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Making Memories of Travel Odds and Ends

Don’t throw out your trip debris! Make souvenirs!

Are you taking your sweetheart away for a romantic Valentine’s Day escape next weekend? When you return from your getaway, you’ll probably have ticket stubs, post cards, maps and other stuff that’ll end up in the trash. At first, you may think of those things as garbage, but those “leftovers” are also memories of your trip. Don’t toss them! You can keep your travel "flotsam and jetsam" without cluttering up the house! Here are 4 ideas to use the little tidbits that you accumulate along the way!


A collage is a great way to display memories from a trip. I bought a poster size frame, and pasted my whatnot to the cardboard that comes with the frame, turning all of it into a whimsical collage. To highlight the collection and to give the collage a more finished look, I bought a matte to make a border. I mounted it in the frame and boom, I'm done! Museum tickets, postage stamps, scuba diving permit tags, stickers, post cards, ski lift tickets all went into the collage. Whenever people come into my office, they comment on how much they love it. They don’t realize the collage is just made of items I would have simply thrown out ….

Frame it:

Along the same line as a collage, buy beautiful postcards. Matte and frame them and display in your house or give as gifts.

Wrapping paper:

Don’t throw out that map! It makes super cool wrapping paper!


Money is always something I think about as a fantastic souvenir. Paper currency in many countries is absolutely beautiful. You can bring it back and frame it for a cool and unique gift. I'm fascinated with the different colors and sizes of foreign currency and how they are so different from the single color, single size U.S. currency. In addition to framing paper currency, leftover coins can be framed. Coins can also make unique wine glass tags, or even a necklace! Sure, you could always donate your left over money to the charities set up around the airport, but let’s face it, most of us find leftover currency at the bottom of our bags at the end of our trip, so it’s nice to have a fun idea for it.


You can actually make holiday ornaments out of the things you gather on your travels. Did you save the cork from the bottle of wine at that restaurant where you celebrated a special occasion? Put an eye screw in one end of the cork, decorate it with some ribbon and hang it on your holiday tree! Or how about making your corks into a “grape cluster”, by gluing them together into a cluster shape? What if you have a table top tree? One year, we had a live Rosemary plant shaped into a Christmas tree that was small enough to put on a table. Before I managed to kill off the poor plant, we decorated it with dive permit tags and Champagne bottle caps that we accumulated on different adventures and from meaningful events!

Show & Tell:

If you know kids who have to bring something for “show and tell”, a traveler is a “show and tell” gold mine. When my friends’ kids were younger, they took in money, trinkets, and whatever else I picked up along my travels. I would only tell them where it came from - they had to “research” the rest. It was a great way to get them interested in the thing you've brought for them and to teach them about geography and other cultures. In my case, it also created pint-sized travel junkies…

So there you have it. There are endless possibilities for travel debris and these are just a few. Remember, you don’t always need a lot of money to make something into a souvenir, just your imagination and a little crafty know how!

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