Picture this: an old, weathered suitcase, its leather surface embossed with an array of colourful stickers from all corners of the world. These are vintage luggage stickers, souvenirs from a time when travel was a luxurious affair, each sticker a miniature work of art telling a story of adventure and discovery.

This article is your invitation to travel back in time and explore the wonderful world of these nostalgic emblems, which have transcended their original role as mere travel tokens. Today, their appeal has evolved and expanded, capturing the imagination of artists, craftspeople and collectors alike. They are not only decorative pieces that add a personal touch to luggage, but also unique elements in birthday parties and scrapbooking projects. Their vibrant colours, varied designs and evocation of an age of romantic travel make them captivating to the modern eye.

So buckle up and get ready to explore the history of vintage travel stickers, their charm and their modern applications.

The Origins of Vintage Travel Stickers

The golden age of travel, spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries, saw the birth of vintage luggage stickers. At the time, travel was an exclusive affair reserved for the wealthy and adventurous. Hotels, airlines and shipping companies began to use these labels as a form of advertising. As their glamorous guests travelled from one place to another, their luggage, adorned with these colourful stickers, served as moving billboards advertising the services of these companies.

Each sticker was a visual testament to its owner’s travels, often sparking conversations and creating connections between travellers. More than just labels, they were stories in sticky form, affixed to steamer trunks and suitcases, each adding a chapter to the travel narratives of those fortunate enough to explore the world.

Crafted with artistic panache, vintage travel stickers captured the zeitgeist of the travel era to which they belonged. Initially, they featured elegant illustrations of the hotels or ships that travellers chose for their journeys. Over time, these miniature works of art began to depict the allure of the destination itself, showcasing famous landmarks, cultural elements or local flora and fauna, turning them into appealing representations of the places they symbolised.

Over the years, the style of the stickers has evolved with the changing tides of art and design, reflecting the aesthetics of different artistic movements. From the curvaceous lines of Art Nouveau, to the bold, abstract forms of Art Deco, to the striking simplicity of Mid-Century Modernism, vintage luggage labels have, in their small but significant way, charted the course of design history.

Today, these stickers serve as historical snapshots, each a tangible link to our past. They offer a glimpse into the evolution of travel, art and society over the decades. They reflect the changing nature of travel, from ocean voyages to jet age aviation, and capture the thrill and excitement of the times. In this sense, each Vintage travel sticker is a tiny adhesive time capsule, a piece of history waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

The Charm of Vintage Travel Stickers

The appeal of vintage luggage stickers is multi-dimensional. One key aspect is their aesthetic appeal. The vibrant colours, charming illustrations, sophisticated typography – all these elements come together to create captivating designs that are miniature works of art. Each sticker is unique, its design reflecting the stylistic trends of its time and the cultural essence of the place it represents.

As well as their visual appeal, these stickers have a strong nostalgic appeal. They are tokens of a bygone era, relics of the golden age of travel. Each sticker tells a story of places visited, faraway places and exotic adventures. They serve as a reminder of a time when travel was an event, a grand undertaking often reserved for the privileged few. Today, they evoke a sense of wanderlust, reminding us of the joy of discovery, the excitement of travel and the allure of exploring new places.

Collecting vintage luggage labels allows us to experience a connection with the past. It allows us to touch a piece of history, to feel a sense of continuity and resonance with travellers of yesteryear. This is perhaps the ultimate charm of vintage luggage stickers – they allow us to dream, to travel back in time, adding a layer of magic and romance to our everyday lives.

Sourcing Vintage Luggage Stickers

Unearthing vintage luggage stickers can be an exciting pursuit, akin to a treasure hunt. Authentic stickers are historical artefacts, each representing a fragment of the rich tapestry of travel history. There are several avenues you can explore to start or expand your collection.

Antique shops and vintage markets often carry a selection of these stickers, and the thrill of browsing their offerings is an experience in itself. Online platforms such as eBay and Etsy are a goldmine for sticker enthusiasts, offering a huge range of designs, each with a unique history. Some stickers may be a little worn around the edges, while others are in pristine condition; but each sticker, regardless of its condition, is a vibrant fragment of a bygone era.

Vintage Luggage Labels: A Much Sought-after Collectible

Over the years, vintage luggage labels have become highly desirable collectibles. The variety of designs, the quality of the artwork, the places they represent and the romantic era of travel they evoke all contribute to their appeal. As souvenirs of a time when travel was more glamorous and less hurried, they offer a nostalgic glimpse into the past.

While some collect them for personal enjoyment, others see them as a small investment. Rarity, condition and visual appeal are the main factors that determine the value of these labels. Labels from famous hotels, exotic locations or those designed by famous artists tend to fetch higher prices. Don’t be put off if you’re on a tight budget. After all, whether you’re collecting for investment or pleasure, the thrill of discovery and the joy of owning a small piece of travel history make this a rewarding hobby.

Remember, patience is the key when it comes to sourcing vintage luggage labels. Authentic stickers from the past are rare, and it can take time to find the perfect ones for your collection or crafting needs. It’s also important to check the authenticity of the stickers to make sure you’re getting a genuine piece of vintage art. A well-curated collection of vintage luggage stickers can not only satisfy your love of vintage art, but also serve as a wonderful conversation starter in your social circles.

Printable Vintage Travel Stickers

If you’re looking to add a touch of vintage flair to your crafts, decor or personal items, but don’t necessarily want to dive into sticker collecting, printable vintage travel stickers are a perfect alternative. These are widely available online and offer an accessible and affordable way to enjoy the charm of vintage sticker designs.

Various online platforms like Etsy offer a range of printable sticker designs that capture the nostalgia and aesthetic of the originals. From high-flying zeppelins and classic ocean liners to quaint scenes of iconic cities, there’s a design to suit every taste and project. Once you’ve chosen your favourite stickers, all you need is a printer and some good-quality sticker paper to bring these designs to life.

The beauty of printable stickers is their versatility. You can resize them to suit your needs, print multiple copies or even change the colours if you like. The possibilities are endless and the potential for personalisation is immense. And without the worry of damaging a potentially rare or valuable sticker, you can use and enjoy your vintage stickers forever.

Using Vintage Luggage Stickers for Luggage Decoration

Returning to the original purpose of luggage stickers, you can use them to create unique, personalised pieces of functional art: your suitcases and travel bags. Decorating your luggage with vintage stickers not only makes your luggage stand out on the carousel, but also allows you to carry a piece of travel history with you wherever you go.

Getting started is as easy as choosing your stickers and finding a layout you love on your suitcase. Maybe you want to create a theme based on places you’ve visited, or pay homage to a particular era or design style. You could even create a vibrant collage with an eclectic mix of stickers.

Consider placing your favourite stickers in prominent places or using larger stickers as focal points around which to arrange the others. Balance is key to creating a pleasing arrangement, so take a step back from time to time and look at your work from a distance.

Remember, this is your travel story – there are no rules! Let the stickers overlap, peel and weather over time, giving your luggage character and a lived-in feel. Over time, your suitcase will become a visual narrative of your travels, a conversation starter and a statement of your personal style.

Whether using authentic vintage stickers or printable versions, luggage decoration is a fun, creative process that results in a personalised item that’s full of charm. It’s a nod to the golden age of travel, a throwback to a time when every journey was an adventure and every sticker was a chapter in that story.

Incorporating Vintage Luggage Stickers into Birthday Parties

Vintage luggage stickers can add a sense of adventure and nostalgia to birthday parties, making them unique and memorable. Travel or location-themed parties are great opportunities to use these stickers for decorations, invitations or even party favours.

You can incorporate these stickers into invitations to set the mood right from the start. Designing invitations to look like vintage postcards, complete with luggage sticker images, can add an authentic touch. You can also use printable vintage travel stickers to create unique party banners or use them to decorate party table centerpieces.

For some party fun, consider games like Sticker Stalker, where each guest is given a vintage sticker on arrival and the aim is to sneakily place it on another guest without them noticing. Alternatively, “Find My Other Halves” is a game where guests are given one half of a sticker and the task is to find the person with the matching half. These games not only bring laughter to the party, but are also a great way for guests to mingle.

For the party itself, consider using stickers to make custom placemats, cupcake toppers or guest name tags. You can also create a “travel wall” with a large map of the world and place stickers on different countries, inviting guests to “travel” during the party.

Party favours are another fun way to incorporate vintage stickers. Small travel-themed goody bags, decorated with luggage stickers, can hold souvenirs of the “journey” your guests have taken during the party. This makes for a unique, memorable gift that continues the travel theme long after the party is over.

Scrapbooking with Vintage Travel Stickers

Scrapbooking is an art that combines personal memories with creative expression, and what better way to enhance your pages than with vintage travel stickers? They can add a splash of colour, evoke a sense of place, or simply serve as decorative elements that make your scrapbook pages pop.

These stickers can be an integral part of your travel layouts, adding authenticity to your travel memories. They can also be used as creative borders, backdrops or centrepieces around which to arrange your photos and journaling.

Printable vintage travel stickers can be particularly useful for scrapbooking. Because they can be resized, you can make them fit perfectly into your layouts. You can also print them on different types of paper so you can experiment with textures and finishes.

Care and Preservation of Vintage Luggage Labels

As collectibles, the proper care and preservation of vintage luggage stickers is essential. Although designed to withstand the rigours of travel, these stickers are not immune to the ravages of time. Proper handling and storage can ensure they retain their vibrant colours and intricate details for years to come.

Always handle stickers with clean hands and try to touch the edges rather than the surface. If you’re storing them, use acid-free sleeves, boxes or albums to prevent discolouration over time. Keep them out of direct sunlight as UV rays can fade the colours.

If you want to display your stickers, consider using UV-resistant frames. For those who want to use vintage stickers in craft projects but are concerned about preservation, high-quality scans or photocopies can be an excellent alternative, leaving the original intact.


As we’ve explored, the world of vintage luggage stickers offers a wealth of opportunities for collectors, crafters, party planners and history buffs alike. Whether you’re looking for a unique way to personalise your luggage, add flair to your party, enrich your scrapbooking project or simply appreciate the artwork and history embodied in each sticker, this vibrant and varied realm invites exploration.

Collecting, using and preserving vintage luggage labels not only allows us to celebrate the golden age of travel, but also to create and share our own travel stories. They connect us to the past, enhance our present experiences and inspire future adventures. Each sticker is more than just a sticker; it’s a piece of history, a work of art and, most importantly, a passport to endless inspiration and creativity. As we carry these tiny emblems of past adventures into our future, they remind us of the beauty of exploration, both of the world around us and of the boundless realms of our own creativity.

Cover photo by Mary J. Friedrich on Unsplash