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.
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.
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.
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.
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…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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.