I have a confession to make. I am terrible at organizing my travel photos. Well, perhaps it’s not so much that I’m terrible as that I’m just really lazy. But the thing is, I have thousands upon thousands of travel photos sitting on my computer in one big jumble. There are no city or country names to help identify the images and no dates to help me see when the photos were taken. No, they’re just all in one folder with whatever random numbers and letters my camera assigned to the images when they were taken.

The idea of going through and sorting them now is somewhat overwhelming, so I’ve come up with a technique for making sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. It’s simple, so if you’re also suffering from digital disorganization, I hope it’ll help you.

Here’s what you do. Every time you arrive at a new travel destination, grab a piece of paper and jot down the city, country and date. Then take a photo of the piece of paper before you take any other pictures. If you don’t have a pen and paper on hand, look around for a road sign or something else with the city’s name (a restaurant or laundromat for example) that could substitute. Now your “reel” of photos includes identifying information – so when you look through your photos months or even years later, you’ll remember exactly when and where each picture was taken.

I think this technique is particularly useful when you’re traveling through many cities or destinations that look kind of similar, for example, when you’re island hopping in Greece, visiting churches in Italy, or working your way through the temples of Egypt.

Now, I know there are plenty of apps or technological innovations that help you do this – such as the GPS feature on a camera. But the problem I have with GPS is that using this function drains the camera battery really quickly, so I often end up turning it off to conserve power. That and the fact that the GPS is unlikely to tell me everything I might want to know, like the name of the particular temple I took 100 photos of. By jotting this info down myself, I can record whatever information I think will trigger my memory years down the line. It’s far from solving my state of digital disarray, but at least I’m one step closer to saving my photos from obscurity.

What do you think? Are your photos perfectly organized? Do you sort them straight away or wait until you can barely remember where you took them?