Anyone who has travelled anywhere knows the agonising decisions that have to be made over what to buy to bring home from your destination. Souvenirs to remind you of where you have been and what it was like are one of the biggest things people spend money on when travelling and the decision of what type of souvenir to get can be a hard one. Here is a list of ideas, and the pros and cons of each, of some great items to buy as souvenirs on your next journey!
What better way to remember your travels than through beautiful jewellery that you can wear back in your everyday life? You can layer items such as bracelets, anklets or necklaces or just wear gorgeous statement pieces from all over the world. Not only is this a great way to remind you of where you got them, they are also something you will probably use for the rest of your life (if they’re good quality) and can also be great conversation starters. I still have some pretty little anklets I bought in Thailand and my favourite necklace is a seashell one I got in Western Australia.
Pros: Beautiful, wearable souvenirs. Small enough to easily transport, timeless.
Cons: Good jewellery is often expensive and getting cheap items means they either don’t last or stain your skin blue, yuck! Can be quite delicate so easy to break when your suitcase is getting thrown around.
Another type of souvenir some people like to collect on their travels are stuffed animals. This can be great if you have, or plan to have, kids (or just like stuffed animals!) and they can make a cute little collection to display. I started my own stuffed animal collection after getting an adorable little St. Bernard dog when in Switzerland and I now also have a fox from London, an elephant from Thailand and a bull from Spain. However, there’s also quite a few countries I’ve travelled to and not gotten a stuffed animal, so my collection is not complete!
Pros: Can make a very cute way to remind you of your travels and maybe even display back home. You can even hand them down to your children! Also as they’re soft they can be squished into your luggage and won’t break.
Cons: Can be a bit bulky and take up room in your luggage. You might decide you don’t like them any more as they’re too childish. Can be a bit kitsch.
Similarly to jewellery, clothing can be a good choice to buy on your travels to remember where you have been. You could go with an “I Heart ____” theme, getting those I heart t-shirts from all your destinations, or just buy one stunning piece of some kind of clothing at each place you visit. You can look good, buy something useful and remember your travels – all in one go! When I lived in Thailand I bought some of these lovely loose trousers that almost look like a long skirt, with beautiful embroidery and embellishment on them. I also have a friend who has a fantastic collection of beautiful scarves that she has collected on her travels around the world. She mixes and matches them with her clothes, looks great and is always reminded of the place that she got each one from.
Pros: Useful, wearable reminder of where you have been. Can last you a long time, be a conversation starter. Non-breakable, if you pack very light and then buy clothes then they won’t take up too much room.
Cons: Low-quality clothes don’t last long. Can be tacky depending on what you get! Also, your style and body can change so you may no longer like or fit in it in a few years (unless it’s something where size doesn’t matter, like a scarf).
One of the most traditional routes many travellers take when choosing souvenirs is to buy a little magnet at each place they travel to. Not only are they usually pretty cheap but they are also small enough to pack easily, and can be used on your fridge for many years to come! I know a few people who have some very groovy magnet ‘galleries’ on their fridges back home, with lots of colourful and interesting magnets from all their destinations. This is often a popular choice for gifts for those back home as well.
Pros: Small, light, easy to transport. Usually very affordable. Useful back home – you can fill your whole fridge with a gallery of magnet art!
Cons: Can be a bit tacky or boring if you’re looking for something more unique. How many fridge magnets does anyone really need?!
Some people choose to get a postcard at each of their destinations and either keep it or post it to themselves back home so that they’re waiting when they return. This can be a cheap and easy way to build up a collection of good quality photos of your destinations, you can put them in an album or display them on your walls (or fridge!) when you are home to remind you of the beautiful places you’ve been. Instead of trying to dodge all the tourists and get a decent shot of the Trevi Fountain, why not just buy a cheap postcard with a beautifully lit night-shot of it instead?
Pros: Easy and affordable way to have lovely shots (usually with the name of where it is) to display back home. Very light and easy to transport (just keep them flat). You can make a postcard art wall back home.
Cons: Can easily get crushed or folded in your luggage. Can be a bit tacky and lacking a personal touch.
Sometimes the best souvenir you can get somewhere is some of your own lovely photography. Better than a postcard because it’s personal, and can actually include you in the picture; these days most people can take pretty decent photos even with a camera phone. When you are home you can collate a photo album of your journey (possibly in a nice album you might have got while travelling too) or even make one of those photo-books online and have it bound professionally. Whether you keep your photos on the wall or in an album (or even just saved on your computer) photos are a wonderful (and usually inexpensive if you’re not getting them printed) way to remember your travels.
Pros: No transport costs (apart from your camera), lasting memories, lots of options to display them back home.
Cons: Not everyone is a great photographer (all your photos get a thumb-blob in them like me?), good camera equipment can be expensive, bulky and then possibly a target for thieves.
Destination-specific items can be a very real way of keeping a connection to a place when you get home. Things like Venetian masks from Venice, or traditional masks from African countries like those in the image above are very popular as souvenirs because not only do they look stunning, but they are also usually very recognisable as a reminder of where you have travelled. Painted fans from Asian countries, Babushka dolls from Russia, lace from Italy or painted boomerangs from Australia are just some examples of these types of souvenirs that you can display in your home.
Pros: A recognisable reminder of where you have been, you can make an eclectic display of such items, they can be very beautiful.
Cons: Can sometimes come off as kitsch rather than eclectic, sometimes these items are poor quality knock-offs, can be hard to transport home if they are bulky or very delicate.
Like photos and postcards, artwork from a destination can be a great way to keep a visual reminder of your travels somewhere you will always be able to see. A themed ‘art wall’ dedicated to art you have gathered on your travels can be a great focal point (and conversation starter) in your home. You could get art prints from museums, portraits from artists in the street, maps, flags, fans, anything that takes your fancy and reminds you of the place you visited!
Pros: Art is something you can display forever, it will look beautiful and always remind you of the places you have been.
Cons: Decent artwork can be expensive and hard to transport carefully.
What are your favourite souvenirs to buy to remember your travels? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear what other people like to collect when travelling!
Images: Pixabay (9)