When navigating organizational landmines, one of the most explosive are sentimental items like souvenirs from vacations. Tied to our souvenirs are memories of vacations gone by…carefree days, exploring new destinations, relaxing. Ahh…I can almost hear the ocean now.
But truly, how many travel-themed t-shirts does a person need? There must be a better way to hang-on to the memory of a vacation without overstuffing our knickknack shelf or T-shirt drawer. (And there is!) With a smidgen of creativity, your travel mementos can fill your home with inspiration, function, and sometimes add a bit of organizational bliss.
Here are some ideas.
Avoid the traditional t-shirt store and instead, look for interesting items in antique shops. On my trip to Washington last summer, I found an amazing, red, wooden file box at a Seattle antique store. Scouring the shop for creative organizing finds was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Plus, this red box was brimming with creative organizing potential. I could use it to file recipe cards, or business cards, or organize scrapbooking quotes on 3×5 cards. So…now I have a unique organizing find, a memento of a fabulous trip, and no extra shelf or t-shirt drawer clutter.
In this same antique store I found a small, handled whicker basket. This would make a great container for corralling letter writing supplies: pens, stationary, cards, stamps and a small address book. It’s cute enough to sit out on a shelf and remind me of my special vacation, and can serve a useful function as well.
Other items you could look for in an antique store or even a flea market:
Refrigerator glass or Pyrex® dishes. Small, square dishes and their corresponding lids make fun and colorful storage. Use them to corral jewelry in the bedroom or to organize small office supplies in a drawer.
Ceramic bowls. Little bowls are great for storing all sorts of items around the house and since they’re opaque, no one will be the wiser. Anything small can be stashed in a pretty ceramic dish. My MP3 player, for example, sits in a bowl on the bookcase in my great room. It’s right by the front door—making it easy to grab before heading out for a run. There’s a periwinkle ceramic dish in a glass-door cabinet in my bathroom. This bowl, which I picked up on my honeymoon, stashes frequently used medicine. (Out of the reach of children, keep in mind.) You could use a ceramic bowl for matches, small make-up items, or hair accessories.
Small wooden crates. Antique wooden crates, once used for items like cheese and Coca-Cola, are organizing gems. The larger crates can be used as a fun and funky in-box in your office or on the kitchen counter, while smaller crates can be used to house seasoning packets in the kitchen.
Antique glass jars. From corralling pocket change to buttons, antique mason jars are an organizing classic—a great find on any occasion. And when they can serve as a reminder of a vacation gone by, even better.
Ceramic trays and dishes. I snagged a small, orange ceramic dish on a recent trip to Utah. It serves many purposes in my life. It reminds me of a great trip, a wonderful friendship, and it’s a place to stow my favorite jewelry at the end of a long day.
If carting home organizing containers after your next trip doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, here are some ideas for travel mementos that will help you avoid clutter while holding the memory of your trip close to your heart. Simply look for items that are inspiring to you and that you’ll use and enjoy having in your home.
Artwork. A painting, print, or ceramic tile makes a timeless souvenir that will add a dash of color and inspiration to your home for years to come. If you’re flying, consider purchasing a rolled print and framing it when you get back home.
Charms or other jewelry. Let’s talk about timeless! A charm bracelet is the perfect way to commemorate a lifetime of vacations and other milestones, without adding an ounce of clutter to your home. I have a charm bracelet I’ve been adding to since I was a child, back when we used to travel across the country in our gigantic, green station wagon. One of the highlights of these vacations was searching for the perfect sterling silver charm to add to my bracelet. Consider starting your own charm bracelet or look for other interesting jewelry pieces you’ll enjoy wearing when you return home.
Coffee mugs. A coffee mug is an obvious souvenir choice—it’s small, traditional and functional. There are times when a traditional souvenir is the perfect choice. Just keep in mind if you need another mug and if you’ll actually use it once you return home. I picked up a coffee mug at the Seattle airport last summer and I use it nearly every day. It’s my special mug—I love the color, I love how it feels in my hands, and I love that it reminds me of my vacation with Mom.
At the end of the day…here’s the true test of the perfect travel memento: it’s something that will extend your memory of a wonderful life experience without becoming a clutter burden when you return home.
If you like the idea of searching for creative organizing souvenirs, keep these tips in mind on your next trip:
- Consider purchasing one big-ticket item instead of bringing home a bunch of small things. One really great item will create a wonderful and long lasting reminder of your vacation. Plus, chances are if you splurge on one item…you’ll love it for the long haul.
- Leave space in your suitcase or bring along an empty one. Keep in mind that airlines change their travel policies from time to time. Make sure you’re aware of current regulations and plan accordingly. You may prefer (and find it less expensive!) to have items shipped from your travel destination back to your home.
- Wrap fragile items in your t-shirts and other garments to keep them safe during travel. Or, ask the shop to wrap your fragile items in packing paper-to be extra sure.
- If you’re flying, reserve your carry-on space for your most fragile and important items.
Remember, a carefully selected souvenir can fill your home with inspiration and sometimes even a bit of organization. On your next vacation, travel safely and shop creatively. Bon voyage!
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