how to make the best travel photo album

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 1.20.22 PM.png

Last month, I came back from Europe with literally 11,000 photos on my phone, a quarter of which were probably from the trip alone. I had shared many of them on Instagram, whether on my feed or in stories, but this was such a special trip that I knew I wanted to have a photo album made for each destination. I’m still working on the final edits of each, but going through the process gave me a few insights I wanted to share for anyone out there thinking about making their own travel album.

I’m so excited to get these printed and have them available look through and reminisce about our time in London and Amsterdam, perhaps with the strawberry tea we got at Fortnum & Mason or a jug of Pimm’s and lemonade if things get crazy. 😊

Use a web-based service to create your album.
You can, of course, go it alone with Photoshop but it’s so much easier to use a customizable tool like Mixbook or Shutterfly to create your photo albums. I personally like the options on Mixbooks, where you can select a pre-made template and drop your photos in. However, I do suggest that you play around with the template to make it work best for your travel story.

Decide on a storytelling format.
On that note, the most important first step is to decide what story you’re telling and how you want to tell it. Are you going to organize your photos by day? Or will you order them by activity or theme? For travel albums, I personally like the chronological format because it helps you to mentally relive your trip.

Be selective with your photos.
This is so hard for me! I take a million photos and love so many of them that I have a really hard time narrowing down images to include in the album. But, we all have Instagram and can also store photos on our computers, so there’s really no pressure to include every single shot. Narrow the photos down to your absolute favorite, whether it’s because of the quality or just the memory associated with the photo.

Dedicate a page to special subjects.
In addition to a chronological, day-by-day photo format, you can pepper in a few pages dedicated to special subjects. This could be photos of all the amazing food you ate, the outfits you wore, or even your hotel rooms. One of my favorite ideas, stolen from Caila, is to include a page just for funny photos, kind of like the bloopers at the end of a movie.

Step away, then revisit before locking in your final edit.
One you’ve created your first draft, step away from the computer! Sleep on it, show it to your travel companions to get their feedback, then make any necessary edits before pressing submit. That way, you’ll be confident that you’re getting a well-designed, artfully curated photo album that you’ll always treasure.

hello from amsterdam

386A5272-C233-4CE7-8436-0A4E254EA202.jpeg

Amsterdam was absolutely amazing. My family was Dutch and we really relate to the culture even living in the States, so going into this trip, I had high expectations but also a little bit of fear that it wouldn’t live up to how I had hyped it up in my head. But truly, I felt so immediately at home in the Netherlands even from the moment we boarded our KLM flight in London and then landed at the airport. As soon as we landed, we were in the middle of beautiful green fields peppered with canals.

Ever since getting home, I’ve really missed Amsterdam. London was tremendous and I can’t wait to go back there, but I really, really miss Amsterdam. Here’s a little overview of the trip:

CF8B0DC1-080B-4903-A945-C8F0C826D351.JPG

The Airport //
Schiphol is one of my favorite airports because it’s so clean and modern and just has a good vibe to it compared to other airports. To make things even better, our “taxi” was a gorgeous Tesla which was a super fund ride to the hotel. AND the driver was playing the new Marina album, so I think it may have been the best airport transfer of all time.

The Hotel //
Our hotel in London was so wonderful, but I have to say the Amsterdam hotel lived up to it as well! We had a huge room with a view of the canal and Leidseplein Square and these fun, gold clogs on the wall. We have wooden clogs at home because we’re obsessed, so this was a happy thing.

3143FD93-004A-48E9-9E48-4B527E60EF6C.JPG
7B1B53AD-8C56-426F-84FD-D1289BAC3243.JPG

Day 01 //
Our first full day in Amsterdam started at the Anne Frank House. It was really fascinating to actually walk through the annex where the Frank family lived in hiding. I think the most moving part was being face-to-face with a portion of the wall that was used to measure Anne and her sister as they grew. That little, normal detail was just haunting.

After Anne Frank, we hopped across the street and into the boat for our canal tour and prosecco with Flagship Amsterdam. I have a full overview of that from the other day. That night was also the night I finally gave in and bought my Adidas pool slides because no other shoe would fit my swollen feet. 😅

B2C7D4C4-4DEC-4308-ABCA-CCF44E549104.JPG

Day 01 Food //
After the boat, we headed back along the canals toward the hotel to find somewhere to eat. Throughout our entire time in the city, we kept passing this little corner market with all sorts of vegetables on display outside. This corner was seriously one of my favorite places in all of Amsterdam.

We stumbled upon the restaurant Venus & Adonis and I’m so happy we did because this little place had the most beautifully designed dining room and bar. It was all midcentury modern with beautiful warm tones. We had some really good salads, frites, and our favorite Dutch ginger ale.

4D276F21-796E-42B0-A8DF-F12E587C3FED.JPG
84D0055C-1407-4474-BFB3-F35A3336CE0F.JPG

Day 02 //
Our second day was primarily made up of our own DIY food tour of Amsterdam. But first, we stopped at Bloemenmarkt for a few minutes. I hate to say it (because I love flowers), but this wasn’t my favorite spot. It just felt very crowded and touristy, so we stopped in at a cute cheese shop then moved on. Up next, we got the most delicious stroopwafel and fritjes cones I’ve ever had!

6ECF5544-5571-42ED-ADC2-142771CE9C1C.JPG
C30F0192-6B75-476F-9047-199BFD5D379D.JPG
056F341A-A1DA-4B10-943E-F7A4DD50FEA4.JPG

Shopping //
We did most of our shopping on this day in addition to most of our eating. We picked up a few Delft pieces for our family collection, stopped at the Adidas store, and spent some time trying makeup in & Other Stories. I love any time I can get into an & Other Stories shop because they always have the cutest pieces and now I know their makeup is really good too. I might order some and do a review sometime!

Sightseeing //
Later, we walked to the Rijksmuseum, Museumplein and through Vondelpark a little bit. I wish I had personally gotten more time to spend in the park because it really was a beautiful spot. Museumplein is also really cool because there’s so many different types of architecture to see.

BA0DAEAE-34C3-46F9-8F21-7762CDD18D0C.JPG
94956711-6E72-4318-804F-97FFE0AB05E9.JPG

More Sights + Food //
This is kind of out of order but before we went to the Museumplein/Vondelpark area, we walked to Winkel 43 to try the famous apple cake. On the way there, we probably stopped 100 times to take photos of all the beautiful things we passed on Herengracht.

1AEB86CA-FE03-4479-B48B-82124556A42B.JPG
C850A8CD-EE3E-4692-AB9C-A038B7031433.JPG
50B237EE-F6B4-4D06-92F8-56067C525173.JPG

Day 03 //
Our last full day in Amsterdam began with a walk through Museumplein and De Pijp all the way to Coffee + Coconuts. I’d been dying to have brunch here because it’s such a beautiful space in a converted historic theater which is right up my alley. I will say, it wasn’t the best brunch experience I’ve had and I’d probably only go back with a group. I’m used to trying new brunch spots in New York on my own and it’s never weird, but it was just kind of weird here! I sat facing the wall in the back, so I basically didn’t even get to see the restaurant and they didn’t have the menu item that I planned on ordering, which is fine but the menu is rather meat heavy, so I ended up only having a coconut and croissant, but those two things were great.

Afterwards, I met up with my mom and dad and we walked over to Foodhallen. We spontaneously had vanilla ice-cream cones with disco dip and then didn’t end up actually eating at Foodhallen because it was very crowded. We went to Dutch Weed Burger Joint instead and had frites there. This wasn’t my favorite area of town, so we headed back after that.

Okay, so that’s my full thoughts on what we did in Amsterdam. The trip totally exceeded my expectations and next time, I know what’s overhyped and what I want to spend more time doing, plus the areas I absolutely love!

why you need a pair of adidas pool slides

A7E9693E-021B-413E-BCB6-E672D062F8B3.jpeg
IMG_2344.jpeg
CBF2A1C7-4AB1-444F-8683-B34F623D4353.jpeg

By the time we got from London to Amsterdam on this last trip, my feet were dead. Not to get TMI, but they were swollen and my pinky toe was in such bad shape, literally none of the shoes I packed allowed me to walk properly. I was literally limping through the airports 😅. Once we got to Amsterdam, we bought a cheap pair of sandals from H&M in my normal size but they were so tight, they barely stayed on when I walked!

Enter Adidas Adilette Aqua Slides, which were a godsend and are now one of my favorite pairs of shoes. After a no good second search of H&M, we went into Sneaker District because all I wanted were slides. I was magnetically drawn to a pair of size nine men’s pool slides (mind you, I’m a women’s 8, so these were like the equivalent of a women’s 10.5). They were so comfortable, I could finally walk normally and legitimately was able to enjoy the rest of our trip because of these shoes.

Now that I’m back home and my feet are back to normal, they are definitely a little roomy but I’m still able to wear them everywhere. They were a really good purchase, especially since I live somewhere where I go to the pool and beach year round. So, why am I telling you that you need these?

One //
I wholeheartedly believe that these are the best travel shoes. We all typically get sore feet when we travel, especially on trips with a lot of walking, and many people experience swollen feet on airplanes. So, these are ideal to have on hand for those situations. Buy them a size or so bigger than your normal size and these will be a lifesaver when your feet betray you.

Two //
The other reason they’re so perfect for travel and everyday is their versatility. For being a pair of pool slides, they are rather chic and have this way of making any outfit look a little bit cooler. There are really endless ways to style these slides and you can make them work for any personal style. Yes, you can even pull them off with classic looks like a white button down and jeans or a little black dress. I genuinely believe you could take any casual Jackie Kennedy or Audrey Hepburn outfit, add these shoes and it would look really good.

I will say this: I wore these with a pair of black socks one day and I swear I felt like a teenaged French boy, but it was kind of fun, so whatever. I kept saying all I needed was a pair of weed socks and I’d officially be one. 😂

on the canal with flagship amsterdam

778C7DB0-049A-4745-A2DE-1C9A7A2BE03C copy.JPG
4D276F21-796E-42B0-A8DF-F12E587C3FED.JPG
7FDE973F-E7DA-4F2F-9A26-554327EBA4FE.JPG

If you go to Amsterdam, we all know that the number one thing you have to do is take a boat ride on the canals. It’s an integral part of life in the city and too beautiful to miss out on!

We went with Flagship Amsterdam, who I can’t recommend more highly. Unlike the crowded, covered tourist boats, Flagship takes you on what feels like a private tour with an open air boat complete with snacks and drinks for purchase. We ordered some prosecco just as we headed out.

Our ride was scheduled for a bit later, but once we left the Anne Frank House (where the boats are docked), we went ahead and asked if we could hop on an earlier boat. I’m so glad we did because our boat only ended up having a total of nine passengers which made for a roomy, very personal experience. In addition to our group of three, there were two women from Russia, two women from South Korea, and a couple from Germany.

Our captain and skipper, Captain Jack and Kim, were so great! Kim gave us a lot of interesting knowledge about the city and the canal system without it being too much or overly touristy. It really just felt like taking a casual boat ride with your Dutch friend who knows a lot about the city and is able to point out cool things of interest.

The houses along the canal were build very narrow because you were taxed according to how wide your house was. Ever the practical people, the Dutch installed hooks on the tops of the houses so that they could use a pulley system to bring furniture into their homes. Something interesting Kim told us that I actually hadn’t noticed before was that the houses actually lean forward a little (which you can clearly see when you’re looking for it) because otherwise, furniture on the pulley system would be dragged up alongside the facade of the building. With it leaning forward, the furniture is suspended safely in the air.

Our hour long canal ride definitely didn’t last long enough, but by that I mean that I could stay out all day. I was imagining all of the things I’d like to do while floating along the canals: reading, napping, playing games, having lunch, and so on. You can bet if I lived in Amsterdam (which I wish I did sometimes), I’d have a boat and use it for most of my waking hours.

The moral of this story is that the next time you’re in Amsterdam, you must take a canal cruise and you should 100% do it through Flagship. I was so impressed with the whole thing and it’s the closest I think you’ll get to a private boat tour.

a little amsterdam food tour

2BE45DA3-4509-4545-B100-EE984EC4E575.JPG
542D67E8-B268-4BB4-BF99-B2AF6137765B.JPG
803B3A5D-F1E2-4C38-80C4-1F9AB8F160B8.JPG

In the little planning we did for our actual day-to-day schedule while visiting Amsterdam (this was an uncharacteristically spontaneous leg of the trip), one thing I knew we had to do was a little self-guided food tour. There were so many different Dutch foods I wanted to try and while we didn’t end up getting to them all (next time, bitterballen), what we did try was amazing.

1// Stroopwafels
I’ve obviously had my fair share of stroopwafels before in the States. I am, after all, of Dutch heritage and an unrelenting sweet tooth. But, they’ve all be the prepackaged kind which simply don’t compare to the real thing. We went to the iconic Van Wonderen Stroopwafels, located on a cute little corner on Kalverstraat, which did not disappoint.

They have tons of toppings to choose from, but I went with a medium stroopwafel with one side dipped in chocolate and covered in mini marshmallows. Because it was made from scratch right there on the spot, the chocolate on the outside and the caramel on the inside were warm, gooey, and melting which paired so well with the crisp cookie and chewy marshmallows. 😭

5F65F137-3929-4109-8023-12117189F5CC.JPG
A845B302-5385-46F0-B324-C5708ECBE321.JPG

2// Frites + Belgian Mayo -Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx
From London to Amsterdam, the food we definitely ate the most of on this trip was fries. Chips, frites, fritjes, whatever you want to call them! Our next stop after Van Wonderen was the famous Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx right around the corner. It’s just a little walk-up place with a few tables outside. When we first walked by on our way to stroopwafels, the line was super long but by the time we came back, we were able to walk right up.

Along with the frites, they offer a huge menu selection of dipping sauces. We went with classic Belgian mayo, which has a much tangier, less sweet taste than American mayo and is absolutely divine. The frites come in the cutest paper cones, too! Not going to lie, right after I took a photo, some of the mayo dripped down on the sidewalk and we had to sit by and watch as someone walked through it, trailing mayo footprints behind them.

It was quite chilly out the day we had these, but they were so warm and crispy and delicious, it barely mattered that we ate them sitting on a stoop in the shade. If you’re visiting Amsterdam, you definitely have to try the frites here.

3// Fritjes - Dutch Weed Burger Joint
The second place we had frites was on a whim at a place called Dutch Weed Burger Joint. My mom and I had initially planned on eating at Foodhallen but it was super crowded, so we walked over and found my dad at the Dutch Weed Burger Joint where he had been dying to eat. The name isn’t what you think, it actually refers to seaweed. 😅 The frites here were different than any others we had tried. They were super short and stubby, which isn’t my favorite but they were crispy and delicious nonetheless. You really can’t go wrong with fries, can you?

53DDFA05-6198-4408-BF59-E92B0BD26349.JPG
94956711-6E72-4318-804F-97FFE0AB05E9.JPG

4// Cheese!
I love cheese, especially gouda so I knew we needed to check out a cheese shop while we were in the Netherlands. We stopped at a random one by the Bloemenmarkt as we were walking by and sampled so many interesting variations. There was even a lavender cheese that was surprisingly good! However, the best one I tried was the one unpasteurized variation they had in the shop. It was beyond. It was creamier than any cheese I’ve ever tried! A fairly cute nearby British backpacker agreed with me, so I think it’s fact now.

5// Apple Cake - Winkel 43
Coming into Amsterdam, we knew we had to try the famous apple cake at Winkel 43. Now, there are many places in the city that have apple cake, but I’ve heard the competition is really between Winkel 43 and Cafe Papeneiland, which we planned on visiting but never ended up making it. We sat outside at Winkel 43 at a shared table with two guys from Canada and a pair of friends who lived in Amsterdam but were originally from Bulgaria and somewhere I can’t remember, oops. We ordered a piece of apple cake to share and I paired it with a huge glass of Earl Grey. It was the perfect treat at the coziest little table of people.

For some reason, I expected apple cake to be on the dry side but it was so moist and just tasted really fresh paired with delicious, rich whipped cream on top. Whenever I eat anything remotely like this, I think of my favorite scene in Inglorious Basterds and have to say, “Ah, ah, wait for the creme.”