Last week I was traveling in the American West and made stops at Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. By the time we reached Las Vegas I had had a lot of time to observe folks on vacation. It’s healing to leave home and have experiences outside the norm. For one thing when you return home nothing strikes you the same way, does it? You may find that in the first days after your return you are more likely to toss items that have been a struggle for you in the past. Don’t be afraid to let go. The new you may have been freed of some attachments to the past.
But there is a danger lurking in these travel adventures! Can you guess what it is? You may be purchasing souvenirs and saving paper that will become clutter once you get home. Those festive Hawaiian shirts just don’t look the same in Chicago or New York City as they do on the beach in Waikiki. And what about all those maps, tour guides, ticket stubs and expense receipts? What was useful in Montana may be clutter in the quiet of your Virginia living room. To prevent vacation clutter aka memorabilia from overtaking your environment, I have some tips.
If your trip is in any way a tax deduction, you will want to hold on to the receipts for expenses you can deduct. I create a file folder for every trip I take and just pop receipts into it when I get home. My accountant needs to know how much I’ve shelled out for items like airline tickets, meals and city transportation. Be sure you check your credit card statement to be sure the correct amounts were charged. Some folks toss the receipts and save the statements while others clip the receipts to the statement for extra security. Do whatever feels comfortable or is advised by your accountant. If your travel is for pleasure only you still want to hold onto those charged expenses until you receive your statement. At that point everything can be shredded.
In daily life our cash expenses can do us in and knock us off budget. When we travel our pleasure impulse is in high drive. Be sure you take the time to calculate exactly how much you spent in every category (transportation, meals, gifts etc.). Did you go overboard? You’ll know which category to watch in the future especially if you are part of a family. Prudent handling of money is a wonderful skill to demonstrate for children. It’s part of their financial education. If they are old enough give them spending money for the trip and when it’s gone, it’s gone!
The Paper Trail
Most of my clients hold onto the travel guides, maps, hotel stationery and other paper souvenirs they acquire on the trip. I suggest you junk it all before you return home. Yes, I really did just say to junk it all. People think they will look at maps and read guidebooks when they get home. If you are that rare Soul then by all means do what is right for your situation. But in reality I see them tucked away in the office taking up space! Maps are instantly available on line as is information about the major historic sites we all love to visit. You can peruse the Internet if you want to take a walk down memory lane. Consider the space these items will eat up in your home and the likelihood of your using them again before you toss them into your suitcase for the return trip home.
Instead of printing your treasures out why not create a board on line at a site like Pinterest or Facebook? You’ll be able to share with friends and family both near and far without printing out a single shot. But I am a big advocate of having current shots of children around the house. If your children are in college and the photos around your home show them in kindergarten it might be prudent to print out one or two current shots and place them strategically around your home. I promise you your progeny will be grateful!
Ticket stubs from famous museums like the Louvre or the Great Wall are very often colorful and my clients love to keep them. Why not scan them and add the images to your on line Boards? If you are a Creative Memories kind of person be sure and use them in your albums. But please don’t stick them in a drawer so that one day you can look at them again. Remember the real experience is inside you. You have been changed and enriched by your travels. No piece of paper is needed to validate that inner growth. Look at your photos when you need to job your memory.
Yes, we all fall victim to souvenirs. It seems logical that a spoon rest that says Yellowstone will be de rigueur in our kitchen once we get home. We are convinced that everyone we know wants a loud tee shirt that screams of Disneyland. And sometimes we load our suitcase with key chains, wallets and handmade jewelry because it’s cheap and we’ll be able to let more people know we thought about them. I’m certain you’ve experienced the ‘What the heck was I thinking?’ moment when you got home. It’s a universal experience. See if you can find small, easy to pack, lightweight souvenirs. I found a bag for transporting miscellaneous items or groceries at Yellowstone for just $1.99. My friends will know I thought about them. I didn’t weigh myself down or break my vacation budget. And the item is actually useful. What’s your souvenir solution? It’s summer travel time and all my readers want to know!
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