Organizing trip souvenirs: think inside the box

//Organizing trip souvenirs: think inside the box

Organizing trip souvenirs: think inside the box

New additions to the home office a.k.a. travel room

In dealing with stacks of travel keepsakes, an impulse purchase came to my rescue. 

I wasn’t planning on doing any organizing. Not for a while at least. I was perfectly content with old maps, postcards, boarding passes, and train tickets sitting in a plastic bag, tucked away in the closet of the home office. After all, there were new trips to be planned, not to mention other house projects to tackle.

Then the boxes found me.

I was at a department store, not really sure what I was looking for. Pillows? Maybe some new candles? And do they have shoes on sale?… Tired of walking around and wasting the evening away, I was about to go home empty-handed, when I was stopped in my tracks. There they were: two travel-themed storage boxes, stamp and Air Mail images plastered all over them.

How much?

Luckily, not more than the price of a couple of meals on a domestic flight. I left the store with a big grin on my face, boxes in hand, and rushed to my travel room. That’s right. Suddenly, calling it ‘home office’ no longer seemed fitting.

Under the lid

Organizing the souvenirs naturally brought back a lot of memories – of métro rides around Paris to gypsy jazz clubs, of flying to San Francisco on my birthday, of cheering on my favorite teams on the road. I also noticed a lot of boarding passes dated December – a reminder of holiday trips to see my family overseas, and a sure way to make me homesick.

What surprised me when going through the bags was how many old keepsakes had somehow survived my move from Europe to the US – postcards, magnets, even money! I didn’t recall ever packing them.

I was also reminded of an earlier time when I didn’t keep souvenirs long enough.

Being rather minimalist, I generally do not hold on to things that I don’t use, and I don’t buy much in the first place. Travel items have been an exception, but only recently. Unfortunately, this means that postcards I had received from friends in high school and the few souvenirs I had from my trips as a teenager are mostly gone…

Now that I have the boxes, I’ll get to keep my surroundings clutter-free and still have something tangible to remind me of my journeys. A win-win situation.

Perhaps I should check if the store has a few more in stock.

What do you do about your travel souvenirs? Do you keep them or toss them after a while? Let me know in the comments section below! 

By | 2013-04-24T17:53:23+00:00 October 24th, 2012|STORIES|23 Comments

About the Author:

Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, expat, and event host. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she teaches Business English.


  1. avatar
    Aaron October 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    What a great idea! Might have to keep an eye out for those. Something to keep postcards and other travel knick-knacks in. :)
    Aaron recently posted..Sam’s (New England Clam) Chowder House on the PCH.My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Thanks, Aaron! I’m telling you, this was a fun thing to do! :)

  2. avatar
    The World Wanderer October 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Aww, I love this! Travel theme boxes are the best. Jeff recently found one for me that looks like vintage luggage and has stamps and postcards all over it – in love! Everything I collected along the way from my travels has made its way in there. Funny the things we got rid of that we’d love to have back. Great post!
    The World Wanderer recently posted..A Golden Entrance at Wat Pra Singh.My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Erin – I would love to see a photo of the box you have! It sounds really cool.

  3. avatar
    Leah Travels October 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I’m such an organizer that it’s rather sickening. I love those boxes, and what a great way to keep everything together and ponder previous trips. Cool!
    Leah Travels recently posted..Packing Non-Negotiables: Stuff I Gotta HaveMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      I find myself looking at these keepsakes more now that they’re nicely organized. Definitely an added bonus. :)

  4. avatar
    @mrsoaroundworld October 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Oh what a fab idea! I have been sticking random things in a drawer or a box, but this is soooooooo much nicer!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..50 shades of blue – Photos of the weekMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you, Ana! Drawers are reserved for jewelry finds I bring back. ;)

  5. avatar
    D.J. - The World of Deej October 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    It’s rare that I come home with anything tangible from a trip, but usually it is something I use often like a glass, etc. Guess I’m more of a digital souvenir guy:) Great way to organize your stuff though…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The View of Lombard Street – Pic of the WeekMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Most of my souvenirs are pictures or books, but I have a hard time letting go of some of those boarding passes… :) Now they’re not all over my purses haha.

  6. avatar
    the lazy travelers October 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    great idea! the hubs is a total packrat when it comes to brochures/maps/tickets. maybe i’ll start making him organize post-trip…
    the lazy travelers recently travel required (/allowed)My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Haha, sorry hubs if my post brought this on. ;)

  7. avatar
    lola October 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    first, i’d like to say, i love reading your writing, Pola. always a joy!

    i do buy & keep paper items but often those get tossed over time too. having a blog helps!! you can notate the reason you have those paper items in stories & photos. i especially enjoy bringing back useful things. things i’ll wear & spices i’ll cook with. BUT my most prized possession is my charm bracelet with charms from the most special of places. i only started it a few years ago so i have to go back to a few spots that should be included on the memory lane of charms. oh poor me ;) but it is something that will stand the test of time & i’ll never tire of. i ADORE it.
    lola recently posted..Top Romantic European DestinationsMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Oh, it’s such a cool idea with the charm bracelet! Next time we meet, you’ll have to show me the charms. Deal? :) And thank you, so glad you enjoy my posts! xx

  8. avatar
    Traveling Ted October 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Organization of my personal things is not a strong point of mine. Some souvenirs are hanging up, some are on top of my dresser in no particular order, some are in a box mixed with other things, and some are even on the floor.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..The sweet mole poblano sauce from Puebla, MexicoMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 30, 2012 at 11:06 am

      You know, it almost sounds like organized chaos… ;)

  9. avatar
    Gavin Harvey October 30, 2012 at 5:03 am

    I should really do the same with some of my souvenirs! I just tend to have odd receipts, ticket stubs and maps in the bottom of drawers and I usually end up forgetting that they’re there. I’m not a big fan of collecting lots of possessions though, so I usually just get very small souvenirs or food. It’s really strange what some people choose to buy though and I recently wrote this blog post about the really weird things I’ve spotted!

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 30, 2012 at 11:12 am

      I know exactly what you’re talking about, Gavin! :) I usually get books or CDs, but those little ticket stubs etc. somehow find a way back home with me… I’m curious to read your post! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. avatar
    Johanna Bradley October 31, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Guilty as charged! Mine overflowed out of a vanity case, off a bookshelf, next to the bedroom cabinets… Thought I might decoupage a table top with some of them, but I’m not very artistic and am unbelievably messy. Maybe I need a few organisers.
    Johanna Bradley recently posted..P is for PortoMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Johanna. Reading some of the comments here, I’m beginning to think that the “mess” probably looks pretty cool! :)

  11. avatar
    Julika November 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I love my travel memories, but I keep them in no specific place so when I eventually try to find something in the depths of my desk I stumble over travel keepsakes by accident and wonder how they got there in the first place…
    I love the boxes! I should really, really find similar ones and get a little more structure into my desk-mess :)
    Julika recently posted..Rediscovering ParisMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around November 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      Those little things sure have a way of making it to drawers, purses etc. ;)

  12. avatar

    […] like to travel light and keep my home clutter-free, but there are some keepsakes I can always find room for. What do you bring home from […]

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