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How to Create a Travel Slideshow that Won’t Bore Your Friends

two friends watching a travel slideshow on an iPad
Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock

You haven’t really gone on vacation if you haven’t taken copious amounts of photos to share with your loved ones. What’s a better way to share your vacation shots than with a fun and entertaining slideshow? Here’s how.

We’ve all done it at least once before: We uploaded all our holiday photos onto our computers, deleted the blurry ones and anywhere we didn’t look our best, and then we gathered our families and friends. We gifted them with an endless array of pictures till the little ones fell asleep and the rest got cramps from forced smiling. We should be nicer than that.

Creating a travel slideshow that allows you to showcase the highlights of your trip and keep your friends hooked till the end isn’t difficult. It just takes a little time and creativity. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for the next time you come back from an epic trip worth sharing.

Curate Your Photos

Needless to say, you should refrain from showing all the hundreds of pictures you took while you were away. You have to be very selective and only choose the best.

Food shots are not as exciting as the real thing, so keep those to a minimum. If you’ve visited one or multiple cities, select a few unique snaps taken from different perspectives and in different areas. Buildings like temples and churches can be impressive, but showing several of them to your friends quickly becomes repetitive.

To keep your audience engaged, select different kinds of pictures, including landscapes, portraits, cityscapes, candid shots, and a few food/drink shots here and there. Variety keeps things engaging, so do your best to satisfy your audience.

Keep the Slideshow Short

On top of careful curation of your photos, the length of the whole experience is important. Slideshows are better enjoyed when they’re brief and to the point.

You might enjoy a half-hour refresher of your trip, but your friends probably won’t. Keep things short and sweet: Show the highlights and let imagination do the rest. Aim to keep the slideshow between five to ten minutes long at a maximum. The goal should be to show your audience the most memorable moments and leave them wanting more.

Tell a Story

snapshot photos strung on a clothesline, show elements of an island vacation

The longer your trip, the harder it is to select the winning snaps for the slideshow. A good tip to keep in mind is that you should tell a story—the one you lived while you were away—from start to finish. Aim to convey emotions like awe, excitement, or curiosity. Not everyone has the opportunity to live the same experiences as you, so communicate the feelings you felt when you were in the moments you captured, whether you were scuba diving in the Pacific or watching the sunrise on top of a mountain in Asia. 

Mix in Videos

Nowadays, we all have cameras on our phones that can take decent-quality videos. Coming back home with at least a few videos of a special event or a particular place is inevitable, so why not add them to the slideshow? They can help break up the monotony of showing still pictures and give a more relatable and in-depth look into specific moments of your trip.

Remember this tip before heading out on another adventure. Resolve to take videos of significant events throughout the trip, or even take the right equipment with you like an action camera, to shoot unique videos while you’re underwater or skiing down the Alps. Your audience is bound to be impressed.

Use Transitions

Depending on the software you use to create your slideshow, your creation might benefit from adding appropriate transitions between photos. If you decide to divide everything into themes, maybe keep the transitions quick and snappy for happier and exciting photos like parties or candids, and slow and delicate for shots from beaches or sunsets. It’s a little detail that can make a big difference in the audience’s experience.

Pick the Right Music

Though it’s easy to select your favorite songs, it doesn’t mean they will match the mood of the video perfectly or that your friends will enjoy them as much as you do. Just like with transitions, try to choose the right song for every specific part of the slideshow. Instrumental music is always a safe bet, just like all-time favorites from the past. Simply stick to softer music for relaxing and inspiring moments, and upbeat tunes for bright and happy shots. 

End with a Strong Closing Shot

You should end your story with a bang, as they say. This means selecting a snapshot that summarizes your entire trip and makes your audience smile. It could be a picture of the most beautiful sunset you witnessed, a group shot of the people you traveled with or met along the way, or even a photo of a happy you with a beautiful backdrop. 

Choose the Right Creative Tool

We left highlighting the tools until the end because we wanted you to go into selecting your tool with all the previous points in mind. A wide range of photo editing and slideshow tools are available, and they vary in price as well as whether they are web-based, mobile, or desktop apps. Here are some solid options to consider.

Photos (macOS) is a simple and free option that provides different templates and fun alternatives to put together your best slideshow. Your photos and videos are automatically stored in the software so it’s easy to work with them, editing them, organizing them, and adding songs to complete the show. On your iPhone or iPad, you can use iMovie to stitch together both photos and videos.

If you’re looking for something a bit more cross-platform (and also free), Google Photos has a fairly robust slideshow tool. You can create slideshows from the app (available for both iOS and Android), or you can use the web-interface. If you use the Google Photos Assistant, you can even get automated slideshows that are surprisingly fantastic—even if the result includes a photo or two you don’t like, you can edit the slideshow and remove them.

Animoto is a web-based software ideal for those of us looking to make a simple short video in a few quick steps. Although Its customization options are limited, it has all the essentials tools to create a fun travel slideshow. You need an internet connection to run it, and it costs $5 a month (billed as $60 a year).

Proshow is a software tool for creative souls who like to have full control over their work. It gives you plenty of templates, effects, and music options to use as you want with your photos. Where the tool really shines is providing super granular control over effects, timing, and more. Available for both Mac and PC, Proshow offers an online plan starting at $10 per month; a stand-alone desktop app is $70.

So there you have it. Gather your best media, choose your creative app, and get working. You are bound to inspire at least one of your friends to travel the world! 

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »
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