A Travel Keepsake Gift

If you have been following along with my goal of catching up on memory keeping this year, you might have noticed one of my monthly action items was to add patches to my patch blanket. Since I completed this task and with the upcoming holidays, I thought that I would share a little more with you about this blanket, which would make a great gift for kids or travel enthusiasts alike!

I grew up traveling a lot as a child. I went on my first plane ride at six weeks old, spent the summers traveling to historical places with my parents and sister, and piled in the car for countless day trips to local cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. We would spend our visit touring various historical monuments, buildings, and sites while learning everything we could from guides, marquees, and museums. Each place we visited was different, but there was always one thing that remained the same – each visit ended in the gift shop. It was paradise for my sister and I’s child eyes, but a minefield for my parents.

When I was six or seven, my mom came up with an idea that still allowed us to get a souvenir from each place we went, but not starts a collection of “stuff.” That’s when the idea of the patch blanket was born. Rather than buying a doll or a bag of colorful stones (I was very into those!) in each gift shop, we would pick out an embroidered patch, that my mom would later add to a blanket.

Needless to say, my love for traveling only grew as I got older. And while I no longer desire the dolls and collectable stones from the visitor’s center gift shops, I do love the thrill of hunting for a patch to add to to my blanket. Patches are harder to come by now then they were in the early 2000’s, but it makes finding a new memento from each place I visit even more exciting.

The patch blanket was not only a travel keepsake, but also affectionally became our travel blankets. These blankets would be our bedding at overnight sports camps, years of church camp, and our camping in the living room adventures. Eventually, the wear and tear started to catch up on the original fleece blankets, so right before I left for college, my mom transferred all of the patches collected up until this point to a sturdier quilt, which is the blanket I have now.

The original patch blanket, circa 2009

With the new quilt, my mom has also passed on the task of sewing the newly collected patches to the blanket. I had put it off for years but still kept collecting patches as we traveled. However, at the beginning of the year when I set this goal, I had eight years’ worth of travel (over seventy patches!) to add to the blanket. After spending much time this past winter and spring pricking my fingers and attempting to color match thread to the embroidered border, I added the last patch to the blanket right before the end of summer.

I’m so grateful that my mom came up with this idea years ago. It is so neat to see how my love for travel has evolved over the past twenty years, with some of my first patches being to the Baltimore Aquarium and Mount Vernon, to international locations like France, Austria, and Peru. Some places are revisited multiple times, and while I don’t repeat a patch, I still will collect ones from places I’ve visited multiple times like Seattle and Maine.

With the holidays just around the corner, I think this would make an amazing gift for a travel lover on your shopping list. Starting this keepsake for a child, like mine, is incredibly special, but it can be a great souvenir for any age! If I were to gift this, I would include a blanket, a couple of spools of thread in black, blue, red, and green, a pack of needles, and a little note describing the gift!

What are some souvenirs that you like to collect when you travel? Are there any special ways that you preserve memories? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments below.

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