Traveling is incredibly enjoyable for many. Whether that means going on a trip in an RV to see more of the U.S. and Canada, flying to Orange County in Florida, or Orange County in California, to enjoy the many theme parks, or going abroad to experience other cultures, you’re bound to return home with some great memories.
In Disneyland, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or even at the airport in Guadalajara, you’re bound to find things that you’d like to purchase and bring home, from tee-shirts and mugs to keychains and toys. These things will remind you of your trip and the fond memories you created. In fact, the word “souvenir” is French for “memory.”
We discuss clutter and cleaning a lot in this blog. It’s so easy, over the years, to just keep buying more things without getting rid of what we no longer need. Of course, you can always declutter, but one way to make that easier is to be choosy about what you purchase in the first place.
We’re not saying to avoid buying souvenirs altogether. There’s plenty worth getting and displaying at home. While traveling, before you make a purchase, think about what you’ll do with it. Is it a gift for a friend? Do you have a place to display that drink stein from Germany or that replica of the space needle from Seattle? If not, then don’t get it. Take a picture instead and let that serve to remind you of your trip. More on that shortly.
What if you’re not traveling right now, but instead are looking at all your souvenirs and realizing they’re just taking up too much space? These items can be tough to get rid of, on an emotional level, because they’re so tied in with your recollections of your trips.
First, realize what’s important: the memories, not the objects. Something like that probably when through your head when you picked up free brochures and park guides or saved your plane or show tickets. These items remind you of your voyage and give you some interesting information about places and activities.
Go through your souvenirs and decide which you can get rid of, either by selling them, giving them away, recycling them, or throwing them out. Then, take photographs of each. Let the pictures refresh your memory.
Speaking of photographing souvenirs, you can do something similar for all those brochures and ticket stubs. If they take up more room than, say, a shoebox, consider recycling them. However, before you do, scan them and save them as high-quality jpegs or pdf files.
There will be some souvenirs that are really special to you, and that you’ll want to keep. Those, you can show off on bookshelves or glass display cases. Perhaps you took a trip to Europe and visited England, Poland, and Lithuania. In one display case, you could have a shelf for each country. That puts the items in context and creates an enjoyable display. Remember to dust your souvenirs now and then as well.
Do you have souvenirs that serve a practical purpose? Perhaps you have teaspoons from Ireland, plates from Disneyland Paris, wooden mugs from Estonia, or chopsticks from China. Use them! Don’t save them for a special occasion, but use them regularly. This will not only keep the memories alive, it will make you feel special.
If you still don’t have room for all those special souvenirs in your home, then consider what you want to put in storage. These can include especially large items, like rugs or paintings that you don’t currently have room for. It can include smaller souvenirs that you’d like to display as well.
For both types, remember that you can swap items in and out of storage. Perhaps you’ve had your display of items from Alaska out for a while, and you want to swap them for a display of items from Brazil. Box up your Alaska items in a sturdy, small box, pad it with packing paper, bring it to storage, and retrieve your box of Brazilian items. You may have one beautiful Persian rug in your living room now, but later you may want to put it in storage and bring back another one you purchased with a different pattern.
We hope these suggestions help you not only keep your vacation memories alive but help you enjoy your best souvenirs as well.