Travel is ephemeral. Whether you travel for a few days or a year you mostly return home with memories. We try to capture those memories through physical reminders such as photos, diaries and other mementos. Often they end up lurking in a cupboard or on a bookshelf without being an active reminder of the magic of your trip. So how can you trigger memories of a particular trip on a regular basis?
Personally I have found that the best way to regularly recall a trip is with items I use or observe on a regular basis. I love purchasing serving platters and cutting boards. As I pull each one out I recall ‘this was from Cortona’, ‘this was from Hong Kong’ and ‘this was from the Fish Market in Seattle’. I also like to periodically purchase art, but only if it resonates with me and is affordable. I have a lovely silk screen picture of Queenstown in New Zealand which I still enjoy over 15 years later.
In modern times photos can be a problem. It is so easy to take so many digital photos because it does not cost any additional money, unlike the days of film where you had to purchase each roll of film and then pay for developing costs. On my first trip to Europe over twenty years ago I had a film camera and purchased a bulk pack of 12 rolls of 36 exposure film before I left, thus adding up to 432 possible photos for a nine week holiday. On our recent ten day trip to outback New South Wales we returned with over 3000 photos.
It can be a large job to sort through the photos to select the best and most memorable and edit them. And then you really need to put them into a photo album to make them useable. I believe you only have a time window of approximately 3 months after you return to put them in order, otherwise you will move on to other interests. I use an online photo service to create our photo albums. This option works well as the result is a slimline photo album which won’t have photos falling off pages in the future.
The sorts of mementos I don’t like are things which end up as clutter or in a box. I recently discovered a box of leftover travel paperwork and mementos. It had some interesting brochures and tickets but I decided to throw them out as they had turned into unwanted clutter.
I also realised that the things in the box were items that I had sorted with intent to throw out progressively on the trip. My husband was on his first big overseas trip and decided to keep them without my knowledge. I still remember when we arrived home and he opened his backpack. We had accumulated a couple of extra unwieldy bags along the way but I had not realised that the reason why was that he had not thrown anything out and was carrying a backpack almost full of brochures!
In subsequent holidays I have kept a closer watch over travel rubbish to ensure we do not have a repeat. I think he also realised that there is only certain items which are worthwhile to keep.
I recommend that when tempted to buy or keep a travel souvenir that you think ahead to what will happen to that item when you return home. If it will end up as clutter, give it a miss. Look for items which will provide an active reminder of your trip. And throw out the travel rubbish before you return home!!