How to Preserve Vintage Vacation Souvenirs

How to Preserve Vintage Vacation Souvenirs

Whether it was handed down to you by a family member or you purchased it during your childhood vacation, souvenirs hold irreplaceable memories. Here's how to preserve yours for generations to come.

Preserve Vintage Vacation Souvenirs

Typical souvenirs our parents or grandparents brought home from summer vacations years ago include postcards, salt and pepper shakers, paper weights, charm bracelets, snow globes, road maps, printed tea towels and hankies, and more. Here’s what to do with those inherited memories.

Use what you’ve got.

Let your inherited travel souvenirs shine! Take decor inspiration from the 47-room Porches Inn at Mass MoCA in historic North Adams, Mass. Developed from renovated mill workers’ homes, this boutique hotel is decorated with vintage paint-by-number pictures, collectible souvenir plates, ceramic lamps and the like. You can create a wall arrangement of platters or fill a coffee table tray with Las Vegas ashtrays. Frame printed tea towels or a collage of postcards or hankies. Show off seashells or pressed pennies in a shadowbox.

Share the stories of family travels.

Photograph vintage souvenirs and digitize family photos of the trip. Gather some details about the vacation destination at the time your relative visited, add a map from the time period, and put it all together an album or a slideshow.

Store souvenirs safely.

When you’re not displaying vintage items, protect them in archival boxes cushioned with acid-free tissue paper. Paper items like ticket stubs can go in acid-free paper or plastic sleeves in an album. These materials are available from suppliers such as Gaylord Archival. Store the boxes on a shelf in a closet off your home’s living area—not in the attic or basement.

Location matters.

Your antique souvenir may have value if it’s associated with an iconic destination—think Route 66 or the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. You can get an idea from antiques and collectibles price guides such as those by Antique Trader. To get a professional opinion, find an appraiser through the American Society of Appraisers.


How to Archive Family Keepsakes gives you step-by-step advice for how to organize, distribute and preserve family heirlooms. It’s full of practical and effective ways to manage boxes of photos, papers and memorabilia inherited from a loved one. Whether you have boxes filled with treasures or are helping a parent or relative downsize to a smaller home, this book will help you organize your family archive and preserve your family history for future generations.

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