Memorabilia Mishmash, Part II: Paperwork Pileup

Weekend Wanderlust

Jamie Hazlett
Feb. 22, 2011

Admittedly, some trips are more likely to fill your luggage with papers than others. If you’re going someplace you’ve been before or to a destination with a specific purpose – like a ski resort – you probably won’t feel much of a need to squirrel away every free city map or lift ticket. When you take trips to places that are new or carry some special cultural, historical, or personal significance, though, you might be surprised by how many tree scraps you come home with.

Once those papers are sitting in an untidy pile on your desk, your perspective of their value is likely to shift from what it was when you reverently folded it into your bag.  As we discussed last week with photos, the first thing to do is to toss what doesn’t grab your attention or bring back a fond memory.  Don’t allow the size of a paper memento to be your only guideline when deciding what should go and what should stay. Just because a map folds out to cover half the wall doesn’t mean it isn’t worth keeping.  On the other end of the spectrum, your subway ticket might seem like perfect trash fodder.  If you’ve got an underground transportation fetish like I do, though, that magnetized strip of construction paper might be the greatest thing you picked up on your trip.

Examine each item closely.  Is there part of it you want to keep, like a really great picture or design?  Cut it out and toss the rest.  If you don’t scrapbook or do some other form of art that the smaller pieces you keep will lend themselves to, that’s okay. You can still hang the menu from that trendy seaside bistro on your fridge. Many frame stores will be happy to work with you in creating something that combines several aspects of your trip, so take your favorite papers and a few photos with you and have them put under glass together as a visual montage of your vacation. Not only will this reduce your pile at home, but it also nets you a great piece of wall art.

Larger items that you want to keep intact can be more of a challenge.  What do people do with topo maps once the journey’s over, anyway?  The best way I’ve found to organize big items worthy of being kept but too unwieldy to be displayed is to purchase a binder and some protective sleeves.  Most items folded along their original lines will fit comfortably into a standard sheet protector, and putting all the items you store this way into a single three-ring notebook makes it easy to pull out all of your Puerto Rico papers without a long search.  You can store smaller items this way, too, or tuck a thumb drive with your vacation photos on it into one of the cover pockets.  This method of storage is great if you don’t have the time and inclination to do anything more complicated.

Let’s face it: you wouldn’t have brought all those papers back so carefully if at least a few of them didn’t mean or represent something to you. Letting them mold in your attic after you went through the hassle of keeping them neatly folded during your vacation seems like a waste, and it is. It takes very little time, effort and money to do a basic organizing of your paper souvenirs, and in the long run you will be glad you did.  Think of it as an investment. After all, who knows whether or not that delicious hole-in-the-wall place you had lunch at will end up as a four-star restaurant in 20 years? The menu you keep may let you afford to eat there again some day. Even if it turns out to have no monetary value at all, it will still mean something to you.

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