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During ‘lockdown’ I’ve found myself with a little bit of spare time to fill, which has inevitably seen me look at my super-long ‘to-do’ list – and then pick out the most fun things to do.

Creating photo albums of my travels has been on my ‘to-do’ list for yonks. I’m talking at least 5 years. A few years ago I started trying to create a scrapbook for my 2015 trip around the West Coast of America, but realised that a) it was more time-consuming than you’d think, and b) I’m not as creative as I’d like to be. So I quickly decided that a photo album would be more my scene – it’s quicker, low-effort, and far less stressful.

I know, I know – in a world where most things are online, photo albums seem a little bit old-fashioned. But, to me, there’s nothing better than holding something tangible in your hands and reminiscing over some of your favourite adventures. I love looking back on photos and seeing something that triggers a memory: of a half-forgotten meal, an evening out or even an old friend.

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Because of this, my photos are some of my most prized possessions. I always worry that both my hard drive and my laptop will break and I’ll lose all my photos and memories forever. Photo albums have therefore always been on my ‘to-do’ list in order to add an extra layer of reassurance for myself. I decided to start with my photos of Cuba because I very recently had a slight panic attack that I’d lost all of my photos when I’d updated my computer. Thankfully I hadn’t – or I at least managed to get the bulk of them back through various means.

There’s also a hope that these physical photo albums will be a durable family investment that can be passed down to any future generations. I have countless photo albums that my mum made when she was young. I love looking through little snapshots of her life and seeing what the world was like through her eyes in the ’70s and ’80s!

First step: Photo albums or photobooks?

A few weeks ago I started off thinking that photobooks were the way to go. There are so many available online and they seem fun and easy to do. Plus, when you’ve ordered it you’ve literally done everything: it arrives and it’s ready to slip onto your shelf.

But when I started creating one, I quickly realised that it wasn’t for me. If you’re short on time it can be super easy – some websites literally let you upload your photos and then automatically populate the book for you. This is fine if you have a handful of photos and you don’t mind how they’re laid out, but this wasn’t the case for me at all.

First of all, I wanted loads of photos (think 300+). I also wanted them to be large enough to see the little details…which quickly adds up to a LOT of pages. Photobooks tend to come with a set number of pages, and then you pay a surcharge for the extra pages you want to be included. This means that the cost can add up quite quickly.

I am also super orderly and wanted photos to be in the rough order of the days on which they were taken. And then, because I am a complete worrier, I also worried about accidentally leaving some photos out. It’s not like you can just slip in some extra photos into your photobook once it’s been printed, can you?!

So, after a little while I decided that a classic photo album was the best route. I could print out all of the photos I want, take my time arranging them, and even add in more photos further down the line if I needed to…

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Choosing a photo album

I wanted a classic-looking photo album that had a bit of character. In the end I went with a personalised photo album from Paperchase (annoyingly the one I purchased isn’t currently available, but that link will take you to the smaller version). It has space for up to 300 photos, so is perfect for my Cuba photos. I may get the smaller version for trips where I don’t have as many photos to print though, as it obviously works out a little cheaper.

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Where to get photos printed from

With almost 300 photos to print, I wanted somewhere that was cheap but reliable. In the end I plumped for Snapfish, purely because they had a 50% sale on. They seem to have these sales quite a lot, so if you have a lot of photos to print it’s worth holding out for one. My matt photos arrived around a week after I ordered them (not bad for lockdown times!), ready to be inserted into the album.

Future travel photo albums to make

Now that I’ve done a photo album for our trip to Cuba, I’m looking to my other trips. I think I’m going to prioritise the biggest trips that are going to each need their own photo album. I’ve printed out my photos from my Christmas trip to New York last year, but I’m also hoping to make albums for my trips to West Coast America, Tromso, and our rail trip around Italy. I’m thinking it might make sense to combine our smaller weekend breaks, e.g. Copenhagen, Krakow, Basel, Barcelona, Lisbon, Lanzarote, Monaco, Prague and Budapest into one or two albums – but I’ll see how we get on!

Do you like making photo albums (or photobooks)? Or do you prefer keeping everything online?