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Labour Day Activity-3 Best Ways to Organize Travel Keepsakes without Stress

The Top 3 Ways to Organize Travel Keepsakes

A Labour Day Activity

Keepsakes and Organizing our memories

Easy and Relaxed Post Summer Souvenir Organization

Picture this late summer scene about organizing travel keepsakes and souvenirs:

It’s the dog days of summer, you are enjoying the great weather in a great souvenir t-shirt, your whole family has enjoyed the pool/beach/green grass. You’ve gone a day trip or two and you may have even gone on a longer vacation. You look into your home as you sit near a window enjoying your porch/backyard/balcony.  Summer drink in hand, you take a deep breath.

What do you see?  Memory books all lined up, display boxes full of special memories and keepsakes……I hope you do.  If that’s the case, this post might be full of stuff you already do.  If what you see instead are piles…..then you are like me.  Along with a head full of memories and more on the way, you also have a pile of random keepsake ‘stuff’ on your kitchen counter, closet floor, dresser, desk etc….. You guessed it, you have piles of ‘treasures’ from walks in the woods, scraps of paper to ‘remember forever that nice dinner out,’ and souvenirs you may have actually bought from a gift shop.

Now what?

Organizing Piles of Summer Souvenirs with Heart (focus on what matters)

If you’re like me, those piles of souvenirs, large and small, are starting to threaten your mental health….(I’m exaggerating, but just barely).  There is nothing worse than not having a plan for these ‘things’ because then when back to school rolls around, there won’t be any mental energy left for figuring it out.

You’re in Luck, I’ve done all the figuring out for you.

Here are my 3 best solutions for the summer ‘memory piles’  and Travel Memorabilia

I’ve found that having a plan and working on it as we accumulate the stuff is the best way to go, rather than deciding to get to it in October when everyone is settled into a new routine  (in my house, we have learned this the hard way since I still have piles to get to from years ago when I hadn’t implemented this system).  No worries though, even if you’re getting to this organizing task, as I am, in August and not June.  The system still works.

1) Enjoying your Souvenirs all year with Style

First important task, decide whether or not you want to display your souvenirs.

Having things that can be out all year will influence future souvenir purchases and help with decisions about what to keep and how to keep them.  In our family, when we go to a gift shop, we prioritize small stuff to put into display boxes/frames that I usually buy at the beginning of the summer.

Since I buy the boxes in advance, I know what size my stuff has to be in order fit into it and I can’t buy the huge magnet/tapestry/poster because I’ve decided in advance how much space the display will take up in my house.

Also, the display itself is  a good place to dump random stuff while the summer is in full swing.  Then, when you sit down after Labor Day to put it all together, everything you need, is right there.  This is especially great if the box is going to represent the whole summer and not just one trip.

This is the shadow box/frame we used last year.

Although I bought two, this particular shadow box we used to house my daughter’s art projects.  It was the summer she spent  a lot of time in art camp. Without being too obvious about it, it reminds us of a special summer, but doesn’t have any obvious dates or tell-tale vacationy (is that a word?) items in it.  Nonetheless, it screams summer memories to us and that is what this souvenir thing is all about, right?

2) Get the Kids involved in Organizing Memorabilia

Get your children’s curiosity and tendency to collect things working on your side.

Give each child a bag or box where they can put their treasures.  If grandma is travelling with you, or your husband is a collector, give him or her a bag too!  Be sure to specify that no live critters or plants can be put in there (I’ll explain another time !!!) and that they should keep things that are special and that will remind them of the special times they had.

When you’re on an outing and you see them hanging on to stuff, remind them of this rule.

  • Ask them:  Is this going to remind you of something special or is it a random rock/leaf/twig/scrap of paper?
  • If you’re organizing things post-summer, ask this question as you sort through the clutter.
  • Something you’re on the fence about getting rid of?  Take a picture of it and get rid of the actual item/scrap of paper etc.  Digital memorabilia is just fine too!

Something else we like to do is decorate the bag or box you’ve chosen and make it special by having the kids write out the date, place names, their names, etc on their own.  The ‘special’ spelling is part of the memory too!

I really liked using these amazing bags and these great boxes because they’re ready to be decorated.  They are also cute if left plain, which is what my husband did.


  • We like to keep our collection of memory bags and boxes on a book shelf, so we can easily pick them up and riffle through them on a rainy afternoon.  Now, they are also a low-tech way to occupy your family for an afternoon in the dead of winter.
  • Displayed on the bookshelf they also add interest to our overflowing bookcases.

3) What to do with all the awkward sized vacation treasures

The huge hat, the statue, the ceramic jug.  These items can be awkward to display all year round.  Once you get home, you may not want to display them at all.

After a purge, I’ve chosen to store our bulky souvenirs in a box that is designated for that purpose.  That way, if you or anyone in the family want to take a trip down memory lane, they  can dig through it.  Otherwise, these items are out of the way.

The only rule is, once you’ve created/designated the box, there can’t be overflow.  This means, if something doesn’t fit, you might have to get rid of an item. Keep only what means something to you and your family and label everything with a Sharpie (date and place).  Don’t forget this part. You’ll thank me in ten years when you totally forget what it is and where its from and you want to win an argument.

Try this fantastic series of boxes. They come in different sizes, so you can chose what to put where and how to display the boxes themselves.


In a pinch, I’ve also used children’s drawings that I’ve accumulated over the summer to cover an empty box of diapers.  It’s pretty roomy and serves as a reminder of all the artwork they created that season.

The best product for Organizing and Displaying Souvenirs

I really like how  this Umbra frame is deep enough to hold 3D items.  It has the added bonus of having clips ready to hold up ticket stubs, pictures, feathers, notes and receipts.  Add a frame to a wall at the end of each summer vacation for the duration of your childrens’ time at home….Remember, we only get 18 or so summers of family fun with each child, then their own lives take over with work and college preparation. Plan to make it your highlight wall.

What to remember when Storing  and Decorating with Travel Souvenirs

  • We want these memories (good and not so good) to last forever….putting the memorabilia together is part of that. The memory of creating the display will stick with you and your family so include that process as part of the vacation/family time
  • Be creative and relax.  There’s always room in the box of ‘bulky’ items that you’ve already created (see Point #3) that can house any less than pretty souvenirs or craft projects you come up with.
  • The memory is in the doing…this bears repeating.  Hide it away if it doesn’t work out, but be happy that you took the time to decorate the memory bag….that anticipation, if you decorated before, or that memory-savoring (if you decorated afterward) is what makes your vacation adventures last longer. Isn’t that what its all about?
  • Style and Heart go hand in hand.  We want to display our memories in creative ways, but we also want the memories to become part of our future…. Keep the memories accessible and available if you can.  Riffling through the boxes and bags, looking at the display case (where the breakable stuff might be stored) makes the trip and the vacation last longer.

Ways to make collecting Travel Souvenirs Fun and Hassle Free

Someone once gave me a great piece of advice:

Try to chose one type of item that you always bring back from a trip and make it something that won’t cause you stress or clutter once you get back.

I took that to heart and for many years, and always brought back a bracelet from my travels.  Over the years, I got to increase my jewelry collection and wear my memories, literally, on my sleeve.

Use Nature to inspire you.


Years ago, I had taken to bringing back small rocks of a particular color (a practice that is now catching on!) and putting them on my window sill.  I’ve also collected green rocks in the past and put them in a jar.  Truth be told, now all the rocks are in my garden (because I got tired of dusting them), but I get to see them all summer and enjoy them daily as part of the nature that surrounds me.

  • What creative solutions have you found for your evolving collections?
  • What collections do you have from travelling? or summer vacations?
  • Did you ever have to get rid of a collection of travel memorabilia? Tough one!!
  • Any creative ideas you’d like to share?  I’m all ears!!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.


  • Karin Sumbler

    I love the bracelet idea! I buy a christmas ornament or something that can be put on the tree as an ornament( ie keychain). EVery year i get to see them, and when christmas is over, they have a home to be packed in. After 20 years you have a personalized tree.

    • babiesandbookcases

      I love this idea. I started with ornaments and then forgot about it. You’ve reminded me to get that going again. Some of those ornaments could even be made from the memorabilia we bring home. What do you think? Like an after the fact craft project that will live on the Christmas tree! I can already see the Mod Podge angels covered in ticket stubs!! Thanks for this!

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