Creative Keepsakes: Putting Vacation Photos and Momentos to Good Use

    Our family vacations come in all shapes and forms. We love the beach, cruising on small ships with our grandmother, discovering the South of France, or checking out cities like Montreal, Boston and New York. Sometimes it’s just the four of us. Other times we vacation with friends or with other members of our family, and when we do, we love staying in vacation rentals

    Regardless of how or where we travel, together on vacation is when we get the best quality family time and create wonderful, long-lasting memories. Here are a few ways we use photos, souvenirs and mementos from family trips to keep our favorite travel memories close to the heart:


    Digital Photo Books - On every trip I typically shoot between 300-400 digital pictures. After they’re uploaded to my computer, we usually have a family slideshow to relive how great the trip was, and then afterward, the photos would just sit there on my hard drive, only to be archived forever.  A few years ago, I started making photo books for each vacation. Although this is not necessarily a unique concept (I know lots of families that do this), I do things a little differently by always getting two copies and stashing one away.  That way, when my son and daughter are older I can give them each one to have at their home. Sometimes I also buy a third copy and give one to my grandmother, who we frequently travel with, as a gift.

    Journals - Last Christmas I bought "A Grandparent's Book" for my grandma to take with us on our trip to Costa Rica and Panama.  The book contains a list of questions designed to spark interesting discussions, such as, “What are the most important things you learned from your Mother?” or “Did you have a secret hiding place?”, which led to some great conversations we’ll never forget, including stories that we had never heard before. It is an amazing way for my kids and I to discover thing about Grandma’s life and capture them in a journal that we will have forever.  We have since brought the book with us on subsequent travels so other members of the family could take turns filling it out.


    Sand - We visit a lot of beach locations. You might be surprised how different the sand color and texture varies around the world. We know because my husband likes to scoop up a little from each place and bring it home.  He carefully pours the sand into large glass containers and tops it off with a candle, and as a result, our screened-in porch is lit up with memories of the warm places we have been in years past.

    Art - In recent years we have started buying paintings in each city that we visit. They may not be masterpieces in the eyes of an art appraiser, but they are to us.  We tend to purchase something depicting the locale from a street vendor, at the market or in a small local gallery.  All of the pieces are displayed back at home in the same hallway, reminding us of our travels each time we pass through.

    Ornaments - My mother has been giving my sister and I identical Christmas ornaments each year for as long as I can remember. Her intent was that when we grew up, got married and moved out, our Christmas trees would look similar, if not the same. This tradition has continued into the next generation. My sister and I do it with our kids now, but I’ve added my own twist for my children. I always pick up matching ornaments from our travels.  I hope that when they have families someday, each holiday season they will be able to reflect back on all of the marvelous trips we took when they were young.

    Dana Freeman is the Founder and Editor of, a hyper-local destination for families to discover what to see and do in their community. You can follow along with her on Twitter at @missmagpieFGS.