5 Creative Things to Do With Travel Photos

After a vacation, it’s pretty inevitable that I’ll end up with hundreds of travel snaps on my phone’s camera roll (in addition to the hundreds on my camera’s memory card!), and for a long time, a lot of them would stay there. Now that most of us take a majority of our travel snaps on a smartphone, it seems like less and less of our travel photos actually get printed (or even seen) after vacations end. Last year on the Carnival Breeze, we stopped at four major ports, and I found myself pretty overwhelmed with the amount of photos I came back with. Because each port was so different, I took a lot of photos on my regular camera and on my phone (not to mention the snaps I got while on the actual boat).

From the plane’s landing at Maho Beach in St. Maarten to the peaceful turquoise waters of Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, I had a lot of digital files to work with. Rather than let these memories stay on the screen and be forgotten, I decided to make it a point to figure out how to make sure that didn’t happen. High-quality prints and framing can get expensive quickly though, and the last thing most people want to do after a vacation is spend hundreds more just on photos.

To combat this, and to get photos off your screen and into your hands quickly and easily, I’ve come up with five ways to creatively integrate your travel photos in your home and life.

Go Big (and Bold) With An Engineering Print

While phone snaps can be great, they aren’t always the highest of resolution which means they can look blurry or pixelated if you print them too largely. Lean into the pixelation, and create a large-scale, black and white engineering print. Engineering prints are large, gray scale prints that are more commonly used for engineering or architectural projects (think architectural blueprints, etc.), but they make for amazing, unique photography prints.

These prints are inexpensive (I recently purchased a huge engineering print of some palm trees for about $7.00), and can be ordered from most printing companies. Remember, these prints are meant to be in black and white, and are going to appear imperfect and grainy. This is part of the charm! You can easily get one framed or even clip them up with oversized binder clips as pictured for a relaxed look. There are lots of creative ways you can hang these (washi tape, wooden dowels, decorative tacks, etc.) depending on your existing decor, and since they’re so inexpensive, it’s easy to update and swap them as you take new travel snaps.

Go Old School with Instant Prints 

On a recent trip, I brought along my instant camera, and noticed that more and more people around me were doing the same thing. Now, I make it a point to take my instant camera with a few packs of film along with me on all my trips. It’s so great to come back with physical, printed photographs from trips, and they have a fun vintage feel to them. Collect a stack of your favorites, and corral them in a pretty dish or bowl on your coffee table. I rotate mine out periodically, and friends who come over always comment and leaf through them.

Create a Grid of Images 

As we all know, frames, printing large, high-quality prints, and getting custom artwork put together in general can be very expensive. If you’re on a budget, you can still get the large scale impact by creating a grid (or another shape) with your favorite snaps. A little mounting putty or tape (just make sure not to damage your wall paint!), a stack of prints, and a half hour, and you’ve got yourself an easy DIY photo wall. You could easily add to this after each trip, and end up with a wall full of travel snaps.

Frame Your Favorite Gram 

We’re all so used to viewing images in square format these days (thanks, Instagram!). Why not get your favorite Insta shot from your travels printed and framed for your home? It’s a great way to force yourself to really hone in on your favorite, most special shot from your trip, and the square frame is a fun, modern touch.

Lots of retailers and printing companies have become savvy to this trend and as result, you can get great square mats and frames for relatively cheap. Several printing companies are now even allowing you to connect your Instagram straight to their order system meaning you can get your photo, printed, framed and sent to your doorstep with about five minutes of effort!

Send a Postcard 

It might be a bit old school, but I still love sending postcards to friends and family either during or after a trip. The problem is, most postcards are a bit cheesy looking, and though the sentiment is still there, a lot of people may not want to keep a tacky looking postcard on their fridge for very long.

Instead of buying postcards, I decided to start getting some of my travel images printed on cards to send to loved ones right after the trip. People still love receiving them, and love that they get a custom photo of my actual trip versus a standard, old school stock image. Lots of printers allow you to get custom postcards made or if you have a good printer at home along with some cardstock, you could even DIY the project! For an extra touch, I love using vintage stamps on these.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

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LA PHOTO GUIDE

Recently, my friends at Artifact Uprising asked me to put together a photo guide to LA complete with tips for each location. It was so fun to put together, and definitely has me dreaming of another trip back west. Until then, you can read the guide here: https://www.artifactuprising.com/photography-tips/los-angeles-city-guide 

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Traveling with Photo Equipment

As most photographers will attest to, traveling with photography equipment is a tricky, and occasionally anxiety inducing thing. I’m always expecting extra security searches or worry about somehow damaging my camera. With a few trips coming up both domestic and international, I thought it would be helpful to put together a post about how I keep all of my work equipment safe while traveling and on a day-to-day basis.

I realize it’s vain, but I really don’t want my equipment to scream “I’m a photographer!” and would prefer for the stuff I carry around to mesh well with my regular, everyday style. With that being said, here are my favorites. 

Away Carry-On

Away recently sent me a piece of luggage to try out, and I was really blown away. Firstly, it’s beautiful. I opted for a dark blue, and the color is so understated but striking in real life. Secondly, as every friend and family member I have will attest to, my phone is about to be dead 90% of the time (including now) so a suitcase that can charge my phone is a real godsend for me. Thirdly, the hardshell makes it perfect for keeping photo equipment safe.

The carry-on I have works for domestic and international planes so I feel totally safe putting cameras and lenses into it without worrying about someone forcing me to check my bag. There’s lots of little compartments, and I genuinely feel like my stuff is super secure. I’ve started using it during local shoots that require lots of props, and it’s made things so much easier and more organized.

Caden Camera Bag Insert

Full disclosure, there’s nothing pretty about this thing but luckily, no one will ever see it. This little guy is one of my favorite things in the world because it has allowed me to turn every bag into a camera bag. I throw my camera in this, toss it in a bag, and go. Most often, I put it in my Everlane backpack (my day-to-day camera bag), and it fits perfectly. While traveling, I’ll put it into some of the leather totes I have and it works wonderfully. And it’s less than $20!

Everlane Snap Backpack

Though there are finally some cute camera bags out there, I’d never found one that was quite right. Thus, I decided to turn my Everlane backpack into a camera bag, and it works really well for me. You can easily fit a body and a couple of lenses in it plus a laptop, and any little accessories you may need, and its $65. I love it, and it gets more compliments than literally anything else I own.

Thomas Paul Case

I’ve bought an actual memory card holder on Amazon in the past, and it was not great. It fell apart almost immediately, and I found myself searching for a replacement soon after. My sister gifted me this cute little pouch for Christmas one year, and I’ve found it to be perfect for storing memory cards. I actually keep spare business cards in it too, and it’s way better than any dedicated memory card organizer I’ve seen. I label my cards so I have an idea of what’s what, but your milage may vary if you need to keep your cards separated.

Other photography and non-photography gadgets I love:

Notebooks – I try to always have a notebook on me because no matter how much I utilize notes and to-do apps on my phone, nothing works for me quite as well as a paper to-do list. I’m embarrassingly particular about my notebooks, and have been loyal to Rodia notebooks for a while because they have graph paper. I recently got a notebook from Appointed, a DC-based company (!!!), and I am loving it. It’s also graph paper vs. lined, and the cover is so ridiculously beautiful. They sent me one with my initials embossed in it, and I’ve been carrying it everywhere.

Pilot P-500 pen – This is as ridiculous as being particular about notebooks, but I’m a pen snob too. Seriously, just go buy this pen, and making grocery lists will become 100% better.

Transcend Card Reader – A good card reader really makes a big difference. This one is about a billion times faster than my old one, and it’s under $20 on Amazon. It’s tiny, lightweight, and does the job without issue.

Dulla Phone Bank – As I mentioned, my phone is always dead. I carry this little phone bank with me pretty often, but especially when traveling. A lot of my Instagram photos are just iPhone snaps so I really try to make sure I have this at all times. It holds 4-5 iPhone charges, and it’s pretty cute as far as phone banks go.

That’s everything! I’m sure things will change and get updated as time goes on, but hopefully this is somewhat useful if you travel with equipment and want it to look semi-cute!

Disclosure: I was gifted an Away suitcase; however all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. 

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Caribbean Adventures

When booking our trip, we wanted to make sure that we selected an itinerary that included as many ports as possible. We’ve never spent a great deal of time in the Caribbean so why not see as many different islands and ports, right? On our journey on the Carnival Breeze, we had stops in St. Maarten, Antigua, St. John, and the Dominican Republic. In each port, we had a very different experience, but from spotting planes in St. Maarten to kayaking in the Dominican Republic, we had a fantastic time exploring each of our beautiful Caribbean stops.

 It was so incredible to experience all four of these places on one trip. Logistically, I can’t imagine planning a trip to all these separate spots on my own so I was more than thankful we were cruising! It really allowed us to maximize our time enjoying ourselves vs. worrying about transportation, lodging, and how to get to the next location. Easy as can be!

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Today, I’m sharing some of what we did in each port, general tips, and what our favorite spots to explore were on each island.

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For our first stop, we dropped anchor in St. Maarten where there are both Dutch and French sides of the island. Full disclosure: this was the stop I was most excited for, and it did not disappoint at all. Just a 15 minute walk away from the port is a great shopping area in downtown Phillipsburg that we enjoyed walking through, but we had our hearts set on traveling to Maho Beach (on a different part of the island) to see the famous plane landings at Princess Juliana International Airport, located just beyond the beach area.

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I’ve seen photos of the plane landings online for year, and I’ve always wanted to see them in person so we couldn’t have asked for a better first stop. We took an inexpensive local bus to Maho, and despite our apprehensions about finding the right bus, it could not have been easier. We got to the beach in about 30­-40 minutes, grabbed some snacks and drinks, and found a good patch of sand to settle into.

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Planes flew in fairly regularly, and words can’t even describe what an incredible experience it was. There was so much excitement about seeing the planes all across the beach, and just the idea of seeing a plane fly just a few hundred feet overhead is pretty wild. We made some great friends on the beach, and really had to tear ourselves away to make it back to the boat in time.

After our experience in St. Maarten on the first day, we opted for a more quiet time in Antigua at Dickenson Bay. In contrast with our previous day, Antigua was low key with very few people on the beach, and definitely no plane landings. It was a quick ride from the port, and home to the most perfect turquoise waters I’ve ever seen.

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On any trip, it’s always good to have a good mix of active days, and more relaxing ones so we tried to make sure we did a good job varying it up. There were a few different local spots along the beach at Dickenson Bay if you’re looking for a bite to eat, and if you’re not one to relax in the sand for more than an hour or two, there’s also the option to take a horse ride right on the shore.

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From Antigua, we made the short journey to St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are a lot of different beaches in St. John to choose from, and we definitely had a difficult time figuring out which we’d like best. In the end, we settled on Coki Beach which was a quick cab ride away from the ship’s port. We were hoping for a beach that had snorkel rentals, beautiful scenery, and one that didn’t feel too cramped. Though we heard that Coki can get crowded at times, it wasn’t bad at all, and it could not have been easier to rent a chair and get a good spot right by the water. As the day went on, things definitely got a bit more lively so try to get there early if you want to get a good spot.

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The same person that helped us with the chair rental handled our snorkel rentals (how easy is that?) so after a traditional island lunch consisting of fresh fish, we set off in the water with our gear. At the end of Coki Beach is the Coki Dive Center so we were excited for the sea life we’d be able to see, and luckily there was quite a bit out there to look at. Snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts will absolutely love this spot.

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Though we had explored each of the other three ports on our own, for our final spot in the Dominican Republic we opted for one of the planned excursions to La Casa En La Playa, a beachside getaway complete with kayaks, snorkels, paddle boards, a chef and bartender, and plenty of lounge seats. After planning each of our other island trips (which was a fun but at times overwhelming process), it was so nice to hand the reigns over to someone else.

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The beach is completely secluded, and absolutely beautiful with the most picturesque palm trees lining the water. We fit in some snorkeling, kayaking, reading in hammocks, and walking along the short all in one afternoon which was quite the feat.

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All in all, our goal was to really seize the chance to see as much as possible, and we were so glad that every stop felt like a completely new adventure for us.

 

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

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4 Caribbean Favorites

This time around, I thought it would be fun to share some of the more unique aspects of our recent trip to the Caribbean with Carnival Cruise Line. On and off the ship, there was so much we encountered that was outside of what I had anticipated (in a good way!). Since it was my first time cruising, I didn’t have much to go from aside from what I’d heard from friends and family so it was fun to experience things for the first time. Here are just a few that topped my list.

The Food

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Food is a big part of just about every trip I take, and this one was no different. I was so pleasantly surprised with all of the food options we had. On the Carnival Breeze, a big highlight food­-wise was Tandoor, an incredibly flavorful Indian restaurant that we frequented on more than one occasion.

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Other favorites were afternoon tea (who knew they did this on cruises?), and tacos from BlueIguana that I am not ashamed to admit I had at least once a day. Who’s really going to say no to unlimited tacos?

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The Glimpse Into Local Life

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I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get enough time at each port to really experience each locale, but luckily, there was enough time to get a taste of what each island had to offer. From trying a local beer at each port, to getting off the beaten path to see unique parts of the islands, this was one of the best parts of the trip. We got a chance to chat with locals, see some of the watering holes they frequented, and get a sense of the places we’d like to visit again. local local4

By waking up early (you’ll have time to nap on the beach later!), and getting off the ship on port days early, we were really able to maximize our time to explore. As result, we got to see so much.

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Sea Day Brunch

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On every sea day, a pretty amazing brunch was served up for us. It sounds like something insignificant, but it was such a fun, relaxed part of our trip. Brunch classics like eggs Benedict and pancakes were on the menu alongside some more out­-there options. On most days, we’d ask for a seat by the windows, order a mimosa or two, and tuck in for a long, indulgent brunch. Brunch on land is already great, but brunch at sea is even better.

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Details On Board
One of the things I loved the most on the trip was the sheer amount of little details on the ship. From the unique bars to the running track to the spa, there was so many little things that made a huge impact on my trip.

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As someone who tends to make overly detailed plans when organizing trips, I always find that what I love most about my trips are the unexpected details that weren’t planned. In this case, it couldn’t have been more true. From starting mornings running on the track to a lazy brunch, these little details made for the perfect time aboard the ship.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway

state of mind. Head on over.

 

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