It started with a candy wrapper…

My passport pouch hanging around my neck and both arms sore with three weeks worth of luggage, I searched the airport for fellow students. All of us had booked our own flights, but a group of us with similar arrival times had planned to meet up at the airport and and split the cost for a taxi to the university. My plane landed early, and the frenzied excitement of being in the UK resulted in some impulsive airport purchases, including but not limited to a pack of Fruit-tella soft chews.

I eventually sat myself down at a table near the arrivals gate, unwrapping piece after piece after piece, until it dawned on me: this pile of crinkled wax paper squares had potential. After a fourteen hour plane ride from America to England, I was ready to make some memories. I dug in my backpack for my journal and a glue stick and before I knew it, I had pieced together my very first scrapbook page of my journey. Many more would follow.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little scrapbook happy at the start of this trip. Everything from boarding passes to grocery receipts to fallen leaves on my backpack was a precious commodity. Every moment was a journal entry in the making. One rainy afternoon at the British museum, I even held my journal out in the downpour in hopes of catching a London raindrop. I caught several; my journal was damp for the rest of the day. I was a scrapbooking maniac, and I don’t regret one minute of it.

For many of us, making a scrap book is something we say we will do after a big trip but never actually get around to. An “Oh, that would be nice” that inevitably turns into a “Oh, wouldn’t that have been nice?” I knew that if I didn’t keep a running log of my travel adventures, their memory would get too blurry in my mind to remain precious. Two eventful years later, I can honestly say that these memories are vivid and this tattered black Moleskine with water-stained pages and splotched out ink marks is my most treasured souvenir. With a few basic tools and the right attitude, any traveler can come home with this personalized, authentic, and timeless souvenir that won’t cost any more than the time put into it.

1. Stick to the Basics
One of the many things that can deter people from scrap booking is the misguided notion of how expensive it is to do properly. Sure, buying supplies can become costly if you let it; there are entire stores dedicated to the many decorative whims of the avid scrapbooker. During my travels however, I quickly noticed that a glue stick, a pen, and a keen eye for everyday items were all I needed to make my scrapbook meaningful.

2. Appreciate the Adventure
When you travel, you’re observing a new world—this should fill you with wonder. Some people choose not to scrapbook while they travel because they want to enjoy the moments of their journey without constantly worrying about documenting them. In my own experience, I’ve come to find that I appreciate the details of my travel experience more when I am actively searching for details to appreciate. There are a many details I would have missed if I hadn’t been looking for them. I never would have noticed or, much less, remembered the leaves surrounding Sidney Sussex Church in Cambridge, England or my now-favorite poem, which I found in a brochure in front of St. Edwards. Every place you visit has at least a handful of details worth remembering. Take the time to notice them.

3. Imagine the Possibilities
Let the resources around you shape your memory of the place you are visiting. Throughout each day of my trip, I gathered small mementos (newspapers, leaves, flowers, travel brochures, restaurant napkins, etc.) that I kept in my backpack. At the end of the day, I would sit down with my journal, my glue stick, and my hodgepodge of miscellaneous items and some how find a story worth documenting. While touring a place, search for items that will trigger your memory of a place when you look back at them. When you find them, find a creative way to glue them into your journal. It really is that easy.

So don’t put off scrapbooking. Be attentive to your surroundings and commit to being creative while you travel. You’ll thank yourself when you arrive safely home and can cross “Make a Vacation Scrapbook” off the bottom of your very long post-vacation to do list. Years later, you’ll remember the details of your journey and be able to share them with loved ones.

Photo Via Flickr




  1. I want to try this! im wondering about the book- do you think a larger book would also work? Any recommendations?

    1. I’m sure a larger book would work just fine! As long as it’s small enough to easily fit in your purse or backpack, you should be good to go. 🙂

  2. This brought back so many memories from that wonderful trip! I’m so glad that you shared this story! Love you, friend!

  3. I love the idea of keeping it simple. I studied abroad in Ireland two years ago and my box of souvenirs is collecting dust because I was daunted by the sheer amount of money you can spend on scrapbooking “essentials”. Now I’m ready to relive the memories with nothing but a gluestick and notebook in hand. Thank you for sharing, Lara.

  4. Great suggestion! I brought along a small pair of scissors and some tape the first time I backpacked around Europe 7 years ago not knowing what I would do with them, and with all the time spent on trains or waiting around in cafés I filled my travel journal with old tickets and brochures along with writing. I prize that journal more than most books I own. It’s certainly more treasured than anything I would have created when I got home. Perhaps it’s the challenge of using what you have to translate what you see onto paper–it keeps you present and looking for potential, like you said!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.