I doubt I’m alone when I say that I hate goodbyes. Nothing hurts more than the idea of possibly never seeing something again, whether an old friend, a new destination, or a once beloved home. Yet goodbyes give us an opportunity to not take our experiences for granted. Some of the most beautiful pictures I’ve captured on my travels happened on the day that I was leaving, when my heart was trying to grasp every last bit of a place I had come to know.

Hence the beauty of the departure — of being able to acknowledge and come to terms with your last moments in a place. And although goodbye happens as if in an instant, there are also ways to keep the places you go to with you a bit longer (if not throughout your life). Consider these tips a gift from one traveler to another.

1. Take extra pictures

Some of the most beautiful photos I've taken were done on the last day, when I noticed little things I hadn't seen earlier in my trip.
Some of the most beautiful photos I’ve taken were done on the last day, when I noticed little things I hadn’t seen earlier in my trip.

As referenced above, there is incredible beauty in the last day photograph. I tend to take a lot of interesting closeups of details I never noticed before on my last few hours in a place, because I’m looking for them — the cracks in the wall of Portuguese azulejos, the poetry of the buckets lined up in a sink in Haiti. Don’t take these moments for granted, as the little things are what make the best memories.

2. Buy a local cookbook

My friend, Leeann, bestowed upon me one of the best travel tips I had ever heard, and I firmly intend to follow through with it from now on. Every time she visits a new place, she takes home a cookbook as a souvenir. That way she’s able to relive her experience again in her kitchen whenever she likes. It’s a beautiful idea to be able to bring the culture of a place into your own home through its gastronomy. Invite friends over for a global dinner and you’ll be surprised the stories that you remember with the dishes you whip up.

3. Plan your next excursion

Just like a new boyfriend is the best cure for an old heartache, so is planning an upcoming trip. Start looking at tickets for where you’re going next, even if it’s just to a new neighborhood in your city or to a suburb you’ve never checked out before. If that doesn’t work, try planning something fun to do at home so that you can look forward to it. I often miss Independence Day in the US to take advantage of extra travel time, and it’s always fun to plan a “make-up Independence Day party” for when I return.

4. Bring home a snack

Cheese curds, AKA heaven. Photo from http://www.fasteddiessparta.com/
Cheese curds, AKA heaven. Photo from http://www.fasteddiessparta.com/

On our drive home from Wisconsin to Chicago after a long weekend away, my husband and I purchased an enormous bag of cheese curds. If you don’t know what cheese curds are or if you have never tried them before, you truly are missing out. We had intended to bring them home to keep for a few days, but we consumed the entire bag during the four hour trip back. There’s nothing magic about curds (though that statement is certainly arguable) but eating them allowed us to take something with us. In kind of a funny way, the transition was easier — and when our curds were finished, we were ready to be home.

Wherever you go, enjoy the goodbye. It makes the visit (and the memories after) that much sweeter.