Build Better Travel Slideshows

You are back from your trip and the photos are sitting there in memory on your home computer HD.  Make a slideshow! It’s easy and works well to build that travelogue story you have of your favourite holiday adventures.

Refrain from showing random shots,
or everything you took. Boring!

There are many ways to put together a slideshow, from just showing a folder of pix to a full-blown production. (Including beer & popcorn)

Slideshows have come a long way from the original slides in a Kodak carousel machine projected up against your living room wall. In those days you could only put your slides in a certain order and each one would be a very straight cut with perhaps the stereo playing some music. Not all was bad about this I have to say, as projecting Kodachrome slides 10 x 8 feet on the wall certainly had impact!

Otherwise these days it has all gotten so much easier and better in every regard. Anyone can put together a slideshow. It depends how much time, and interest you have.

There are some professional slideshow programs out there that can blow your socks off. But for now I’m going to look at the most basic and elementary concepts of stringing together your best travel photos from your holiday.

Everyone should be at least doing something like this, not to bore and frustrate their captive audience. In turn, your friends will be asking to see future shows and you’ll only get better at producing great vacation slideshows.


  • Your audience who is it? What are they going to expect?
  • What photos should you show, which should you not?
  • How long should this slideshow be? 5-10-15 minutes
    (Before people are bored and snoozing?)
  • What pictures might be interesting for your audience?
  • Do they want to be entertained or more informed?


  • Pick horizontal formatted photos, verticals can work but are tricky to use.
  • Variety – avoid 10 shots of the same sunset, even if they are great.
  • WOW them by grouping pix on subjects of interest.
  • Do you have any themes you can develop?
  • Add people photos + ones of you and your traveling group in them.
  • Use wide, medium and close-up shots to establish and close in on detail.
  • Add maps, titles, signs, a soundtrack, narration.
  • Aim to build a story, a mood, a feeling around your show.
  • This is a travel slideshow keep it that way. Stay on topic.

Prep slides:

  • Only show your best pictures, edit ruthlessly and when in doubt cut it out!
  • Fix cropping, exposure, color balance and do retouching.
  • Resize your photos down to a smaller slideshow size of 2000 pixels wide.
  • Save as… in a new folder, copy show files
  • Sort the order of photos to build your travel story (optional).
  • Rename files numerically to keep show order (look for bulk renaming apps to make this easy).

Build A Slideshow: 

Method #1 Photo Folder Slideshow (easy) – This method is as basic as you can get. A folder with picture files of your trip is played back. Using a gallery photo app you would scroll one picture at a time manually through your set of holiday photos. There may be an option to autoplay all the files as a slideshow with a set duration between each picture and perhaps also add a transition effect.

The benefits of this are that you can quickly pull together your best photos and show them right after you get home. Load them onto your phone or tablet or play them on your flat screen TV. There would be no music and you would just narrate as you manually scroll through your images. Many of you I am sure have done this. You can set the pace and stop and start at any point.

The KEY point here is, show only the best pictures, and renumber the files so they play back in the order you want.

Method #2 Slideshow Movie FileImport your pictures into a slide building program to make a slideshow in the right order with extra features. With more control over how your trip slides are displayed, you can create a better, more engaging presentation.

You have the option of adding music and/or narration. The slideshow becomes more interesting and effective as a whole travel story when you can use transitions and a few effects to jazz up the visuals.

A wonderful effect you can use to what are essentially static images, are virtual camera movements. By adding a few camera pans and slow zooms to your slides, this adds movement and keeps the audience interested in a better produced show.

Create a montage, pair up verticals together; use background travel themes as needed.

As always use restraint in adding these visual spices to your slideshow or else it ends up becoming a demo of what the program can do and very distracting. Also now you have created the dreaded tacky home movie from hell.

Timing is very important in creating the right feel for your travel show. Vary the tempo throughout the show with faster and slower transitions and how long each slide is displayed will improve the show.

Finding the right music to fit your visuals is not easy. When you find the right soundtrack it makes the show that much better. Great care needs to be made when picking music that runs at the right tempo and conveys the right feel. I often pick several background music files to use for variety and effect.

The other benefits are that you can package and customize the slideshow exactly how you want to show it. You just have to start it and sit back and let the audience enjoy the presentation. This would be the choice, if you post it to others to see remotely – Facebook, Youtube…

Presentation: Test your show on the display device. This means you do not presume your slide show file will play nice on any phone, tablet, DVD player or flat screen TV. I have seen every problem in the book. Make sure it plays before you get everyone hyped that there is going to be entertainment.

Figure out ahead of time how to operate your slideshow and sort out any bugs

If you must narrate your show (which you do not have to) keep it short and not every slide has to have a comment. Really, you can be quiet.

After the show answer questions, add more information about your trip. Perhaps play it again…

In the future I will get into the slideshow making software, apps available and how to use them. There also exists online services that enable you to import your photos into templates and generate a simple slideshow. Granted easy, but many of these automated services create very generic and familiar presentations.

Truly the options and tools available to make slideshows these days are endless. You too can create a stunning and compelling travel adventure of your last great holiday. Start today and get into making your own personal travelogue slideshow story. It’s fun, entertaining and creative storytelling.

Send me a link if you make a good one, we could feature it on this site.

Also listen to my podcast above, as I get into more detail and a video is the works on this topic too. :^)

About Dan Roitner

I love traveling, and have been doing slideshows and video home movies of my trips for decades. As a pro photographer, instructor and multimedia artist I hope to teach you the many aspects to develop an artist style and improve the quality of your own travelogue projects.As the owner of this site, may the resources here, help you improve your skills to create holiday memories worth sharing.

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