Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Best Travel Memories Come in Orange Plastic Bags

As I was packing for a short work trip recently, I pulled out a bright orange plastic Sainsbury’s bag that I had from my last trip to London. It brought back such a flood of great memories that you would have thought it was a priceless memento.
Something as simple as this little bag represents a special place and time and I can instantly recall all of the wonderful experiences I had when I was there.
Building Travel Memories and Watching the World Go By 
I stayed at a great hotel right at Paddington Station, which is one of my all-time favorite places. This is not just because of the trains – with all of the shops and restaurants right there it feels like a little city unto itself.
The hotel has a fantastic lounge, overlooking the train platforms and some of the shops. I loved to just sit and watch all of the passersby coming and going on their daily commutes. It felt like I was sitting at the window of the world and just imagined all the stories and lives that were intersecting there.
Wherever I Go, I Feel Like a Local
I love to shop at the market or grocery store, it always makes me feel like I live there and am not just visiting. Just browsing through the aisles looking at all of the interesting and unfamiliar products is so much fun.
When I’m in England, I always buy biscuits, tea, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers to take back to my room. I used to try to save some for the journey home, but very seldom did they last that long. That said, I always ended up with a bag or two and found that just that small reminder was enough to relive the entire experience.
My Favorite Keepsakes
When I travelled, I was so excited about all of the new experiences that I would save almost everything from my trip. This included bus tickets, boarding passes, maps and, of course, the required tourist souvenirs of all sorts. Sometimes, I would actually buy a tote or bag from my destination to make sure I had room to bring it all home.
Now, wherever I go, even when I buy gifts for friends or family, I always save at least one small plastic bag from every trip. Each one has a special memory attached. One reminded me of being stuck at the Barcelona airport in the sweltering heat and buying a pair of flip flops. 
Another brought back memories of the fantastic French wine and cheese I had in my hotel room. Then, there was the bag that once held the lovely scarf I bought for the train trip to Italy. Another bag took me back to the wonderful bacon sandwich I had for breakfast in Ireland. There are too many memories to list!
The Gift I Give Myself is the Memory
I love that I can recall exactly how it felt to be in that environment – who I met, what I did, the food I ate, the places I went and the things I saw. It all becomes part of that special experience I had along the way.
Something as simple as seeing one of those cherished bags instantly transports me back to that moment in my life and I will always remember my wonderful journey.
What are the most meaningful mementos from your travels? What are your favorite travel memories? Do you like to buy traditional souvenirs or is there something special that evokes a memory for you? Share your stories and join in the conversation.