33 Brilliant Ways to Actually Use Your Travel Photos

Thomas J. Story
Get more out of your photos than Instagram likes

If you travel and own a camera or smartphone, it’s safe to say you return home from vacation with hundreds of snapshots. Or thousands. Some destinations are just really, really ridiculously good-looking.

As for the fate of these travel photos? You’ll probably continue to Instagram them for the next couple of days while you can still get away with pretending your trip isn’t over. Maybe you’ll set aside a few for #tbt posts on particularly dreary future Thursdays. Maybe, if you have a penchant for evoking envy in friends and acquaintances, you’ll make a Facebook album, too.

But after that, all of those precious pixelated moments from family vacations, weekend getaways, and epic adventures will sit, forgotten, in a digital folder or on a hard drive. No longer.

When it comes to travel photo projects, the Internet is full of smart ideas — like paper lanterns or a photo-wrapped pencil set — and these kinds of things are lovely for when you’re feeling (very, very ambitiously) inspired. For the knowingly craft-challenged set, simple prints are the way to go.

Parabo Press is a good site for beginner photo printers as it’s super easy-to-use — though it’s actually the sister site to both of those not-as-easy DIY tutorials. They have simple and affordable printing options and some more unique styles like black and white engineer prints or velvety matte glass ones. For your first order, you can actually get a set of 25 square-shaped prints for free, just paying for shipping.

There’s also a world of options dotting the middle of the creative enthusiasm spectrum, and you’ll find my favorites below. (P.S. a lot of them make great gift ideas for jetsetting friends and family.)

Turn your Instagram feed into an actual book

Photo books can be a lot of work, but Chatbooks makes it simple. It syncs with your Instagram or Facebook account for an effortless import. I just loaded in 138 photos in about three seconds, and they automatically arranged chronologically — one per page — with the ability to add captions and locations if I want. They also recently teamed up with illustrators to launch a collection of limited-edition, travel-themed covers.

Print photos directly from your smartphone

Traveling with my Fujifilm Instax Mini is fun, but I too often found myself retaking the exact same photo on my phone because I am a visual hoarder. Enter the Prynt case, a printer that attaches directly to the iPhone to print photos instantly, or you know, after a few edits and the 13 test shots it might take to find just the right angle.

Hang them on a cute clothespin display

So now you’ve got a stack of three-dimensional travel memories and an empty wall. Pinterest would tell you the only logical next step involves a spool of string, clothespins, and if you’re very motivated, some twinkle lights. On the other hand, this five-tiered frame is $20 at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It’s not cheating, I promise.

Pin them to a cork map bulletin board

For travel memories, a basic, quadrilateral bulletin board simply will not do. Pin your road-trip photos — and any visually appealing tickets, postcards, and such you acquired along the way — to this cork wall map. And don’t forget these tiny push-pins!

Fill in a map-shaped photo frame

If you’d prefer to hang something a little more polished, try a pre-cut matboard photo frame. It also comes with state-shaped cutouts you can use as a template when sizing your photos to fit.

Or have someone artsy do it for you

May I remind you, this is definitely not cheating. Minted is a marketplace that connects the less DIY-inclined with super talented independent artists, and they’ve got a full travel-inspired art category.

Get fancy with some word art

So, topography’s not your jam? This Etsy artist will turn your photos into typography prints. And don’t worry, you can choose the font.

Make a new luggage tag

Because nothing says family vacation quite like matching photo luggage tags.

Or a passport holder

Keep your most important travel document safe from harm by wrapping it with a photographic masterpiece.

Personalize a perfume label

Calling all beauty lovers: Pinrose will let you label their signature scents with a custom photo. You can try the Starter Kit to determine which fragrance is most reminiscent of your trip.

Turn your photos into a puzzle

Target makes custom 252-piece puzzles with designs like the above or with full-bleed versions of your photo.

Create your very own stamps

No, custom stamps are not just for wedding invitations.

To put on your very own postcards

Artifact Uprising has a ton of cool photo products, but I love this postcard pack. You can create 20 cards, with as many different images as you’d like, and they’re printed into a book using 100-percent recycled paper.

Use them to protect your tech

Casetify’s easy-to-use builder gives tons of different design options to spruce up your favorite tech. You can customize iPhone cases, Apple watch bands, Macbook sleeves, and more.

Eat them

After printing them atop sugary delights, of course, like these marshmallows from Boomf. At Eleni’s New York, you can also print on cookies and cupcakes.

Turn them into stickers

Business cards are the bread and butter of Moo.com, but if you have no plans to monetize your travels, they also offer these cute, pocket-sized sticker books.

Paint them! Or again, maybe hire someone to do a better job

For the less artistically inclined, there’s always Etsy. The CarlinArtWatercolor shop creates beautiful custom watercolors from your photos. If you’re more of an acrylic person, the lindywhittonstudio shop offers custom work from $78.

Print your own ceramic tiles

Even if you’re not currently renovating your bathroom or kitchen backsplash, the custom photo ceramic tiles from ImageSnap make for cool shelf decor, magnets, or wall art.

Put them on your nails; yes, really

The NailSnaps app lets you turn your travel photos into nail wraps, and now I’ll probably never get a manicure or apply polish with a brush again.

Make your desk less sad with a daily travel photo calendar

Start every day at work with a little reminder of what you’re really earning that paycheck for: more incredible travel experiences.

Upgrade your dopp kit

What use would you even have for a travel accessory or toiletry bag without one of your beautiful photos on it?

And your go-to tote bag

Can’t find the perfect tote for the beach? Print one with your favorite seaside snapshots.

Get nostalgic with a Retroviewer

Ever find yourself wishing you could be visually transported back to both your vacation and the ’90s simultaneously? Image3D.com lets you make a custom seven-photo reel to use with your dusty, old stereoscope goggles — or you can buy a new pair. There’s also an option to add 3D captions to your photos.

Get futuristic with tech wraps

You’ll never have to second-guess which phone charger — or tablet, or Amazon Echo tower — is yours again.

Pair your memories with a scent

With fragrances like Beach Walk and Balsam & Cedar, Yankee Candles can often bring the scent of your favorite place home with you. The custom label just takes it up another notch, and makes for a thoughtful gift.

Customize a pair of classic kicks

Not only do Vans make great shoes for travel, they also make a great canvas for your travel photos. An “Add Your Own Photo” feature is available for an extra $10 on men’s, women’s, and kid’s Vans in the Classic Slip-On and the Authentic style sneaker.

Or a T-shirt

You’ll be so excited when someone asks you where you got such a cool-looking travel T-shirt.

Or a pair of leggings

At this point, you could potentially wear a head-to-toe outfit designed by your photographic eye. I just want to be sure that possibility is very clear.

Or an entire wall

If the views out your windows are lackluster, turn to the walls. The tool that Murals Your Way uses to help you create custom wall images checks the resolution, and they have an easy one-sheet for other photo requirements to ensure your new living room scenery comes out the way you intend it to.

Or, my personal favorite, a shower curtain

Bet you wouldn’t have thought of this one.

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