The experience of travel means something different to everyone. There are so many types of travelers out there — from people going to Europe for the first time, to veterans taking Caribbean cruises, to those backpacking through Southeast Asia, and of course groups taking family trips to Disney. So, how can you choose the best travel souvenir to take home? Will it be worth buying? Will it be worth the suitcase space or the cost to ship it home?
Well, here’s some advice to help you pick out the best and most unique souvenir for your trip!
What do you want to remember?
What will your souvenir mean to you? I’m sure we all take photos, most of which will never get printed and may not even make it onto the computer. So, what is it about your travels that you want to remember?
Was that beach trip spectacular? Do you want a glass of sand in your house with the name of the beach written on it? Maybe instead you can collect some seashells from the beach and have a shadow box made from them. Finding your own unique spin on what you find in the touristy shops will make it feel even more special.
Was it the food that took you over the moon? Get the recipe and maybe the brand names of the ingredients to see if you can find them at home. Or buy a few and take them with you as long as it’s allowed (not all cheeses, fruits, meats, etc. are allowed into other countries). This is a memory you could relive countless times just through making a meal!
Sometimes the local liqueur, cider, beer, or wine can bring you right back to that special place. We’ve been there with Lemoncello from Italy. Why not buy a bottle or two and bring it back? This souvenir is even better when you share! But don’t forget to pack it really well!
Art from a local artist can be such a treat. Seeing the city from their unique point of view and supporting the local economy by paying the artists directly instead of a tourist shop is just an added bonus. Buying high quality postcards (without the writing on the front) and making a collage with the help of a framing shop can also make for a great memory because you pick exactly the scenes you want to remember.
If you’re visiting the mecca for glass-making, or the city for perfume or cologne, then there’s probably a reason. Pick something that smells nice and the scent will always remind you of that one place. As always, try to find a local shop to get a higher quality and more unique experience. I kept thinking “What are good souvenir ideas from Italy?” There are so many, so go regional!
Just thinking about some places around the world and the styles they wear makes me want to find those patterns and show them off. Be practical though! A silk scarf, handmade sandals, even a bespoke dress or suit can really bring that culture and all those memories home…if you’ll wear them. You won’t remember a souvenir if what you buy is in the back of a closet because it doesn’t match your style. Maybe something smaller is best, like jewelry or watch.
Pieces to decorate your personal space can be perfect additions to your home or office. Same as the clothes and accessories though, you’ll want it to be “you” enough so you can really enjoy it with the rest of your decor. A colorful pillow in a culturally relevant pattern, or a small statue to place on a table or desk can really add fun personality and work as a conversation starter.
Your photos are a great memory and represent exactly what you were seeing or doing on your trip, so be sure to sort through them and keep the ones you want backed up for future reference. Have them printed on canvas or get them framed so you see them everyday. Maybe even design and create your own photo books to add to your coffee table! There’s nothing more personal or unique than your own photos.
Souvenirs we collect
In the many, many years we’ve been together, we’ve collected a few things on our travels. Mostly Christmas ornaments (specifically glass baubles) and local art. I started collecting silver charms after my mom gave me a charm bracelet when I was younger, but it seems these are getting harder and harder to find.
Other unique souvenirs we’ve purchased to relive our travel memories are Lemoncello, a Capri Watch, and Carthusia perfume (the one pictured earlier in the post!). What you will never find us buying are magnets, shot glasses, key-chains, or other knick-knacks. While they may work for some people, they are definitely not our style. When we find something that really “speaks” to us and we feel like we just have to have it, generally we let it go for the moment, take a note of where we found it, and realize that if we want in later in the trip, we know where to go.
- Buy locally and not from a tourist shop if you can help it.
- Find something that you absolutely love.
- Make sure you have room in your luggage or can have it shipped back home.
- If you want one of a kind but aren’t sure if you’ve picked a mass produced piece, just ask. Hopefully, they will tell you the truth. If you really love it though, does it matter?
- Be aware of your country’s restrictions if you buy food or plants. Perfect example: In the Netherlands, not all tulip bulbs can be taken into the United States or Canada. There are specially marked ones.
Make sure you take home something you love
What makes a good souvenir? Well, it all really comes down to is that you should take home a souvenir that is meaningful to you. If you want an apron with the Italian flag because it will help you channel that Italian grandma spirit, do it! When you see it or use it, be sure it makes you smile. That’s what it’s all about…happy memories.
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