Here's How to Organize Your Travel Photos in Six Easy Steps
The COVID pandemic has thrown a wrench in a lot of our summer plans. You may find yourself stuck at home with your busy life on hold and your vacation postponed. But the good news is that now is a great time to pause and reflect on the wonderful trips you’ve taken by organizing your travel photographs! Sharing and displaying your travel photos can help build community, buoy your spirits, and dream of the vacations you’ll take in the years to come. Keep reading for advice on how to Marie Kondo your travel photo collection!
Travel Photos: The Best Souvenirs
Travel photos are some of my favorite souvenirs. While they capture only a split second in time, they also uniquely embody the feeling of the place I traveled to and the people I experienced it with. When I look back at my travel photos, I can almost relive my journey! My sense memories are activated: I can smell fresh baguettes baking in the streets of Paris, hear sea lions barking on the pier in San Francisco, feel the heat of black sand under my feet on the beaches of St. Lucia. And travel photos also spark lovely opportunities to reminisce with my family and friends, sitting around and sharing stories inspired by the images we captured.
Thanks to digital technology, it’s easier than ever to take as many travel photos as our hearts desire. But that ease unfortunately comes with a drawback: it’s increasingly difficult to access and share our photos due to the sheer volume of our collections and the complexities of digital organization. Your travel photos are no good to you if they’re simply gathering digital dust on your camera or smartphone or trapped in cyberspace.
Organizing Your Travel Photos
Getting your travel photos organized may seem daunting, but I’ve outlined a six-step process below to help guide you. Once implemented, your future travel photos will fit seamlessly into your collection, and you’ll no longer need to worry about being unable to access those memories you’re looking for.
Step 1: Gathering
The first step to organizing your travel photos is gathering them all in one place. Create a folder on your computer called “To Be Organized.” Upload travel photos to this folder from your digital camera and smartphone, which often carry built-in groupings by date, event, or location. Scan those hard copy photos from the days before digital with the PhotoScan app by Google (free) and upload them to the folder as well. If you have digital photos stored across multiple devices and need to get them all in one place, use the PhotoSync app (free) to send them all to the “To Be Organized” folder.
Step 2: Consolidating
Next, consolidate your travel photos into a manageable collection, eliminating duplicate files and deleting photos you don’t want or need. The PhotoSync app (mentioned above) can assist you in locating and purging duplicate photos. But you may also want to scroll through your files individually to prune back the size of your collection by purging photos that you don’t plan to revisit, share, or display.
Step 3: Grouping
Then, group your travel photos by time and location, moving them from the “To Be Organized” folder to their permanent home. Create main folders organized by year, then subfolders organized by month and country, then sub-subfolders organized by day and city or region. Most digital photos have time and location information embedded in the file (if your digital camera or smartphone hasn’t already grouped your photos by such data). If you want to go even further, use Adobe Bridge (free) to name and rate individual photos. Name photos by their content within their time/location folder and rate them on a scale of one to five based on their potential for sharing and displaying.
Step 4: Editing
Once your travel photos are organized, you may wish to edit the photos you plan to share and display, including cropping, straightening, lightening/darkening, getting rid of that pesky red eye, and much more. Before editing your photos, create a “Raw Files” folder with the original, unedited files (in case you make a mistake in the editing process). If you’re looking for professional-grade software, I recommend Adobe Photoshop ($20.99/month). If you have a Mac, you can use the Photos app (free), which has built-in, intuitive editing tools. If you’re working on a PC, there’s Google Photos (free), which contains editing tools and smart filters.
Step 5: Storing
After organizing and editing your travel photos, you’ll want to back up your progress and set up a system to automatically store future photos. You can use an external hard drive or a cloud-based service (or both). When selecting a cloud-based service, ensure that the service doesn’t compress your original files upon uploading, which decreases their quality and resolution. If you’re looking for a cloud-based service, I recommend BackBlaze ($6/month), which offers unlimited storage and an auto-backup feature.
Step 6: Displaying
Finally, celebrate all of your hard work by sharing and displaying your most treasured travel photos. Beyond posting your shots to social media, print hard copies with Snapfish, where you can digitally upload the photos you wish to print, selecting the size and quantity, and have them shipped to your door. Why not have a few of your favorites framed as well with Framebridge, where you can upload or send in your photos for custom framing? Best of all, design a custom scrapbook to sit on your coffee table with Mimeo Photos, which offers personalization through many themes, backgrounds, fonts, and formats.
Below are photos from my various Italy vacations with family and friends. My friend, Tracy from Villa Montarti Photography, mounted and arranged the photo display for me on a wall in our home.
I hope these travel photo organization tips have been helpful. If reminiscing about your past vacations has you inspired to plan your next one, please contact me so that I can help you plan it! In the meantime, I’m wishing you a joyful journey down memory lane.