10 Unique Ways to Commemorate Your Travels

1.) Money

As many of us travel about we have the tendency to begin accumulating foreign currency, whether it be accidental or intentional. But, then what? Don’t just let the money rattle around in your wallet or drawer. Instead, display it!

  • coin magnets
  • map of the world (or state/country) made from coins or cash
  • frame it
  • make a mosaic (it can be simple stripes or a creative design)
  • place it in a glass jar/container
  • origami (oh, yes! – this is especially great for children)
  • use it as a tool for art (paint and stamp, crayon impressions, etc.)

2.) Maps

Nowadays with phones and other electronics good old fashion maps are often overlooked. However, they can make sensational items to commemorate your journeys. You could buy one big map and/or collect many at each location. In cases where foreign languages are involved this can be especially intriguing. (*side note: extra maps make excellent wrapping paper for gifts)

  • one large map to mark where you have been (these marks can be plain old dots, pins, pictures, lights, and even butterflies)
  • pre-made/ scratch off maps
  • cutting shapes from maps (Have you been to Paris? Buy a map of the city, and create a shape – which can be printed if you are not an overly artistic person. This could be in the shape of France, the Eiffel Tower, a heart, butterflies, words (amore), etc. This can also be a great way to personalize you workplace, e.g., dentist = tooth.)
    writing quotes on maps
  • covering items with a map (uou can cover a variety of items with maps including candles, lamp shades, tissue box covers, coasters, etc. with just a bit of glue, mod podge, or paper mache.)

3.) Natural Materials

When visiting a new destination we may find ourselves entranced by the natural beauty. Taking a small piece of that beauty (when allowed) can make a fantastic way to remember your trip.

  • ‘rock memories’ (you can write you favorite memories on the rocks or just dates/locations – then keep them in a jar, bowl, or anywhere)
  • pebble magnets (yep, more magnets 😉 )
  • rock fountain/garden/bird bath
  • sand/dirt art jar
  • shell art (simply glue them in a shape and frame it *consider sand paper)
  • shell planters (either they are the planters themselves or glued to one)
  • shell wind chime

4.) Memory Boxes

Memory boxes can be a simple and practical way to store all of your precious items from a trip. Depending on your personal preferences they can be as basic as a cardboard box to a more elaborately designed wooden box, additionally they can easily be made or purchased.

  •  Popular items to include: pictures, plane/rail tickets, bottle tops, flyers, money, postcards, shells, rocks, jewelry, museum tickets, hand written notes, travel soundtrack CD, figurines, etc.

5.) Photos and Postcards

Perhaps, photos and postcards are the most traditional routes for remembering a trek; however, even within this more conventional set there are limitless ways to mix it up.

  • have a photo painted
  • postcard mosaic
  • frame postcards (perhaps send some to yourself – write down your or your family’s favorite memories)
  • mix up the display – instead of using a frame try window shutters, string and clips, a window, canvas, etc.
  • photo albums and scrapbooks
  • photo coasters (purchase or DIY – consider using tiles and mod podge)
  • pillows or blankets
  • ornaments

6.) Tattoos

Tattoos can serve as the words to a story or a window to one’s past. It is no wonder why memorializing travel experiences as tattoos has long been and continues to be a popular notion. Of course tattoos are a way of self expression and as such can be expressed in an infinite number of ways; however, some of the more ‘popular’ examples of travel tattoos are shown below. (*side note: consider getting a tattoo using local techniques, e.g. – hand tapped)

  • passport stamp
  • coordinates
  • map of the world, country, city (sometimes filled in)
  • outline of a landscape
  • commemoration of an event -e.g., first time surfing in Australia = wave tattoo

7.) Shadow Boxes

Shadow boxes can provide a wonderful opportunity to display what you have collected along the way while also giving you full control over their design.

  • Popular items to include: pictures, plane/rail tickets, bottle tops, flyers, money, postcards, shells, rocks, jewelry, museum tickets, etc.

8.) Entertainment Videos

While it may be common to take lots of pictures and videos of your travels, it is not so common to compile those (especially videos) into a fun digital format. It is a digital world after all. This may be a bit of a daunting task for some of you (and me), but there numerous ways to approach this and countless resources to assist you if needed (such as ‘how-to’ websites or companies which you can pay to create a video for you). As a bonus, since this is an activity it is a great chance to have fun with the family or your fellow travelers!

  • compile videos (consider ‘interviewing’ everyone you are traveling with – what was the best part? what surprised you? say something in the native language?)
  • film a movie/reality show trailer (time to get creative here)
  • make a music video (yes…like a Kardashian…or maybe not)

9.) Everyday (Practical Use) Items

I once met a well-traveled woman while I was working in China who told me that she no longer bought souvenirs for herself because, in her opinion, after enough trips it all begins to be too much and as it is only meaningful to her, her children did not fully appreciate their value. She said instead she began buying items of practical use, that way not only do they have sentimental value but also a functional value.

  • books (check out local authors or books about local heroes, myths, history, etc. – maybe even consider books in different languages or children’s picture books)
  • clocks
  • umbrella racks
  • kitchen supplies – spoons, plates, bowls, serving spoons, etc.
  • lamps
  • rugs
  • hot pads
  • coasters
  • local games – board games, cards, lawn games, sports, etc.

10.) Signs

Creating or buying some fun signs can be a distinctive way to mark your favorite travel destinations.

  • street signs
  • travel/directional signs
  • bar/liquor/beer signs
  • license plates (not exactly a sign, but similar idea)

Honorable Mentions

  • clocks from different time zones (perhaps places you have lived)
  • ‘nails n string’ design
  • city outline on a lamp shade
  • make use of passport stamps pages (maybe cut them out and frame them)
*Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of the photos in this post.

How do you commemorate your travels? Please share below.


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