The Art of Collecting Travel Maps: Introducing the Most Amazing Hobby!

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Unlock the enchanting world of travel maps beyond their navigational utility. This captivating hobby speaks to adventurers and collectors alike, offering more than just geographical guidance.

Whether it’s the tales of bygone places or the potential for substantial value, collecting travel maps is a thrilling pursuit, especially for travel enthusiasts.

So, let’s get your bearings and dive into the history, preservation tips, types of maps you’ll want to collect, and more. Ready to navigate the fascinating world of travel maps? Read on!

travel maps
Collecting travel maps is a fun and fascinating hobby.

CONTENTS – In this article, you’ll discover the fascinating hobby of collecting travel maps, including:

Collecting Travel Maps as a Hobby: Everything You Must Know

Map collecting is a fascinating hobby that can be both intellectually stimulating and visually appealing. 

While many people collect coins and stamps, others have discovered the joys of collecting antique maps from the 1800s. In fact, these maps can fetch thousands of dollars on the market today!

If you find one in your attic, hold on to it tightly, as it could be worth a fortune.

A thirst for knowledge and intellectual curiosity might be enough to inspire you to collect maps. Maps can teach about history, geography, politics, religion, and culture. This makes it a great hobby, and all the more meaningful if you love to travel.

Additionally, map collecting can be lucrative. It attracts cartographers, antiquarian booksellers, dealers, and anyone interested in art, history, or politics. The rise of cartography businesses like Muir Way proves this further.

Below, we’ll map out the important points about this hobby and why you might like to take it up for yourself.

The Ancient History of Maps

history of maps
The history of maps goes back thousands of years.

If you enjoy the sense of exploration while mapping out your trip, or just like to study the lay of the land from afar, you probably appreciate good cartography (map making).

Long before Google Maps or Google Earth, came physical maps. They’re history dates back thousands of years, with the oldest known map dating back to around 2300 B.C!

The Babylonian World Map, found on clay tablets, was the earliest known depiction of the earth. Plate number one showed the world as a flat disc surrounded by an ocean. 

Other ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Indians, also created maps. The Greeks used paper maps for navigation, while the Romans used them for military campaigns and provincial administration. 

However, accurate maps were rare, and even the existing ones contained myths and mistakes. 

In the late 18th century, Ino Tadataka created a large-scale manuscript map of Japan. It showed coastlines, rivers, roads, and terrain in great detail.

5 Top Types of Travel Maps

There are different types of travel maps
You’ll discover many different types of travel maps worth collecting.

Take a look at a world map that’s more than a few years old, and you recognize an important fact: Maps can change. The borders keep changing, and so do the topographies. 

This is one of the most fascinating parts of collecting different types of maps.

When you have a good collection and variety, not only do you have keepsakes of your travels, but you hold a box full of tales and history.

Therefore, to be a certified map collector, you’ll want a varied collection covering all types of maps!

Here are five most important travel maps that you’ll want to consider.

1. Topographic Maps

Various professionals widely use topographic maps.

This includes:

  • Geologists
  • Surveyors
  • Science educators
  • Geographers
  • Engineers
  • Military personnel

These maps, specifically designed with all the details, depict the shape and elevation of the terrain. Moreover, they provide details about the location and its natural and man-made features. You’ll see mountains, rivers, roads, buildings, and landmarks on a topographic map.

They are essential tools for navigation, and provide you with valuable information. Additionally, they help you plan and execute various activities like hiking and camping.

2. Road Maps

Taking a road trip? Not only is it important for you to plan the route, but it’s essential to be aware of your environment to avoid hazardous locations. 

Fortunately, Road Maps provide valuable guidance, like the direction of traffic, restricted routes, and railroad crossings. They can help you better navigate unfamiliar territories and ensure your safety while moving. 

With the help of detailed road maps, you can easily find your way and stay alert to potential risks along the way.

3. Destination Maps

Destination Maps present the cultural attractions, historic sites, terrain, and other essential information you’ll want to know about a destination. They are sometimes printed on waterproof and tear-resistant materials.

These maps are ideal when you’re planing a visit or want to become an expert about a specific area.

They also make great keepsakes!

4. Adventure Maps

Adventure maps are similar to Destination Maps, providing a comprehensive view of your surroundings with unique points of interest not usually found on other maps. 

Sometimes waterproof and tear-resistant, they’re perfect for outdoor exploring. They can be among the most authoritative resource when you’re touring international locations, too.

Therefore, consulting an adventure map before you plan a hike or camping trip can help you make the most of your experience.

5. Political Maps

Political Maps help provide you with insights to human interactions and understand how different systems are interconnected. These are especially helpful for educators as a tool to familiarize students with geography fundamentals.

However, they also help you as an explorer of the world when it comes to cultural orientation and travel planning.

How to Preserve Old Maps?

preserve old maps
It’s important to learn how to preserve your maps.

If you want to preserve old maps, start by storing them in a cool, dry place, far away from direct sunlight or dampness.

Keep the maps at room temperature and humidity. That means you don’t want to store them in hot attics, damp basements, and heat sources. 

Ideally, place them flat in boxes or shallow drawers. Use conservation-safe materials, such as UV-protective glass and museum glazing to minimize deterioration. Other safe materials include cotton rag backing and acid-free corrugated plastic sheets, sometimes called “coroplast.”

If you notice any damage, like tears, breaks, or soiling, you can carefully address them using supplies like conservator’s tape, fiber fills, and Japanese backing materials. (Never use ordinary tape.)

Finally, you must avoid using erasers on your map. They can remove the ink!

The Value of Your Collection

As a new map collector, it is crucial you gain an understanding of the value of your hobby. Collecting maps isn’t just a pastime; it can also be a lucrative investment. 

The value of maps can vary depending on their:

  • Rarity
  • Age
  • Condition
  • Historical significance

Some maps are considered highly valuable due to their association with significant historical events or figures. However, others display significance in terms of their artistic or cartographic merit. 

Therefore, it is essential to know the quality and significance of a map before you invest in it. By doing so, you can make informed decisions and ensure that your collection is fascinating and valuable.

Final Thoughts on Collecting Travel Maps as a Hobby

explore the world.
Maps tell more than just your own travel story.

Map collecting is a fun hobby that offers a wide range of benefits, from intellectual stimulation to financial value. 

Collecting travel maps isn’t just a hobby; it’s an art that intertwines exploration, history, and personal narratives. It’s about cherishing moments, unraveling stories, and connecting with the world in a unique way.

By knowing the history of maps and collecting different types of maps, you can expand your knowledge about history, geography, politics, religion, and culture. Additionally, preserving old maps is essential to keep them in good condition and maintain their value. 

Start collecting maps and explore the world from a new, fascinating perspective!


Jackie Gately at the beach


About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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