You're going to want a way to display your memories after traveling somewhere right?
Volunteers with ILP get vacation time which means seeing a lot of new places. I mean ... if you volunteer in Europe you could might end up seeing 10-15 countries during your semester (or more if you please). Pretty sweet deal, right?
If you're planning all these extra trips, you're going to need a little more money. Check out our total guide to Traveling On A Budget for more tips.
There are many ways to track where you've been around the world and there are new things coming out everyday. These are my personal favorite ways that I have been able to track my travels:
Track Where You've Traveled
- Postcard Book
- Bullet Journal
- Currency From Each Country
- Picture Book
You can't go wrong with the classic map decor right?
The scratch off kind
You've probably seen these all over Pinterest because they're really cool and really popular. The idea is that whenever you visit a country, you scratch that part of the map off to reveal a colorful country underneath.
They are great because you can frame them and hang them up in your apartment or house and everyone will easily be able to tell where you have been!
Many cost In the range of $15-40, just depending on the style you're looking for. There's a huge selection from Etsy, and bonus, you'll get to support small businesses. I'm loving this one in particular.
Start by getting yourself a large map. You can often find vintage and cheap ones in unexpected places like thrift stores or on Amazon. You just need to do a little hunting if you want a great deal.
When you get home from a trip, print out one of your favorite photos from that country and cut it out into the shape of the country to the size of the map (do a little tracing so you can get pretty close to the right size). Paste it over the country on the map so that your photo replaces that area all together. The more countries you visit, the more countries will be replaced by your pictures.
In the end, your pictures will fill up the entire map and you'll be able to easily glance at the map and see your favorite memory in each country. This also works great for stateside trips and you can even use your postcards you've collected.
Draw and pin on a vintage map
Another favorite option ... and this one is crazy cheap! I snagged a vintage map from my local thrift store for a couple of dollars, put it in a frame without the glass, and hung it up on my wall. From there I just put push pins in places I had been and watched the pins start collecting over the years. I loved seeing the bird's eye view of all the adventures I had been on.
You could also grab a sharpie and doodle it up for a more personal feel.
Check around like I did for vintage world or region maps. Amazon has newer ones (but they tend to be the most expensive option), Ebay often has some good deals, or you might get lucky and find one at your local thrift store like I did. It's easy to find brand new maps, but I really love the look of a map that looks used ... you know, folded up, slightly torn. Good luck hunting!
These postcard books are such an easy DIY project that anyone can do. And bonus, it's super affordable for all of you budget travelers out there. It's a cheap and lightweight way to grab a souvenir from every spot you travel to.
All you need to do is collect one postcard from each city or country you visit and bind them together. That link has more ideas on how to organize those postcards.
Not only is it really cute, it's also great because as you look through them, you'll be able to relive not only the memories of living in the country, but the memory specifically around the postcard like what you were doing that day and where you got the postcard.
Bullet journals are great if you don't love to write, but still want a keepsake of all your memories. The best part is you get to decide how you want the journal to look, there's really no wrong way to do this.
A travel bullet journal can be as simple as making a bullet list of each city and country you've travelled to or you can go as far as to include your bullet lists of things like packing, itineraries, hostel/Airbnb info, addresses wish lists, bucket lists, budgets and more. You can even do picture highlights of each trip if you print out a polaroid.
Towards the end of one of my trips, my friend and I sat down with a piece of paper and just started jotting down everything that made us laugh throughout the trip. You know all those inside jokes and things that make you insanely happy — write them down because you won't believe how fast you'll forget them. It's so fun to pull out that list we made, even years later and remember all the things. So glad we wrote them down.
You can purchase one online (like this cute one by @haileydevine) that already has a format and prompts for you. However if you're on a budget you can make it yourself, you really don't need to spend money on this. They are really easy to make — all you really need is a smaller notebook/blank journal and some fun pens!
You can even print lots of photos for free! This post has some ideas, but I especially love the square ones from Parabo Press (bonus: I follow them on Instagram and often see ads for free prints which I love).
Coins From Each Country
I pretty much always have loose change and leftover cash that I didn't end up spending hiding in pockets of my purse after I come home from a trip. Anyone else? It's not enough cash that you could actually exchange it back into your currency back home to be able to spend it, so what do you do with it? Turn it into a memory!
Personally, I love just the idea of a bowl full of coins and currency from all over the world. You can easily buy a small souvenir type of bowl while you're traveling to make it even more of a talking piece. Set it out on your coffee table and boom — it's an excellent conversation starter when friends come over.
Oh the classic photo book. I mean this idea isn't new, but it's a favorite so we couldn't not mention it.
Photo books are great because you're going to have 1.38 billion photos, especially if you're living abroad and traveling for 4 months straight through multiple countries like ILP volunteers do. So, it's a great way to pull all those photos together and actually see them from time to time because if you don't, they'll probably just sit on your computer and get buried.
Come travel with us + create those memories!
There are many other options when it comes to tracking your time abroad, just find your own personal style. There really isn't anything more satisfying than being able to show off where you've been, right?
International Language Programs is a non-profit based out of Utah with travel opportunities for college-age volunteers.