The Greatest Souvenirs and Gifts!
Selecting the right souvenir for yourself or others can be one of the most stressful things about your entire trip. Will they like this? Do I have space for that? That costs how much???? If you’re like us when you travel, you usually have limitations of space and cash, and finding an amazing gift to bring back that falls into those restrictions is even harder. But don’t fret! We’ve got ideas.
Below is a small collection of unique and fun souvenirs that have worked out awesomely for us.
Pieces of Earth: While it might seem a little strange at first to collect dirt and rocks to carry home with you, it can turn out to be a really fun way to display or share your travels. Find a bowl or box and label each piece with a string and card. “Cobblestone in Florence, Italy” or “Moat at Ragland Castle”. In the end, there may or may not be a great story about your run-in with the security guards at Stonehenge when you snuck across the line to collect a small stone at the edge of the ring you get to tell every time someone sees it on display…
Music: Often, there is local music in the different places you visit. Perhaps it’s a local band that played at the bar every Thursday and you want to take those memories with you on the road. Maybe it’s something more traditional or ancient that you want to share with friends and family back home. CDs are light and easy to travel with, however even better if you can download the tracks electronically and then there’s nothing to add to your pack!
Jewelry: Jewelry usually adds no weight to your bag and the cost is entirely up to you. Find a material native or significant to the place you’re visiting, and search at markets and craft fairs to find pieces handmade by local artists. Every time you wear it you’re taking that memory with you. When someone compliments it, you get to say something like, “Oh this? I got it from an antique dealer in a street market in Budapest,” and you’re suddenly the coolest person at dinner.
Postcards: Include your friends and family all along the way by sending them notes from all the significant stops during your travels. Visit the Eiffel Tower? Send a postcard! Working in Alaska? Send a postcard! Tell them what you’re up to, share a funny story, or even just send it for the stamp collector in your life. Postcards are a simple and extremely cheap novelty that almost everyone will love to receive.
Make your own book: Do you love to write? Instead of simply including pieces and bits of your travels in a journal filled with other thoughts, create a journal specifically for the trip. Include photos, ticket stubs and other small bits from the adventure. Maybe you want to include budgets, miles traveled, weather reports and other details. Make it something that you can share with others to read through so that they can be a more intimate part of your adventure!
Ornaments: If you’re one of the Christmas lovers of the world, chances are you already plan on having ornaments on a tree during the holiday season. Instead of giving your hard-earned cashed to the local box store, why not fill that Christmas tree with memories from around the world? Find something unique and handmade, something that represents your journey, and make sure to mark the bottom if the ornament doesn’t already tell you where it’s from so you never forget. Note – while ornaments can be fragile and hard to travel with, it’s also possible to find tons of other options that stuff more carelessly into the pocket of an already packed bag.
Currency: A lot of people collect currency – make sure to ask around for anyone you’re planning to bring gifts back to see if there are any in your life. Usually you’ve already got it lying around your wallet as you travel, and it’s simple to set aside a forint or euro or dime and bring it back. The cost of this is as much or as little as you want – you can bring back $1 or $20 worth of international currency, whatever works for you! Bonus: often antique shops (or sometimes even thrift shops) will have older currency for those really avid collectors in your life.
Photographs: This is my favorite option! We don’t always think about the photos we take as a souvenir to bring home, but there are a million different things you can do with an epic photograph. Make a calendar, frame a particularly spectacular print or make a holiday card to send to all of your friends and family at the end of the year. Photos take only computer space and cost you nothing to take or bring home. Transforming them into a gift for someone else when you return can cost as much or as little as you’d like, and is certain to be something that will be cherished forever.
All-in-all, shopping for souvenirs doesn’t have to be daunting if you give yourself the opportunity to simplify and think outside the box! As mom always says, “Homemade is the best gift I could ask for.” (Though I’m not really sure she truly treasured that stale popcorn ornament I made back in kindergarten!) And I feel that stands true for most everyone else when it comes from the heart 🙂
What are some of your favorite gifts you’ve ever received? How about ever given?
We’d love to hear from you! Send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to leave a comment below! Happy “shopping” 🙂