Now that I live in Poland and have a base in life, I seem to have built up a new collection of physical items much moreso than when I was travelling the world and backpacking (or self-coined – whackpacking) the world. I now have all my travel folders, lots of books, CDs, DVDs etc. and a lot more clothes than when I first arrived in Australia back in 2009 with a mere backpack. I hate just having memories though. I need the physical proof. I am a real travel blogger – I hate generic travel bloggers who don’t take photos or make videos of themselves in locations which means they can never truly prove they were there, or not.
So I take all the photos, I don’t want to be stolen or copyrighted. Nobody can copy me as my bake is in most photos! As well as physical photos, I love souvenirs and physical memories from my journeys. Here are just a few of those physical things I keep and collect, so I will always have proof and holdable memories (not in my head) from all those 150+ countries I backpacked.
I try to visit a post office or post centre in every new country I visit. When I am there, I usually post my brother Daniel a postcard. I love licking a real stamp, writing a postcard and sending it to him. And while I am doing that, I always look through the stamps and buy a few for myself. I have a stamp collection featuring stamps from over 150 countries and regions, though I admit I never look at it or dwell. It’s probably something for later in life for me to look at and remember my journeys. I even have stamps from Uzupis and Adammia, two unrecognised countries which are both very real and I loved them!
I love actual currencies and really don’t like the Euro or the US Dollar for the simple fact they destroyed and got rid of other countries national currencies. On my first ever trip without my parents, back in 1991, I loved spending Gilders in the Netherlands. It was new and exciting for me and I kept some Gilders for my collection. However, in 2014 when I returned to the Netherlands, I found that Gilders had been replaced by a currency known as Euros! It was shocking. Euros are also now used in less-proud and less-nationalistic countries such as France, Germany and Italy. I still treasure my old coins from places like Spain, Greece, Republic of Ireland and Latvia before they all succumbed to the dreaded Euro.
Similarly I love banknotes. I love the excitement of swapping currencies for a new one I have never used before. I love withdrawing money from an ATM in a new country and seeing their unique currency for the first time. It’s amazing. As a rule, I try to keep at least one banknote from every country I visit, and normally the one with the lowest value. However, in some countries, I love the currency so much that I sometimes keep the entire collection. I’m particularly proud of my Afghanistan, North Korea and Channel Islands banknotes.
Stickers are like stamps and banknotes in that they are easy to transport as they are not heavy. I buy some travel stickers in a few places I visit, when they catch my eye.
When I say magnets (as that’s what they are), we kind of really mean ‘fridge magnets’ because most people tend to stick them on a fridge. I don’t collect fridge magnets for myself though – I buy them for my Mum. This was always a surprise for her when I visited after bunging another 20+ countries into my backpack. Then I discovered that when my parents moved house, there was no longer a fridge made of metal so they couldn’t stick to it anymore. However, I still buy Mum a fridge magnet from everywhere I go, and custom magnets too on occasion.