I love making memories last as long as I can and therefore know a good travel souvenir when I see one. I buy it as well, and there you have my problem, because what do you do with your travel memories once you’re back home? Usually not much.
All purchases you’ve made abroad while being in a happy holiday mood seemed like such a good idea at the time. But back home, you’ll find that the conical hat you’ve been guarding with your life during your trip to Vietnam doesn’t quite fit with your woolen turtle neck sweaters. Or that your family doesn’t actually like listening to your didgeridoo practice.
To be honest, most souvenirs I buy on a trip usually end up gaining dust in a forgotten corner of my house. Time to change that!
What we'll cover in this article
6 Creative Ways to Keep Travel Souvenirs
1. Collect Natural Souvenirs
What better way to remember your trip by actually touching your memories? I always try to bring a piece of nature with me home -within the rules of customs regulations, of course. So no, I’m not talking about bringing a baby hippo or an entire palm forest home, but things like sand, shells and stones.
Sand is my #1 guilty pleasure when it comes to collecting natural items. I always carry packages of tissue paper (as I always have a cold), the plastic package is handy to get the sand back home without getting everywhere. It’s also roughly the same size as my little mason jars at home, so a great measuring tool at the same time.
At the moment, my sand collection is boxed up, but in our home in Holland we had a souvenir cabinet which was beautiful for displaying! Here are some other similar sand collections I’ve found:
Photo Credit: Better Homes and Gardens
Photo Credit: Bakerella on Flickr
I have my stones in jars as well as I don’t often bring those home, but another fun idea is to write or draw on the stones that you collect and bring home.
You could write a word on them that reminded you of your trip, or simply write the name (and date) of where (and when) you found it. You could of course also just draw nice images on them, as you can see below:
Photo Credit: Unknown
Photo Credit: Susanna Blaavarg on Sweet Paul
2. Start a Spice Collection
A while ago I had a dinner at the home of a couple of fellow travel bloggers and saw the best idea ever: a HUGE spice rack with flavours from all around the world. With these spices, of course you cook recipes of food from all around the world.
Looking for a good recipe book? Check Around the World in 80 Dishes by David Loftus.
Looking for a fun way to store your spices? Check this test tube spice rack DIY project by noahw on Instructables (photo below also credited to Noah):
3. Create a Memory Box
If you search on Pinterest for travel memory boxes, or travel shadow boxes, the two examples below will jump right at you. Aren’t they beautiful? Unfortunately, many people have used the images without crediting the actual makers, so I went on a bit of a search and found them. Make sure to click the credit links below, as you can read exactly how they made the boxes.
I’ve created a series of shadow boxes from my travels as well. As so often IKEA has the perfect boxes (“RIBBA” white or black, 50×50 cm) for this! From their frames and posters section, I picked up little shadow boxes and started to fill them with everything from my past trips that would fit into it. On the next trips I made, I promised myself to only buy souvenirs that would fit into one of these little boxes. Another great plus is that the souvenirs don’t get a layer of dust on them at the same time.
Photo Credit: Ashley Campbell on Design Aglow
Photo credit: Jordan Hebl on Design Aglow
4. Collect Christmas Ornaments
On one of my first trips years ago, I met a girl who collected souvenirs from all around the world -to hang them in her Christmas tree! I thought it was such a good idea.
Nowadays you can find specific Christmas souvenirs especially aimed at travellers everywhere, but of course it’s the challenge to find little items that are typical to the country and then hang those in your tree. Have fun!
Photo Credit: Blue i Style Blog
5. Bring Home (Design) Household Items
While my suitcase is never big enough for most of the items I’d like to bring home from my trips, I’ve collected some nice items to decorate the house with. I find this one of the best ways to keep travel memories alive as it’s something practical that you’ll actually use or look at, instead of shoving it into a box and never seeing again.
Think about: kitchenware, stationary, flower vases, pillow covers, storage boxes, blankets, prints and posters, books, etc.
Iittala design I brought back home from Helsinki, Finland
Books bought at the Shakespeare and Company Book Shop in Paris, France
Our vintage travel poster from The Rocks Market in Sydney, Australia
6. Bring Home Wearables
The best way to remember your travels on a daily basis, is of course to wear your memories! Think about buying clothing, jewelry or even perfume to remind you of the good times.
Stay away from the tourist shops of course, and check out authentic markets and shops with local designers to get quality items.
Photo Credit: Shop Dixi
Photo Credit: Kathleen Kamphausen on Cosmopolitan
From Nepal, we got yak woolen hat, slippers and a blanket and are still very happy with all of it!
Looking for more inspiration on making memories last? Have a look at our Pinterest board, full of ideas to keep travel souvenirs in a creative way:
Other great reads:
- Why We Souvenir – Michael Alan Connelly on Fodor’s Travel
On the question what exactly a souvenir is, why they are important and what meaning and memory they can have for travellers.
- How to Make a Travel Journal That Always Inspires You – Gina Alyse
Tips on creating your own travel journal from a spiral sketchbook that will be meaningful and pretty.
- How To Keep Your Trip Alive After It’s Over – Jessie Festa
Some other fun ideas to keep your travel memories alive.
- Create a Personal Sanctuary that Keeps your Travel Memories Alive – Live Like You’re Traveling
Styling tips to turn your house into a sanctuary, remembering you of your favourite trips around the world.
What Souvenirs do you collect?
This post is also available in: Dutch