44 Ways To Make Travel Memories: Travel Memory Ideas From A Lifelong Nomad

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

There are so many travel memory ideas out there! I left home over 15 years ago and have made many memories in destinations worldwide. Over the years, I’ve discovered the best (and worst) ways to make a great travel memory. In this post, I want to share the best ways this digital nomad has found to make travel memories that won’t fade!

When you travel from country to country, buying a souvenir in every place is tempting. But any digital nomad will tell you that you quickly end up with more than you can carry.

One part of living a successful nomadic lifestyle is traveling light. So in this post, I want to explore alternatives to buying souvenirs that will still call up your favorite travel memories of all the places you’ve been.

Table of Contents

Documenting My Travels Created Lasting Memories

After visiting so many places, it’s easy for the memories to start to merge. But unfortunately, many traditional ways of documenting your travels won’t work for digital nomads because they involve collecting too much stuff, and most of us want to travel light.

Forget about collecting all your tickets, maps, and tourist guides. Collecting souvenirs of any kind means traveling with them forever! But there are some excellent alternatives to make travel memories without compromising luggage space.

Forget Making A Photo Album: Digitize your Travel souvenirs.

Digitizing your souvenirs is a great way to keep your travel memories forever without taking up any space in your bag. Just take a photo of that map, of the guide around, or just of your ticket stubs.

Rather than taking a boring shot of a ticket on a desk, take a photo of the ticket with the place in the background.

Take photos of your

  1. Entry Ticket stubs
  2. Plane tickets
  3. Maps
  4. Souvenirs

Documenting your travels pays off years later when you struggle to remember where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Turn your phone’s gallery into a memory museum, and your travel memories will always be there to reminisce with.

You can also document your travels in other ways without adding weight to your bags. For example, create a written travel record for your travel memories. But that doesn’t mean keeping a travel journal at the bottom of your bag.

Travel Memory Ideas To Document Your Trip

  1. Digital Travel Journal
    Use a running document on your laptop, an app, or notes on your phone to keep a journal.
  2. Tweet Your Travels
    Use Twitter to Document Your Travel Experiences
  3. Photo Albums
    Your phone already does a great job of creating albums, but to make them genuinely searchable, check out Google Photos
  4. Create Travel Video Logs
    Making videos create the best travel memories. Upload them to YouTube and share them instantly
  5. Send Postcards To Friends & Family
    Take Photos of them (both sides) before you send them.
  6. Letter
    Write a regular travel letter (or email) to yourself.
  7. Google Maps
    Rather than using a travel pinboard, pin all your travel destinations on Google Maps.
  8. Travel Blog
    Create a travel blog to document your nomadic life – and maybe make some money too!
  9. Instagram
    You don’t have to emulate those travel Instagram accounts with perfect images; make real pictures to remember how it was.

Experiences Made Better Memories Than Things

After traveling from country to country for a few years, it can become easy to settle into your routine of finding a place to stay, finding a place to work, and going through your everyday routine. When this happens, remember why you wanted to travel or be a digital nomad in the first place – To see the world.

If you’re anything like me, you want to travel to see the world and, more importantly, experience everything the world offers. It has more to offer us travelers than a laptop in another cafe. Don’t let the only thing that changes in your life be the view out of the window.

By trying to have at least one entirely new experience at every destination you travel to, you will forever remember that place for it.

On my trip to Henan, China, one of my favorite travel memories was experiencing The Shaolin Temple.

I’ve walked around hundreds of temples in Asia, Tibetan temples, Laotian temples, and even a temple on a deserted island in the middle of a vast lake. However, the Shaolin Temple is different because it’s home to the Shaolin monks, a band of warrior monks practicing kung fu. I had been obsessed with them ever since I was a child.

In numerous documentaries, I’d seen them training around the temple, hitting their makeshift punching bags. So when I traveled to Shaolin, I wanted to experience what they experience daily rather than just walking around the temple.

I ran up the mountain as they do every morning, practiced kung fu on the temple grounds, and hit those punching bags. It was, for me, an unforgettable experience.

Not every experience has to be something you’ve wanted to do from childhood, but having an experience outside your regular daily routine will solidify that travel memory for you.

Create Travel Memories With These Ideas

  1. Water rafting
  2. Bungee Jump
  3. Skydive
  4. Compete in a surfing competition
  5. A Show
  6. Theme Park
  7. Trekking/Climbing
  8. Boat Ride
  9. Eating Something Special
  10. Proposing
  11. Skiing
  12. Private Island
  13. Massage or Spa Day
  14. Museum or Gallery

Learning Something made Me Remember It Forever

Experiences are an excellent memory maker because they are something that you can always look back on. But learning something new keeps the travel memory alive. Learning a new skill or habit can remind you of that time and place every day.

Just before the pandemic hit I was in India, up north in Dharamshala. The views were, of course, unforgettable, being on the Himalayas. Watching the clouds roll in over the mountains every afternoon was a mysterious experience. But I was doing more there than looking down on the planet, and drinking tea with Tibetan monks, I was learning a skill.

I started learning Tibetan in 2015 before traveling to Nepal. It was hard going, even for an experienced language learner like me. I came back from Nepal determined to become conversational. And after 4 years of consistent online classes, I wanted to really up my skills, so I enrolled in a Tibetan language school in India.

Although the views really were some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen, the memory of Dharamshala is forever connected to my ability to speak Tibetan.

Of course, you don’t need to set out to learn a new language to make a memory of a travel destination. It could be something that you learn in a single afternoon like how to make a local dish. You can take that with you for the rest of your life and every time you make it, where ever you are in the world, you’ll be reminded.

Travel Memory Ideas To Take With You

  1. Cooking
    Learn to cook at least one dish from every place you travel to. There’s nothing wrong with eating out alone but your family will love you for it too!
  2. Language
    Language learning opportunities are everywhere when you’re traveling
  3. Yoga
    The yoga I first learned in Bali, I still practice today. It’s one of the best ways to stay healthy as a digital nomad
  4. Taichi
    When I practice taichi I always remember Beijing
  5. Meditation
    Learning some meditation would be a great memory to take with you
  6. Martial Arts
    Muaythai in Thailand, kung fu in China, BJJ in Brazil or boxing in Cuba
  7. Sport
    Learn a new sport while you travel, what are the locals playing?
  8. Style of Painting/Drawing
    As you travel, different places have different styles, what could you learn there?
  9. Craft
    Travel to Japan and learn origami, or Tangka in Tibet

Small Reminders That Won’t Weigh You Down

Make Travel Memories Collecting Money

OK OK, so I said no souvenirs, but sometimes you just can’t resist!

In fact, over the years I’ve created some ways to get around buying souvenirs that won’t become a burden. The last thing you want is to be that guy with their suitcase wide open at check-in, looking for something to throw out because he’s over the weight limit!

So you either want something that is very light and small or something which you don’t have to take with you.

Tips For Buying Memorable Travel Souvenirs

  • Send it to your next destination
  • Send it to family or friends
  • Send it to a P.O. box
  • Something very small & light
  • Something you need anyway

If like me, you travel back to the same place every year, you can buy souvenirs and send them there. Next time you go back, they’ll be there waiting for you.

This does require a bit of forethought however, you may need to set up a P.O box at the local post office or ask a local friend to receive the packages for you.

Another option is to send them to a family member or friend back home. It’s also the perfect way to stay in touch with the people who mean the most to you.

My wife loves buying fridge magnets of the places we’ve traveled to. They all get sent to China and when we are there they get put up on the fridge.

Is it necessary? No. But going to the fridge a few times each day, it’s nice to remember the meal we had by the Mekong River or the time we spent in Hong Kong.

The only problem with sending things to a future destination is you don’t have that memory with you most of the time. This is why I like to find things that I need anyway. I buy clothes where ever I am and every time I wear them I can remember the place I bought them.

Souvenir Travel Memories That won’t Break Your Back

  1. Fridge Magnets
    You can find these absolutely everywhere when you travel
  2. Collect Money
    Some countries don’t let you take money out of the country, make sure you can before you travel
  3. Stones/Sand
    Again, some places don’t allow you to take natural scenery away, check before you do!
  4. Shells
    Take the sound of the sea with you
  5. Clothes
    You have to buy clothes anyway, why not create a travel memory with them
  6. Tea
    Sit and remember your travels with a cup of tea
  7. Coffee
    Buy some coffee and start your day with a travel memory
  8. Phone Case
    You’ll find some creative phone cases on your travels, it’s a nice way to keep a memory alive.