I have a box. It’s on the top of my closet. You wanna know what’s inside? There are a lot of souvenirs from my trips: tickets to museums, city maps, guidebooks, kitschy porcelain figurines – you name it – I have it all. When I tried to get rid of some of that stuff I couldn’t. Instead, I spent couple of hours reminiscing over the trips I had. This is when I noticed two things. A) People like to collect things. B) Souvenirs have a huge power. Here’s my insight on collecting (10 reasons I could find) and the ways to preserve travel memories.
The Psychology of collecting
Psychologist say that the need to collect is primeval. A lot of animals are known for collecting food and this may be the origin of the human behaviour. People have a natural need to collect (1). But that’s not the only reason.
Some people like to decorate their surroundings (2) with objects they collect. They find those items pretty and displaying them, also has a few roles. It can help them express themselves (3). A collector openly shows interests in something: it’s his or hers passion, and if asked, they can talk about their collection for hours. Also, this is a good way for them to feel better about themselves (4): collecting proves their persistence and as such it’s also a good reason to boast. If a collection is finished, the collector gets the sense of a huge achievement (5). They did it – they have every piece of the collection, and sometimes that’s really saying something!
But not only completing the collection is important. The process itself is also a huge source of satisfaction (6): finding and acquiring item after item is often as crucial. Some call it the thrill of hunt and the association is quite accurate. A lot of people do this just for that feeling.
Some collectors take pleasure in socializing (7) with others, who are interested in the same type of objects – being a part of a community is in our genes as well as the urge to collect. The basic need of belonging (included by Maslow in his famous pyramid) is being satisfied this way. But we shouldn’t forget about the fun – fun is also a factor in this equation! Some just like collecting, organizing and displaying the collection (8)!
Often the collected things, besides being the elements of the collections, are also pretty useful (9): a mug or a piece of clothing from every major city the collector visited (like a t-shirt or a scarf) is much more than just a useless souvenir covered in dust.
But the most important of all reasons seems to be the fact that collected items usually carry plenty of memories (10), especially when it comes to travel souvenirs. A simple ticket can be a reminder of an interesting trip. A stone collected from the Adriatic sea can bring up the memory of the scuba diving in Croatia, etc.
Which brings me to another memory of mine. While browsing through my mailbox in the search of something that is not important any more (I don’t even remember if I found it after all), I came across some emails I wrote to my friends while I was abroad. And I remember thinking: “I wish I wrote more emails like that”. Because in those emails I described a few pretty funny and worth remembering situations I already managed to forget after a couple of years. So it turns out souvenirs, although really powerful memories recallers, are not the only way to save travel experiences.
Good ol’ photography and blogging
You can take pictures and videos. Self made photographs and movies may be of lower quality , compared to the ones you can find online, but generally they are more important to you because they are the proof that you were in that place at that time. When looking at a picture I took, I always feel some sort of pride and satisfaction, and I try to remember what I was feeling the exact moment I was taking it.
The people that are pretty consequent and have a strong motivation pretty often write blogs from their trips (I bet there are a lot of bloggers among you guys, right?). In a way, the posts are much more substantial and complete – it’s easier to tell a story or describe feelings and experiences in words. And those bloggers, who aspire to become more multimedial, might consider running a vlog or a podcast. Those forms are a little more needy: you have to script the posts, and then record and edit them. And that’s quite a lot of work. But it could also be a lot of fun! And since they’re easier to consume, the audience might be a bit bigger for them.
Using Social Media to Collect Memories
Let’s not forget about the most up to date way of documenting trips: modern-day nomads sometimes use social media to report what’s happening on their journey right now. You can do it as well! All you need is an internet connection (WiFi will do) to post your pictures and check in where you are. Or to tweet about what you’re doing right this moment. While this is a great way to spread your travel experiences, we get frustrated that some our most precious memories get swept away by internet banalities and cat memes. We wrote a post about reliving travel memories using social media and the phenomenon of a selfie.
Using your own talents
I also have a friend, who travels a lot because of her job. And she’s talented as hell – you should see her drawings! So what she does is quite unique: she sits in a cafe, orders a green jasmine tea (nothing fancy yet, but wait till you read this) and she sketches her view. She then uploads her selfmade postcard to her facebook wall – for all her friends to see and envy (both the view and her abilities).
To all of you, who (like me ) don’t have amazing drawing talents – the other ways I mentioned are not that bad at all. Picking up a souvenir or two also never harmed anyone. There are plenty of options, so simply choose some and start saving your experiences for later. Because human memory is, unfortunately, imperfect.
Regardless of what you collect, it feels best when you share it with your family and friends.