If you love to travel, there’s nothing more rewarding than heading to a completely new country and crossing a destination off your list or adding a new pin to your travel map and if you’re taking the trip of a lifetime, you will likely want to remember it for a lifetime too.
Of course, you’ve got the photographs and the memories, but there’s something strangely satisfying about collecting a souvenir from each place that you visit. From the classic fridge magnet to eccentric handicrafts, we’ve created this list of souvenir ideas to inspire you to start an enviable collection of your own.
Handicrafts and Interiors
Different countries around the World are renowned for their various local trades and handicrafts. By buying something special for your house from each place that you go, you can really incorporate your wanderlust into your home life. A traditional Chinese tea set picked up in Beijing for example, will remind you of the walks you took along the Great Wall of China, and the bustling markets you explored during your trip every time you sit down and enjoy a cup of tea. Beautiful fabrics bought in India to be used as table cloths or wall hangings will remind you of your first attempt at haggling, or the rich flavors of the local food.
Have you ever noticed when you come back from a trip you always seem to have a bunch of foreign coins left over at the end? Perhaps you shove them in a tin with a mix of foreign coins from other places you’ve visited thinking that maybe you’ll use them again some day and then you wind up never looking back in that box. Instead of just leaving them there, why not do something crafty with them? You could glue them to a table, and put glass over the top creating a funky, worldly coffee table. Maybe you could glue them in a frame, or simply just stick to displaying them in a good old fashioned coin collection.
In the same vein as coins, banknotes can make for an interesting collectible. Notes vary significantly in design and appearance from country to country and some can be surprisingly elaborate. In each location that you go to, you can consider visiting a bank and asking for a fresh bill in each denomination (assuming the currency isn’t super expensive) or alternatively, you can choose the most interesting denomination, or the cheapest and just collect that one.
Going back to basics, fridge magnets are a classic choice. Incredibly easy to find, it seems that tourist stores in even the most remote and off the beaten track destinations sell fridge magnets and it gives you a peculiar sense of glee when you find a magnet in a particularly remote place you’ve visited with the town’s named scrawled across the front. A great talking point for when people come over to visit, your fridge magnet collection and thus your collection of countries visited will be proudly displayed in your kitchen for all to see and envy.
You can pick up something beautiful and unique from each place that you go, and more often than not, jewelry is much cheaper when you buy it locally than at home. From vibrant beads bought in Africa to anklets and bracelets in South East Asia that jingle when you walk announcing your arrival. Jewelry is a fun choice because you can wear your souvenirs and really mix and match the various accessories that you accrue. When people ask you where you got that fabulous bracelet, it will certainly be a talking point.
If you’re more of a minimalist when it comes to jewelry and you prefer to just wear one or two pieces rather than go out with a ton of bracelets on each arm, jangling when you walk then perhaps creating a charm bracelet is a good call for you. Depending on your personal tastes, this can be as expensive or as low cost as you like. You can select an attractive band at home to put your charms on, and then add a new one at each place that you go to. You can create a travel themed bracelet or simply select charms that you find pretty at each location.
Clothing picked up during your adventures is another fabulous way to integrate your travel into your daily life. You can pick up traditional pieces as souvenirs (for example, saris from India or kimonos from Japan) and many countries often offer contemporary spins on traditional pieces making them more wearable for daily life, but still completely original and quirky. If you don’t want pieces that stand out too much from your normal wardrobe, you can simply visit the stores of local designers, or independent boutiques during your trip. That way you can find something which fits your usual style, yet is still completely one of a kind, and no-one from home will have anything similar.
OK, so you can’t fold them up and put them in your suitcase. That’s too bad. They say that a journey is best measured in friends rather than in miles and you’re guaranteed to meet lots of wonderful people throughout your travels. Even brief encounters can turn out to be life changing ones. Exchange contact details with the lovely people that you meet and keep in touch by sending letters or postcards to each other during your onward journeys. These can be displayed on a notice board so that you can always look and remember the great friends you have dotted around the globe. A handwritten letter from a travel friend whom you bonded with over a long and uncomfortable bus journey in Asia is sure to put a smile on your face during a stressful week.
A little bit of the beach.
Sand, seashells, attractive pebbles and other beach findings make for nice souvenirs. Not to mention that they’re completely free! You can definitely get crafty with this option too. Perhaps you can pair your sand collection with collecting various quirky or antique bottles from local thrift or antique stores during your trips to display the sand in. Little labels or even apothecary style tags detail where the sand comes from. Beautiful stones and seashells can be used to create other trinkets like handmade jewelry boxes.
Nope, don’t worry. We don’t mean that you should be bidding on expensive original pieces from Picasso. The works of local artists are easy to find in market places. You can find original hand painted pieces, or beautiful prints at affordable prices. Typically you can expect to pay anything between $10 – $30 for a piece, and you can decorate the walls of your home with beautiful designs from around the world.
Iron on flags
Some people like to put pins on maps when they’ve traveled to a particular destination; a more public way of checking off a destination is to find an iron on flag for each destination that you’ve visited. You can start your adventure with a completely new, blank backpack and as time goes on, every inch will be covered in different flags like trophies of your adventures for everyone who sees you at baggage claim.
You can typically find these in souvenir shops wherever you go. Either opt for iron on flags, stick on ones or even little pins. Attaching them to your backpack is optional too. You could even create your own funky traveling jacket!
These are just a few suggestions. There is no end really to the possibilities of things that you could collect from your travels. Some other popular collectibles include glassware, thimbles, spoons, and postcards. The nice thing about collecting souvenirs is that you don’t have to stay loyal to any one option either, as long as you have something to remember your trip by. For example, maybe you choose to collect vibrant and unique items to decorate your home with whilst traveling through Africa, but when you get to Europe, you just want to collect postcards for your scrapbook. Whatever you choose, you will surely be reminded of good times and happy memories whenever you look back at your souvenirs.