Eleven Travel Souvenir Ideas Based on Maps

Working on blog posts is a bit like ambling around a new destination. Start in one direction, keep your eyes open and soon you’ll find yourself among unexpected delights. I was putting together a post on Amsterdam’s canal houses, which grew into a larger research effort. In doing the research, I looked at old maps of the city, which led me to a surprising array of items made using maps.

Map of Amsterdam by cartographer J Blaeu, 1649.

Map of Amsterdam by cartographer J. Blaeu, 1649.

Antique, vintage and reproduction maps make great travel souvenirs. Not when tucked away in drawers, but when put on display, or turned into fun and useful items. Here are some of the ideas that I came across, along with one item that I quickly made myself.1 - 9 Handcrafted
With the holiday season coming up, these items could make wonderful gifts for the traveller or want-to-be traveller on your list. Or perhaps as bon voyage or welcome home gifts.1 2 3

  1. DIY magnetic board covered with a vintage map. This easy-to-do project is by graphic designer Michael Jon Watt. The instructions are via Apartment Therapy.
  2. Drawer pulls or cabinet knobs created by Kristy and Matt of Daisy Mae Designs. Use a different destination for each drawer or cabinet. In addition to the knobs, you’ll find a variety of other items in this Etsy shop, from cuff links to wine stoppers, that incorporate original vintage maps.
  3. Certified organic cotton cushion cover printed with a map of Amsterdam. Created by Cath of My Bearded Pigeon. Cath is an Etsy featured seller, you can read an interview with her here.4 5 6
  4. Canal-house shaped cushions in cotton printed with maps of Amsterdam from the Fanatica Barcelona Etsy shop. Shown is a set of three different gable styles, single cushions are also available.
  5. DIY six-sided block puzzle using old maps, as seen on a blog here. For inspiration only as no instructions are available via the link.
  6. My own 20-minute DIY project, a map-covered box. Mini-instructions are at the end of the post. I’m using this box to store paper clips. Larger boxes could be covered with actual maps.7 8 9
  7. Custom-made photo album created by Ali Manning of Vintage Page Designs. Ali also creates travel and other journals which she will personalize for you.
  8. Handcrafted coasters made by Jonathon Wayne Sopotiuk, an artist and designer studying at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. The coasters shown display a map of The Netherlands. Coasters showing many other destinations along with custom options are available through his Etsy shop (click through link provided on his name).
  9. DIY decoupaged glass trays. You can find instructions here, the image that I used is from here. If you aren’t a DIYer, search Etsy for handcrafted ones.

10 Framed Maps Banner
Maps on Floating ShelvesFramed antique and vintage maps of places you’ve visited or are on your wish list would make a wonderful art collection. A relatively low-cost version would be to frame reproductions using coordinating stock frames. By placing them on floating shelves, you could mix the maps in with other pieces as you add new travel destinations over the years. Or perhaps combine the maps with photographs taken while travelling.

The image is via the Majesty Maps and Prints online shop. Among their offering of reproductions are large-scale and black-out maps.

When searching for online sellers of original antique and vintage maps, I was surprised at the range of prices. At the lower end are maps taken from old atlases.
11 Folding Screen BannerMap Screen

As a DIY folding screen option, you could decoupage flat boards with a single large map cut into strips or with a collage of smaller maps. The sides and back of the boards could be painted or covered with fabric. For a more durable option, cover the decorated boards with Plexiglas, cut to size, and frame the edges with decorative moulding. The image above is also via the Majesty Maps and Prints site.

These are just some ways to keep travel memories using travel maps. What sort of travel souvenirs do you collect? Have you used maps to decorate your own home?

Steps I followed to make my map-covered box:

  • Scaled an image of an antique map of Amsterdam (more about the map in my next post) to fit on A4 paper.
  • Printed it out using a colour printer.
  • Rummaged around the house for a suitable box. An A4 sheet was the perfect size to cover the lid of an old iPhone box.
  • Used an acid-free glue stick to adhere the image to the lid. Folded and trimmed the paper on the short sides of the box.
  • To further secure the paper to the box, I ran a strip of 38mm wide binding tape (purchased from my local paper shop) around the lid edge. I placed it so that 5mm was on the outside of the lid, folded the tape over and adhered the rest to the inside.
  • Added pull tabs to the bottom of the box, by applying two strips of binding tape to the sides of the bottom, making the tab by folding the tape back on itself. The tabs make it easier to pull the box open.
  • Gave the paper a coat of a matte lacquer to protect it.

3 thoughts on “Eleven Travel Souvenir Ideas Based on Maps

  1. Pingback: Best Souvenirs to Buy on Your Vacation | Roomer Blog

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