I remember the day I first discovered Pinterest. I was home over the holidays in December 2011. I think someone had sent me an email with some photos, and the images linked to Pinterest. I thought, what is this strange new web-thing? Two hours later (where did the time go? a question I would come to ask myself with increasing frequency), I had vowed to myself to PIN. ALL. THE. THINGS.
I’ve refined my Pinterest strategy over the years, and about 75% of my usage is for recipe-filing. But recently, I’ve discovered a new use: travel planning and “virtual” scrapbooking. In 2013 Pinterest rolled out their travel boards, which really are just regular boards with a map attached to them. I haven’t found them to be that functional, and still prefer to use Google maps to visualize the actual geography and routes of my trip (now, if only Pinterest would partner WITH Google maps… that would be a phenomenal tool!). FYI, if anyone at Pinterest is listening, I think when you add a pin to a travel board the pin should automatically record the location and pin to the map. But I digress.
Pinterest seems to me to have two functions: 1) aspirational (“This is what my dream home would look like!”); and 2) concrete project-planning/ note-taking (“I tried this recipe and it was ok, but next time add more carrots.”) Similarly, I’ve found the site to be useful for travel in two ways: inspiration while planning, and “scrapbooking” afterwards.
Pinterest as Inspiration While Planning
In the very early stages of planning, it can be useful to search for the name of your location(s) and see what pops up. Beautiful photos, travel tips, restaurants, books – anything may come up. This is the aspirational side of Pinterest, and is a lot of fun – dream big! Doesn’t cost you a thing. You can see the one I half-created for my recent trip to China and Korea.
Once you’ve done that, follow my tips on using Google maps to help you plan your trip. Then, take your trip! And finally, once you get back….
Pinterest as a Scrapbook Tool
This came about because my memory is truly atrocious. I would pin recipes, make them, and then a few weeks later not be able to remember what I thought about them! So I started editing my pins after I’d made the recipe, with the month/year I’d made them and what I thought. Truly awesome recipes even got moved to a new board.
The method translated well to travel pins. You can use your inspiration board or start a new one. Just google all the places you went – hotels, restaurants, museums, parks, beaches, etc. – and pick an image to pin. You can note the date, what you ate/saw, and what you thought. You can also copy over notes from Frommer’s or whatever travel guide you used, to give a little more information. I did this for my May 2014 trip to San Diego.
For a once-upon-a-time-scrapbooker who still has a folder full of stuff from 2008 I keep meaning to scrapbook, this has revolutionized the way I deal with trip mementos. I don’t need to keep that napkin from that cute cafe, because I pinned the cafe’s website! (For those scraps and stubs I DO save, I’ve started these crafty memory boxes.)
Perhaps best of all, this creates an online repository for your trips that can be a) easily accessed if/when you return to the place again and 2) easily shared with friends who are traveling to the same destination. How many times have people asked you for recommendations in ___, and you’ve dutifully written out long, helpful emails with links and suggestions? No more, my friends! Just send them your Pinterest board and your Google map, and you win the award for savviest traveler.