5 Tips for Creating a Unique Travel Photo Book

If you think creating a travel photo book is old school and passé, think again –  this is still one of the best ways to store and show off your favourite travel photos.

In today’s age of digital storage, it’s easy to keep your photos tucked away on SD cards or on your computer hard drive without anyone but you ever seeing them. And as great as digital storage is, it’s not foolproof – several of our digital photos got corrupted over time and couldn’t be recovered, despite creating multiple backups. So there is still value in creating a travel photo book as a physical backup of your greatest travel memories.

Creating a great travel photo book takes a lot of time and planning. Even with all the resources available, you still have to choose, edit, re-size and lay out your photos in a logical way. But it can also be a fun and rewarding project.

Try applying some of the following tips for creating a personalized, visually interesting travel photo book that you will love showing off for years to come.

Design a Stand-out Cover for Your Travel Book

If you plan to keep your travel book out in plain view, you want it to be eye-catching. Rather than choosing just one standard photo to be the “face” of your entire adventure, why not save up all your ticket stubs from the places you visited and create your own personalized cover?

Marie Kondo would fully support this method of ticket stub storage – just lay out the tickets from your last journey any way you like and take photos. Then you can discard the tickets afterward rather than storing them in a shoebox or drawer.

travel photo book cover

This example includes tickets from several archaeological sites and museums, as well as bus and train tickets, brochures – and even a few candies and chocolate bars brought home from vacation!

Choose Photos Based on Memories, Not Landmarks

The first step to designing a great travel photo book is of course, choosing your photos. But choose them wisely. When printing your book, remember that you’re paying to print every page. So make them count.

Say you went to Paris and you have a dozen photos of the Eiffel Tower. So do a billion other people. But do those photos really represent your best memories of Paris? Maybe you ate the best croissant of your life at a colourful little artisan bakery in a quiet Parisian neighborhood. That’s the sort of photo that truly captures your best moments and memories from travel.

Of course, having a few photos of iconic landmarks make your travel destinations obvious to anyone flipping through your book. And there’s nothing wrong with including a few of those photos, too. But they only represent a fraction of your true travel story.

Choose photos that reflect memorable moments for you. Was it a great meal, winning a stuffed bear at a local fair, or getting up early to watch the sunrise in a new country that made the trip unforgettable for you?

For example, the photos below may not scream “Nice, France” to the casual viewer. But we could tell you a great moment reflected in each photo we included in our France photo book. These particular photos bring back incredibly strong memories – to the point that I still recall the sound of the ocean crashing on the rocky beach that sounded like thunder, and the taste of the walnut-cream sauce on the steak we had at one particular restaurant. Anyone looking at the photos may wonder why we chose these specifically – but it also opens up the conversation to describe some of those moments to your friends and family as they flip through the pages of your travel photo book.

Nice France photo book page

In terms of the photos themselves, be sure to use crisp, high quality photos. Avoid using photos that are too dark, blurry, or grainy, especially if you plan to blow them up to a larger size in your book.

Also make sure to crop out any unnecessary “noise” that will distract from the main focus of your photo. Extra hands, feet, the tops of strangers’ heads, corners of buildings, etc. waste valuable page space and look unprofessional. If you need to, edit out any small nuisances that detract from your main image – PhotoShop out bits of garbage on streets, smudges on tabletops, etc. to make your photos look clean and uncluttered.

Get Creative With Backgrounds

The first travel photo books (“back in the day” as we like to say) didn’t have an option to create or add your own backgrounds – we were stuck with a handful of stock colours that the software offered. Simple, but also very boring.

travel photo page sample

But now, creating and adding your own backgrounds are an available option – and one you should take advantage of if you want your photo book to stand out. This opens up a whole new world of personalization.

An unexpected consequence of this feature for us was that on every vacation, my husband and I would find ourselves taking photos to use solely as backgrounds. Suddenly, grass, gravel, stone walls, water, and moss became photo-worthy to use as backgrounds in our photo books.

Let your imagination and creativity run wild. One of our more creative backgrounds includes a close-up of smeared grainy mustard for our photos from Dijon, France!

Dijon mustard used as photo background

An important tip for choosing background photos – use photos that are relatively monochromatic and not too busy or highly patterned, as this can take the focus away from your actual travel photos. If the colours are too strong or dark, try decreasing the saturation and washing them out for a lighter, less distracting visual. But keep in mind that your backgrounds can tell a story on their own, so don’t wash them out so much that the image can’t be identifiable.

Try experimenting with:

  • patterned glass
  • castle stones
  • wood grain
  • tree bark
  • cobblestones
  • beach sand
  • floor tiles
  • leaves
  • hotel wallpaper
  • textiles

Use Interview Questions for the Text

Adding text to your travel photo book is informative, but it also runs the risk of being very dry. Writing the locations, dates, and names of landmarks may be important information, but as time goes on, the detailed memories of our trips tend to fade. And retaining those memories are why you made a travel photo book in the first place, right?

Instead of just writing places and dates, try using an interview-style format for the text of your book. Come up with a list of questions, then “interview” each other (or yourself!) and include those questions and answers, along with photos that help to illustrate the stories.

If there are photos you really want to include in your book that remind you of a great moment on the trip, turn that story into a question. For example, if you got caught in the rain and have a photo of yourself dripping wet and want to tell the story of what happened, you can turn that moment into an interview question.

Try something like: What was one unexpected thing that happened to you on holidays? (We went out without umbrellas and got caught in a rainstorm. We had to find shelter and discovered this great little tapas restaurant to hide in until the storm passed). Then include a photo from that tapas restaurant as your visual cue.

You can also include a full page or two of interview questions. There’s no rule that says your travel photo book should only have photos!

interview text in travel photo book

Here are some interview questions to get you started thinking about your own:

  • Best meal of the trip and why?
  • Most unexpected find?
  • What did we learn from the trip?
  • What was your favourite souvenir?
  • Biggest negative that became a positive?
  • Most interesting person you met on the trip?
  • What was the worst thing that happened on the trip?
  • What became the theme song for the trip and why?

Speaking of music, why not include a playlist of songs that remind you of the places you visited?

Have Themed Pages

There are a lot of ways to organize your travel photos, the most obvious of course, being chronological. This can also be the most challenging in terms of keeping your travel photo album interesting.

Rather than just going in order of date, try adding in some themed pages. Even if you don’t organize all of your pages this way, a few “highlight reels” focusing on a different theme can help mix up the expected pace of your book. A few theme suggestions include food, nightlife, architecture, wildlife, macro shots, etc.

As an example, this is one page we added to our travel photo book from Ireland that was food-themed. It includes our first proper Irish breakfast, a photo from outside a pub in Kilkenny featuring beer kegs, and some snacks we purchased to try.

Ireland photo book page

There are plenty of ways to customize a travel photo book, but the important thing is to design it in a way that really represents you and your individual personality. It makes your travel photo book that much more meaningful as a lasting keepsake of your adventures!

8 Replies to “5 Tips for Creating a Unique Travel Photo Book”

  1. Darlene Post author

    It would definitely make a great gift, and something to really treasure!

  2. ANUKRATI DOSI

    You just gave me the valentine’s day gift idea for my travel partner. I always thought of making one, but somehow, always thought that it wouldn’t be worth it. But, I will try making one now.

  3. Darlene Post author

    We have the same problem. We keep meaning to make more but haven’t got around to it lately. We just need to make it a priority in the new year!

  4. Darlene Post author

    It’s true, photo books do take up a bit of space, but you could always put a digital version together instead!

  5. Darlene Post author

    Oh yes, with enough time and planning it would make a great gift for someone!

  6. Lannie Travels

    These are great ideas! I always think about making a trip album but never get around to it. I’ll have to prioritize it for the next trip 🙂

  7. kasia

    Love these ideas! Especially the one about taking pics of images to use as backgrounds! Now, I just wish I has space to put these books. 🙂

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