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Beyond the Photo Album - Creative Ways To Remember Your Trips

Even though it’s depressing that vacations always have to come to an end at some point (because if they didn’t, you couldn’t call them vacations), I always look forward to looking through photos from our trips and going through souvenirs we’ve collected along the way. It’s fun to recall things we saw and did on our exciting getaways. I’ve put together a few beachy photo albums in my day that now sit on our coffee tables. But what I’ve noticed is, they all start to look the same. Other than the obvious of my growing boys changing from toddlers to tweens, not much else changes. When you flip through any of them, you see the same ocean and poolside photos no matter where we were. The people stay the same, and for the most part, so does the background.

So, for our family vacation that we took last year, I came home determined to go beyond the photo album and put together a more interesting display of our travels. Sure, I filled two photo albums with pictures (477 pictures to be exact!), but I also wanted to create something fun and unique to display in our home that was proof of our adventurous travels. I wanted to create a piece of art that would inspire us to continue traveling and seeing all our beautiful country has to offer.

Below we offer five creative ways to remember your trips. With a few supplies, some souvenirs and mementos from your travels, and a little creativity, you can make memorable masterpieces that will make you stop and reminisce whenever you pass by them.

Hand-Stitched Route

I have three of these hanging in our house to show the routes we took to visit Yellowstone, Acadia, and the Grand Canyon on three separate summer RVing trips. These were easy to make, required just a few materials, and they look great on our walls. My boys love studying them and remembering just how long our 4,000 mile trip felt!


A map of your route

A frame

Thread of your color choice



  1. Lay your map flat and poke small holes with your needle to show your route.

  2. Use a backstitch to sew your route. For a backstitch, thread your needle up through the back of your second hole and then down through the first hole. Then thread it up through the back of the third hole and down the second hole. Continue in this manner all the way along your route.

  3. When you reach your destination with your thread, sew an X on it so that it stands out.

  4. If you traveled a different route on your way home, continue from your X along your return route and sew this as well.

  5. Cut the map (if needed) to fit your frame. Hang it up!

Display Your Currency

Traveling to another country offers a chance to experience a different culture. When you travel abroad or cross the border you often experience local cuisine, a new language, different customs, and different currency. Try to return home with some of the currency specific to the places you visited so you can display them in your home. Don’t toss those Canadian loonies or French Euros into a junk drawer, instead create a framed display of both coin and paper currency. There are a number of ways you can go about creating an eye-catching, conversation-starting display of your travels. You can choose to frame coins and paper bills together, or you can separate them into different displays.


International currency

Frames or shadow boxes of different sizes

Push pins or tacks

Hot glue

Examples of how to display international currency:

  • In a small frame, lay a piece of paper currency flat with a few coins from the same country on top of it. Close them into the frame and display.

  • If you have a jar filled with coins from one or multiple countries, lay them flat on the inside mat of a frame. Use a small dab of hot glue for each one so they stay put when you close the frame and hang it up on the wall.

  • If you have numerous paper bills that you want to display, use floating frames to show them off. If you have two of the same bill, arrange one front side up and the other with the backside up in a large frame so you can see both sides. Or use a smaller frame to display just one side of a bill (pick the prettier side!).

  • If you like the look of a shadow box, arrange bills and/or coins in one along with other international items from the same country. This could include a map of the country, souvenirs and photos from the trip, an airplane ticket, a menu from a favorite restaurant, tickets from an event that you attended, a postcard, etc.

Beach in a Jar

Before you return home from your beachy vacation, collect some sand and shells from the local beach in a baggie and tuck them away in your suitcase. Once home, take out the sand and shells and create a cute display that will remind you of the days spent lounging or playing on the beach.




Other keepsakes (pens, rocks, photos, postcards, small souvenirs)

Mason jar


Permanent marker


  1. Empty your sand into a clean Mason jar.

  2. Arrange your shells in the sand so you can easily see them.

  3. If desired, add other souvenirs from the trip, such as a small Christmas ornament, a keychain, a photo, a postcard, a few rocks, etc.

  4. Put the top on the jar and close it.

  5. Write the name of your destination on the tag and tie it around the top of the jar. Let it hang off to one side so it doesn’t block the treasures inside.

  6. Display on a wall shelf, mantle, coffee table, or on a bathroom counter.

Rock It!

If you’re into collecting rocks, then this idea is for you! On each getaway, collect a few nice rocks that you want to display in a vase. When you get home, write a (short) memory from your trip on the rock and set it inside the vase. Your collection of memories will grow with each new trip you take and you’ll be able to take the rocks out and read them as a reminder of your fun adventures. Set the vase on an end table, mantle, or make it the centerpiece of your dining table to bring about some fun dinner conversations.


Glass vase


Permanent marker

Christmas Tree Memory

One of my favorite things to bring home from our vacations every year is a holiday ornament that reminds me of our destination, such as a small starfish from the Bahamas or a moose from the Grand Tetons. This activity teaches you how to make your own ornaments with things you bring home from your trips.


Large round, glass ornament

Sand, shells, rocks, etc. from your destination



Permanent marker


  1. Fill a glass bulb ornament about ¼ of the way with your sand, shells, rocks, etc.

  2. If desired, add a small photo from your vacation to the inside of the bulb. Set it against the backside of the bulb so that it faces the front.

  3. Insert the metal top into the bulb to close it up.

  4. Create a tag that names the destination.

  5. Tie the tag and a nice ribbon around the top of the bulb. It’s ready to display on your Christmas tree!

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