At my parents house, I’ve stored a large stack of scrapbooks filled with keepsakes from all the family trips we took when I was a kid.
I once loved collecting plane tickets (back when they were more than just a flimsy sheet of paper), entry tickets to attractions, and photos that had been developed from the old film camera that we used before digital cameras became a thing.
After each trip, I would use coloured paper and cut-out lettering to turn all of these mementos into beautiful creations. This method of souvenir collection slowly built up into numerous large albums of our travel memories.
I would also buy souvenirs to keep in my bedroom. I had a miniature terracotta warrior from when I visited Xi’an in China. I had a giant foam hand from when I went to a baseball game in Chicago. I had fridge magnets from some Australian destinations that I’d visited. All the stuff I’d collected from my travels added up to quite a lot.
Nowadays, I collect souvenirs in a very different way. Since 2011, I’ve moved 4 times between 4 different cities, and each time I stack all my possessions into a moving van, it becomes harder to argue why I should be hoarding so much stuff. I wrote about this mindset a while back when I told the story of selling everything we own.
While I’m no longer a hoarder of physical possessions, I still am a hoarder of memories. Over the past few years, I’ve collected so many photos and videos from my travels that I’ve had to upgrade my digital storage multiple times.
If you want to reduce the amount of things you bring home from a trip, here are 5 genius ways to collect souvenirs like a minimalist!
1. Take photos of souvenirs instead of buying them
In my opinion, photos are the best way to keep a memento of your travels. And if you spot a cute souvenir but don’t want to carry it back home or store it in your house, why not take a photo of it?
I spotted this super adorable telephone money box in a gift shop in Hull, but instead of buying it, I snapped a photo with my phone so that I could remember the souvenir whenever I reminisced about my trip by looking through my photos. It’s like having the souvenir without actually buying it. Genius, right?
2. Take photos of attraction tickets
Speaking of photos, how about taking some snaps of your attraction tickets instead of keeping them? I did this when I went to a West End show in London, and I would argue that this is even better than keeping the original as I now have a photo of the souvenir which was taken in the venue itself.
This can go for any sort of ticket, like a plane ticket at the airport or an entrance ticket in front of the museum/theme park/attraction that you’ve just walked into.
3. Find recyclable or reusable objects
Recyclable objects make a great souvenirs. For example, I found some inexpensive posters in the gift shop of the Tenement Museum and decorated the walls of our apartment with them. I’m undecided if I’ll take them back to Australia, but if I don’t, it won’t be a big deal.
There are loads of other souvenirs that are made out of paper or cardboard and can be recycled after they’ve been used. I purchased a cardboard 3D puzzle of the Empire State Building for my nephew in Australia as I knew it would be no problem if it gets discarded after he’s finished with it.
Some other souvenirs that can be reused or re-gifted are games and puzzles, stationery, and even books. Whenever you’re looking at a souvenir, consider whether it will be recyclable or reusable when you get tired of keeping it.
4. Buy consumable souvenirs
Souvenirs don’t have to be permanent. If you buy something edible as a souvenir, then you’ll still be reminded of your trip while you’re consuming it! Items like chocolate, tea, or jam are all things that could last a while but won’t take up space in your house forever.
I purchased 3 blocks of British chocolate (with flavours like Eton Mess, Summer Pudding, and Apple Crumble) and took them back as a souvenir for Rob and I to enjoy. It was a great way to take a little piece of the UK back with me.
5. Use a blog instead of a physical journal
I’ve kept all my old travel journals as souvenirs of my past travels. I just can’t bear to throw them away for sentimental reasons, but they are just sitting in a cupboard taking up space.
These days, my travel journals take the form of a blog rather than handwriting on paper. I get just as much of a creative kick writing about my travels online as I did in those journals, and this way, it only takes up digital space!