When I was a kid, I collected spoons as souvenirs. I didn’t travel much on my own as a child (shocking I know) but was often given them. Or my parents would buy them for me.
I never had any idea what to do with the spoons. They didn’t seem functional or even that pretty. (To me. I know lots of people who love them)
Now as an adult, I want to remember my travels, but I don’t want a bunch of junk.
For a while I was buying shot glasses, but these break or take up space in my house.
I also buy a ton of jewelry, but that’s just more like… a problem I have. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
So how can you remember your trips without taking up a ton of space? Or actually look at and remember your travels?
There are lots of options depending on how you like to travel. My parents often ship something home that they really love. No space required in the bag.
I usually go for something small and interesting that helps me remember where I’ve been. I am not a fan of magnets or patches, but those tend to be very popular among the traveling set. And easy to pack and travel with- I’ve seen some impressive magnet-covered fridges!
You can definitely get creative with your travel memories and souvenirs. These are some of my favorite ways to remember my trips without taking up too much extra space in my suitcase:
Not surprisingly, this is a super popular way to remember your travels. You get an epic photo and have space on the back to write a memory. Send some to your friends and keep one for you!
Even better, send it to yourself and get the added fun of a local stamp. You can put these in a photo album to look back at and remember the good times. No packing required.
The sounds of a place can you put you back there instantly. Think of the Caribbean beats you heard on the beach in Jamaica. Or the hum of bagpipes floating over the hills in Ireland (this happened to me once… I felt like I was in a movie).
Bagpipes may not be your preferred tunes, but music is an easy thing to find, purchase and pack. And then you can play it while reliving your memories with friends. Even better, downloaded it when you get home!
Or ask a local who the newest DJ is and get their album. You don’t have to get traditional music to put yourself back in that place. I’ve got some amazing world music that I still listen to today just from asking people.
It’s easy to get a local guidebook when you’re in a new place. But buying something more interesting can be a great souvenir of your travels. And travel sized!
I like to buy cookbooks when I’m on the road because I love to eat. It’s my favorite hobby. But local history, stories of legends and myths or even a beautiful coffee table book are all great ways to remember the places you’ve visited.
Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, tree ornaments are small and easy to pack. You can put them on any plant in your house as a lovely reminder of that fabulous vacation you just had.
Or you can bring them out once a year and relive the trips you’ve had. Even if you can’t find a souvenir that’s labeled as an “ornament” you can always get creative. I’ve turned earrings and key chains into ornaments many times.
Frame Your Own Photos
No one prints their own pictures anymore. We put them up on Facebook and forget about them. But your photos take no space other than on your memory card while traveling. Bonus!
Printing your own photos is possibly the best souvenir you could ask for. You took the photo, you were there! You can even buy an awesome frame before you come home to put your epic photo inside of. Best memory ever.
Before we go any further, remember to be sure that you are not taking rocks or soil from a place that is under protection. If everyone takes a rock off the volcano, you’ll eventually have a hill.
But bringing home natural elements can be an awesome reminder. Tiny too. You can collect sand from different beaches, or rocks from hikes you’ve been on. My friend likes to press flowers in her journal. Just be sure to check your country’s airport customs requirements.
Traditional Food and Spices
I think I mentioned I love eating. I also happen to love cooking, which helps with the love of eating part. I enjoy bringing home dried spices or herbs to help me recreate flavors from my trips (the cookbook helps, see #3)
And while these souvenirs don’t last, it can bring you right back to that restaurant or street vendor in an instant. Or bring a box of traditional candy or a type of syrup back with you. It’s a lovely way to share your trips with your friends and family. Put on some music and eat!
These take up no room, as your passport doesn’t get any larger by getting a stamp in it. It just makes it more awesome. You can even get creative with the stamps once you have them!
The best part of collecting stamps is that when your passport expires you can remove the pages and put them in a frame. They look beautiful, colorful and it’s distinctively you. It’s a timeline of your adventures.
Something Unique to the Country
If you an afford it or fit it in your suitcase, buying something unique to the country you’re visiting is amazing. You can look around your home and remember the places you’ve been. Bonus if it’s functional ::high five::
You can get a rug in Morocco. A mask from Thailand. A teapot from Japan. A small print from a local artist that’s easy to pack. Getting an item specific to the country you’re in makes for a wonderful, irreplaceable souvenir. And you’re supporting the local community!
Obviously, if you’re buying something enormous this will take up a lot of space. But many places will have shipping available to your country. Or you can buy the mini bowl instead of the giant wooden salad bowl to serve 200 people. Choices, choices.
Something Unique to You
A good friend of mine used to buy Vogue magazines in every country she went to. She couldn’t read any of them, but she liked to be reminded of the clothes at the time and the different ways of advertising (she worked in fashion).
I love to buy tea when I’m traveling because it’s basically the only thing I drink, and it’s small. Some people collect tattoos. Maybe you could collect fabrics or textiles and make a quilt. Think about your favorite hobby or something that you love, and bring a piece of it home.
Souvenirs are really personal and are about what make you happy. Or what will bring back an instant happy memory from that time.
I always seem to end up with piles of coins from my travels. I am currently working on a way to turn them into jewelry. Or maybe a wind chime…
You don’t have to bring home anything but memories. But a picture and a postcard never hurt 🙂
Do you have a favorite souvenir you like to collect? I’m always looking for new ideas!
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