Travelling exposes you to so many new experiences, people, arts and crafts. Most people want to take some memento of these home with them to remind them of the remarkable new things they’ve seen and done. So what are some options for preserving these memories?
- Small cheap souvenirs
Everywhere that is remotely touristy now seems to have its own selection of (usually cheap and nasty and often not even locally made) souvenirs for you to purchase. They can seem like a good idea at the time because they are small and will fit in your luggage, but within a few days of getting home you will probably already be regretting the purchase (unless you plan to give them to others). Some people have a specific purpose and destination such as a display cabinet for these that work well for them but they will otherwise simply become dust gatherers – so choose carefully. Fridge magnets can be a quick, cheap, colourful reminder of your different travels that works well for lots of people.
Framing photographs of some of your favourite memories is a great thing to do. If you are a good photographer then getting photos enlarged and professionally framed is a fabulous option. You don’t have to go to this expense – you can buy ready-made frames that make a more cost-effective option. You could just frame a couple of larger photos or get a selection of smaller photos and frames and make a feature of the layout of the group of pictures.I find it really hard to choose just one or two photos to represent an entire trip, and not all the photos are of suitable quality to enlarge. So I have started using frames with multiple windows for photos. The first one I found had a good layout but an awful frame so I took it to my local picture framer to replace the frame. I was really pleased with the result, so when I travelled again I wanted to repeat it but getting the multiple windows cut to fit manually turned out to be quite expensive. My picture framer then came up with a great layout for 12 windows for 4″ x 6″ photos which allows you to get 2 of these from one mat board, and he now has the layout stored on his computer so it can be easily (and relatively cheaply) reproduced. I get 2 made at a time so that I have a spare one for my next travels. You can easily swap the photos for new ones when you do another trip if you don’t want to buy new frames. If you’re not a photographer, you could use the same arrangement for postcards.
Calendars are another good way to remember your travels (at least for another year). Sometimes you can buy them whilst you are away which is a great option if you can find ones with amazing professional photography. I like to do this if they are supporting a good cause, for example wildlife in a national park.More recently I have been creating my own calendars from my own photographs once I get home. It can take a while to choose the right photos but then it is simple to create the calendar using software provided by most of the online photo printing companies. I used Frog Prints but there are lots of others. You can choose your layout and style, the order of the photos, holidays you want included, Sunday or Monday start, etc. Once you are happy with your creation, just press ‘Send to Print’, pay your money and a few days later the calendar appears at your door.
Although photos are great pictures for your wall, they don’t contribute anything to the local economy of the place you are visiting and for developing countries this can be a very important part of tourism for them. I like to find pictures that really appeal to me that are painted (or sewn) by local artists and preferably one that I have spoken with – that way I get a lovely picture with a whole lot of inbuilt memories of people and places. If you buy the picture unframed then it is very easy to roll into a tube to tuck in the bottom of your back. Back home, you can get the picture framed to suit your decor. Often you can get postcards that are prints of original artworks that you can frame individually or as a composite picture.
- Objet d’Art
I love carvings, sculptures and ceramics but usually they are much too bulky, heavy and/or fragile to bring home. Many more upmarket places do provide a service shipping the items back home to you – sometimes these are expensive and often I’m not entirely confident that they will ever make it. You can make a parcel yourself and take it to the post office. I have done this but it can take an awful lot of messing around to find packaging materials and a post office. I have found a bit of a compromise that works for me in that I now have a wall of hand-made masks – these tend to be smaller and lighter, so easier to bring home but still give memories of crafts people.
- Home Furnishings
On my very first trip as an adult I was absolutely determined to bring home a Turkish rug. We visited a huge rug studio where we were served cups of steaming peppermint tea and shown a whole range of different rugs. Most people only had a passing interest and were keen to move on and I felt the pressure mounting as I couldn’t see anything I really liked. Finally across a corridor, I saw exactly what I wanted being shown to someone else and thankfully it wasn’t what they were looking for so I was able to make my purchase. It cost me a fortune (or at least it seemed so then) including getting it shipped home but it has had pride of place in my lounge for the last almost 30 years so was definitely worth it. A much more practical option is to settle for something like cushion covers that are much easier to transport. They are a great way to liven up your house and remind you of your travels.