Welcome to my new series looking back at my Disney trips and how I documented them. It's my hope that reading about my trips and not only how I documented but also how I came to decide how to document our trip will help you with those decisions about your own trip.
Who? My husband and myself. My son was not quite 10 and our girls were 8 and 4.
Where did we stay? Port Orleans Riverside on Disney property. We fell hard for this place. We'd still stay there every trip if two of my children hadn't grown into gigantors. I like to torture my kids by telling about how I can't wait until they're all grown and gone so their Dad and I can go back to Riverside and get a King room just for us.
The documentation story:
Back on Veteran's Day 2003, I had a rare day off from teaching where my kids were still in school (they attend a different district). I was home and playing on the internet — which had to be horribly slow back then — and somehow I got on the disneyworld.com website and found a “kids are free” special. Since we had three kids, this looked like a really good discount to me.
Not long after, we had a countdown. I still remember that it started at 211 days. We've had some shorter countdowns since then and some way longer countdowns (including our current one).
By this time, I had a digital camera. It was a whole 2MP. I was still paper scrapbooking, but I had sort of lost my joy in it. I no longer felt creatively challenged and I was viewing it more as a chore than as something that made me happy. I loved digital photography. My own photos improved so much when I had that instant feedback.
So we went on our trip, and for this trip, I hadn't planned how I was going to document our trip before we left. I think I had some ideas about picking up supplies while I was at the park. Instead, my husband and I were souvenir shopping one day and I had the idea to just buy a photo album. One with slots for pictures that I could simply slip photos in and be done.
You may notice a small 8×8 album in that picture. In addition to my photo album, I also printed my trip report in 8×8 size, along with a select few photos as dividers in black and white. Tanya shared about trip reports here at CMM in her blog post Share Your Vacation in a Trip Report. I still love reading trip reports but 2004 was the only year I actually wrote and finished one. I have this issue that when we get back from a trip, I'm sort of all done with Disney for a good year. I want my album done, my memories preserved and don't even talk to me about it for at least a year. But back in 2004, I wrote the trip report.
I was probably able to write the trip report because I didn't scrapbook it. That's right. Despite the fact that I was a fairly active scrapbooker, I didn't scrapbook it. I filled the photo album, made a little album to hold my trip report and that was it.
My kids still love to read that trip report album. It kind of makes me sad that I didn't do it again, but writing a good trip report is a huge investment of time. Still, watching them read that trip report has taught me that no detail is too small. The kids love the stuff I almost didn't put in that trip report or my albums.
I also need to say that I don't think one piece of documentation — trip report album or photo album — would be as good without the other. I think that both photos and words are essential to telling a good story, and if I'd just done the photo album, I'd be missing a lot of story. If I'd just done the trip report, I'd have the mental pictures, but no actual pictures. I needed to do both.
However, if you don't enjoy writing as much as I do, and/or want to save time, the album did have places for captions, and you'll see below that I did make use of some of those areas.
These aren't my favorite albums but they do a good job of documenting our trip. In retrospect, they indicate to me where I was creatively at the time. I ended up switching to digital scrapbooking about three months after we came home. That switch sparked new life in me creatively. But do I think a photo album is any less valid method of documenting our memories? Not at all. In fact, the next two trips were documented using photo albums as well. If that's what works for you, it works. The important part isn't how you document, it's that you document at all.
Have a question? Please comment and ask away. I'll do a follow up post at the end of this series to answer any questions about document our trip — during planning, on the trip, or when we were home — at the end of the series.