How To Remember More Of Your Vacations With A Memory Palace

Forbidden City map to express a Memory Palace learning conceptTravel is awesome, right?

You bet it is.

The only problem is that most people don’t maximize the value of their vacations. Instead of going in prepared to remember as much as humanly possible, they accept what they can get from the default settings of the muscle sitting between their ears.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way for you. Here’s how to travel differently so that you remember more, enjoy more and get to take your vacations again and again with the vibrant recall of an intense dream.


Infinitely Increase The Value Of Every Hotel Room With A Simple Memory Palace


One of the first things to do is draw out a quick sketch of your hotel room. It’s simple to chart a well-formed Memory Palace journey using such a small space.

Even if the Memory Palace only has four or five stations, you’re already ahead of the game because your mind is in memory mode. Here’s an example of a quick hotel Memory Palace in room April and I shared on our honeymoon. We were taking the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm:

As seen in the video, you can also create a Memory Palace of the lobby, the hotel restaurant, gift shop and any other rooms you spot that look manageable. If you’re comfortable using outdoor Memory Palaces, parking lots and the hotel entrance can be powerful resources.

Of course, to draw Memory Palaces, you’ll need a Memory Journal.


How To Keep A Memory Journal


Memory Journals are great for a number of purposes:

  • Drawing Memory Palaces
  • Describing mnemonic images
  • Testing recall
  • Troubleshooting
  • Tracking results
  • Recording thoughts and impressions

Anthony Metivier Memory Palace from a Memory Journal

When traveling, your Memory Journal will also let you make notes about what you did on each day of the trip as you make quick sketches of the places you visit.

To get started, buy a simple notebook. It can be lined or unlined. I recommend that you decorate the cover and then get started listing out as many potential Memory Palaces as you can. If you need help, check out the episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast called How to Find Memory Palaces and make sure that you have the MMM Worksheets that come with my FREE Memory Improvement Kit.


Gather Maps, Floor Plans And Think Strategically


You’re traveling to enjoy yourself, right? Who wants to sit around drawing squares all day? (Except me?)

Luckily, when visiting many parks, museums and historical locations, you don’t have to spend your time this way. Instead, you can grab up brochures with mockups and floor plans of museums, churches and art galleries for reference later. If your Memory Journal has a storage pack, you can bomb these inside for reference later.

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

The important thing is that you think strategically when entering the location. Note the corners of rooms and the best areas for Memory Palace creation. You can already start constructing it in your mind.

If you’re experienced, you can also start using the Memory Palace right away. For example, using the Major Method, you can memorize the date of a painting along with its name. If you’re learning a foreign language, this is a great way to pick up new vocabulary.

Use The Memory Improvement Power Of Photography


Taking photos of your loved ones and the main attractions is an important part of traveling. But you can get your camera into the Memory Game too by taking photos of building layouts. Hotel beds, for example, make excellent micro-stations in Memory Palaces.

Using PowerPoint software, you can reconstruct the Memory Palace from your photos. For many people, this simple process makes their Memory Palaces much more vivid and useful. You can also use the software to impose information directly onto the Memory Palace stations for Recall Rehearsal.

However, please note that although this kind of activity is acceptable at the beginning stages, it will not strengthen your memory in the same way that drawing Memory Palaces and then using them from your imagination alone achieves. Work towards creating and using tech-free Memory Palaces and your skills will soar.

Think of it as the difference between doddering along with training wheels and the freedom of riding a bike assisted only by your instinctual knowledge of balance, velocity and the physics of pedaling. The only difference is that in matters of memory and the mind, you never need to work up a sweat to get the benefits.

But if you do need some assistance, here’s an example of a Memory Palace station and directionality I created using the Midland Hotel where I stayed during the New Media Europe convention in 2015. As you can see, it’s easy to place the station number and a direction signature for later use as you scroll through the PowerPoint (I used Keynote in Mac):

Midlands hotel in Manchester turned into a Memory Palace

As a final camera tip, photograph street corners and use them as Memory Palaces for memorizing street names. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can recall intersections, not just for finding your way back to places, but for giving recommendations to other travelers.

Yes, it’s an ego boost too when you can show off your knowledge of cities around the world. Just don’t let it get to your head and never forget that with great power comes great responsibly. Teach what you’ve learned about memory techniques to others by telling them how you memorized street names.


Make Videos For Review Later


If you’ve been following my YouTube channel, you’ve probably seen some of the videos I’ve been putting out about creating Memory Palaces along the way.

I even got April into the memory improvement game while visiting Prague:

Part of what I’m doing by making these videos is teaching what can be done to create an impromptu Memory Palace. But I’m also practicing my own memory as I teach.

You don’t have to do anything so elaborate as posting your personal travel videos on YouTube, but the act of shooting the Memory Palaces you want to create will not only make your trip more memorable, but aid you in the creation process. It’s also a fun way to create images of yourself that ideally won’t lead to the corrosion of your memory.

The Forbidden City:
My Most Challenging Memory Palace


A lot of historical sites offer fodder for Memory Palace creation, and many are straightforward to navigate and commit to memory. Other historical locations, however, are so sprawling and complex, it’s difficult to know how to use them.

I found this to be the case with the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. It’s not just that the Forbidden City is labyrinthine. There are also many large spaces inside matched by contained areas. The temple structures within each area differ in shape, size and purpose. A few sections feature trees, ponds and fountains. Plus, there are gift shops throughout, many difficult to distinguish from each other.

Rather than take the Forbidden City as one entire Memory Palace, it made more sense to prepare for the creation of three individual Memory Palaces:

  • The front entrance
  • The largest structure (name)
  • The exit

By breaking the Forbidden city down in this way, I can capitalize on two of memory’s biggest assets:

The primacy effect and the recency effect.

Although not always true, we tend to remember the elements of a sequence we encounter first and last the best.

For example, the one and only time I participated in a memory competition with Dave Farrow during the playing cards event, I remember to this day the first few cards and the last few I memorized. I can pick out a few in the middle, but most are hazy. (If I’d used Magnetic Memory Method Recall Rehearsal, I could have overcome the forgetting curve that wipes out the middle part of sequences, but I normally save that process for important info like foreign language vocabulary and names).


Study The Layout In Advance To
Maximize Memory Potential


Knowing that I’ll be limiting my choices to these areas in advance, I studied the layout on the map before entering the Forbidden City. With a plan for using only a few select spots, I released my mind of the burden of capturing it all and absorbed most of the site on autopilot.

For the entrance, core building and exit, however, I photographed and sketched the layouts to help substantiate them in my memory.

The most important step?


What does follow-up involve? Rehearsing the Memory Palace right away using the tools of Recall Rehearsal, followed by using the Memory Palace to memorize some information.

For example, as soon as possible after leaving many Memory Palaces on our honeymoon, I asked my fiancee to help me understand some new Chinese vocabulary and then used the new Memory Palaces to encode the sounds and meanings of the words. I sometimes did this fully impromptu without creating a Memory Palace first, which is also an option:

This Memory Palace Technique
Is Good For the Entire Family


Whether you’re going to the Acropolis or the Empire State Building, there’s a way to efficiently turn these locations into Memory Palaces without disrupting the flow of your vacation. If you have children and are interested in memory techniques for kids, you can set the foundation for a life of learning with greater ease by helping them maximize their impressionable minds with the global real estate travel puts in their hands.

And if you use the Memory Palaces to learn elements of the local language while visiting the city, all the better. Bilingualism is good for your brain, after all.

Heck, even if you just learn how to say good morning, good afternoon and good evening to the hotel staff, you’ll make your vacation much richer.

Seriously. Memorizing a few niceties for use in restaurants will endear many staff members to you and this leads to better advice and more patient explanations when you have questions. You’ll also have more fun on your trip.

Or you can follow the steps I took to memorize 3 Chinese poems in 2.3 weeks for other interesting things to memorize.

The trick is not to get nervous about making mistakes and simply open your mouth and speak from your beautiful powers of enhanced recall while your newest Memory Palaces are still fresh.

I hope you take these tips to heart and start enjoying your future vacations at a deeper level by making them both more memorable and more suitable for servicing your Memory Palace needs for years to come.

14 Responses to " How To Remember More Of Your Vacations With A Memory Palace "

  1. Bill says:

    Congrats on your Wedding! I hope you have a great time away. Great to know you Anthony I have been following a few people on you tube and learning different techniques on how to use my memory better.

  2. Cathal says:

    Thanks for sharing these valuable nuggets, Anthony and many congratulations on your wedding.

    I wish April and you a safe and happy honeymoon (and memorable of course 🙂 ) and many happy years together.

    • Thanks, Cathal. I’m glad you found them useful and look forward to hearing how you implement them.

      And thanks for the warm wishes. We’re having a blast and full intent to Keep Magnetic forever. 🙂

  3. Pelle Chamliden says:

    I like your ideas !

    Another interesting thing you can do is to create viewpoint/landmark palaces. Similar to impromptu palaces. This can be prepared by watching a map (if you get hold of that) to get a feel for direction of north/south/east/west and placement of some landmarks. During daytime it’s no problem to spot north/south from the sun (and know the time), adapt this to if you are in north pr south hemisphere.

    When you got the general directions you start to map the location you stand at AND the looks of viewpoints watching landmarks. This requires some practice to get a hang of, but is well worth it, since if you get lost you can always look for landmarks and compare your viewpoint with your memorized ones and from that project where you likely are, if you are lucky, you see already memorized locations and can add your current positions location and its viewpoint.

    This gives a feel for where you see in relation to what you see and know.

    I use a variant of this all the time myself to overcome my vision handicap.

    It is a VERY narrow field of vision (tunnel vision), interpolating what you see/feel with cane/arms/feet this way is a way to get a sense of where you are. Its not perfect, you know where you are , but not what may be around you so to speak. Still good enough to get yourself around 😉

  4. Susan says:

    Love your podcast, “How to remember your vacation!” I’m going to Israel and I’m very excited to use your methods to remember it. Every time I listen to you, I learn something new.

    Congratulations on your wedding!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Susan.

      Wow – Israel is great. In case you’re interested, here’s an episode of the podcast with accompanying video that was shot in Tel Aviv on overcoming resistances to learning.

      I wish you an amazing and memorable vacation and hope you’ll be able to pick up a bit of Hebrew. I build my vocabulary bit by bit using these techniques every time I go. It’s so much fun and a great alternative to other learning approaches.

      Thanks again for commenting and talk soon! 🙂

  5. James Gladwin says:

    Thanks for this, Anthony – I’m gradually getting the hang of Memory Palaces. The thing is, I’m quite “good” at learning poetry, which I enjoy, and find it hard to switch from a basic ‘by rote’ method, to what I know will be lighter and easier.

    BTW – it IS your honeymoon – no more podcasts! Congratulations!


    • Thanks for this, James. I’m so glad to hear that you’re coming along with the Memory Palace technique.

      The cool thing is that you’re not really giving up repetition as such. You’re empowering it and shortcutting the amount of time that it takes the information to get into longterm memory. On occasions that require more repetition than others, you’re enjoying far more visual and creative exercise than rote.

      Thanks for the reminder about not podcasting … perhaps next week I’ll send out a rerun. Though I do have something exciting prepared to record and it is so very rainy here in Oslo … 😉

  6. Gonzalo Cor says:

    Awesome content professor!! (y)

  7. Alex says:

    Thank you so very much, Anthony, for sharing this pod cast with us. I learned a great amount about the memory process, mnemonic imagery, humility and the artistic struggle, humanity and loving kindness. Wow! I am very grateful. May you and April have so many happy memories, mnemonic images, and memory palaces in which to share them.

    Here is my use of a memory palace and mnemonic imagery. My first memory palace is a 15 place coin-operated automatic laundry. I know you may not think shopping lists are that splendid for memory items, but I was reading a memory book in French, so I decided to give it a whirl.

    As with memory palaces and mnemonic imagery, the results were outstanding. 4 weeks later and 100% recall. The reason is crazy, vivid, colourful, multi-sensual imagery.

    My first word “poisson pane” is the type of fish you get in fish ‘n chips: I visualize it on top of the first location, a washing machine, sizzling and bubbling away, a delicious smell of delectable fish. The second item, “papier toilette”, the location, a clock on the wall inm which a huge toilet filled with toilet paper is spilling its rather messy contents everywhere. You get the idea, so I won’t go into detail.

    The point is you can make anywhere and anything a memory location and you can use it to great effect with vivid imagery. The more disgusting or crazy, the better!

    For Bogart for example, I really have vivid imagery associated with Casablanca, and would have him and Louis and his lost girl etc interacting on the street corner. Add music, gunfire, snogging and voila. Fixed memory.

    Thank you for your teaching of special memory artistry, Anthony!

    Kind regards to you and April.

    • Thanks for these great snapshots of your own mnemonics at work and play, Alex!

      I do tend to write a lot of “paragrowls” against memorizing shopping lists. But when it’s in another language we’re studying … that’s a Memory Palace of a different color. I fully approve.

      Also, it becomes a solid memory exercise with greater value when you do that. Memorize your shopping list in your mother tongue and another language. Use the Major Method to add on the price. These are ways to make it a much more valid exercise with an appropriate level of challenge.

      I like that you not only seize upon Bogart, but specifics of Casablanca. It’s a great way to get more out of celebrities, and of course this movie comes with a memorable Memory Palace with several distinct stations built in. I’ve done a podcast that mentions using the Breaking Bad house as a Memory Palace, but you’ve made me think that a Casablanca case-study might be in the works …

      Great idea and always grateful for your contributions! 🙂

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