Remember the garden gnome in Amelie who mysteriously showed up in photos living it up all over the world? I have a friend who does something a little similar: She carts a small stuffed hippo around on vacations and takes photos of it—documenting the animal’s “adventures” all over her destination. Her resulting Instagram and Facebook photos are highly anticipated by all her friends and perfect for your Chatbooks! For your next family vacation, consider stealing this idea: It’s sort of like Elf on a Shelf, only for travel instead of the holidays! Here’s how to choose and use a travel mascot to accompany you on all your family vacation adventures.

Pack a Travel Mascot For Family Vacation


You want him to be compact and light, so he isn’t taking up too much space (or poundage!) in your suitcase and when you’re out seeing the sites, but he should also be spottable in photos. Bright colors can really help with that. Consider a plastic toy that won’t tip over too easily (you don’t need your buddy catching a breeze and falling to his doom over the side of the London Bridge or the Great Wall of China!), or a small stuffed animal—about the size of what you’d get out of a claw machine.


The whole game feels even more magical when your little jet-setting friend has an opinion about everything. Does he have big open eyes and a huge smile? Looks like your mascot’s impressed with everything! (And your captions on social media and Chatbooks can reflect that: Maybe the caption is always in ALL CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS, as if the little guy himself is writing.) Or if his expression looks a little blase, you can keep the joke going with captions, too: “We’re all loving the Eiffel Tower, but Terry the Turtle is totally unimpressed.” Toting around your, well, totem is a goofy way to keep everyone present and enjoying themselves during long days of travel: Even when the gang’s getting tired and hangry, you can ask what your mascot must think about this unique public transportation or those cool gargoyles staring down from a church as you pass.


Does your travel bud deserve her own Instagram feed, or will you simply include her in your photo-taking? It’s up to you. The important thing is that you get some cute pictures of her having adventures along your vacation and, in the process, documenting the little moments your family doesn’t want to forget…both the small stuff (the In-N-Out Burger you tried for the first time) and the large stuff (the incredible view when you crested the mountain after a tough 4-hour hike). When you want your mascot to be the center of attention (this works best if she’s near other stuff of a similar scale: Your amazing dinner, say, or that balancing rock sculpture you came across on the beach), you can get very close to take the photo, within a foot or two. Tap on the screen to focus on her, and the background will look a bit out of focus. To capture a spectacular vista, position the toy off to the side, not right in the center, so that she’s part of the framing in a great wide shot. Don’t forget your mascot in group photos, too (well, some of them…she might not be holiday-card-worthy). Let her peek out over someone’s shoulder or hang out in somebody’s arm. After all, she’s part of the family now!

Pack a Travel Mascot For Family Vacation


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