A quick peek into my backpack (or front seat) on any given road trip will reveal a mountain of brochures, city guides, ticket stubs, receipts, fliers, menus and other paper evidence of my travels. Whether you take them out of politeness (because that lady at the information booth was SO helpful) or it’s in your hand before you even realize it (“Thank you, here’s your receipt and five fliers and maps and brochures about the thing you are about to experience”) they add up and before you know it you are toting around an extra few pounds of dead trees!
Weeks after the trip ends, they pop up unexpectedly – sweet tangible reminders that the vacation is over. Even if they came in handy in the moment, their usefulness is short lived but parting with them after the trip is tough. Maybe you make up uses for them: the neighbors may need them to plan their next vacation; little Susie has a project on frogs next month and can use this brochure from the amphibian exhibit; or you think you’ll show them to grandma who doesn’t do Facebook. Or, maybe you are actually one of those people who really enjoy scrapbooking. I tried it, had all the supplies, even held a few parties, but in the end it was too much work trying to be cute and creative…so the stuff sat in bags and baskets waiting to be useful.
And there were piles and stacks of this stuff tucked all over since in addition to moving frequently as a Navy Brat, Kiddo and I traveled quite a bit in his school-age years. But since he was young and memories fade over time, I had a strong desire to somehow memorialize these trips and places he’d lived so I tapped in to those scrapbooking skills and paired them with some DIY home-decor inspiration and solved several problems at one time.
I picked up some basic black frames – the kind where the edge is hardly visible and doesn’t cover any of the image. You can find these at some drug stores and many hobby or department stores. Some styles have four separate edges that you push onto the glass/cardboard base. But the idea is that they are all simple and all one color, and come in a variety of sizes.
The first project I did was from a collection of brochures and events we’d attended while living near Washington, DC. Not exactly a vacation, but since we were there for such a short time and took advantage of all the touristy kinds of things – it kinda was an extended vacation. This frame is one of the larger sizes. I just used glue sticks to paste the cutout bits and parts onto the cardboard backing that came with the photo frame. No need for fancy stamps or stickers or templates – I just let the brochures and scraps do all the work!
There really aren’t any particular rules or must-do’s. I did try to always include something with a full date and place name, a relevant map and a few photos of the people on the trip. The rest was whatever I’d collected along the way that would make for a fun memory jogger. Kiddo was sort of into it for the first one or two, but it was definitely a mommy project and I did one for each big vacation or when we moved from a place. Sometimes they were hung on a common hallway wall, but in his high school days they adorned a wall in his bedroom.
It was a sad day in 2012 when I packed them all up with hopes that they would follow him to his college dorm only to be told “nah, just put them in the storage unit.” That’s where they sat for three years until recently when kiddo came home for a visit. We’d gone to the storage unit in search of a thing he just had to have when we came across the travel frames. After tripping down memory lane for a few minutes, he decided he wanted to take them with him. While it is obvious from the photos he snapped for the benefit of this blog post that they haven’t yet made it onto his wall, I’m still overjoyed that he wanted them. I didn’t dare ask if he’d be making his own as he travels through life! A mom can hope.
Meanwhile, I’m inspired to pick the project up again. I’ve amassed quite a collection of paper “stuff” over the past few years and it is all taking up valuable real estate in that same storage unit. Maybe, just maybe I’ll craft a few travel frames of my own. I’m sure I’ll have a wall to hang them on again someday.
How do you capture or showcase memories from your travels?