DIYdiy projects

diy project: halligan’s american travel map

by Halligan

Summer time really gets my travel bug a-jumpin!

I am guilty myself, but so many of us long to travel abroad yet don’t take advantage of our very own American continent! This July, my husband Adam and I are hitting the road for a sweet heart’s road trip to explore some of the USA’s beautiful Southern states.

We both have big travel dreams. To help us keep up with the places we have been and the places we want to go I created this American travel map that doubles as a piece of interactive artwork for the home. Happy traveling and crafting! – Halligan

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


bandsaw (optional)

Xacto knife and blades



wood glue

drill and drill bit

computer printer and paper

paint brush


18″ x 24″ piece of thin plywood

22″ piece of 1″ x 2″ wood strip

2 eyehooks and picture hanging wire

20″ x 16″ piece of 1/4″ cork

ball headed pins

water slide paper (optional) – http://www.decalpaper.com/category-s/8.htm



1.  Cut out a 24″x18″ rectangle of thin plywood.  If you don’t have a saw you can ask the nice folks over a Lowes to help you out.  I rounded out my corners on the bandsaw for an extra aesthetic detail.

2.  Paint your board desired color.  I went with a traditional blue.

3.  Print out map templates.

Download templates here:

Template 1

Template 2

Template 3

Template 4

Template 5

Template 6

4.  Trim up map pages, tape together, and cut out paper America and circles.

5.  Tape paper America and circles to cork. Using an exacto blade in a sawing motion cut out cork America and circles.

6.  Glue down cork pieces using wood glue.

7.  Print and cut out compass and mod podge onto the bottom left hand side of your board.  I used a water slide image transfer paper, which creates a translucent image.   You can find transfer paper here: http://www.decalpaper.com/category-s/8.htm

Download the image here:



1.  Cut one 18″ piece and two, 2″ pieces of 1″ x 2” wood.  If you don’t have a saw, you can ask the nice folks over at Lowes to help you where they cut moulding.

2.  Drill holes in the 18″ piece about 1 1/4″ from the end and screw in eyehooks.

3.  Glue all three pieces to the back of the map, and lace picture hanging wire through two eyehooks.


1.  Print and cut out paper flags and fold in half.  Insert pins into crease and glue shut.

Download images here:


2.  Think about where you’ve been and where you want to go and mark your destinations.

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  • This is such a cool idea! It would look especially cool in our home after we finish all of Route 66…

    Have fun down South. It’s my favourite part of the country, hands down. If you end up along the Alabama coastline, definitely head to Fairhope.

  • Beautiful! My partner mounted a world map on thin corkboard (bought a roll from Wallymart) and double-sided taped it to the wall. I have an invisible system regarding pin identification, but adding the flags is a great idea. Also adding wood to the back would have been smart to protect the paint on the wall, but oh well! Next time!

  • What a cool idea! I’m going to make this my July 4th project. I’m thinking of hanging this in my guest room.

    Since I lived all over, my guests usually come from all over. It would be neat for my family/friends to pin up where they’re from.

  • In the process of buying a rental at the beach, this would be a cool alternative to a guest book. Thanks for sharing!

  • I love this idea so much, so cute and functional! and what a perfect time to post an “american” diy project, with independence day right around the corner and all.

  • I’m So Doing This! This might be the simplest thing I’ve ever seen… makes you ask, “why didn’t I think of that!”

  • Oooh! This is so timely as i just bought a roll of cork to make coasters and I was wondering what to do with all the excess. Can I totally modify this fantastic idea into a Canadian map for myself?? The east coast will be tough but I think I can do it!


  • I love the look of this- very clean. I might consider making a WORLD map in a similar fashion!

  • Pretty cute idea, but it would be nice to include all of the USA, ie: Alaska & Hawaii.

  • We did something similar for our son so he knows when my husband is traveling. I have it on our blog (1088churchill.blogspot.com/2010/04/bryces-map.html)
    And we’ve added pictures of grandparents, aunts and uncles around the country.

  • Does anyone else from Michigan get irritated when our state just ends up looking like a pregnant bump? I surely do.

    Other than that, wonderful project. When I make mine, Michigan will get a little bit extra treatment! :)

  • It looks adorable! Although I’m having a little bit of a problem with not being able to see the shape of the mitten (aka Michigan)… probably because I’m a midwestern girl and love my great lakes! :) Although I understand it might be challenging to cut it out – I’d have to some how make it happen! Oh – and I agree with Miriah – it needs Hawaii and Alaska too!

  • Oh my gosh.. What a clever idea! I’m just thinking of all the other shapes you could adapt this concept to… A great starting point for endless customization, really. Hats off to Halligan, for sure! :D

  • This is such a great idea, neat and elegant :)
    but the link for the 3rd template seems to be broken to me, too :(((

  • this immediately caught my eye, and lo and behold is the handiwork of miss cute halligan norris. i love her stuff everytime before i even know she made it! such awesome projects, such a talented gal!

  • THIS IS FANTASTIC! My hubby is a pilot in the Air Force and he has been to so many places. I have been searching for a creative way to mark all the place he’s been, I’ve been and , we’ve been. I might bite off a big chunk and adapt this idea to make one of the world. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  • This is even better than the piping tutorial. I’m totally loving the sponge today!!

  • oml! I thought of doing something similar to this after FH and I came back from our big O.E. through Europe and South America. We collected little pin badges from all the countries and cities we visited and instead of one continent, I’ll get a map of the world and stick them all in – nice way to remember our holiday. I was just going to get a funky looking world map (from somewhere…) but I love the idea of little cork cutouts of the countries!
    I love your idea of flags for places we want to visit :D
    Thanks so much!!

  • Omg, I love this! I have been searching for the perfect map to hang in my house and this may just be it. It would be great to do this as a world map too, although that would be a really challenging project.
    Thank you!

  • As others have already stated, awesome project but I would want more definition in the Great Lakes State! Would also be interesting (impossible?) to do for a world map.

  • I’m in love with this project! I will definitely be making one of these. It is perfect for my husband and I because we don’t do a lot of international travel, but we love taking road trips across the states. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Great project! But what about Alaska and Hawaii??? They’re US states I want to visit too.

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE! but also can’t get template three to open. This is the perfect gift for my brother who is taking a cross country trip after college!

  • I LOOOOOOOVE this!!! Oh, if only there was one of the WORLD. Thank you for sharing!

  • Starting printing the templates as soon as I saw the project! Am just having trouble with Template 3 (no photo) and 5 and 6 print blank pages. Please help!

    • sabrina

      the template is working for me- can you tell me what browser (and version) you’re using so i can troubleshoot?


  • This is such a cute idea!

    BUT… THAT COUCH! in the picture! It is the most amazing couch I have ever seen! I would KILL to have that in my house! (Ok, i wouldn’t kill, but I would pay serious cash!)

  • Grace–the template isn’t working for me, either. I’m using Google Chrome 5.0.375.70. Firefox 5.0 isn’t working for me either. Nor does it work on IE 8.

    Maybe you can see it because you’re hosting it, but that image doesn’t have access enabled for outside peeps.

    • jenny

      i downloaded it at a friend’s house, so it’s not an outside access issue (my server shows all of the templates have been downloaded a few hundred times already). but if you could email me i can send you the files directly.


  • If you have a vector image of the US (google for it — there are several), you can pop this into illustrator,
    1. resize the artboard
    2. resize your image (2′ x 3′ or whatever)
    3. Print > Tile

    I did a 1cm overlap to be sure.

  • I can’t get template 3 either, email? All of the rest are working great…Thanks!

  • Hi! No trouble with Template 3…but I do get blank pages for 5 and 6! Could I get an e-mail?

  • my BF & i totally want to do this project and have already purchased some items, but we cannot for the life of us find 1/4″ corkboard. where did you get yours?

  • I love this idea! I just wish that Hawaii and Alaska were included (since they are a part of the USA)

  • hi, where did you find 1/4 inch corkboard? i went to home depot and they only had large rolls of it (like the kind for putting under the carpet). and osh sold only 12×12 inch squares. where can i find it online?

  • I made one for a friend who travels with her cat, which included little cat flags to show where the cat has been. I also altered it slightly to include the entire world, and added in some illustrations. Instead of cutting out everything from cork board, I made a stencil of the world, and then painted it on the cork board. Check it out on my carbon made album!

  • I would love to see one of the world as well as copy the templates!!!
    Any chance of uploading them here?

  • having trouble with templates 4-6. any chance you could email them? thanks! cute project!

  • Any suggestions on how to draw out state lines and the lakes for Michigan? Or do you have a template to help with that? Love it!

  • THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR, FOR ABOUT 2 YEARS NOW. I’m 15 now and I travel tons!!! I collect pins and I have so many and I’m so passionate about them, I’ve hung them on all types of things but I’ve been looking for a really nice way (I’ve had them on a black canvas as of now). I’m going to take your idea, make cork maps of USA, countries in Europe and split them apart, and South America. THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH.

  • This is such a great idea. I am creating one right now. I have the map cut out on the corkboard. I would like to include lines to separate the states. Im not sure if I need to tile a map to do so. Can someone walk me through how to do this? I’d really appreciate the help.