The Sentimental Hoarder: Travel Edition

March 30, 2016



If “Antiques Roadshow” survives 50-some years down the road and my family inherits all that I own, they will be greatly disappointed. It’s been brought to my attention that I save things and struggle downsizing due to the strong sentimental value I hold. I would be shocked if I ever saved anything of value.

Over the years, I’ve saved receipts, tickets, pamphlets, cards, handwriting, newspaper or magazine clippings. And that’s on top of the other things I collect: vintage clothes, movies, books and more movies. I’m fascinated by what other people keep or throw — warning: I’m a nosy houseguest. It’s difficult to say goodbye to finds you thought were important to you that moment, and yet it’s freeing to return to these after time passes to re-evaluate the meaning and continual importance.

I moved to a studio apartment at the beginning of the month. This is the first time I’ve lived alone, and the first time I’m free to let my collections run free. As I made my usual donate/sell/toss piles, I noticed how most of my decor is prominently my study abroad experience in Worcester, England.

Even though it’s a common practice for travelers to seek out souvenirs, I found it difficult. I was an inexperienced young traveler on a budget. It was tricky. I pensively considered what could matter to me in the future in order to avoid souvenir-ing without a purpose. Whether I had nine months or 15 minutes, I chose carefully what I took home. I didn’t have an Instagram account and only used my Facebook to prove to friends and family I was still alive. I was new to my iPhone and rarely used it. I have some pictures and some souvenirs, but I’m happy that I focused on living in the moment. I guess these souvenirs are how I captured my memories. Every bit I save and bring along with me tells a story or a glimpse into who I am. The little things matter a great deal to me.

Here is a sneak peak into a few souvenirs you may find in my apartment.

Teabag Rest.


It’s true that I simply needed a teabag rest since I’m an avid tea drinker. But a majority of my time in Worcester was window shopping. I had my eye on this guy for a while, and finally picked this up during one of my final walks around the city center.

French Ad.

French Ad.

I “borrowed” this from a bus stop in Paris after seriously thinking this would lead to a story about how I ended up in a Parisian jail. It was the one thing I found during my short visit that wasn’t overtly tacky or expensive. It’s a French clothing ad that’s torn with the tape that remains on the corners. It lays like an extended accordion since it had to accompany me from France to Switzerland to Italy back to England. This reminds me of my brief stint as a thief — and also of the most unforgettable day I shared with my best friend.

Fresh Prince.

Fresh Prince

The small town I stayed in was delightful, but included a youth culture that partied a lot and hard. Parties and clubbing were an everyday occurrence — I kid you not. This was definitely not my scene, and yet they still had better grades than me. Ignoring my blatant bitterness, the clothing shops and street style really reflected this. It was overwhelmingly common to wear tops that were stamped with pop culture references, while others were… I’ll just stick with “expressive,” because “tacky” and “inappropriate” sound grumpy. I picked up the Fresh Prince sweatshirt at a shop in the New Street station in Birmingham. I couldn’t think of a better way to blend in. I’d say the best souvenir yet.

Shopping Bags.

Shopping Bags

The top two (from left to right) are shops I frequented often in Worcester. One was Rock Follies vintage shop; the other was filled with Cath Kidston items (or the most floral patterned home decor you’ll ever see). The white bag is from the Edinburgh Castle. The bottom two (left to right) are from my visit to Paris. Turns out that Boulinier has what I hope to be the only remaining Laserdisc of Face/Off. Lastly, Rise is Worcester’s local independent music shop, although, I may have shopped at the entertainment chain, HMV, a time or two…


Wales Tote

During a scheduled group trip to Wales, we stopped at a small town for a bathroom/ stretch break. I had about 15 minutes and found myself in a picturesque deli where I picked up jam and this tote. The cashier was laughing at how excited I was to find a cheap tote bag and a small jar of jam. I couldn’t tell you what it is about Wales, but I really loved it.



I spotted this dirty, small and cheap Union Jack flag abandoned on the ground near a hostel the group and I stayed at in Cornwall. The bus couldn’t reach the hostel and forced us to walk along a dirt path along the coast. The scenery was unlike anything I had experience before. Look at pictures if you don’t believe me. I was hoping I didn’t have to purchase a flag. I win!



No better way to end this then with an unfortunate-looking Ginger Spice figurine. You would find these unwanted Spice Girls in most thrift shops. My friend thought it would be the perfect addition in my already memorable Christmas present (also included: a baby blue shirt with Richard Gere’s face and a nightmarish drawing of David Arquette in “Never Been Kissed” as the wrapping paper). Not surprising to anyone, I’m going to keep this one hidden in my travel keepsake box.