Phil and Garth > Inspiration > 20 Ways to Collect and Display Travel Souvenirs

20 Ways to Collect and Display Travel Souvenirs

by Garth

Last updated: 8th August 2022

Holidays always seem to end too soon, but with a bit of collecting and some very simple DIY 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. In this post we’ll show you ideas for things to collect from your travels and then how to display travel souvenirs in your home.


20 Ways To Collect & Display Travel Souvenirs

1. Add Push Pins To Maps

Plot your travels with push pins and a mural

Plot your travels with push pins and a mural

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. Make A Collage From Airport Luggage Tags

Just a few of the airport luggage tags we've collected

Just a few of the airport luggage tags we’ve collected

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 in vertical rows. Frame them so they lie flat behind glass.  When your friends and family come round guessing what the airport codes stand for is a fab game!



3. Collect Fridge Magnets

Our fridge is groaning under the weight of our magnet collection

Our fridge is groaning under the weight of our magnet collection

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! The best way to display fridge magnets is to group them all as close as you can together. Any gaps you should fill with a smaller magnet, think of it like a jigsaw. It looks better to have one large space under a big group of magnets rather than spreading them all out over your fridge door. 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

Plot where you've been around the world by using sewing pins on a globe

Plot where you’ve been around the world by using sewing pins on 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 mark their hometown, to show off his international diners, how clever!



5. Collect Christmas Ornaments

Collect Christmas tree ornaments

Collect Christmas tree ornaments

Another idea is to collect Christmas tree ornaments, just buy one each time you visit a new destination 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

This was the first memory box we created with bits and bobs from Amsterdam

This was the first memory box we created with bits and bobs from Amsterdam

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

Some of our unused foreign currency

Some of our unused foreign currency

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 Cheap Unusual Items

We collect Coca-Cola cans from different countries

We collect Coca-Cola cans from different countries

Another idea is to collect cheap simple things you can compare from each country. We collect Coke cans from around the world the different logos remind us of our times in places like Thailand and Vietnam. 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

Keep and frame free subway and city maps

Keep and frame free subway and 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

Cut up your old passport pages and put them inside little frames

Cut up your old passport pages and put them inside little frames

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

Collect or buy Do Not Disturb signs - This is one we bought from Disneyland Paris

Collect or buy Do Not Disturb signs – This is one we bought from Disneyland Paris

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

One of our old pressed pennies. These souvenirs make a great collection

One of our old pressed pennies. These souvenirs make a great collection

You’ll find elongated penny souvenir machines in museums and touristy places like theme parks. The only one we could find was this New York World Trade Center 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 souvenir 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

Some of the postcards we've posted back to ourselves

Some of the postcards we’ve posted back to ourselves

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

Our collection of photos at famous world landmarks

Our collection of photos at famous world 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

Flag patches from around the world on sale in Cambodia

Flag patches from around the world on sale in Cambodia

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

Turn your Instagram food photos into a poster

Turn your Instagram food photos into a poster

So for some reason we all take tons of photos of the food we eat, especially in exotic places and post them to Instagram 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 Instagram. 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

Photo of sand in the Maldives, we could have used to make a sand jar

Photo of sand in the Maldives, we could have used to 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

Vintage letter peg board for adding the countries you've travelled to

Vintage letter peg board for adding the countries you’ve travelled to

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

A page from one of our old Canada scrapbooks

A page from one of our old Canada scrapbooks

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

A few of Garth's old sketchbooks

A few of Garth’s old 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, draw 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.


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Travel Lexx 24th December 2016 - 3:39 pm

Garth, I love all these ideas! I do a few of these myself but I am always reluctant to collect too much as I don’t have my own place so am scared of having to throw stuff away! But you’ve given me some great ideas like framing free city maps! Awesome post! I buy postcards with a view of doing some sort of collage/project with these in the future so I have a LOT of postcards but no real idea of what to do with them yet!

Katie Featherstone 24th December 2016 - 10:24 am

Great ideas!

Angie Briggs 24th December 2016 - 5:14 am

So many amazing inspiration ideas here I love it! Before we sold all our wordly possessions, we used to collect wooden masks which we would display on the wall and I would also collect fridge magnets, socks (uh-huh!), I also used to love buying clothing and bikinis so whenever I wore them I would think of the country in which they were purchased. I think my favourite has to be the wallpaper world map – amazing idea and although I love the idea of the passport stamps, I couldn’t bring myself to cut up my old passport lol. I have done a couple of collages in my time as well – two for Africa and one for Nepal but we would run out of space in our house so had to start collecting our money and sand in a zip-seal bag and add it to a memory box! Anyway, love this post and your ideas, thank you so much for sharing and Merry Christmas!

Kelly Turpin 24th December 2016 - 1:59 am

I love this post! I have started a sand jar as we spend a heap of time at the beach. In 2004 I collected beer coasters as I travelled Australia and made an awesome collage for behind my bar at home! I love all your ideas!

Tracy 23rd December 2016 - 5:52 pm

I love all of these ideas! I have a map and love sticking the pins in when I get home! Love the memory box idea and the old passport stamps framed! I collect fridge magnets too (just easy to bring back – I travel as light as possible!

And the Instagram food poster that’s great too!!!

I wish I had Garth’s talent for sketching – they are fantastic!

Simona Barbu 23rd December 2016 - 4:44 pm

I love the idea of adding sewing pins to a globe, and I would love a map wall!!! My sister collects fridge magnets, so all my travels are recorded on her fridge as well. As for me, me and my boyfriend photograph our holding hands in every new place that we see together. Great post!

Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) 23rd December 2016 - 3:23 pm

Love the ideas you have for collecting and displaying souvenirs. My favorite are Garth’s sketches but they are all great. Love the 60 sec. video along with the amazing photos. I like to collect Christmas ornaments, items made by locals, and paintings/sketches from where I travel. Along with my photos I want to do what Jenn does, is to put them in my digital photo frame which at the moment hanging on the wall empty. 🙂 I will pin this myself and others for some great ideas. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Garth 23rd December 2016 - 4:05 pm

That’s so cool you collect ornaments! and yes Jenn’s tip is awesome!

2born2travel 23rd December 2016 - 12:01 pm

Love these guys! My favs are #1 #2 and #14! Thanks for sharing these ideas

Live And Die In Afrika 23rd December 2016 - 11:41 am

I love your collection of souvenirs. Looking forward to having the same kind of collection. I will definitely schedule this article on my social media pages.

Garth 23rd December 2016 - 11:42 am

Thank you and good luck collecting!

Jenn 22nd December 2016 - 11:47 pm

You have so many wonderful ideas here! We don’t buy the typical touristy souvenirs, so we like to do things like this too! Our wall map is getting more and more pins and we are starting to hang on to ticket stubs and things like that too. We also love using our pictures as free souvenirs and have them scrolling on a digital frame in our home office. So many creative ways to capture these worldwide memories!

Garth 22nd December 2016 - 11:53 pm

Thanks Jenn, your idea of a digital photo frame is a great one!! Why haven’t we thought of that before, so obvious when you think about it, we’ll have to copy you and do that 🙂

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