Last updated: 10th May 2020
Cheap, Easy and Creative Ways To Plot Your Travels
Holidays always seem to end too soon, but with a bit of collecting and some very simple crafts skills, memories from your holidays will live on forever. It doesn’t have to cost much, most of our ideas cost nothing more than a little bit of time.
1. Add Push Pins To Maps
So why not plot your travels like us with a wall map? We bought an inexpensive world map wallpaper mural from Ebay, mind you putting it up in the dinning room was an event as neither of us had done any wallpapering before! Each time we return from abroad, we stick another red push pin into the wall to plot where we’ve just been. We love looking at it, as it’s a constant source of inspiration seeing all the different countries of the world we’d like to visit. Why not add different coloured push pins, like blue for destinations that you would like to visit? Or how about a green ones for all your ultimate bucket list places you wish to see. For extra creativity you could tie cotton from your hometown to each push pin, and make it look really fancy, like a cats cradle. Great thing about it being on the wall in our dining room, it’s always a talking point over dinner and our friends kids love testing their geography knowledge too!
2. Keep Airport Luggage Tags
Don’t throw away those airport luggage labels on your suitcase. Keep them as the tags have unique 3 letter airport codes. A perfect way to record your travels by creating a collage of them. When your friends and family come round guessing what the airport codes stand for is a fab game!
3. Collect Fridge Magnets
Fridge magnets are easily our favourite souvenir for tracking our travels, well when we say ‘our’ I mean Garth’s! We don’t collect antiques or anything sensible, but we LOVE to take a little memento from all the places we’ve been to and fridge magnets are the best!! But whichever one we buy, there are always three more that are ‘better’ as the holiday goes on. Yes they are tacky, yes are kitsch, and that’s why we love them! They are reminders of adventures we’ve had each time we get the milk out of the fridge. Although our American style fridge is groaning under the weight of them! As a bonus idea you can also turn foreign coins or beer bottle tops into magnets, just glue some craft magnets to the back.
4. Add Sewing Pins To A Globe
This was a really neat idea we saw outside a lovely restaurant in Kyoto, Japan. Same idea as our wall map but using one of those geography school globes. The restaurant owner asked all his guests when they left to add a sewing pin to show their hometown, to show off his international diners, how clever!
5. Collect Christmas Ornaments
Another idea is to collect Christmas tree ornaments, just buy one each time you visit a new place, and in no time you’ll have a colourful collection. It must be popular, as we’ve noticed places in different countries sell them year round. We don’t collect these, but we love the idea of unwrapping them each year and rekindling memories of that destination. Our friend Helen collects them and each year decorates her “Around The World Tree” which was nearly destroyed by her daughter last Christmas!
6. Create Memory Boxes
So why not make your own art by creating a travel collage and frame your artwork to form a memory box. Just collect anything – boarding passes, ticket stubs, shop receipts, food labels, beer bottle labels, beer mats, sweet wrappers, carrier bags with logos, napkins, etc. A free city map makes a great base background and then glue everything else on top. We like to keep business cards from the hotels and restaurants we visit. What could be cheaper and more fun?
7. Make A Money Collage
If you’re like us, you always come back with a bank note with loads of zeros on the end and think, I’ll change it back as it will be worth a fortune. It’s always a disappointment when its works out to be 12 pence! So use your left over foreign currency, overlap the notes into a simple composition, really easy and instantly shows off where you’ve been, plus it’s easy to keep adding to. Stick them in all in a cheap frame, and voila instant art. And if the exchange rate shoots up, you can always crack open the frame and cash it in!
8. Collect Unusual Items
Another idea is to collect simple things you can compare from each country, we collect Coke cans from around the world. Other people collect mugs, shot glasses, beer bottle tops or antique books. Or why not photograph doors, public telephones, or other items that will form a good collection. But a word of warning – when we were taking a photo of a phone box in Beijing, very quickly we were approached by 2 policemen with guns! We didn’t realise we were right outside a Chinese government building and apparently they aren’t that keen on you photographing it!
9. Frame Free City Maps
Another idea for framing is to use those free underground or city sightseeing maps we seem to collect from hotel receptions. What’s nice is ours usually have scribbles of recommendations, or an ‘X’ where our hotel was. Just keep adding frames to the collection on your wall, as and when you travel.
10. Frame Passport Stamps
What do you do with expired passports? Well keep them and cut up the rubber stamp marks you’ve collected from different countries and frame them! We bought these really small frames from Ikea and they are just the job!
11. Keep Do Not Disturb Signs
So what if one of those paper ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs from your hotel room accidentally falls into your suitcase (!) it will make a great reminder of your stay. You can also purchase them from attractions, like this one in the photo we bought from Disneyland Paris. They’ll make fun talking points when you have guests staying over.
12. Collect Pressed Pennies
You’ll find elongated penny souvenir machines in museums and touristy places like theme parks. The only one we could find was this NY World Trade Centre souvenir penny, as we’ve never actively collected them. But we’ve always thought a whole bunch of them would look good framed, it’s another collection idea you can keep adding to each time you go away. However this idea is somewhat limited, as we’re not sure you’d find them in places like Vietnam’s rice fields!
13. Send Yourself Postcards
Why not post yourself a postcard, that way you’ll have a stamp and a dated postmark too. Build up your collection over time and keep them in a box, photo album or display them all in a frame either together or individually if you have a big wall to fill.
14. Take Selfies At Famous Landmarks
Another way we like to record and display the countries we’ve been to is by photographing ourselves at iconic landmarks and then frame the photo. We collect different styles of frames to create an eclectic display. Ok so ours aren’t quite ‘selfies’ but you could do this especially if you are a solo traveller. Just remember to add another frame to the wall the next time you get home from somewhere new. Easy!
15. Collect Flag Patches
We’ve never done this, but we recently saw this collection of flag patches for sale in Cambodia. Patches are popular with backpackers who sew or iron them on to their backpacks. How about adding them to a sofa cushion, a pair of jeans or a hoodie? As well as flags, you can pick up badge shaped patches from national parks, and other landmarks.
16. Create A Poster From Your Instagram Food Photos
So for some reason we all take photos of food we eat, especially in exotic places and post them to Insta or Facebook. So why not collate them and create some contemporary and stylish Instagram wall art. If you are a bit of a whizz on Photoshop, like Garth, you can make it yourself, if not then sites like Paperwave can make them for you direct from Insta. Food pics look great in your kitchen and provide a record, memories and a source of cookery inspiration. Get a black marker and write on where you took them. We’ve also had a couple of cookery lessons abroad and every time we see photos of those dishes, it brings back wonderful memories.
17. Make A Sand Jar
How about buying a tall Kilner type jar or use an empty jam jar, grab a handful of sand each from beach you’ve visited and make up layers in your jar, that you keep adding to. With a permanent marker write down the date and destination on the jar, add a few shells, pebbles or perhaps small pieces of drift wood if you like. Alternatively you could display your sand collection individually in different bottles or even in a rack of test tubes.
18. Start A Vintage Letter Peg Board
Go retro and buy a vintage letter peg board and pin the names of all the countries you’ve been to using those cute alphabet plastic letters. Alternatively you could pin all your bucket list places.
19. Make A Travel Scrapbook
Similar to the memory boxes, but this time you keep everything in a scrapbook, and make it up as you are travelling. Just remember to take a glue stick with you to add your bits and bobs. Use it as a diary, and write over cuttings. It’s personal and a unique coffee table book!
20. Draw Places In Sketchbooks
These are some of Garth’s sketchbooks, so Garth is good at watercolour sketches and has lots of sketchbooks from his travels. Even if you think you’re not good at drawing, just try it as it’s a relaxing thing to do whilst you’re having a drink at a bar. Spend no more than 30 minutes on each sketch of whatever you see in front of you. When you return home, you’ll be surprised at how much you remember when you look back on a sketch.
A few more ideas…
- Buy T-shirts or fabric and display them as a collection in square glass frames, like the ones used for vinyl sleeve covers.
- Collate all your Lonely Planet guidebooks and proudly display them all together on a long bookshelf.
- Get a sheet of glass cut to the size of your coffee table – add rubber feet and put hundreds photos and under the glass.
- Buy a cork board, drawn an outline of the world and pin photos to locations, or better still buy a pre-made map.
- Create a big and awesome coffee table photo book. Use companies like Blurb or Photobox for a professionally bound book.
- Scratch off maps are popular and fun for plotting the travels you’ve done.
So those are our ideas, what have you done to remember your trips? Is it Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts, miniature landmark statutes or snow globes like Phil’s boss? Leave a comment, we’d love to know.