Don't let vacation photos go to waste

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— (Courtesy nate steiner/Flickr

Like most travelers, I tend to take an overwhelming number of photographs of the same thing. Twelve photos of the Paul Revere House in Boston, forty-four sunsets in Thailand, and on a recent trip to India, 312 (yes 312) photos of the Taj Mahal (one can never have enough). Of course on my vacation high, I have grand plans for these photos. Grand indeed—Christmas cards, scrapbooks, cookbooks, a bathroom wall dedicated to framed photographs of bridges… I even draft witty captions to accompany the photographs as I snap away.

But then for some reason, after the trip hangover has faded, I tend to do…nothing. Sometimes, I don't even print my photos, and sometimes, I don't even take them off my memory card (I know, shameful). However, after a recent computer crash, I finally decided it was time to manage all of the photos crowding my hard drive. So I did some research and realized there are many, many was to document your travels. Here are some ways to immortalize your trip from a reluctant scrapbooker.

The Traditional Scrapbook

If you prefer the traditional scrapbooking route (aka a handheld book you painstakingly craft together with a glue stick and shears) visit scrapbook.com. There you can purchase supplies, read tips on how to get started, and connect with fellow scrapbookers for ideas and support (they are really helpful!). Remember to collect memorabilia—ticket stubs, train tickets, brochures, and postcards—as you travel to add to your scrapbook. Keep a journal on the road to help you remember your thoughts and observations about the trip. Include your best photos (the ones where you look particularly dapper) and remember to edit (14 pictures of the same things is 13 too many). It's easy to get overwhelmed by the project so start small and focus on creating something you like.

The Published (sort of) Scrapbook

If you don't trust your trimming skills, or simply don't have the patience for an arts and crafts project, consider creating a book online. Blurb.com lets you make your own book online by adding photographs and text to a predefined template (Budget Travel photo editor Michael Mohr is a fan of this method). You can create softcover or hardcover books and there are a variety of different sizes to choose from. And there's no need to limit your creative genius to a traditional scrapbook either. If you love to cook or took cooking classes on your travels, include your favorite recipes and intersperse them with photos from your trip.

Once you've finished your book, print copies or share it online with friends (a 7"x7" softcover book with 20-40 pages costs $12.95). Later you can place the book on a coffee table, and feign modesty at the inevitable compliments it will garner, "Oh that's just something I put together about my recent trip. Yes, yes, it is rather ingenious."

The Virtual Scrapbook

There are hundreds of opportunities to create scrapbooks or share your photos online. Scrapblog.com, Smilebox.com, and Scrapo.com let you build digital scrapbooks by dragging photos into templates and adding text. You can then share your digital scrapbooks online with friends and family. If you prefer movies, Animoto.com lets you add photos, videos, and music to create slideshows that you can share through social media platforms, or burn to DVD.

There are also a number of sites where you can create travel journals as you travel. Everlater.com lets you geographically organize photos, videos, stories and trip details on their easy-to-use online platform. Tag favorite restaurants and hotels as you travel, and add tips for fellow travelers. The site lets you easily connect and share your trip with other social media sites, and you can even turn your online journal into an 11" x 13" hardcover book. MyBudgetTravel allows members to keep online journals of their trips and upload photos and videos to it. Other members can comment on stories and search for trips written by other users.

How do you document you trip? Do you create scrapbooks or photo albums of your travels? What's your favorite tool?

— Madeline Grimes

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