Commemorating Your Journey with Souvenirs

What souvenirs do you collect on your journey?  Are they just collecting dust?
Even though I've been accused of having a love for useless things, I'm not a fan of collecting junk.  We have a small camper and a small house.  I'm not trying to fill up either with stuff I don't need and love.  After reading Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up", I began to take a different approach to the things I purchase and bring into our home.  This includes souvenirs.

Gift shops along the road are filled with endless tee shirts, coffee mugs, and magnets.  How many of any of these things do any of us need or really want other than the sheer impulse of the purchase?  Sure, I may find a catchy shirt that I can't pass up on occasion, but those moments are rare.  I think there are much better ways to commemorate life's journey.  I have four ideas for souvenirs that won't clutter your life or living space.


Most every state or national park has stickers.  This is true for lots of other vacation spots as well.  I love stickers because you can designate a place to put them.  I like putting them on our coolers.  Some people decorate their camper doors and bumpers.  Stickers are very economical, and sometimes they are given away.  Every time you look at the location where you have placed your sticker, you will remember that trip.  Isn't that what souvenirs actually are?  These stickers become a happy reminder of a time, space or adventure.

I've started adding stickers to of coolers of the places where we travel.


Let the photos you take be your souvenir.  I use Chatbooks to make photobooks from an app on my phone to make a souvenir book on the way home from wherever we are.  Our son knows that we do this and asks when the book will be there.  You can add captions and information about your trip.  It becomes like a photo journal.  We have a stack of 6x6 hardcover Chatbooks.  They are durable and attractive.  And while these photos are the not stock photos that postcards are made of, these are our personal photos we have a true connection.

We have a stack of Chatbooks that we enjoy revisiting.

Our son enjoys reading through these often.

Each one has a different color and look.  I can customize each one!


Children may outgrow the tee shirts you buy, but they can always look back at the journals they create.  These can be deeply personal and show how their penmanship grows over time.  Younger children could draw pictures and write simple sentences with help in a draw and write a journal.  Let older children and adults pick a favorite color for a journal.  Keep your journals and writing supplies in the camper, and do a little journaling every day or just when you have an event you want to document.

As a former Reading Specialist, writing is a skill that so many children struggle with at school.  Writing is one thing that you can do regularly as a family that will positively impact their work at school.  It's another way that you can include some educational activities on the road.  Finally, I think it is very important for children to see their parents reading and writing.  Setting that example and tone at home help children to develop good attitudes about these habits from an early age.  It becomes an important activity that is valued by everyone in the home.  You may not realize it, but children are very much influenced by their parents.  We are our children's first and most important teacher.  You don't have to grade their work.  Make these journals informal and fun.  But, develop the love of literacy at home - even on the road.

Give everyone their own journal to write in and share some of these experiences as the author wants to do so.

Get younger children in on the action.  Have them to draw a picture and tell you about it to transcribe or let them write simple sentences independently.

Unique Food Items

One thing that celebrates a certain region you may visit is the food.  Many restaurants and gift shops sell items from seasonings, mixes or small recipe booklets.  If you have enjoyed a delicious barbeque, many times you may find the restaurant's sauce is for sale. Wine is another item you can bring home as a souvenir. Bring home food-related items that you can eat as a family or share with others.  It's like bringing home a little of a special place to enjoy.  So what if you eat your souvenir and it's gone.  Many times, souvenirs are often forgotten in a junk drawer or other place collecting dust.  Items that you can use are the perfect souvenir.

These items are all things that I have purchased on the road during my travels even in my home state.  

And if you do bring home a souvenir that is tangible, look for things that you can use.  Buy a unique piece of pottery from an artist where you a visiting or a piece of jewelry.  Every time you use that item or wear your piece, you will be reminded of that place you loved.  I have a honey pot that was purchased from a shop in South Carolina years ago.  I had always wanted a honey pot but had never purchased one.  10 years later, I still use that item and love it.  Purchasing an item that you would love and use is that perfect example of a souvenir that won't go to waste.

The souvenirs that I just don't like are ones that I am buying just to commemorate a trip.  Ask yourself why you are making the purchase?  Is it just to say you have been to a place?  You could do that with a sticker or picture that you have taken yourself.  Save those silly purchases for things that you just can't pass up because it has a phrase or something on it that makes you happy or brings you joy.  Because when you save those purchases for the really good ones you can't pass them up, you love these items so much more!

I love souvenirs, but they have to serve a purpose in my life.  I don't really need any more things, and I've gotten rid of so many items that I collected that no longer want over the years.  If you don't bring it home with you, then you aren't having to get rid of it a few years later.

Until next time...

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