The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Trip Memories

It is common for tourists to select a souvenir to serve as a reminder of the good memories made on a trip. I have found, as a non-rev traveler, because you go so many places, you could start to acquire too many physical mementos and waste money better spent on more travel experiences. I’ve developed some great ways to avoid purchasing clutter and accomplish the same pleasant feelings of nostalgia that a souvenir can bring.


Photos are a huge part of cataloging trip memories. With most phones having a pretty high-quality camera, it is easy to use your phone to snap a picture. I like to look at others’ photos for inspiration. Some travelers on the non-rev Facebook groups take impressive shots. If a real camera is more your style, that’s another option. You’ll probably get better pictures but will sacrifice some bag space and haul it around on your adventure, which can be a nuisance.

I try to snap photos of whoever I am traveling with to document their presence on the trip. I also like to snap a selfie or two. It’d probably be better to ask a stranger for a picture, but with my Midwestern temperament, I hate to bug people for things like this. Some angles are more flattering than others, so experiment (and have your ‘photographer’ experiment) with different ways of posing or orienting the camera. In addition to taking some people pictures, I also enjoy capturing landscapes, buildings, or other unique details in a place.


In addition to photographs, I try to find a sticker from each place I travel to. I like stickers as a souvenir because they are relatively cheap and don’t take up too much space. There is so much room for creativity with stickers. People love to adorn their water bottles, notebooks, computers, and more with them. I could see it being fun to make a collage of stickers from your travels to display at home. A sticker can capture the spirit of a place, and it can be fun to be on the hunt for something specific. Sometimes when I can’t find a sticker I’m able to find one online for the place we visited.

Chicago Sticker

Travel Journal

My favorite way to use stickers and preserve the memories of a trip is to keep a travel journal. I bring a small journal on every trip and fill it out during downtime at the airport. I take a variety of colored pencils, pens, markers, and highlighters to work with. I’ve drawn some inspiration from the bullet journal trend. I include the flight route and details, trip highlights, food, and lodging in each trip entry. I also write any unique circumstances or even some hassles. This information can be helpful to remember to avoid similar issues on future trips.

In addition to the written portions, I include the stickers I find and print a collage photo from the trip to glue in. I usually make these on the app layout. It’s also fun to add colorful doodles that represent the places we’ve been. I also like to have some pages devoted to specific purposes. I have lists of cities, countries, national parks, and some thoughtfully placed purely aesthetic pages. It’s great to look back on all of the travel memories made, and it always serves as a reminder of how lucky we are to have travel privileges!


Along with the journal, I made a push pin map. To assemble, I glued a poster to a framed cork board I found at Michael’s. I surrounded the border with the pins for easy access. It was a simple DIY project and is a nice decorative element to our place. It can be more economical if you wait for a sale on the cork board. The main reasons I made one myself was that it was far cheaper and I could pick a map that went with my decor. If I had it to do over, I would use stronger glue and find a map with USA state boarders and maybe more city names. Sometimes it is challenging to find where to place the pins. Every time we go to a new destination, we put a pin on the map. It’s fun to see it begin to fill up.

DIY Pushpin map

Giving Back

One practice I’d like to start including on future trips is the idea that you don’t always need to ‘take’ an item. Sometimes it would be better to give to the place you are visiting. It could also create a lasting memory to feel like you’ve made some small positive impact through your travels. Perhaps you went to a nature preserve. Rather than taking that rock that you know you aren’t supposed to, consider a small donation. Maybe you went to a wildlife refuge and desire to help some local animals. Whatever it may be, and this might be unique to each trip, I think it would be a positive mindset to think of giving rather than taking. Especially since our travels already give us so much.

Shop Small

Finally, if you have your heart set on a specific souvenir, go for it. Especially if you have a use or place for the item or if you could use something like it anyways. As a kid, I used to like to collect a specific type of souvenir. As a non-rev traveler, I think this could cause a collection of far too many of the same type of trinket. However, there’s no harm in bringing something home that will spark a little joy or fill a need. Just do so with intention so whatever you obtain won’t end up in a landfill someday. Making a purchase can help stimulate the local economy. Consider shopping small so that your dollar more directly contributes to the locals. I hope these ideas will serve as a helpful guide in reminiscing your travels and will prevent the waste of money or accumulation of too many nicknacks.

Toucan Souvenir my husband had his heart set on from Costa Rica

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