Toy plane on a map

After a fulfilling vacation, most of us are just left with a huge stack of photos and absolutely no clue what to do with them. Do you begrudgingly hang them up on the wall, or just save them in an album as a weapon for boring house guests over the next decade? Maybe get some of the photos printed on a nice mug for Grandma as a holiday gift.

The sad reality is that precious mementos from traveling can quickly turn into a storage hassle without much of a purpose once you get home. According to Influence Digest, most people are plagued with the question of what to do with their photos after an exotic vacation they want to remember forever. There must be a better solution than tucking these memories away.

Luckily, there are plenty of unique ways to memorialize a trip besides taking thousands of photographs and dumping them all on the Cloud until the end of time. From wine corks to playlists, there are so many different methods to remember your trip besides collecting run-of-the-mill photos.

Save ticket stubs

Red ticket stubs

I know what you’re thinking — "really, I should just carry around a bunch of trash for my entire vacation?." The short answer is yes. Even though the tickets and receipts you pick up along a trip might appear to be garbage at first, they can actually become a one-of-a-kind keepsake.

Plus, they’re a 100% free souvenir that is bound to spark a memory every time you look at it. I mean after paying for the whole trip, who doesn’t want an irreplaceable memento that doesn’t cost a thing?

Not to mention that these pieces of rubbish from your travels can actually turn into an adorably aesthetic decoration in your home. There are a million cool things you can do with this type of stuff. Studio 5 suggests tastefully displaying ticket stubs in a floating glass frame and mounted on the wall. Alternatively, one user on Pinterest said they scattered tickets inside the glass coffee table for a more front-and-center look.

There are surprisingly a lot of ways to transform ticket stubs and receipts from a vacation into a statement piece that memorializes your holiday. All you have to do is remember to save the tickets in a Ziplock back during your trip and let your creative juices flow when you get back home. If you’re at a loss for ways to use your tickets from adventures past, you can always get some inspiration online.

Collect a map from every city you visit

Map on a table

Another free-to-cheap item that’s easy to collect at practically every destination around the world is maps. Most big cities and small towns are more than happy to provide visitors with maps at their local tourism center. Maps are available at places like theme parks, state parks, tourist attractions, and more, too. Most paper maps are made to be compressed and can be packed very efficiently.

Not only will grabbing a map help you get around while you’re exploring new territory. Saving maps is also a colorful and visual way of remembering all your exploration. It’s a meaningful souvenir that helps you recollect every single place you’ve ever been (via Wade Tours).

Maps are even better than your standard souvenir after a vacation because you can get really creative with how you use them. After you’ve collected a few, the maps can be used as an awesome medium for scrapbooking. Or, you can just pin them as decoration on a bulletin board. The possibilities endless for what to do with all the maps you collect along the way.

Keep a travel journal

Hands writing in a journal

Even the most intense travel memories can slowly fade with time, but journaling can keep every moment of your trip fresh forever. According to Project Goals, keeping a journal is one of the most effective ways to fully remember a vacation because you can catalog every detail down to your main course at dinner. Before you book a flight and hop on the plane for your next vacation, invest in an easy-to-carry notebook and pen to hold all of your travel memories.

There are lots of different strategies to keep up with a journal while you’re traveling. You can write stream-of-consciousness about the days of your vacation. Detailing who you met, what you did, where you went, and how you felt. Everything. Alternatively, you can spice up your journal by answering prompts, filling it with Polaroids and stickers, or listing a daily quote (via LightsPlannerReaction). Foundry suggests setting an alarm to remind yourself to write in your travel journal every day and make it part of your routine.

After your trip, you can read your travel journal entries for years to come and bring back the vivid memories whenever you want. You’ll be blown away by the tiny aspects of a trip that slip your mind as the years go by. In addition to being a travel treasure and tool for personal growth, your journal can be a precious keepsake for your family or kids to learn about your adventures one day.

Create a memory box

Honeymoon memory box from 2019

Maybe you’re a diverse souvenir collector who likes to save a bunch of different things from your incredible trips. A couple of shot glasses, maybe a map, jewelry, and a few photos from your endeavors. But, what do you do with all this random stuff once you get home? Well, one option is making a memory box.

All you have to do to create a memory box is get a wooden, metal, or even cardboard box and paint it in a color of your choice (via The Country Chic Cottage). On the top of the box, write out the name of the trip destination. Then, fill it with all the things you picked up throughout the journey. You can even add to it if you end up visiting the city, state, or country again. You can make a new memory box for all the mesmerizing destinations you visit and then stack them together to make a display.

Designing a DIY memory box is a fun activity and it’s the perfect way to effortlessly organize various pieces of travel memorabilia from a recent vacation. You can cherish and low-key display your travel souvenirs without them being a main attraction in your house (via The Country Chic Cottage). It’s an easy, anti-mess alternative to scrapbooking about your trips. Making it perfect for families with kids who want to hold onto vacation memories for them as they grow up.

Compile a vacation playlist

Girl wearing yellow headphones

Think back to your favorite song from when you were a kid. When you recall the tune, how does it make you feel and what do you imagine? I’m willing to bet that even just thinking about the song for a second sparked a pretty vivid memory. Memories are tied very closely to our senses, like hearing. According to Mashable, that’s why making a vacation playlist is a neat trick to hack your psychology and recall the ambiance of a trip forever.

With today’s widely available music streaming software, it’s super simple to make a playlist for every trip you embark on. All you have to do is make a playlist titled with your vacation destination and fill it with the songs you hear along your journey. Maybe it will include a jam recommended by a fellow traveler or a song you heard in bar. Even if it is just something you listen to on repeat while you’re on your vacation. Add it to the playlist.

By the time you finish your trip, you’ll have a comprehensive playlist that’s sure to kickstart your vacation nostalgia every time you play it. How many souvenirs can you appreciate while you’re driving in your car on the way to work? If you want a way to remember your trip without physically collecting a thing, this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Vlog your adventures

Girls recording themselves on phone

Many travelers get intimidated by the idea of vlogging their experiences, but you don’t need to be a professional YouTuber to create entertaining vlogs of your travels. In fact, you can create amusing, clean-cut vlogs for yourself or others with just your cellphone. One user on Reddit explained that cutting together a video after their trips was the best way to share their escapades with friends and family back home.

Gathering the content to create a full-length vlog of your travel adventures is as simple as recording the things you do. When you eat at a fancy restaurant, swim in the ocean, or go bungee jumping. You can describe what you’re doing, who was there, and where. Or, you don’t even have to talk if you prefer. It’s all up to you based on what you feel comfortable with.

Watching back your vlogs down the line is the closest thing to reliving a trip you can possibly get. Imagine sitting down twenty years later and turning on your old travel video from your favorite city. That’s when you’ll be thanking your younger self for capturing it all.

Make a private Finsta just for each trip you take

Hand scrolling through Instagram

When most people think of Instagram, the first thing that pops into their mind is showing off content of all the cool stuff they do. I mean, what’s the point of posting pictures if nobody is going to see them? Well, according to one user on Reddit, instead you should try turning a secret Finsta account on Instagram into your personal page for immortalizing each of your big trips.

Harness the power of social media to remember your vacations by creating a new personal "Finsta" account for every place you visit. Make the handle the name of your destination and the year of the trip or something more creative. Then, just capture all the funny, goofy, exciting memories in a private place online and they’ll always be there for you to look back on.

By eliminating the usual Instagram audience, it gives you the room to commemorate your trip in a more authentic way. If you’re traveling with other people, you can all share the login with each other and each make your own posts. People really have a way of letting loose when they have access to a fun throwaway account. This is an especially fun way to encapsulate group trips for birthday getaways or bachelorette/bachelor party trips.

Bring yourself back a postcard from every place you go

Stack of postcards

This one might sound a little on the cliche side, but there is a reason certain things are classics. Postcards are the definition of a travel souvenir classic. Mailing or bringing home a local postcard with stories of your travels on the back is a tried and true method for remembering your vacation. It’s like a more compact and decorated version of a travel journal (via Reddit).

Postcards are one of the most popular souvenirs in the world according to Icelolly. Whether you’re visiting Niagara Falls or the cenotes in Mexico, there will be postcards wherever you go. When you finally find the right one among all the options, grab it and take it with you.

While you might be tempted to mail it back to yourself, this runs the risk of your memento getting lost in the mail if you’re traveling abroad. Luckily, postcards are very lightweight and convenient to bring along in a carry on or personal item. All you have to do is tuck it in the pocket of your bag and continue on your adventures.

When you return home, you can easily bind your variety of postcards into a simple DIY picture book. Just use a hole puncher and tie the postcards together with little metal book rings (via Instructables). Soon, you’ll have a collection of cute little postcard booklets that don’t take up much room.

Map out your movements around the globe with Google Maps Timeline

Google Maps navigation on phone

Most travelers are already pretty acquainted with Google Maps as a handy directional tool for getting from point A to point B. But, did you know that Google Maps could actually be a useful mechanism for remembering every step of your trip? Seriously, now Google Maps will track your movements and map them out for you. It does all the work to create a pinpoint-perfect virtual souvenir to remember your trip by (via Reddit).

All you have to do to utilize this awesome feature is enable Timeline on Google Maps (via Google Support). From there, just go about your travels as usual. It will track the places you go and the routes you take, creating a real-time map of your travels for you to look check out later. Your timeline will be completely private and only available to your eyes. It’s pretty crazy to watch your zigzagging path wander across a new place throughout a trip.

There are a few ways to take your Google Maps Timeline and turn it into a more tangible keepsake, too. You can get your route straight up printed on a poster. Alternatively, you could paint the simple lines on a memory box as a secret nod to your former vacation. When you think outside the box, little things like this Timeline feature can become a super valuable memento.

Transfer vacation photo prints onto wood as a display

Photo printed on wooden candle

It’s pretty difficult to tastefully exhibit your travel memories and photos in your home without it taking over the whole place. You want to showcase special memories without it being tacky. It’s a tough balance. However, one user on Reddit overcame this struggle by transferring some of their favorite travel photos onto wooden blocks or coasters.

It sounds like a tough process, but it’s actually a fairly straightforward DIY project with a stunning, professional-looking result. According to Digital Photography School, you just need a few basic crafting products, pre-sized pieces of wood, and laser-printed copies of the photos you want to transfer. Make sure it’s specifically laster-printed otherwise it won’t work! From there, the whole project only takes a few more basic steps that can be accomplished in an afternoon.

It’s rare to find a DIY project that ticks so many boxes. It produces a beautiful home display with very little effort through a fun process. It’s a charming way to showcase your travel photos in your house without them overwhelming the decor. Plus, kids love doing this type of magical transfer project after winding down from a vacation. It’s definitely a winner that you should try with some of the travel photos you’ve always loved but never knew what to do with.

Keep a bottle cap or wine cork from every destination

Pile of wine corks

When you’re popping a bottle of white wine or clinking beer bottles at dinner, the last thing on your mind is holding onto the cork or cap. But, you know what they say, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. When you’re traveling, any small thing can end up being a unique keepsake to remember your trip by. Even just a bottle cap or cork from a drink you enjoyed on vacation can be the one-of-a-kind souvenir you’ve been looking for (via Reddit).

If there is one thing you need in a travel keepsake, it’s transportability. Little items like bottle caps or wine corks are easy to bring back home from a trip. Once you’re settled back at home, there are a bunch of different things you can do with the bottle caps to officially memorialize your trip. A shocking amount of things, actually.

Bottle caps and wine corks can be turned into magnets, bookmarks, and more with just a quick 30-minute to 1-hour project. You can even turn your bottle cap souvenirs into a coaster with a little resin if you want to put a touch more effort in (via ResinObsession). Even if you just keep all your bottle caps and corks in a glass display box, they still look pretty neat.