Home / Destinations / A Collaborative Travel Journal: Inspired By Travel memories Of Travel Bloggers

A Collaborative Travel Journal: Inspired By Travel memories Of Travel Bloggers

I want memories, not possessions is a regular mantra of mine. Over the last 20 years I’ve spent as much time as possible creating a treasure trove of travel memories. From abseiling into caves, rafting over waterfalls, taking helicopter rides onto glaciers or simply going for a run surrounded by spectacular scenery, travel rewards me with so many wonderful memories.

The following quote really should be the epitaph on my grave!Inspirational travel quote

Those travel memories can be revived in a instant, simply by a waft of a scent, or a song on the radio. Today’s post takes a peek into other travel blogger’s memory triggers. They include many you might expect, but plenty which may surprise and amuse you. Don’t worry if you don’t spot your memory trigger here. Get involved by commenting underneath the post and we can get this conversation started!

Triggers of travel memories you might expect

Toiletry scents – Alexis and Bertaut of World Travel Adventurers

When we stay in nice hotels with toiletries that smell wonderful, we ask for extras to take home to remind us of our vacation later. Our favourite scent is Tubereuse 40 which is used at a few Park Hyatt hotels we’ve visited- the one in New York City and in the Maldives. Now when we use that shampoo or lotion, it transports us mentally back to our blissful vacation.

Scent is such a great trigger for memories, so we love collecting lotions from our favorite hotels around the world, and then remembering those vacations every time we use them.

Memories of the Maldives
Park Hyatt Maldives

Lemongrass – James of Portugalist

The smell of lemongrass instantly transports me to Thailand. A whiff of freshly-chopped lemongrass and I’m walking through a food market in Chiang Mai, while the combination of lemongrass and citronella reminds me of the diffusers that many of the larger hotels in Bangkok have.

I think it’s the rarity of the smell of lemongrass here in Portugal that makes it so powerful. If it was something that I regularly smelled, it wouldn’t have the same effect. Because it’s so rare, it has the power to instantly take me on a trip down memory lane.

Coconuts – Yulia of The Foodie Miles

Coconut seems to be on the rise in the Western world with coconut oil, coconut flour and coconut milk considered superfoods. But the one product that always draws my attention in supermarkets is coconut water. Every time I see bottled coconut water sold at $3 I can’t help but reminisce about my time in Sri Lanka.

I used to buy a whole fresh coconut, cut off the tree only a few hours beforehand, for no more than 30 cents.  Coconuts in Sri Lanka are sold in the streets and cut open right in front of you.

Anne: Now that reminds me of this trip to Bali, where the guy selling the coconuts went scampering up the tree to hack one off on request. My husband and I were stunned, but always remember this moment when we see coconuts.

coconut travel memories
Freshly cut from the tree as we watched

Frangipani – Kaylie of Happiness Travels Here

I really needed a holiday. It was winter and I was working myself into the ground as a junior doctor. At work before the sun came up and home well after it set. Thoughts of my trip to Bali kept me going.

Climbing out of the air-conditioned taxi at our hotel, a wave of moist heat and an amazing fragrance hit me. A Balinese woman with a beaming smile placed a lei of frangipani flowers over my head. The heady sweet perfume wafted up on a warm breeze. An amazing rejuvenating holiday followed and the smell of frangipani still takes me back to Bali.

Frangipani travel memory triggers
Beautiful frangipani flowers

Music – John of From Real People

On my 13th birthday in July 1987 I received the exciting present of my first walkman. Along with it, I received the cassette tape of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 4’. The day after, my walkman and I went on a road trip to the Isle of Harris in Scotland. We did it in a Land Rover, so it took ages, and I have very fond memories of that amazing trip.

Song 1 on Tape 1 of Now 4 is “No More Lonely Nights” by Paul McCartney and every time I hear it I relive those islands and their amazing beaches. Almost 30 years later, I went back with my own kids. The first song on our spotify playlist, well I’m sure you can guess…Scotland drive Creating travel memories in Scotland

Music – Samantha of Have Seat Will Travel

In February of 2015, my husband and I visited Australia. We found the song Cheerleader by OMI, playing on every radio station as we travelled the country. It was their song of the summer and a great upbeat anthem to our trip.

After we returned home, we started hearing the song on radio stations in the U.S. Every single time I hear that song, I think of driving our rental car up and down the Gold Coast of Australia and I can’t help but smile.

Subway sandwiches – Hannah of Traveltomtom

My travel trigger has to be the smell of a Subway sandwich shop. It’s not romantic or cultural, but it reminds me of the first backpacking trip I took when my husband and I were dating. We flew to Bangkok and headed straight for Khao San Road, where we stayed in a little hostel above the Subway sandwich shop.

We had breakfast there every day and chatted to the owner. Now every time I walk into a Subway, it takes me back to when we were carefree teenagers- ten years and three kids ago!

Anne: By the way, Hannah works out with unicorns and is about to take her three kids and hubby on a RTW trip so I am sure she will soon have some more travel memory triggers.

Ice cream – Leah of Kid Bucket List

On my very first trip to Florence in Italy, we sourced a cup of berry gelato near the Ponte Vecchio. We then continued to explore the streets before stumbling on the Museo Galileo, the former Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza which I just had to go inside.

These days I’m drawn to Berry gelato and the mere taste, transports me back to that Italian day of my youth.

Dubrovnik ice cream memory
MMM, reminds me of our recent trip to Dubrovnik!

Music – Don of Travelvoila

A Mandarin Song called ‘Basket’ recalls memories of an epic drive. We were driving from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle. I took the wrong turn and went into Austria. While I cursed “Basket”, as we were running late, my friends were excited because of the beautiful snowfall along the drive. It was our first time seeing snow, so why not enjoy it?

So whenever this song is played in the car, it brings back memories of the beautiful drive along the Austrian border.

A snowy drive in Austria
Travel memories in Austria

Triggers of travel memories you might not expect

Kerosene – Clemens of Travellers Archive

Something that immediately reminds me of travelling and distant countries is the smell of kerosene. Even if it is only on a short domestic flight, when the distinct smell of kerosene wafts through the air when boarding the aircraft, it automatically reminds me of long-haul flights and countries on the far side of the globe. No wonder I immediately want to travel again.

Anne: Now that is definitely one trigger I was not expecting but I can see the link.

Onsens – Jerny of The Jerny

When I see hot spring images in movies, animations, and articles, or people talking about hot springs, I immediately remember the time when we were in Kinosaki Onsen in Japan. The memory was still vivid because we had to remove all our clothes and expose ourselves and that was the first time I took a hot spring bath together with other naked people.

As a respect for Japan’s tradition with onsens, and to experience the culture, we went in naked. It was awkward at first, but once you’re experiencing it yourself, being naked feels normal.

Anne: OMG, this so reminds me of my trip to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. It is very un-British to simply doff off, and being made to shower naked with the shower police hanging around, transported me straight back to teenage PE lessons!

Iphones – Tom of Traveltomtom

Ever since I lost my phone out of a moving train in Sri Lanka, the camera of my iPhone 6s is not the best. When it happened, I almost jumped off the train, as trains in Sri Lanka are not the fastest. I decided not to, and got out at the next station and searched the train track for 3 hours without success.

I told every local that if they found it, I would pay $250 cash. Within an hour, there were about 30 people helping me searching for my iPhone. Unfortunately no one found anything, but then a couple of hours later my hotel received a phone call that someone had found my phone. I gave the honest guy a pile of banknotes and he was the happiest man alive!

Sri Lanka train memories

Dukes of Hazzard – Kirsty of Barts Go Adventuring

What normally sparks travel memories for me is either music or television programmes.  The weirdest one is probably watching the Dukes of Hazzard which doesn’t make me think of our US road trips as you would imagine, but instantly reminds me of being sat in our apartment in Italy.

We were there for a month and managed to find only a couple of channels that were in English and this one channel just showed back to back episodes!

Black tea – Marie of Travel With Marie

I spent 23 days in Thailand volunteering in a hostel. Each day, I found myself sipping a cold cup of Thai tea (cha yen) in the streets of Sukhumvit.

I like Thai food too, but I have a soft heart for anything strongly-brewed black tea with an aroma that makes me high! I’m back home now, but still its taste lingers on my tongue like crazy. The craving is so bad that I end up hunting for Thai restaurants in Manila hoping I’ll be able to drink one that’s authentic, and will bring back the memories of the great days I spent there.

Tea travel memories
Tea memories

Rice machines – Thais of World Trip Diaries

Last year, when we were in Japan, we used to go to the closest supermarket and buy all the food we’d eat except for rice. All the houses we rented came with a rice making machine. So handy! We saved a lot of money because of that option.

Now, every single time we hear the little tune that used to play when the rice was ready, or when we smell the freshly cooked rice, we remember those days in Japan.

Rice terraces in Thailand
Source: Pixabay

Zoo smells – Talek of Travels With Talek

When I was a kid in Cuba, my mother and I would go to the Havana zoo. Once I tried to feed a monkey and it grabbed my hand and scratched it. We wandered around the zoo looking for first aid and I remember a particular smell the zoo had.

Sometimes in city parks I come across that smell and that day in the zoo comes flooding back.

Street scene in Cuba
Source: Pixabay

Loadsa money – Priya of Glorious Sunrise

A wad of rolled up cash always triggers my Goa travel memories. It was my first inter-state trip with my friends when we were in college.

As we were enjoying the famous Calungute beach, we spotted a wad of cash that was dropped by someone accidentally. We took it to our hotel’s reception desk and asked them to give it to anyone who came searching.

Convert cashback to airmiles
Source: PIxabay

What triggers your travel memories?

As you can see, there really are some weird and wonderful triggers of our travel memories.

So, how about you? What is your best travel memory trigger? For me, it is invariably about the music. I can always remember the year and place just by hearing a song, but I would love to know yours.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips


  1. Really love the blog post. They are sounds really great. As a luxury travel writer, I have collected many pairs of branded hotel slippers. Really it was a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing us more details.

  2. What a beautiful collection of stories. I could relate to many of these because there are activities, food, and scents that conjure many happy memories on the road.

  3. Hi Ann; I love this post. When I went to New York City last year I only came home with two physical souvenirs. 1. the hooded sweatshirt I bought to keep away the cold. 2. the program that came with my ticket to wicked which I happily gave away to my nephew seth as I can’t see the darned thing anyway. I’m blessed to have lots of memories in my head. I also got lots of great photos taken by whichever random person happened to be there. And when I think about some of your examples I’m reminded of how southing the sound of a diesel generator is In my former life I was a carney. A smooth running generator meant safety. It meant you were open and the lights weren’t going to go out any time soon. There is also the smell of real popcorn wafting through the air. It instantly triggers all sorts of great memories. And as you know I also collect conversations. I can remember the people even if I can’t remember all their names. 🙂 Thanks for sharing a great post from so many top bloggers and reminding us its not the stuff its the experiences that make a great travel adventure. Many blessings, Max

    • Thanks for commenting Max. Thanks for reminding me in your book that travel is more than just what I can see. Such a simple fact and one I’m embarrassed to admit I’d overlooked. I’ve got so many great friends that I met travelling. Have a great day

  4. First of all, this is a wonderful idea for a collaborative post. It was great reading about what triggers the travel memories amongst travel bloggers. One of the thing that triggers memories for me is a scent that was provided in my hotel in Zurich. This was a herbal scent and full of the fragrance of pine. I use it on my pillow and sleep and dream of Switzerland.

  5. what an interesting collection of memories. while I was reading I was trying to think of my travel trigger. It is hard to choose one. when I see any coconut oil, I go to Thailand only by smelling it. Orage juice brings me to Istanbul, Pizza to Italy and ….I love traveling and making memories

  6. Have seen many collaborative posts and year-end travel musings but this one was the most evocative of all because it did not focus on counting destinations but tried to capture the intangible. From coconut to frangipani… it is a sensory pleasure to go through these experiences. And this is what travel is all about, knowing when to stop and savour something even while on the move!

  7. Megan Jerrard

    I love your mantra of wanting memories over possessions – and totally agree. And totally love the concept of bringing everyone together to share their travel memory triggers! The toiletry scents is a good one – some hotels we’ve stayed in have had some incredible scents, and when you smell it again it transports you straight back.

    Music is another great one too, since every trip usually has some sort of soundtrack attached to it! On my contiki trip from 2007, there was a song which they would play when we needed to wake up (on the bus) because we were 10 minutes out from our destination – and to this day, 10 years on, when I hear that song I’m right back on my bus tour. And if I’m asleep I wake up – crazy!!

    • Oh gosh, I did a Contikit back in 2004 and it was ‘Let’s get it started’ by the Black Eyed Peas. Thanks for reminding me of that memory!

  8. Memories are my favourite things. I think it’s wonderful that we’ve moved into an age where we care more about making memories than material wealth. I think my favourite of these stories is Leah’s with the ice cream. You can always count on food to take you back in time! My daughter is the same way whenever we go to an Argentinian asado restaurant.

  9. It’s nice how some little things can trigger so much in our minds! It’s like the “Madeleine of Proust” 🙂 Some of these memory triggers are hilarious! I do have so many travel memories triggers… some that I can’t even remove from my wrist!

  10. Lovely read, yes there are certain things that reminds us about our travels, for me its the people i met and the food triggers those lovely memories!

  11. Wow this is to true! We associate scents of certain things with our memories from a trip. Just like coconut reminds one of Sri Lanka, it takes me back to Thailand! Even though its common to find it in many parts of the world, that’s where I associate it with 🙂

  12. The scents of flowers as well as music are two big triggers for me…things that immediately transport me back to a place and time! Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful posts and insights.

  13. To collect travel memories is really interesting and unique way for each of us. I find it interesting by the categories like music, taste and etc because the diversity and type of memories you get in your head are so many and makes you just smile randomly. I totally agree with Ice cream – Leah of Kid Bucket List and Black tea – Marie of Travel With Marie I have similar case. Thank you for the interesting artcile 🙂 PS: Love the quote on the begining!

  14. Loving all the memories! i remember one of my first trips to America every time i have a certain CD on. love it! I think i need a new travel ritual to bring back the memories of past travels!

  15. As a luxury travel writer, I have collected many pairs of branded hotel slippers. Every time I put a pair on I am transported to that place. I don’t even have to click my heels.

  16. I love how a simple thing can trigger such powerful memories! Music is a big one for me, I always have a playlist on my phone that I listen to depending on my mood – I have a whole one dedicated to my South America trip so every time I listen it takes me right back!

  17. Smells, sounds and taste take you back to your travel moments. Every time I have Sangria I am taken back to Square Largo Do Carmo in Lisbon, with hot summer sun coming down on us drinking amazing wine

  18. I’m loving this post, because like you, I love to collect travel memories much more than things! I’m also in complete agreement with Alexis and Bertaut on the scents of toiletries — there’s a particular moisturiser that I took with me on my first holiday to Japan, I’d been given it as a gift and it was the perfect size for my travel toiletry bag — and even now, a few years later, that scent is special to me as it makes me feel I’m on holiday in Japan again!

    • I know the feeling but jasmine is a definite one for me. I am currently staying in a awesome villa in Zanzibar and I am still trying to figure out the scents in the bathroom but they are likely to be a trigger in the future. It is like going into a spa every time I wander in.

  19. Lemongrass instantly transports me to Thailand too! I’ve only been once, but every time I go to a Thai restaurant in the states, I order that lemongrass soup and can’t get enough of it. I also absolutely love the quote in the beginning of the post 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Sharing is caring

Maybe your friends would love to know about this too!

%d bloggers like this: