Make Great Family Vacation Memories

By Candyce H. Stapen

Bringing back souvenirs from trips is a time-honored travel tradition. Store-bought T-shirts and baseball hats with destination logos, snow globes and jacket patches delight kids.

What may be even more fun and memorable is to create your own family mementos. Do you have a budding photographer, a kindergartner with great cut-and-paste skills or a ‘tween who produces first-rate YouTube videos? Harness your children’s unique skills and interests, making sure to give each one an age-appropriate task. Your homemade, family project adds fun to your vacation while also preserving your special memories.

Here are some suggestions:

Vacation memories: Making a vacation video

Star in the family video. Ask your ‘tweens and teens to use their smartphones and cameras to film their take on the family vacation. Suggest that the producers interview everyone—and be sure those behind the camera get a chance to be in front of it, too.

Vacation memories: Making a scrapbook

Create a scrapbook. Even in the digital age, scrapbooks rate high for preserving vacation memories. Choose and take along a scrapbook with archival-quality, acid-free paper. Each night work together, pasting in that day’s ticket stubs, brochures and photos (if printed). If you’re saving the printing for home, leave room to add photos in later. Little kids can draw or color the page backgrounds to add their own contributions.

Vacation memories: Making a box of treasures

Make a box of treasures. If your family’s not the put-down-and-paste kind, consider crafting a treasure box. Bring along a plastic storage container or an empty cardboard box. Let your kids decorate the outside by drawing patterns and pictures with magic markers. Then encourage everyone to put inside a few items that remind them of special vacation moments—the pamphlet from a favorite museum, the coloring book of mountain wildflowers, the pail with the destination’s logo, the family’s top 10 beach finds, the menu from that great burger joint and more.

Vacation memories: Filling jars with mementos

Fill jam jars. Pack a few clear plastic jam jars, which are easy for even toddlers to fill. Ask each child to put a few items into his or her jar to remember a special moment of the trip. Sand and seashells work well for beach vacations and twigs, pebbles and leaves provide good memories of hiking trips. At home, print out a favorite photo of each child to put in his or her jar.

Vacation memories: Creating a photobook

Fashion a photo book. Make sure that everyone who wants to can shoot some photos, whether on a camera, a tablet or a smartphone. At home, ask each family member to pick out 10-15 favorites. Log onto a website like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Mixbook or another photo book company to design and upload your photos and create a professional photo book of your trip.


Set the scene for your memories by finding the perfect vacation rental home.


Long-time family travel guru Candyce H. Stapen writes for many publications and outlets. She has written 30 travel guidebooks, including two for National Geographic. See for more information.