you can write it on the go and add in your photos.

A shadow box display

When you get home, a shadow box display is a great way to display bulkier items like small souvenirs, maps, leaflets and tickets. You can buy a readymade frame or look for an online tutorial like this one - Ticket stub memory box tutorial - it's really easy to do.

Vacation memory jar

Either for physical items like seashells, pebbles, coins and so on, or write down memories on slips of paper then take them out to re-read, maybe on New Year's Eve. 

Wall displays and frames

You can display postcards that you've brought back in a hanging pocket postcard pockets (affiliate link) or a hanging postcard display (affiliate link). Or simply collage them into a frame or stick directly to the wall - my student bedrooms always had colourful postcards stuck all over the walls with BluTak! You could choose to display printed photographs or a mixture of photos, postcards, ticket stubs and other ephemera.

Postcard wall display of travel memories
Photo credit Mick Haupt via Unsplash

Personalised travel maps

There are lots of different ways of sharing your travels using a map. For example, I've shared my cross stitch map (affiliate link) before, very much a work in progress but then so are my travel adventures!

Cross stitch map to record travel memories

You can also find other examples, like scratch off maps (affiliate link) or a travel destination bucket list scratch off poster (affiliate link). Alternatively you could just buy a large map and some pins to stick into the places that you have visited!

I hope that this post has given you lots of inspiration for recording those travel memories. My final tip would be to make sure that you actually go back and read through those travel journals and look through those photographs! I'm guilty of keeping all my journals stuffed in a cupboard, even though I wrote them with the intention of revisiting them. It's my intention to set aside some time with a cuppa and a biscuit and enjoy reading back through them.

Pile of old travel journals and notebooks

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Some little extras that I always pack for a cruise

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I like to think of myself as a bit of a seasoned cruiser, and as I start to put things together for our next cruise I thought I'd write a little list of the things that I always make sure to pack!

These are things that aren't expensive, don't take up too much space, and that a first time cruiser might not necessarily think of!

Magnetic hooks - these are brilliant. I have a set of four magnetic hooks (affiliate link) and they are brilliant, tiny to pack and surprisingly strong. We place them near the door and use them to hang lanyards, baseball caps, bum bags, swimming goggles - all sorts of things that you don't want lying around and getting lost!

However it's best not to pack over the door hooks or over the door hanging pockets. These may be confiscated by the cruise line as they can damage the doors. There is usually plenty of storage in the room for smaller items.

Travel adaptor plugs - I've seen cruise ship staterooms with both US and European sockets. If you can bring a couple of each then you'll have more charging options.

Travel adaptor plugs
Photo credit Call Me Fred via Unsplash

A lanyard - this is a personal preference thing, cruisers use it to keep their room card accessible, which can also be used for onboard purchases like drinks. I don't tend to wear one, but the children like to. Some cruise lines will provide them, especially as you move up through the tiers, but they will be expensive to buy on board if you suddenly decide that you want one!

Velcro cable ties - on a couple of our Disney cruises we came back to our room to find that the stateroom attendant had organised all our messy loose cables with little velcro cable ties! We left the ties behind but I bought some reusable velcro cable ties (affiliate link) as soon as we got home. It's a really good way to save space on the small desk area when you all have several devices that need charging at once. 

A spare, non valuable, credit card sized card - some cruise ships have a slot by the door for a card in order for the lights and air conditioning to work, and it's easy to forget that you've left a card in there when you leave. I have a couple of credit card sized cards which have a magnet stuck to the back so when we leave the room we can stick it to the wall ready for our return.

A small magnetic whiteboard and pen - this is especially useful if you are travelling with others. You can stick it on your stateroom door and then people can leave you a message - helpful if you don't have the onboard Wi-Fi or data roaming while you are travelling. An A4 magnetic whiteboard (affiliate link) is a good size. You might find that people leave you little messages saying things like 'happy cruising!'

A small bag to hold a phone and room card - most of my clothes don't have pockets, and I do like to take my phone around with me for photos and the cruise line app. I bought myself a small bag which I can use for a few essentials, and it's worth spending a little more for a smarter bag that you can use with more formal clothing in the evening.

Small hand gel - we've found that since covid restrictions eased not all cruise ships have hand gel around the ship outside of the food areas, so it's nice to have a little bottle to take around with you.

Person sanitizing hands
Photo credit Engin Akyurt via Unsplash

Waterproof phone cases - we discovered these on a recent holiday and they were brilliant! Even if you aren't going on a beach cruise you may want to use the pools, and having a waterproof case means that you can take photos and not worry about getting your phone splashed while you sit nearby. I bought these waterproof phone pouches (affiliate link) and was very pleased with them (test them at home first by placing some kitchen roll inside and leaving submerged for a few hours!) They are also a good idea for any other electronics that you may want to use near water, like a Kindle or tablet.

Laundry supplies (if your ship has self-service laundry facilities) - I usually take a couple of my own laundry pods. They will be available to purchase but my family can sometimes have sensitive skin so we stick to what we usually use.

I also like to take a small mesh bag which I use for socks. This way there's less chance of losing one, especially if you are late back to the machine and someone empties your things out. A larger laundry bag is also useful for all the dirty washing that you'll be taking home. Something like this set of mesh laundry bags (affiliate link) would work well.

A tip - if you are doing laundry on a cruise ship avoid the first day, the last day, and sea days. Try for early in the morning or later on during dinner. Disney cruise ships have an app which will let you know when your washing is finished and also lets you know which machines are free.

A refillable water bottle - there are usually plenty of free self-service drinks options on board, but it can be awkward to carry cups of water back to the room and I find a water bottle more convenient to keep on my bedside table for drinking at night, especially when space is limited. Just note that you may not be allowed to fill them directly from a dispenser, instead I fill a cup and pour it into the bottle. It's also useful for when you leave the ship.

Lady holding a refillable water bottle
Photo credit Bluewater Sweden via Unsplash

Towel clips - if you are planning to sit out on deck then towel clips can be very helpful to keep your towel safe in the breeze while you go in the pool or to get some food. They are also a good idea if you want to dry swimsuits or towels on your balcony - you can clip them safely to the furniture! Towel clips (affiliate link) are larger than normal clothes pegs so they will fit easily around a sun lounger or chair. 

Sandwich bags - we are a family of fussy eaters and it can sometimes be difficult to find food when we are out and about. I always take some pre-packed snacks that we can take with us on shore excursions, but sometimes we take a few bread rolls or cookies from the buffet just to have handy and sandwich bags are great for keeping them fresh.

Photocopies of our passports - you must always check whether you need to take your original passports off the ship with you, as it varies between ports and many places will require it. But if you are leaving your passport on board the ship it's a good idea to at least take a copy with you. I'm old school so I have a paper copy, but these days a photo on your phone is probably just as good!

I hope that these packing tips were helpful if you are preparing for a cruise, do let me know about any essentials that I may have missed!

Thursday 3 August 2023

How my recent shopping habits have been influenced by my teen years

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Recently I was looking through my niece's birthday wish list to choose a gift. She will be 13, and I was struck by how all of the things on her list were things that I also liked very much, and in some cases already owned myself! It made me realise how many of my recent purchases have been inspired by things that I liked when I was a teenager!


A while back I treated myself to a new pencil case to store my bullet journal supplies, and I chose this large capacity pencil case (affiliate link). Then Mia told me that almost everyone in her class had the same pencil case, and there it was again on the wish list. I've always liked a nice pencil case, and of course all the stationery that goes inside, and there is so much more choice available now!

Pencil case opened and filled with stationery


Another item on the list was a pack of boho themed stickers. I've always collected stickers, and back when I was in Year 8 sticker collecting was a big obsession. I still have my old sticker album and I love looking back through it and remembering where my favourite stickers came from!

Pages from vintage sticker album

About a year ago I discovered all the amazing sticker packs that you can now buy on Amazon. The first pack that I bought was a set of 100 Boho Stickers (affiliate link) and there are so many similar packs available. I've used these stickers to decorate my water bottle, notebooks and also to stick in my journal. I also own another pack of smaller stickers with space, nature, travel and ocean themes which I use for my bullet journal.

Pile of modern boho stickers


When I was a young teenager I used to love visiting Boots for my toiletries. I'm sure that I'm not imagining it, Boots used to have a pick and mix style counter where you could fill a bag with little shaped bath pearls and tiny soaps. I had a ceramic pot in the bathroom filled with them. I hadn't seen them in shops for ages but last Christmas I discovered that they were still available so they went on my wish list and I'm now the proud owner of a pack, they are like these retro bath pearls (affiliate link) which come in all the different ocean themed shapes.


I recently went back to writing in my journal with a fountain pen, or a cartridge pen as I used to call it, which we had to use for writing at secondary school. I bought the Helix Oxford Fountain Pen (affiliate link) which is a little fancier than the ones that I used to use, although the cartridges are the same. I love writing with it, sometimes it gets a bit smudgy but I have to write more slowly and carefully so my thoughts feel more important. When I was at school most of my homework time seemed to be spent copying out my draft essays into a final version, thank goodness for computers and easy editing these days!


My favourite outfit as an older teenager was a black skirt, black tights, a band t-shirt and my Doc Martens. I loved my Doc Martens, they were expensive but I wore them for years until they fell apart. Last year I was treated to a new pair as an anniversary present and I love them again, I can't wear them for long periods yet as they are still quite stiff and I don't want them to get too creased so I save them for special occasions when I don't need to walk too far!

I'm obviously using nostalgia shopping to try and recreate some of those happy childhood times!