When traveling to new places, it’s easy to get swept up in the moments and experience new things. You get to see things you’ve never seen, try new foods, meet new people. Coming home can be tough for many people. By purchasing travel souvenirs and keepsakes, you’re able to keep some of those magical memories alive. Seeing those items can help bring you joy and remind you about the fun you had. It can also help inspire you to start planning your next vacation.
So what is the best travel souvenir to collect? We’ve pulled together a list of ideas with something for every kind of traveler. There are tiny items that will work even for backpackers, items for the foodies that want to bring new flavors home, and even some classics that you probably already have at home.
Make and Preserve New Memories
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Ideas for Travel Souvenir Collections
The list is broken down into a few subcategories. Find some inspiration from the list while also considering what items you’ve gotten in the past that have been really meaningful to you.
Souvenirs made of paper are a favorite for many travelers because these items are easy to transport home and don’t take up much storage space. They can be easily displayed in a variety of ways.
Maps come in different colors and styles, and the best part is that many of them are free. Chances are that you’ll be given at least one paper map while traveling. With more and more things going virtual, paper maps will eventually become a “vintage” item. You can make your own marks on the map to mark your favorites or special notes to customize your souvenir.
Every airport gift shop has a wall of different postcards where you can stock up to send to your friends and family. You can also keep a few for yourself. Postcards feature professional photos of popular sites in each city and probably have views that you weren’t able to capture on your camera. They don’t take up much space, so it’s an easy souvenir to store in any size home.
If you are someone that likes to journal and write things in a notebook, consider collecting journals from your travels. You can find beautiful covers that feature pictures of destinations or more simple options that just trigger your memories of the shop you picked it out in. You can turn them into your travel scrapbooks or just use them for daily musings.
Matchbooks are a classic souvenir to collect during your travels. From fancy restaurants to martini bars, many utilize matchbooks as a fun little marketing tool. The hobby of collecting these little treasures is called phillumeny and it has lost some of its popularity over the years, but if you decide to start collecting these, it’s like a fun little treasure hunt.
Walking the streets of Spain or Italy, you’ll probably see all kinds of people painting and drawing their own versions of the famous sights. You can purchase those prints yourself and bring a piece of Europe home. You can also find all kinds of different local artwork in souvenir shops and local art galleries.
If you are a traveler that enjoys experiences more than physical mementos, you could hang on to your ticket stubs for the different adventures you go on. Keep transportation tickets and tickets for any shows. Visiting New York City and going to a Broadway show? Keep your playbill and ticket as a fun reminder and great souvenir.
Stickers are a great collectible from your travels. You can display them anywhere. Cover your carry-on suitcase with them, decorate your car, or maybe just hang on to them for a while until you find the perfect place to stick them. They don’t take up much space and they are very affordable so you can pick more than one at all your destinations if you can’t decide.
Textiles and Wearables
If you want something beautiful, but also usable, you can pick one of the following to collect. Textiles and clothing items are different throughout the world, so it can be a really beautiful thing to collect.
If you do a lot of traveling, consider collecting patches at the different locations you visit. These can all be added to backpacks, blankets, or pillows over time. The National Parks have beautiful patches at each location as well as ski resorts, airport gift shops, and other popular attractions. It’s an easy way to dress up something you already own and use all the time.
A classic collectible from travels is the standard t-shirt. We wear them all the time, so why not collect a variety from the places you visit as a way to keep your travel memories alive. You might meet other people who have been to the same places as you and be able to strike up a conversation. Usually, you can find every color, size, and style imaginable, so it’s easy to find something that you love.
Scarves have historically been a popular collectible from travels. Especially if you are visiting different international destinations, you’ll find a variety of different scarf options. In Europe, you may find different high-end fashion boutiques with silk scarves. In tropical places like Costa Rica, you’ll find lightweight scarves that help protect you from the sun. Cold weather places like Scandanavia will have some warm options usually made locally with wool. They are both practical and beautiful.
Lapel pins are easy to find while traveling and you can display them like patches. You can also add them to a bulletin board on your walls. They are small, so you can have a huge souvenir collection without needing to find storage space.
This one is pretty specific to what you use and wear. For people who wear baseball caps a lot, having a collection from their travels is good because they will get use out of them. The same goes for people who live in cold weather areas and need a collection of winter hats to play outside. Others like to collect all different types of hats for different occasions. If you love wearing hats, this would be a fun thing to treat yourself to on your next trip.
Necklaces and Jewelry
Jewelry is a great wearable souvenir idea. Some people like to purchase charms from different places to display on one necklace or bracelet. Others like to pick something new out at each place they visit. Pick out something that makes you think of that place like a shell necklace from Hawaii or a turquoise piece from the American Southwest.
Some people like to bring something home from their travels as a way to extend their trip into their normal routine, but they don’t have the space for keepsakes. By bringing home something that can be consumed and enjoyed, you can extend the travel feelings, but eventually, use it all up and not worry about long-term storage.
Coffee is a popular drink choice and the beans come from all over the world. If you are lucky enough to visit Vietnam or Costa Rica, you can purchase coffee from the farms that grow it. For coffee lovers that aren’t traveling to the topics, you can also track down the best roasters in the cities you are visiting and sample a few things to find the one you want to take home with you. Imagine how wonderful it will be to sip on coffee when you’re back at home and be immediately transported back to your vacation destination.
Another popular treat to bring home is honey. It travels well and can be used for so many different things. You’ll find all kinds of different flavors in different places. Huckleberry honey is a popular treat in the Rocky Mountains and each location has its own twist. This is also a fun gift to bring home for loved ones.
Beer and Wine
If you are doing a little sampling of the local beers and wine on your trip, consider bringing some home with you. It’s a little harder to put in your suitcase, but many places you visit will ship it directly to your address for you. Enjoy a little taste of vacation whenever you want in the future.
For a fun keepsake from your favorite winery or vineyard, you can also bring your corks home to collect those instead. Most of them have the name of the location printed on the side and you can order drinks from their websites when you get home.
Another fun tasty souvenir to bring home are spices. These can last a while in your cabinets and help you add something fun to your cooking. Whether you find something in a local market in Morrocco or try something amazing in New Orleans, you can bring a taste of the destination home. Fill your spice cabinet with different flavors and you can try new recipes and bring that taste to your kitchen.
Another type of souvenirs that are popular to pick out is practical items. This includes anything that you can put to use around your home. It’s a fun way to incorporate your travel memories into day to day routine.
Collecting coffee mugs while traveling is easy to do. You can always find fun local coffee shops that sell mugs and drinkware for you to take home. One popular item is the famous Starbucks “You Are Here” mug collection. Each city, state, or country has a different mug design and you can only purchase them when you are in that location. If you like things to match, those mugs are all the same size and style, but they each have a unique drawing that highlights the famous things about the location.
Another practical souvenir is a coaster from each spot you visit. Restaurants and bars often have branded coasters and they just get thrown away once you leave so take yours with you. You can also find nicer coasters in gift shops if you want something more durable than cardboard. Leave them on your coffee table for a quick reminder of your favorite vacation spots.
Shot glasses are a popular souvenir for those that like a cocktail every once in a while. They are small and easily can be packed in your suitcase to bring home. You can find options that are funny, simple, or even in weird shapes. If you have a bar area at home, these are fun to display for your guests as well.
If you don’t want drinkware, you can find fun decorative plates or spoons instead.
Towels are always necessary for the kitchen so why not bring some fun ones back as souvenirs from your trip? Embroidered options can be found at farmer’s markets and small art shops. You can also find towels featuring some of the famous landmarks or maps of the destination you visited. These are practical and can easily be thrown in the washing machine to look brand new.
Let your refrigerator be a memory keeper for you with magnets from your favorite travel destinations. Airport gift shops always have a huge selection of magnets, so you can wait until you’re ready to go home to buy them. These are inexpensive and last for a long time. They are fun and colorful and a perfect souvenir to start collecting.
Knick Knacks, Trinkets, and Other Souvenir Ideas
We all have different things that come to mind when we hear trinkets and knick-knacks, but here we are just referring to souvenirs that you buy and display, but they don’t serve any purpose other than to display.
Another airport gift shop favorite is the keychain. You carry your keys with you everywhere, so why not bring a little of your vacation along with you? Some options can be personalized with your name or initials as well. Keychains are small and affordable, so these are another easy collection to build over time.
Shells, Rocks, and Bits of Nature
Nature items are the most budget-friendly of the souvenir types. Make sure you know the rules before removing anything. The National Parks have rules about not taking anything from the parks. If you are able to collect items, they can be a fun thing to bring home and display. Some people collect sand from different beaches in bottles. Many people have rock collections or a handful of seashells that they have found. Nature is art, and it can be a beautiful way to bring a faraway place back home with you.
Snow globes are another very popular souvenir to collect. They come in many different sizes. Some have small figurines in the middle and others have tiny versions of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty. These beautiful decorations can be on display all year. They are usually easy to find at gift shops and most are small enough that they will easily fit in your luggage.
If you celebrate Christmas and decorate a tree, you could collect ornaments from the different places you travel to. This way, you’ll get to reminisce each year when you pull them out to put them on your tree. Even if you don’t have a Christmas tree, there are many ways to display ornaments if you find one that you love. Many destinations have Christmas stores that are filled with different ornaments and you can find the perfect one to bring home.
Ideas to Preserve and Display Travel Souvenirs
Once you have started your collection, you might be wondering what the best ways to display your items are. Some are obvious, like magnets and keychains. Others might find their way into a drawer or cabinet without some creativity.
Scrapbooks can be made using anything from a notebook to a fancy scrapbook with plastic covers for each page. Add stickers, notes about your trip, and your photos to the book to capture those memories. These are fun to share with others and pull out when you need a little reminder of the beauty of time off.
Shadow boxes are like a simpler version of a scrapbook that you can hang up on the wall. You can order a selection of different boxes on Amazon or at Michaels. It’s similar to a picture frame, but there is more space inside the box so you can include 3D objects like seashells, trinkets, and your favorite souvenirs. This is also a popular way to display corks you’ve saved because you can leave a slot open in the top to continue to add to these.
If you’ve been collecting t-shirts from every vacation you’ve ever been on, you might have quite a large collection. Once they are starting to wear out, you can give them a second life by turning them into a blanket by sewing squares cut from the shirts together. If you do not have the tools or skills to sew, there are companies that will do this for you. It’s a great way to extend the life of your souvenirs and have a comfortable blanket filled with memories.
Turn to Etsy if you have a specific collection that you want to display. Creators on the website have all kinds of homemade display cases and ideas that you can purchase or gain inspiration from. From different wall hangings to
It’s Time to Start Planning Your Next Trip
Keep these ideas in mind when you arrive at your next destination and have fun searching for your treasures. Let us know what you end up deciding on.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cheapest travel souvenirs you can collect are paper goods like maps, postcards, and ticket stubs. Fridge magnets and keychains are also easy to find and very affordable!
There are many different ways to display travel souvenirs. Shadow boxes and other display frames work well with photos and small items from each trip. Look to Etsy for some creative products!