How do you remember your travels?

 In Books, Travel Tips

When it comes to travel, I’m a collector, a holder-on-er of pounds of paper and plastic that I imagine could come to signify a this trip or that. Ticket stubs from museums, trams, airlines. Concert wrist bands, the ones that look like hospital admissions bracelets. And I love street maps. The colorful, folded kind you pick up from train stations and restaurant counters. They illustrate tourist sites on one side and street names in big letters on the other. The trouble is finding a purpose for these memories once I’m home, back in my routine. Most of my travel loot is tucked away in my Mom’s garage inside ziplock bags organized by location, inside a cardboard box, about the size of three shoe boxes. The corners are worn, the flaps, bent. I’ve opened and closed the box of treasure a dozen times over. But much of it is still there, umpteen years later, waiting, like so many works of art in the Louvre basement, to see the light of day.

Cork boar scrapbook

Too many pictures, too much stuff

After two internships, one in Brussels and one in London, and a two-week Eurail trip around the continent, I’d amassed quite a load of this stuff *that play bill is NOT JUNK*, not to mention thousands of digital photographs – most of which I’ll never print. That six-month stint in Europe was a highlight of my graduate school experience and I wanted to keep those experiences fresh. My first project was my sister’s inspiration. She’d given me a poster of an antique shipping map and a cork board with hemming pins to mark the places I’d visited. I took it one step further and, in the spaces around the map’s edge, pinned some of my collection. My train pass in Paris, my reporter’s press pass in Brussels, ticket stubs for the theater in London and an entrance ticket for a walk along fortress walls in Croatia. It’s not elegant; it’s a little chaotic – but that’s travel. And I loved it. When my girls get bigger, I plan to help them make their own mark on our new map of family travels.

Clothesline of memories

Clothesline of memories

Another favorite way to remember travels are framed pictures, but how do you choose? Every trip has so many interesting and meaningful moments. Why not make a collage. Here’s what I did. I spent an afternoon going through my digital files (also fun, right?) and when I wasn’t getting lost in the memories, I copied into a separate folder pictures I thought I might like to display. There were about a hundred. Then I spent some more time editing down that file. I was left with about three dozen photos I really loved. I printed them at a drug store and taped them to white poster board cut to about half an inch larger than the print to make a mat frame. I picked up some binder clips from an office supply store along with some string and hung my photos out clothes-line style.

Check out what our readers have done to remember their travels:

“Listen to new music. Hearing it again is a great way to remember the fun times. I take too many pictures. We drove all around Oahu with my family and siblings in our first family reunion, making frequent stops to see the sights and having a great time. We listened to this new CD we picked up the week before the trip, and now, whenever we hear it in the car or at home, we all remember those days.” — Lorraine M. of Wash.

“I put pictures into PowerPoints with maps and text.” — Paul I. of S.C.

“I’ve started to make photo albums with iPhoto. And, of course, I go back through my journals – I sketch and write a lot when I travel.” — Tai K.B. of Ill.

“I keep simple journals so that I can remember the places we visit and the order in which we do so along with general impressions, and then make up a photo book after we get home.” — Kendra H. of Ark.

“Journals, postcards to myself and to relatives, collecting stuff for scrapbooks that don’t get made, emails sent on the spot to friends/family about my observations. Of course, photos!” — Sarah M. of Calif.

“We always try to pick up a small piece of art to display to remind us of our trip.  And we take thousands of photos.  We flip through them when we have time – every few months we’ll look through a bunch and tell each other the stories associated with them. So even though I haven’t made as many photo books as I intended, our vacation stories haven’t been forgotten. Our kids get a few toys each trip.  This mostly depends on when they need a little pick-me-up. We also bring home magnets for my mom, who collects them from her own travels and displays ours along with hers.  That way, she knows we’re thinking of her while we’re on vacation.” — Patti S. of Wash.

We just bring home a stone from each place we visit and write the name of the country or city and date we were there. They are all in a basket that is in our foyer. I started doing that in high school. Cheap, easy and simple.” — Becca W. of Pa.

“I mainly make scrapbooks – just love having lots of other pieces of paraphernalia that capture the moment in time I was someplace (e.g., including the postcards I sent home to my parents; a ticket stub showing the price of admission – when looking back, you can see the effects of inflation or political advances – my first two trips to Italy I used Lira, now it’s all Euros; the brochure for the museum showing what exhibit you saw; the coaster that sat under your 4th beer of the night at your favorite spot in Germany; etc.).” — Cara J. of Wash.

“I’ve bought a little piece of art from each country my boyfriend and I have visited together, and I also make a photo collage from each trip that’s framed and on the walls for everyone to enjoy easily – awesome conversation pieces! One day we’ll have our own home and it will be uniquely decorated and filled with our beautiful travel memories.” — Kate Clark of Canuckiwikate, of New Zealand

“I’m a slave to the scrap booking! Plus we make sure lots of our pics are on the iPad so we can regularly look at them. We collect hat pins as we go too because they are cheap, small and weigh nothing!” — Tracey P of Brisbane, Australia

“We find one special trinket to represent each country: a cross-stitch coffee table mat found at a flea market in Norway; a pair of kissing children in porcelain from Holland; a metal fleur-de-lis from France, and two hand painted wooden letters (H & P for my kids) from Costa Rica. We take these light trinkets with us and set them up where ever we go.” — Emily of Travel Mother

“I make sure to mail myself a postcard from wherever I am.”— Teresa from Red Mountain Trails

“I made the kids a quilt from all their old travel t-shirts. It seems like they get one everywhere we go and they grow out of them so fast. This way we don’t have to just toss them.” — Carrie of Travel with Kids

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Showing 5 comments
  • Trusted Luxury Cruises

    Cool idea about mailing postcards to yourself from each destination.

  • Chanel @ La Viajera Morena

    I take a billion photos, some I edit and put on my blog, others I put on Facebook, and the rest I save on a cloud drive 😀 I would rather collect photographic memories than physical items (space is limited here in my NYC apartment)

  • Adrienne

    We started collecting rocks and drift wood from our travels. We label each of them and have them in a large glass candle holder. With 2 kids we don’t use the Pottery Barn candle holder much but the kids like their growing rock collection.

  • Lance | Trips By Lance

    I love the cork board with souvenirs tacked around the edges. I’ve saved every ticket from everything, so I could do something like that. I’d love to do something with pictures but I’m intimidated by the number of pictures to go through, both digital and the old printed ones.

  • Ashley Ryan

    I really enjoyed this article! Great concept.

    We love getting connected with other kid-friendly travel writers so check us out and let us know if you’d ever like to team up on anything!

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