How To Make A DIY Pin Map For Your Travels

The other day I saw some beautiful maps at a home goods store, and I immediately put them in my cart. The wall decor was a map of the world split evenly into six canvases. I had been looking for a map to hang above my bed and use to mark all the places I had been, so the one I found was perfect and looked like it would do the trick.

After further inspection, I realized that the canvases were almost US$200! Um, nope. Not going to happen! But after a bit of brainstorming, I figured I could recreate my own version for much cheaper! The rest of this piece, I’ll be showing you how and what I did to make my finished masterpiece, including all the insider tips and tricks along the way!

$180?! No thanks! I can do better!
My inspiration.
The finished product!


Order some supplies

For this project, get yourself some pre-cut cork, foam board, spray adhesive, all-purpose glue, brushes, picture hangers, nails, tape, and a level or tape measure for marking your walls. Also, a map! I got mine at Barnes and Noble a few years ago.

I bought foam board from the hardware store for about a dollar, but I would recommend getting some precut foam. Foam is tricky to cut and it sheds all over. I ended up wrapping the edges of my foam with duct tape, so try to find pre-cut tiles to save you the headache. Buy the same size as your cork board and you can breeze right through.

Sorry I don’t have a better photo, but y’all know what foam board looks like.


Measure your map

Measure your map and mark where you will need to cut it apart. Double check to make sure the cork will fit. If your map is bigger than your cork board, you will have to trim it to size. Sometimes that means cutting off Antartica and Svalbard.

If you do a better job planning for this project than I did, you could probably find a map that you don’t have to cut, or you can get bigger tiles of cork and foam.
I don’t think I will travel to the northern-most islands of Norway or the continent of Antarctica any time soon, so this didn’t bother me.


Get the glue

Glue the cork to the foam boards. I used regular Elmer’s glue for this. Spread the glue using some brushes. Make sure the glue is thick, as the cork will soak up a lot of it. After the glue has dried, use spray adhesive to attach your map to the cork. I used an old credit card to smooth down the edges and get rid of any air bubbles. Make sure to cover your kitchen table well, or you will have some sticky dinners ahead of you.

The yellow things in the corners are sticky glue things that came with the cork.
If you have a crummy paint brush, you can use that to spread the glue. A foam brush is what I had lying around, but it was ruined when I was finished.
MAKE SURE TO COVER YOUR WORKSPACE. This glue does not come off easily.

Press the boards together by piling a bunch of books on top of them. Harry Potter books and Engineering textbooks from college work well.

Whatever you have lying around that’s heavy and flat will do, but Harry Potter books will add some much needed, je ne sais quoi.


Hang in there

After the pieces are glued, attach the picture hangers. Notice the cork/foam combo is too thin for the hangers when they poke holes in Micronesia. Google for other solutions while tears well in your eyes.

Please ignore the purple duct tape, the foam shedding was getting too real.

Poor Micronesia.

Work through the mistakes

Add Sintra board to the mix! Sintra board is a plastic and foam material that is very sturdy yet very light. You can order in on Amazon or pick it up at a hardware store.

*detail shot*

Rip out the hangers from the foam and glue the Sintra board down using spray adhesive. Pile books on your boards and wait a few days for the glue to dry.


Add the finishing touches

While you wait for your boards to dry, order some more supplies! These pins work well for this project. Add your picture hangers and you’re good to go! If you cut your map a little crookedly, you can also cover the edges with a neutral colored masking tape for a more uniform look.


Admire your hard work!

Hang up your art and put your pins in!

Please also admire my starry night Tardis quilt that I sewed a few years ago. It’s actually falling apart, but it looks nice from far away.
Voila! Isn’t she a beaut!
Pins from my travels!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or share your own pin maps with me on Instagram @emalicethomas.

Profile photo of Emily Thomas


Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a globe-trotting blogger sticking it out in Corporate America until her next big adventure. Her day job is a marketing specialist for a financial technology company in the Chicago suburbs, where she creates case studies, coordinates trade show displays and organizes marketing emails for campaigns, among other creative endeavors. As a strong writer with an eye for design, Emily has also been published both domestically and internationally in newspapers, magazines and other print and online media. She studied abroad in 2013 in Beijing, China, and has been country-hopping since she was a child. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Purdue University in English and Communication and is looking to pursue a master's degree within the next few years.


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