DIY Travel Shadow Box Ideas To Help Preserve Your Memories

There are affiliate links in here.  I get a small commission if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you.

Every time I go on a trip, big or small, I always come home with a million little tickets, business cards, and maps.  I never knew what to do with them until one day I was perusing good old Pinterest when I came across this.

I thought, “this is perfect!”  So off I went to Jo Ann Fabric to find myself a shadow box, or four, to finally make something from Pinterest.  I had more faith in this than almost everything else I’ve made from it since it’s pretty straightforward as opposed to DIY wall string art stuff.  I now have like, 15 of them for different countries and a few states.

I think DIY shadow boxes are a fun way to show off all the little stuff that you’re not quite sure what to do with.  It’s a pretty easy project and I want to share with you how to make a travel shadow box.  First off, gather your supplies.


  • Shadow boxes – I use different sizes and shapes based on how much stuff I have for each place.  I do keep them all the same style though with black frames and the same depth.
  • Scissors
  • Xacto Knife
  • Glue Dots – I always use the Glue Dots brand but Michaels didn’t have those so I used Zots this time.  I definitely prefer Glue Dots.
  • Fine line drawing pen (or extra fine sharpie)
  • Lightbox – You don’t necessarily need a lightbox, just something to trace the country name on the picture.  You can tape them to the window during the day to do this.
  • Pictures of each country
  • Country name printouts
  • Tickets and things to put in the box

How to make a DIY shadow box

After gathering my supplies, I trace the country name onto the picture I’ll be using at the top of the box.  If you’re really good at hand lettering, you can do that instead of tracing it.  But I’m not.  I can barely trace them straight, but this still works for me.  Then I cut the letters out and set them aside.  There may be a better way to do this part.  I’ll try next time I make one and update this.  

Next, I take whatever paper was in the shadowbox with the print on it (in this case, the back white paper) and turn it over.  I put 8-10 glue dots on the back printed side and stick it to the back of the shadowbox, the part that has the hanging stuff on the back of it.  You can also use any white paper for this, it’s just convenient to use the insert it came with since it’s already the right size and you can’t see through it.

Then it’s time to lay out everything you want in it to see how it looks.  I move stuff around a lot here to make sure it looks right.  I don’t always include everything I have, either.  For this part, just make sure you’re putting things on the back in the right direction.  Look at the hanging tools and set it down so those are at the top.  You don’t want to accidentally put everything on there, glued down, and have it be upside down.  Not that I’ve done that or anything.. (I have, it’s a pain.)

Once the name is cut out and everything is laid out how you want it, start gluing!  I try to take a picture of it before I glue so I can remember where everything goes.  I usually try and start gluing the things that are at the bottom and will have other things overlapping it.


After everything is attached, it’s time to put it back in the frame to see the finished product!  This is always the most exciting part.  I would advise leaving a little room around the edge because sometimes things can get a little rumpled or covered up when you’re putting it back in the frame.

Finally, it’s time to hang them!  I made a little travel shadow box corner in my room to hang all of them and put all my little trinkets that don’t fit in the boxes on top of them.  It’s a fun way to show everything off without taking up all kinds of shelf space.  If you want a smaller, more compact way to help plan trips and save memories and mementos, check out this guide on making a travel notebook.  Hopefully, these travel shadow box ideas help you make your own someday.

Do you ever make shadow boxes?  How do you display your tickets and travel mementos?  If you collect patches, what do you do with those to display them?  I have a bunch that I don’t know what to do with.  

13 thoughts on “DIY Travel Shadow Box Ideas To Help Preserve Your Memories

  1. I love this idea! I usually keep a paper travel journal in a notebook and do paste-ins – everything from receipts to (unused) restaurant napkins to bus tickets. A lot of things with ink tend to fade with time, if you just keep them hanging around, but I recently looked through my Ecuador journal; 9 years later, it’s all still readable! I have several packets of miscellaneous items from past trips, mostly the Summer Odysseys (1.0 – Chicago/Phoenix/Puerto Rico/Baltimore and 2.0 – Salt Lake City/Baltimore/Montreal/Prince Edward Island/Boston), and maybe a few from my mini-odysseys (my short trip to Gainesville/Baltimore 2 years ago, and then to San Francisco/Washington/Baltimore last year). Maybe I will take a page from your blog!

    1. Very fun! I always thought about doing a journal like that when I travel, but I just end up bringing it all home loose haha. I would love to see your shadowbox if you end up making one!

  2. These are awesome!! I’ve been thinking of doing something similar with tickets etc. I’ve always done cork boards but it would be nice to have them actually framed and laid out nicely… and behind glass! lol. This has given me some great ideas! 🙂

    1. Thank you! 😀 It’s nice because they’re easy to move around if I need to. I have a map just taped on my wall, too that I stick pictures and some leftover money around, but I can’t really move that around easily.

  3. I absolutely love this. Will need to try this. I also have a bunch of tickets, maps, and pictures I just did not know what to do with anymore. But this is a wonderful idea!

    1. Thank you! It’s perfect for all the little stuff! I have my maps seperate in one of those cute photo boxes. I haven’t figured out what to do with those yet. Small maps would work well in the boxes, though! I would love to see them if you end up making them!

  4. I love this. I lost steam with scrapbooking our travels and I think that this would actually be easier to do every few months. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s fun and doesn’t take all that long to make them. I’d love to see them if oyu do make them!

Leave a Reply to 2traveldadsCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.