I love photos; I am convinced I am Shutterfly’s #1 customer. Not only do I print photos, but I also create lots of gifts and mementos of our travels through Shutterfly. Look for an upcoming post on using Shutterfly to create unique memories of your travels. I also scrapbook, both as a hobby and as a way to preserve our family memories for my children. I literally have dozens of scrapbooks filled with thousands of photos. But today, I want to focus on things you can collect while you’re traveling so you can have tangible reminders of your travels. Many of these items can be displayed in a variety of unique ways so that they do not turn into clutter. Here are my top 6 favorite keepsakes:
1. National Parks Passport: Full credit goes to my Uncle Bob who introduced me to the National Parks system before our first big trip with the kids in 2012. He showed me his tattered passport, with stamps dating back to the early 1970s, and I knew I wanted to have that reference for my own adventures. I’ve only been collecting for 5 years, but it’s become the first thing I pull out when I choose a destination (and, often, the determining factor of a destination) for my family’s travels. There is also a children’s version, with space for children to journal about what they see and do (great for practicing writing and spelling skills), so everyone can have their own copy.
2. Postcards: Do people send postcards anymore? Maybe not with the frequency with which I did as a child, but I still see postcards being sold in every place I visit. I saw a Pinterest project where a family picked up a postcard from each stop on a trip, wrote highlights from their visit, mailed it to themselves, and then once home, bound them all together for a super easy scrapbook. Plus, having the cancelled stamps is a nice bonus.
3. National Parks Junior Ranger Badges: Many National Historic Parks have programs that actively engage children to learn about their location. Children usually receive a booklet and backpack of activities which challenge them exploring various sites. They also differieentate for various age groups and abilities. You can read more about how my kids earned their badges at Acadia National Park, Salem Maritime Center, Minute Man National Park, and Springfield Armory. I’ve got a comprehensive post on St Louis coming soon. (So far, they’ve earned 8 badges in total).
4. Tickets: Save those ticket stubs from every show, park, concert, game you attend. They capture lots of historical “data”, like pricing and location. It’s fun to look back over the years, and see how prices and technology have changed. If you’re looking for an easy way to organize them, check out this diary I gifted my brother a while back. My husband and I are big baseball fans (you can read my tips about visiting baseball parks with children here) and have set a goal of seeing all 30 major League Parks in the country (we’re presently at 22, with 2 more parks plans for 2018). We had frames made to display our visit to every park- organized by division.
5. Christmas Ornaments: If you celebrate Christmas, and celebrate by decorating a tree, collecting ornaments (or making one, like we did in Newport at Thames Glass) from each location, or each vacation, is a great way to remember where you’ve been, and what you’ve seen and done. If you cannot find an ornament with the date incorporated, make sure you mark the date somewhere on the ornament- it’s a fun guessing game to test your family’s memory. Taking out a few ornaments to photograph for this post reminded me how much I love decorating our tree and hearing my children’s enthusiastic “ahh, remember when we went here and saw..”
A few of our (literally) dozens of ornaments from visits to Indianapolis, Chicago, Orlando, Niagara Falls, New York City, Colorado, and Maine.
6. Take a video: My kids love to see themselves on film. Each day, they film themselves sharing a “thumbs up/down” (a reference to our nightly dinner ritual of sharing a positive aka “thumb’s” up and disappointing aka “thumb’s down” moment from the day) with the iPad. After the trip, we string all the clips together into a short film to show family and friends. It’s a nice way to preserve the sound and tone of their voice.
Bonus: Encourage your child to start his or her own collection by saving a trinket from each location, especially if your family has a theme when you travel (like amusement parks, beach locations, camping etc). You can also have fun with displays so that the trinkets don’t become clutter; seashells collected from various beaches can be displayed in a apothecary jar or pressed pennies with insignias can be kept in a clear piggy bank.