Do you buy souvenirs while traveling?

I asked my friends and readers to spill the beans: Did they bother with souvenirs? If so, what did they buy, and why?

The answers I got were great! The internet is generous, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I learned a couple of tips from the Facebook comments that I’m definitely going to use in the future. But first, let me share them with you.

You don’t have to buy a souvenir

There is nothing in the definition of a travel souvenir that implies you had to spend money. Two women named Amy said they brought rocks back from their most recent trips, and Liz mentioned pressed flowers. Sometimes the landscape is so breathtaking, you just want to take a piece of it home.

“We’d choose a particular rock from each special place we went. I documented it in a journal so we could remember where it came from. We found a couple geodes and some others that were just silly to the boys or beautiful in colour, shape, texture, etc.” 

“From new Zealand, I brought back rocks, sea shells, a piece of wood […]”

The things you do are more part of the trip than the items you buy. A simple receipt, for example, can be a nice memento of your trip. One friend wrote:

“My most consistent collection though has just been concert tickets, museum entry stubs, flyers for places I go, etc that all get glued and annotated in a sloppy scrapbook.”

I’ve seen her scrapbooks, they are legit.


Choose items that reflect your interests

If you’re not into snow globes, why bother? Bypass the touristy stands to get a souvenir that matches your interests, hobbies, and passions.

One friend that studied communications and works in media and publishing loves to collect print souvenirs:

“I love to collect business cards, postcards, brochures and magazines from the places I visit!”

Janice, another reader who loves fashion and home decor always gets souvenirs that she can wear or display:

“I usually try to find some sort of textile – blanket, hairband, wrap skirt, towel, carpet, fabric bookmark, etc. And of course if I’m going to gift others, I gift myself. ?

Personally, I also try to buy items I’ll wear. Stores these days have all the same things, so when I’m abroad, I try to find unique and interesting jewelry or accessories. As reader Ashlee notes: “Jewelry is one of my fave souvenirs. Packs easily and I actually use them.” Couldn’t agree more.


Choose items you’ll use and see

It’s sad when you bring home a souvenir that ends up in a garage sale or collecting dust in the basement. So many commenters mentioned putting souvenirs in plain sight and getting something useful, so you can always be reminded of your travels.

“I buy a magnet of every places I visit. And then display them on the fridge ?– Pascale

“Coffee cups! I like holding it in my hands during the day sipping on the caffeinated goodness and memories.” – Andrea

Another fun idea is to bring back food items to share. Commenters mentioned honey, chocolates, and even alcohol.

“Fridge magnets and local specialty alcohol. Always nice to be able to offer something exotic when people come over.” – Jen


Collections are fun, but don’t stress it if you fail

I’m really impressed by people who managed to build collections. I’ve never had any consistent souvenir I’ve wanted to collect, except maybe transit passes (even then, this is recent).

Readers mentioned mugs, magnets, maps and postcards as consistent items, which are easy to find in almost every city.

Josh writes : “I always try and start collections of things but never get very far. Case in point: those appliqué flags. They’re dope but I don’t feel I have a nice enough canvas bag to get them sewed on to.”

One of my favourite collections described was by world-traveler Roma.

“I like collecting Christmas ornaments from every country I visit. Usually I try to find something meaningful to me. If I’m pressed, I buy a keychain and replace the metal ring part with a ribbon. It’ll be a beautiful tree one day!”

No doubt! I wish I had that kind of foresight to start a collection.

Lastly, make sure you can bring your souvenir home with you! Don’t bring oranges or goat meat, those will definitely be confiscated. Toy guns and decorative swords are iffy. Make sure you know the limit on alcohol you can bring back.

If you’re traveling light, which I hope you are, don’t let your souvenirs weigh you down. Be like backpacker Kate, who knows what she’s comfortable carrying, and only takes small, non-fragile items:

“Only postcards/small art prints because there’s not enough room in my backpack to carry more for months on end! I look forward to the gallery wall and collages that await my next apartment.”

Can’t wait to see pictures!

Happy Travels!