By Lauren Wong
This story was original posted on Escape With Vagary.
I don’t know about you, but I can never resist that urge as the end of a trip rolls around, the streets filled with souvenir shops, to find something to bring home. No matter how many little trinkets end up in a drawer, hidden away somewhere in my apartment, I still feel the need to spend hours searching for that perfect item to represent my trip. It doesn’t matter how many T-shirts have ended up in the bottom of my drawer, I would still spend hours sifting through all my options before I make my way back to the airport.
If you’re sentimental like me, not picking out a souvenir isn’t an option. We don’t want to forget, so we succumb to buying those cheap little magnets, shot glasses, or keychains that will get tossed aside the second we’re home. Traveling is such a huge part of who I am, so I had to get creative.
Here are some ideas for what souvenirs to look for and how you can display them around your home. Get some actual use out of all those items you’ve collected over the years!
Buy a one-time use disposable camera
Nowadays everything is online. We upload our pictures to our favorite social media sites or let them sit on our phones while they float somewhere in the cloud. What I love about this idea is with a disposable camera you only have so many pictures you can take before it’s all filled up. When I travel with my camera, I mindlessly take picture after picture and end up sorting through hundreds by the end of my trip. Having a disposable camera makes you stop and think about every shot that you want to get. Then, when you get home, you get the actual, physical copy of your pictures as a memory to hold on to and look at whenever. (Polaroids are also a great option.)
We’ve all seen those cork board maps that people display with push pins indicating everywhere they’ve gone. Take that idea, but add a twist. When you’re souvenir shopping, look for a pin that represents where you are. Then, instead of regular push pins filling up your map, each place you go has its own, unique pin to represent itself. You can find scenic pins, pins with state or country flags, pins to represent a specific national park, concerts, etc. If you start keeping your eyes on the lookout for pins, you’ll see that so many places actually have dozens and dozens of options. Keep a theme throughout, like collecting pins with the country or state flag, or personalize it even more to show where exactly you went while there.
Create your own photo book
Being a lover of photography, this is my favorite thing to do when I get back from a big trip! There are so many companies online that allow you to personalize a photo book and it makes the perfect coffee table book and keepsake. You can fill your book with typed up memories, quotes, things you learned, or keep it to just photos. There’s no use keeping all these pictures on just your phone or camera SD card, creating your own memory book gives you a physical way to flip through and remember all those special moments.
Personally, I use Artifact Uprising to create my photo books. I do the hardcover photo books and keep them all at 11×8.25. For each I select the partial book jacket and title it the country and year that I went. I only have two countries so far, Iceland and Cuba, but my goal is to eventually have a bookshelf full of books I’ve made from my travels around the world. I personally never add text. I fill the beginning pages with my photography, and the end with pictures of me and whoever I traveled with.
I love the patch idea and have been meaning to start it. Collect patches from everywhere you go and sew them onto a jean jacket. It makes for a creative photo prop and is a super fun, fashionable way to display your worldly travels. If you’re not too keen on jean jackets, you can sew them on to your favorite backpack or carry-on bag.
If you love picking out postcards and sending them to your loved ones while abroad, consider sending them to yourself. On the last day of your trip pick out your favorite postcard and write up all the memories you don’t want to forget. Write about the places you saw, things you did, people you met, and those funny memories you want to cherish and share. You can purchase a cheap photo album and slide each one inside of it so you can flip through and see all the places you’ve gone and pull it out to read when you want to reminisce. If you like writing, you could even get a postcard a day, write about what you did, and then you’ll come home to a mailbox full of your handwritten excursions.
Keep a shadow or memory box
I’ve collected so many things over the years that I don’t necessarily want displayed in my home, but still want to keep together and safe. I have a little box that resembles a vintage suitcase that I’ve added to over the years. I have letters from all the people I went to Iceland with when I went abroad in college. After our month-long journey together, before going our separate ways across the globe, we each put time into writing what impacts each other made on our trip. From not knowing anyone to walking away feeling like I was losing this little family we created, those are notes I’ll never get rid of. I have my plane ticket from Cuba, a Cuban cigar box, money from everywhere I’ve gone, a lava rock I found in Iceland, and random maps and little things I’ve decided to hold on to. It keeps everything safe and together and always brings up those fond memories when you open it up.