As a 20-something living on a graduate student budget, visitors to my tiny little apartment often ask how I’ve managed to cover the walls with so much unique stuff--maps, vintage travel posters, artifacts and other mementos.

As an artist, I’ll admit that I kind of cheat here--a good portion of the frames that hang on the wall house my own artwork (I’ll often continue painting and sketching scenes from my own photos for months after a trip or vacation--it’s such a fun way to relive memories). So, if you’re not one that considers yourself an “artsy” type (or just can’t find the time to whip out that sketchbook or easel and palette), here are my top three favorite kinds of art to collect while traveling!


This is an easy one, you guys. Find them at the gift shop of a fancy museum or state park, or grab a couple from the gas station on your way out of town. I like to slap them on the fridge, or use cute little clips to hang above my desk, or stick a few in frames to add some color above my guest towels in the bathroom. Bonus points--they’re usually pretty cheap, and you can pick out one (or a few) extra to drop in the mail to keep loved ones updated on your adventures.



I studied geography in college and worked as a cartographer after I’m biased. Good maps (the ready-to-hang type that you might have to dig for in a souvenir shop) are a little harder to find than postcards--but I’ve found the Rand McNally gas station variety is almost more fun--I’ve got more than a few scattered about my house with road trip routes highlighted and big stars placed over fun stops. Maps and nautical charts make fantastic wall decor, are a fun conversation piece when colored with travel routes and tossed on a coffee table and can be SUPER easily crafted into coasters and other little DIYs. 



Spoiler alert, probably not gonna find this one at the gas station. But local art is fun because it’s unique--and if you’re lucky enough (or plan well enough) to happen upon a local festival or cluster of art galleries, you’re likely to have a fun experience and story to accompany that neat little painting or print that you hang on the wall upon returning home.

The best part? If you forget to snatch up artwork inspired by your locale, a quick google or etsy search might be able to help ya out (like that time I forgot to buy locally flavored art in Nashville--but a month afterward, found this awesome print of a favorite honky-tonk. 

See? Finding meaningful artwork and mementos to fill your walls doesn’t have to be hard--or expensive.