You know what it is sexy? Travel. It is so seductive. Travel makes you feel smarter, connected, happier, cultured—good vacations make you feel like you’re on a honeymoon. Want to extend those blissful feelings? Who wouldn’t? I make them last by drawing on my profession as a historian and recording my travel history. By surrounding myself with memories, I am able to continue the good holiday feelings until I can roam again. Here are some ways I do it:
- Save ordinary items. Printed ephemera—things meant to exist for a short time like flyers or brochures—make unique memorabilia that is often free. Want to remember that café where you had the dessert that made you act like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally? Ask your server if you can purchase a menu. Likely, she’ll let you have one gratis or only charge a small sum. Keep it in an office drawer so you’re constantly reminded of that delectable dish. I like to keep a menu with my bills to mix a pleasurable memory with an unpleasant task.
- Keep a journal. Historians are recorders of memories. Since it’s unlikely you’ll have a professional historian chronicling your journey, you’ll have to do it yourself. Buy a new journal for each trip. Write down your impressions of the things you see. Who did you meet? What made you laugh? What surprised you? What did the city smell like? At the time you may think that you will remember this moment forever, but you won’t—our memories fade—keep them alive by writing them down. Save admission stubs, receipts, and other mementos in your journal to help round out your trip’s history. If you’re talented, sketch what you see. I am not very gifted in this department, but I do draw rough maps of places I visited. I also write down all the places I visited that day and their location—this is very helpful when I return to a city and want to re-visit a restaurant or shop.
- Buy postcards. Postcards are cheap and give you an expert photographer’s view. I especially make sure to buy cards from places that don’t allow photography, like the Sistine Chapel, or if the day/time isn’t ideal for photography. But…
- Take photos. If they’re good, you could frame them, or you can look at Etsy or photography sites to see if someone else is selling prints of the city. Frame them and you’ll have art that reminds you of your journeys (sadly, I’ve just about run out of wall space in my home).
- Buy souvenirs that connect you to the essence of the place. I love buying artistic goods that are made in that area. Who wouldn’t want lavender soap from Provence, olive oil from Greece, perfume from Paris, or pasta from Italy? Pottery, paintings (another reason I’m out of wall space), drawings, perfume, beauty creams, soap, lotion, and food (make sure you can bring it back) are frequent flyers in my checked luggage. I especially like items that I will continuously use or appreciate. Magnets and bookmarks are useful items that remind me of a place, but don’t take up a lot of valuable luggage space. I pack bubble wrap and a poster tube so that I can bring my treasures back safely. Ziploc bags are also valuable for packing lotions and other potions you may have purchased.
- Buy a newspaper. Nothing titillates like looking at the news in a foreign language. Still in your own country? It’s neat to have a newspaper with a city’s title in it. Mix your “vacation” news in with your magazines or scatter on your coffee table.
- Ask for a recipe. Nothing evokes a memory like food. By asking for the recipe, or at least gleaning the main ingredients of a dish, I can recreate meals that remind me of my vacation.
These travel items can add glamour to your life and remind you of the travel memories you made while on your best vacation. On your next trip, remember these tips so that you have the tools to create your personal travel memoir when you return home. Happy travels!
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