Day 329 How to Bring Home the Memories without the Clutter

A guest post by My Darling Husband, you can read more of his travel tales on his blog.

After a month of souvenir assaults in Italy, Colleen and I managed to return home with just four new items; a t-shirt for Liam, glass bead earrings for Colleen, a book of our Venice tour (included in the tour cost) and a wonderful etching of Florence purchased from a local artisan. They all have special memories attached to them.

Colleen’s earrings match the necklace she bought in Venice during our first visit there in 2005, the etching evokes the splendour of Florence and the book helps us relive our Venetian tour experience. While the t-shirt will always remind Colleen of my beautiful use of the Italian language until I ran out of vocabulary before finishing the transaction.

But we have many more memories from our romantic month immersed in Italian culture and history, and no tolerance left for knick knacks to remind us. So we use the two most valuable tools available to capture our memories; a camera and a pen.

Gelato in Florence

Gelato in Florence

Travel Photography

We took close to a thousand photographs in Italy, and as I sort through them they remind me of great meals, local customs and the small differences that made Italy memorable. The key is to not only photograph the famous sights but to capture the seemingly mundane, your meals, the local shop displays or anything that stirs your interest or imagination. Try to tell a story with your photo, the locals flocked to one gelateria every afternoon and I tried to capture the atmosphere with this photo on the right.

Your best images can be shared online at social media websites like Flickr and Facebook or create a book using a print on demand service, like Blurb.

Keep a Journal

As you travel, record your thoughts and observations in a journal each day. Keep a small notebook and pen in your day bag or pocket to jot down notes then each evening transcribe and expand the detail in your main journal. There is no more powerful tool to remember your vacation, and by combining your words and images you will create a permanent record of your adventure. Then print it in a book like this one I made with Blurb:

European Vacation by Steve Madsen | Make Your Own Book

Find Experiences not Shopping

Many travellers are shuffled from shopping experience to shopping experience by their tour guides or the local tourist industry, and many of their purchases never see the light of day after the trip. Use your hard earned vacation money to have memorable experiences, hire a personal guide, attend a local concert or sporting event and get to know some of the local people. I vividly remember an hour spent mingling with locals on their piazza, and you will find your best vacation memories in similar places and eliminate your souvenir clutter as well.

Item 329 of 365 less things

One of the many souvenirs from our days living in Seattle. Proof that freebies are hard to resist and and soon become sentimental clutter.

Mariners Clock

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Getting the cleaning out of the way quickly – Today was cleaning day and I had it all taken care of in less than three hours.
  2. My hubby writing today’s post – It was 8:30pm and I couldn’t come up with anything to write about and he stepped in and saved the day.
  3. Movies – We went to see the new Harry Potter movie today.
  4. Freedom – Not all people throughout the world live with this luxury and the rest of us often take it for granted. Thank you to those who have lost their lives or have served time fighting to ensure that freedom for us.
  5. Fun Memories – That T-shirt buying incident in Italy was hilarious. I nearly wet myself I laughed so much. It makes me chuckle now just thinking about it.
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About Steve

Steve writes occasional posts for 365 Less Things and is Colleen's husband, web designer and tech support.


  1. Great suggestions Steve. My friends made a beautiful book using Blurb for their month-long stay in Paris a couple of summers ago.

  2. What a great way to capture and save memories. I’ll look in to blurb. 🙂
    I’m jealous that you have already seen the Harry Potter movie! Next month for us…

  3. I love this entry. I also like the tip for the travel journal – I find that I’ve been taking more and more notes so I can flesh them out later because my mind doesn’t work quite the way it used to!

    • I kept a travel journal too, but I write so much (pre-laptop, iPod, etc.) that I couldn’t record everything. I saved my travel books to spur my memory when I got home. “What was that great resturant called, etc.?” can be answered later.

    • Keeping a journal takes commitment and I do not always follow through so well on mine. But the photographs of the obscure things often brings back the most potent memories, so I rely heavily on the images to supplement my notes and memory.

  4. What a great idea to keep a travel journal. My hubby and I are planning a trip to the lake district in Cumbria next year. we always take lots of photographs when we go away. A journal to go with them would be lovely! thank you I will try it out!

    • Thanks Cathryn, time often changes our perception, and a journal that records your thoughts at that magic moment will keep your memories vivid and clear.

  5. Thanks for the post. My husband and I did just what you suggested on our 5-day tent-camping road trip this past summer. We took lots of great photos and I kept a journal of our days, sights, and even route numbers. No souvenirs! We came home just as light as when we left…actually lighter, because we ate most of the food we brought with us. A memorable 25th anniversary trip that we recall every time we see those photos on our screen saver.


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