I don’t know about you, but I have always had the hardest time finding meaningful, long lasting souvenirs from my travels to bring home with me. I’ve come a long way from the token shot glass I’d pick up in each city while I studied abroad–mainly because they were cheap, small and light for packing, and they were relatively easy to find requiring no thought or planning if I was breezing through a city for 48 hours. I cringe a little bit thinking back, but I can’t help but love and laugh at my 20 year-old self. At least I have enough for a round of schnapps (not the peppermint kind–like the really good German kind, preferably doppelkorn!) at a dinner party which could spark some funny stories!
Now, in a more mature attempt to collect things from my travels that have some meaning and that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to decorate my home with, I’ve been trying to search out the best souvenirs and I think I’ve improved greatly–I mean, one can only improve from shot glasses right?!
So if you’re interested in my favorite types of travel souvenirs which range in size and weight to suit your luggage, and vary in price to suit your wallet, then keep reading! And if anyone can guess the souvenir that I didn’t buy and is the single biggest regret I have on my travels–you win the prize! 😉 Only because I’ve mentioned it on this blog now oh, just a few times…
This is such a great idea, and something my sister taught me a couple years ago! She purchased a copy of Moby Dick on her trip to visit me on Nantucket as a souvenir and I thought it was so clever. You could relate it to buying a book of Shakespeare or Austen in England, Don Quixote in Spain, or even something like Lord of the Rings in New Zealand! In terms of packing, it could add weight and take up space depending on your situation so it’s up to you, but I think it’s a great way to start a library of your travels around the world!
Cookbooks from the Local Region
A way to deepen your knowledge of the country and culture you visited is by studying its cooking. Picking up a cookbook to bring back home is great way to extend your travels! I’d love to pick one up while in Italy, France, or Greece–but maybe even moreso from a place where I’m not as familiar with the cooking like in India or Thailand. I think it would be so fun to have in the kitchen and could be a way to curb your wanderlust for a while!
Which brings me to my next category…sometimes the best souvenir is something you will use everyday. I purchased a mango wood cutting board from Costa Rica and it’s so random but I love it. It’s the perfect size to chop up some fresh fruit, and I love that it’s an obscure item in my house that reminds me of my Costa Rican adventures any time I reach for it! A similar idea would be to pick up a cute tea kettle in England, pineapple knife from Hawaii (checked luggage only!), wine bottle opener from Argentina etc.
This is one of my favorite things to look for when traveling! Edinburgh had a few vintage map shops which were so fun to poke around. Maps are an obvious choice for great wall art. I’m currently on the hunt for one of Africa and India.
The same could be said about vintage postcards! An even tinier and lighter option, but I think they’re so cute to frame.
This is an easy one when you don’t know what else to get (I’m very indecisive in nature) because really, can you have too many scarves? I tend to wear them a lot, and I love using them on my travels so this is a no brainer for me personally, but I think would be great moments for others as well!
I think it’s great to invest in items that are well made and famous for the region that makes them. Things like italian leather items (gloves, wallets, shoes), pashmina scarves from India, aran sweaters from Ireland, espadrilles from Spain … you get the idea! I was attending a wedding in India and purchased a sari there for the occasion–possibly my favorite souvenir to date. If I ever make it to Iran I’m totally splurging on a persian carpet–although I haven’t quite figured out how I would get it home!
Okay so only slightly stepping away from my shot glass days here, but if you reserve snagging a coaster from only the COOLEST bars or cafes you visit you’ll have quite an interesting collection for a cocktail party back home!
I don’t know if many restaurants or bars still do this, but I love snagging a matchbox or two if they have them to take away on my way out. These don’t last forever but they’re great to have on hand for lighting candles in your home and are so much cuter than a torches and lighters. You could always save the empty boxes and start a collection!
Starting a Collection
Which brings me here…Unknowingly overtime I’ve started collection of small elephant figurines–nothing noteworthy or expensive but it started while I was in India and then continued in Africa and now I seem to have about 5 or 6 small little elephants of various materials–wood, stone, marble–that I like keep displayed on my desk as a reminder of my travels. They’re my favorite animal, but they can be something else entirely related to your tastes! Do you enjoy fashion? Vintage thimbles would be such a cute idea and small enough to pack in your bag without worrying about weight! My boyfriend collects local currency, and my mom collects bottle openers so whenever we have a party she puts them all out at the bar and they’re great conversation starters!
How about you? What is your favorite souvenir to look for on your travels? Have you started a collection?