One of my all-time favorite memories growing up was for my 16th birthday, my mom threw me a photo scavenger hunt party. It’s something my friends still talk about more than 20 years later. We were split up into teams, given a polaroid and a list, and sent on our way for a few hours. You received points for successfully completing each photo and then there were also awards for most creative, most difficult, best overall photo, etc.
Today I’m applying this concept of a photo scavenger hunt to be used on vacation with friends and family to help you document your getaway whether it’s with us at one of our Door County cabins, or beyond.
How to plan a vacation photo scavenger hunt
Now, this isn’t your normal scavenger hunt. You’re not going to find things like “take a picture of something shiny” or “take a picture of a flag” on the list below. Although that’s fun too, the purpose of this type of scavenger hunt is to walk away with epic vacation photos. It’s not just a game, we have an ulterior motive here. It’s all about noticing and appreciating the little moments that make up your vacation and documenting them in a fun way.
There are a couple of wins that organizing a photo scavenger hunt for your vacation will get you:
- Extra creative, thoughtful, and fun photos from your time with friends and family.
- Kids are engaged in the process of documenting your vacation instead of constantly asking them to smile for the camera.
- EVERYONE takes photos of the trip (vs. that one designated documenter) offering a unique perspective and depth to your photos.
- It becomes an activity that lasts the duration of your time away and will become one of those stories you talk about for years to come.
At the time of writing this, what follows is my plan for our spring break and I will update this post with how it went, things I would have done differently, and tangible tips so you can plan your own ultimate vacation photo scavenger hunt for your next getaway!
Photo scavenger hunt rules
First things first, let’s set some ground rules. Feel free to make this your own, but I’ve found the following rules will help make this idea a success.
- Not all photos can be taken in one day, divide the number of total photos you put on your list by the number of days you’re on vacation and make sure photos are evenly spread out – this prevents people from rushing through the process and selfishly, it ensures that your entire vacation is well documented.
- The goal is not to simply complete the challenge, but to think out of the box and get creative. Bonus points will be awarded for the funniest, most creative, most difficult to capture, prettiest, etc. photo.
- There must be a substantial prize. If this is going to hold everyone’s attention long enough, there’s got to be a payoff that’s bigger than bragging rights or awesome vacation photos (at least where children are concerned).
- Create a shared album on your phone so that everyone can easily photo dump everything they capture so the entire group has all the images.
- Create a shared album by team and have them heart the final images they are submitting when it comes time to judge the photo scavenger hunt competition.
- An alternate idea for older kids: have them present a video photo montage at the end of the trip. Our kids love the app Capcut for this.
- Teach everyone how to use the timer on their phone so they can easily take group photos if someone isn’t with them to capture their idea.
- Consider giving different point values to various photos that may be more or less difficult
- Clearly state an end date and judging time
Picture scavenger hunt list
Now that we’ve set some ground rules, here is a list of ideas for your picture scavenger hunt to pull from and make your own. Keep your location and group type in mind when creating your own list. For example, we’re heading to Costa Rica so I’m going to add things like “entire team on a surfboard” or a teammate with a monkey to our list.
A selfie of your group at your favorite place on vacation
A photo of you with an animal
A human pyramid
Give a teammate a piggy back ride
Your team crammed into a small space
Picture of your groups reflection or shadows in an unexpected place
Can you find us photo – (think iSpy)
Entire team jumping in the water
Photo pretending to be a mannequin somewhere creative
Entire team pretending to nap somewhere unconventional
All groups together posed formally like an olden-day portrait
Someone or something in motion
Create a word where every person is one letter (can recruit others if your group isn’t big enough)
Fill in the blank _________________ (aka you decide bonus photo submission)
Your favorite memory from the trip
Someone looking unusually small (play with perspective!)
All team members doing something at the same time (blowing a bubble, jumping in the air, etc.)
The entire team wearing sunglasses
The entire team upside down
Grab someone from the other team and make a funny face
A photo at sunrise or sunset
A photo of one of your teammates and 3 other people on vacation with you doing their best Madonna Vogue pose impression
Strike your best yoga pose
Posing as a boy band
Two team members best tango move frozen in time
Take a photo of the group crossing the street, Beatles style OR duckling style
Team doing the chicken dance
Group hug photo
A photo with everyone on vacation linking arms
Take a photo of something in nature to remember your vacation by
A treat you had on vacation
Capture a feeling or emotion in a photo
A photo in a mirror
A picture as soon as you wake up
A picture in the biggest hat you can find
Your bare feet
A group high five
Someone making a duck face
Walking penguin style
Entire team sharing one milkshake/soda with their own straw
Entire team on a slide
Team in a grocery cart
Best professional photo shoot picture
Best scenic photo from the vacation
Best photo of the entire group on the vacation
Add video to the mix!
Make up a vacation secret handshake
Entire team dancing
Play leap frog
Play ring around the rosie
Teammates walking the runway like fashion models
Sing a song by an object (ex: wheels on the bus by a school bus or star spangled banner by a flag)
Pretend to be a band (air guitar, drummer, lip sync, drums)
Challenge someone from the other team to arm wrestle/rock paper scissors/something of your choice
These are just some general ideas to get you started but I’d encourage you to make this your own! If you know you’re going to a specific type of place or setting, incorporate those details into your list! Eating ice cream, writing names in the sand – get creative with the type of vacation you’ll be on and customize the list to fit your group and location.
How to design your photo scavenger hunt
Once you’ve decided on what items from the list above you’d like to include in your photo scavenger hunt, it’s time to put it into a printable design. My go-to place for that is Canva. It’s a free online design tool that has a ton of templates you can choose from to customize for your needs.
Something else we are doing for our photo scavenger hunt is creating the list in the notes app on our phone and sharing it with the team members. You can even make it a checkmark list so they can easily mark off what’s done and always have the list with them vs. a printed list wherever you go.
What to do with the photos when you’re done?
One of my favorite things to do is to pick my favorite 10 or so images and print them on our Fuji Film Instax printer. It connects to your phone and you can print any image on a polaroid. This way you can print images for everything there, or capture the perfect compilation of vacation photos in one image by styling the polaroids together.
Pick your 10 favorite photos for each person on the trip and send people you vacationed with an everyday print set from Artifact Uprising. This is such a beautiful way to have a tangible print and memory of your time spent. I think it’s so important to get your memories out of the digital space, off your phone, and some place you can enjoy them. One of my favorites is an album by Artifact Uprising called The Stories We Tell.
I hope this post inspired you to get creative with your vacation photos and to plan your own photo scavenger hunt! I’d love to hear from you if you tried it and how it went!