How to Remember More of Your Holidays

By Abi King | Travel Hacks

May 10

The Best Travel Apps Tried and Tested on an iphone while travelling

So here’s some interesting research: apparently, even our strongest holiday memories fade within two weeks.

What’s worse? Digitally trying to record things may make those memories fade faster.

Sceptical as I always am, I read this with my usual gallon of salt.

Luxury holiday brand TUI have released the information in conjunction with talking about the latest developments at their own resorts: the five star TUI Sensatori.

Yet they have some hefty backing behind them: leading experimental psychologist at Oxford University, Professor Charles Spence.

It can’t just be handy for advertising. Maybe there’s something more to it.

Here’s how the theory works out.

Lemons on sensory quiz

It’s less that digital cameras are bad for us (for this at least) but that the issue arises because only one sense is used: vision.

It’s been a long held principle in neuroscience that memories become stronger with the strength of emotion involved (good or bad) and also the number of different senses involved too.

With mobile phone photography, it’s so easy to take a photo, the brain almost doesn’t even register. We snap, too, in case we forget later, a consequence of which is that we almost forget to be fully involved right now.

So what’s the solution?

Bring your senses to life TUI sensory

Sketching, apparently, or indeed any activity which involves more than one sense and which forces us to really immerse ourselves in the experience.

Drawing involves sight, of course, but also touch and proprioception (knowing which part of our body is where at any time.)

As Charles Spence says, “Scientific evidence is clear in suggesting the more of our senses we stimulate, the more robust the multisensory memory that is formed. Technology keeps our eyes occupied, but while it plays to our dominant visual sense, it fails to connect with our more emotional senses.”

In an interesting quest to combat this problem, TUI’s five-star Sensatori resorts, which have been purposely designed to fuel the senses, have installed “Sketch to Etch” kits in their resorts. They’ve also enlisted “sensorialists,” extra-creative people with tips to help give your senses a work out.

You can see more of their work over here:

If drawing seems too, well, hopeless, you may be interested to know that writing things down also helps people to remember them (a handy factoid for a travel writer and blogger ;-) )

On the other hand, if you’re absolutely loving all this talk of sensorialists then head over here to take this quiz and find out whether or not it works for you too!

But either way, this fits a pattern of what I’ve been thinking about lately, when I wrote Does anyone still read anything anymore? For all our love of digital and video, it seems that there is a core part of being human that benefits from engaging with the world in a different, more effortful, way.

Pineapple in sensory quiz

I’m not sure that I have all the answers yet (what?!) but it’s something I’m thinking about and exploring more and more.

How about you? How do you feel your travel memories are affected by the digital revolution?

Disclosure – this article was produced in partnership with TUI Sensatori. However, as always, as ever, I kept the right to write what I like. I create memories I’d rather not have otherwise…


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.