Most of us don’t have a single, physical manifestation of our travels in our homes. Sure, you may have souvenirs or photo prints from various trips scattered about, but the actual history of your personal travel journey probably only exists in the form of photo thumbnails on your phone or computer, scattered and disorganized amongst the rest of your memories.
We’re grounded due to COVID for the time being, but that actually makes this a great moment to reflect on and commemorate all the places we’ve gone, and start planning where in the world we want to visit next. When we’re able to travel, we probably take more photos and share more with our networks via social media than we ever have before, but those kinds of tokens are inherently ephemeral. Physical reminders of the places we’ve gone can spark small moments of joy, and bring us back to some of the most exciting moments of our lives, even if we’re unable to leave the house.
Map Your Travels
There’s some real wisdom in that old gag where someone throws a dart at a map or jams a finger into a spinning globe to decide where you go next, and that’s why I love this personalized pushpin map to commemorate where you’ve been.
A travel-loving friend of mine got one of these maps as an engagement gift to mark off where he and his fiance had visited, and it sparked nearly an hour of conversation as we pointed out pushpins they’d added around the globe, and they rattled off their favorite stories from each trip.
Sure, it was basically a printed piece of foam board and some sewing equipment. But even for a young couple with many years of travel ahead of them, it already held an endless well of happy memories, and countless stories to share with friends and family. And while we all enjoyed talking about it that night, they get to walk by it, notice it, and feel good about it multiple times every day.
For a less expensive alternative, you can opt for a scratch-off map like this one, and scratch away all of the cities, countries, or regions you’ve visited, revealing the color underneath.
Build a Gallery Wall
For the last several trips I’ve taken with my wife, we’ve endeavored to buy a vintage style travel poster to bring home with us. And for older trips, or destinations where we couldn’t find a poster, we’ve “cheated” and bought some online (Zazzle lets you choose custom sizes and paper stock, which has proven useful).
The art style on our posters isn’t completely consistent, but we leaned into the hodgepodge by choosing mismatched frames and poster rails for each, and recently started a gallery wall that we hope to expand on for years to come. As a history of our travels, it might not be as complete as a pushpin or scratch-off map, but it serves the same purpose; reminding us of where we’ve been and how we felt when we were there, and we made sure to leave room on the wall for plenty of future adventures.
Print Some Photo Books
Remember all of those vacation photos that are trapped in your phone, or on a hard drive that hardly ever sees the light of day? Maybe you’ve printed a few of the best over the years to put in frames, but photo books are a great way to create a coherent, visual history of your personal travel experiences.
I’ve found Shutterfly’s photo books to be inexpensive and easy to set up, and designing yours could be a fun weekend project while you’re stuck at home. Obviously, flipping through the books and reliving a trip makes these books worthwhile, but with a little planning, you can make the collection of books itself into a personal travel timeline. For example, you could print a small book for each trip you’ve taken, from multi-country expeditions to weekend getaways, and design a cover pattern to visually differentiate them. Maybe you choose a different spine color for every continent (there’s not enough green on that shelf, we should go back to Asia!), or every decade of your life. The important thing is that the stack or shelf of books in aggregate means something to you, and inspires your wanderlust, even if you don’t frequently pull the books out and open them up.