Personal mementos from travel can act like a memory box. Rosemary Behan
Personal mementos from travel can act like a memory box. Rosemary Behan

On the move: don't toss those tokens of travel

Any expat who has packed up home and moved to another country knows that within a few years’ time, most of the stuff that they have carefully boxed up and stored will no longer be relevant. Out of sight, out of mind; apart from a few books and my mother’s ashes, there’s little I will still want from the mountain of items left in my loft in London – winter coats, bedding, knick-knacks and now obsolete electrical equipment.

This is OK – we didn’t necessarily know how long we were going to be away and sometimes the passage of time is needed to more easily sort out what we do and don’t want.

But now that I’ve been living abroad for almost a decade, in a smaller space than I had at “home”, I find that I now need to have an annual clear out in Abu Dhabi too. Regular travel means that I accumulate more printed matter, in the form of brochures and suchlike, than I can usually keep up with, but tend to hang on to in case it is useful “sometime” – for an article, a repeat trip, or simply for someone who wants more information about a place.

Last weekend I tackled a few select bags and boxes and, whilst it was satisfying to chuck out the duller, bulkier items, I found a few choice mementoes and filed them with other keepsakes in a dedicated box. Most people, I guess, throw this stuff out, but the memories these items can bring back, I think, make them worthy of saving. While memories of a place fade over time, a detailed menu from a fabulous restaurant, an entry ticket to a museum or even a metro ticket – can take you back to a place in a visceral way.

Last weekend I kept a menu from Number One, a Michelin-starred restaurant at The Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh. The smoke-filled glass dome that covered the house-cured salmon repeated itself in my mind, as I scanned down the list of items. I kept a boarding pass from Fort Lauderdale to San Juan, and tickets from San Juan to Tortola. I was transported back to a sleepless night in less than salubrious airports, but reminded that sometimes even seemingly impossible connections can be made.

I kept a map of Necker Island – as it was before it was hit by last September’s hurricane. I kept a Nepalese trekking permit – such a hassle to obtain at the time, but a physical reminder of the awe-inspiring trek I’d done through the Annapurna Conservation Area. I kept the more ornate museum tickets, and metro tickets from Moscow and Athens. And of course I keep the notebooks, or sometimes just notes, scribbled on odd bits of paper. Sometimes they are the notes of strangers, who’ve methodically written out their list of recommendations.

There’s no money in the world that can take you back to the places you’ve been, at the time you were there. And in an increasingly digital world, there are fewer and fewer physical reminders of where we've been. So before you chuck all that stuff out, put it in a box and keep it for a while. You’ll be amazed, when you do open it, how much it means.


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Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


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3.35pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (Turf) 1,600m, Winner: Al Mukhtar Star, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass.

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5.55pm: Handicap Dh175,000 (T) 1,800m, Winner: Dolman, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar.

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Dir: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Egerton, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons

Three stars

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In numbers

Number of Chinese tourists coming to UAE in 2017 was... 1.3m

Alibaba’s new ‘Tech Town’  in Dubai is worth... $600m

China’s investment in the MIddle East in 2016 was... $29.5bn

The world’s most valuable start-up in 2018, TikTok, is valued at... $75bn

Boost to the UAE economy of 5G connectivity will be... $269bn 

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