How to Create a Gallery Wall for Travel Photos

Written by Mark Rogers

It has never been so easy to take photographs while on vacation. Most of those photos, however, go unnoticed, either scrolled past in never-ending social media feeds or kept hidden away on phones and memory cards.

With more people jetting off to far-flung locations and more ways to take a photo (the both loved and hated selfie sticks, for example), it may be more meaningful to display your travels on walls that can’t be scrolled through: those in your home.

Choose the Right Vacation Photos

Snapping a photo was once more carefully considered, since film could be limited or expensive — no one wanted to waste time and money developing blurry scenery or failed candid shots. But it is the easier accessibility that has made people less likely to print and display photos. Instead of simply throwing out the bad shots, you have to choose among dozens with imperceptible differences.

When taking photos for your vacation, delete the ones you don’t like immediately; collect the photos you love by putting them into a folder or saving them to your phone under “favorites.” Remember that photos that look great on Instagram may not be the best choice to print and hang in your home — choose photos that evoke positive memories, not just ones that look pretty when the right filter is added.

Vary the type of photos for a unique travel gallery wall. Along with the typical shots that epitomize the destination (a photo of the Eiffel Tower or the Coliseum, for example), select posed group photos, candid portraits, or even unique macro photos that feature complementary colors. A travel gallery wall should not only tell viewers where you’ve been, but what it felt like to be there.

Pick a Travel Gallery Theme

It’s far too easy to create a disjointed gallery wall if you’ve got plenty of travel photos and space. To ensure you stay on track, pick a theme: select just one trip or country to highlight, or perhaps a gallery wall filled with shots of historic monuments around the world. With each trip, you can replace the photos or even leave a few blank with placeholders for trips to come.

The right picture frames for a gallery wall can support the theme. A collection of frames in mismatched colors and materials can add a sense of eclecticism; backpackers may find their photos are more suited to various picture frames that tell a story. Photos depicting family adventures may feel more at home in understated metal picture frames to ensure the focus stays on the subjects.

Add More Than Photos

When building a standard photo wall display, you’ll most likely add just prints. With a travel gallery wall, however, there is the opportunity to get creative.

Create a centerpiece: Frame a map of the region, country or even the world to act as an anchor for the rest of the photos. Some travel galleries even feature themed wall decals or hanging metal wall art from which you can create lines with string or cords to “point” to the corresponding photos.

Add lettering: Make a statement (literally) with words and phrases hung above or within the gallery. Hang wood lettering such as “explore” or “adventure” as an eye-catching accent, or go a little subtler with a framed quote, such as the short but sweet Seuss-ism, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” or the more serious philosophical sentiment, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” Word art such as this can be easily custom made and printed, so you can even special order your family name or unique phrases.

Frame trinkets from traveling: Ticket stubs, maps, coins and other items you’ve collected on your travels can be framed and added to the gallery wall; larger items, such as decorative plates or tiles, can be hung on their own among the frames. This can be especially striking when the colors of the items complement the photos.

Lay It Out and Hang It Up

When you’re finally ready to plan the layout of the gallery wall, it’s best to actually lay it all out. Use Kraft paper, also called butcher paper, to create templates of the frame and tape them to the wall to figure out where everything should go. When it’s time to hang, use the picture hanger tool to ensure you only have to hammer once.

The current American obsession with traveling means that there are possibly thousands of photos in your online gallery — don’t let them be forgotten! Choose your favorites and create a memorable gallery wall in your home that can keep growing and changing with your travels.

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