Collecting Travel Souvenirs has been a bit of a love hate relationship for me, what with having to wade through the crowds of people just to spend a fortune on a little something to remember the place by. Before I set off for Europe and to travel I was determined to only buy something small, a memento of each city/country I’d stopped in. I was travelling with my backpack after all and the idea of lugging around heavy or easily breakable items seemed like a horrible task.
Like a good aussie that I am I automatically decided I’d collect bottle openers. They were small, most importantly useful and something I thought would be easily found in all good/bad souvenir shops. I can’t say they were all amazing specimens but hey its a little keepsake from my travels, not art I was planning to display on the wall at home.
Having been abroad for well over 2 years now and being somewhat settled in London for the majority of that time I have started to regret my decision to just collect small items. In the beginning it was the perfect idea but as I think back I can’t help but regret buying the tacky bottle opener instead of something I could have displayed when I settled and bought a house. A Fez from Morocco and that Beer Stein from Munich would have been a better talking piece, no?
To settle my internal argument I put the question to my amazing Facebook Fans yesterday to see what they collect. It seems the majority of us shared the same idea, collect small easy to carry items. Some kept a few coins/notes (I’ve done that as well now I think about it), others shot glasses or magnets and badges. I like the badges idea as some day you could sew them all onto a blanket, I’ve done that in the past from my scouting days.
But others I felt picked far better than I, like Danae who grabs something for her home. I now wish I’d done the same as they would certainly make for great talking pieces when friends and family drop over, not to mention be a constant reminder of your travels as walk around the house each day. Jennifer’s Christmas decoration idea however just makes me jealous I’d never thought of it, imagine the stories you could tell your kids each year as you decorate the christmas tree.
This year as I’ve spent a lot more time in Belgium (the country of beer) I’ve found myself drawn to collecting something a little more unique, beer glasses. In Belgium each beer has its own glass which I think is really really cool and I’m unaware of any other countries that do this. The glasses will look great in my man cave as I grow older but it’s hardly a match for the above and I’m not looking forward to shipping them to Australia.
What is the best travel souvenir then do you think? Small and memorable that may end up stuck away in a box or something more unique that can take pride of place decorating your home? I think I’ll stick to my beer glasses for now but I’d love to know what you collect from your travels.
I’ve been picking up snow globes from my travels. I have quite a collection now. The only country I’m missing is Korea, and that’s because the airport wanted to charge me $27USD for a snow globe that would only cost £5 here in Europe. D-:
Rae that one hell of a high price for a snow globe, I can see why you are missing it.
I’m collecting spoons! Also, any handcraft a certain place is famous for.
Gaye spoons are a nice idea and definitely small enough to not weight you down
Thanks for the shout out in this post, Chris! We look for Christmas ornaments no matter what time of the year we’re traveling and they are generally pretty easy to find.
I really like those beer glasses, by the way! But don’t tell my hubby I said that or we’ll be taking a trip up to Belgium just to pick up a set. 😉
Jennifer your welcome I love the idea of collecting Christmas ornaments and think I might start doing the same, especially since its christmas season. Oh and don’t worry I’ll hook your hubby up with the cheap places to get glasses 🙂
I collect magnets, but also treasures for my home when I return. I have a nice oil bottle from Spain, a painting from Amsterdam. I’m sure it will be a pain to take back… But not as painful as my original Royal Albert teaset – very heavy, very large. Oops! Now I have to try and convince all of my visitors to take a piece back for me without breaking it! Haha!
Courtney I’m not sure I’d ever be game enough to buy a teaset but if it makes it home in one piece it will be all worth it.
I typically only bring home postcards but that Duvel glass is beautiful!!
Caroline I know right, some of the other glasses I’ve seen are really really cool as well.
I like to collect masks if i can but a lot of countries don’t have a masks that’s connected to their culture and history. If a mask not available i will get an item that represents the place and my time there the best like pottery from Greece, boomerang from Oz etc
Lara, masks are a really unique idea but would imagine they aren’t available everywhere. Thinking about it I’ve not seen that many in Europe but then I’ve not been looking for them either.
I am doing a Travel Series right now with the hashtag #TravelTreasures! If you look at the hashtag you can see everything I’ve collected around the world. 🙂 I don’t buy a lot, but if I see something really special and unique I gotta have it!
Andi I’ll have to look up your travel series, I’d imagine you have some awesome treasures from around the world.
I collect shot glasses, and managed to get one from every country I’ve been to (except Cambodia for some reason). And that’s extended out to my Hard Rock World Tour, and I have a shot and collect the shot glass from every Hard Rock Cafe I go to. One day I’ll get them all 😉
I do like the beer glass idea though. I have a few of them back here in Australia, but I got them here as well, so not as special.
Wez I know a lot of people who do the Hard Rock thing, always thought I should stop into them and grab a pin etc for people I know to help them out as I’ve seen a few of them now as well.
I started out collecting bouncy balls as a kid and have kept that up where possible. They’re small & unbreakable so perfect in that regard. I’ve got a fish bowl type vase full of them and en masse, they look pretty neat on the shelves.
I’ve also picked up a few housewares along the way but it tends to be jewellery or scarves these days, things I can wear and remember with.
I love collecting ethnic instruments when I travel. Even, if i don’t play them, they are full of art, history, and culture – and they make great conversation pieces. I also always bring back some snacks or drinks from my travels.
My souvenirs are really random. I always pick up fridge magnets for my mom, and usually wine for my dad, and for myself there are lots of tapestries, ceramics, wood sculptures…whatever catches my eye really. 🙂
I started buying T-shirts but after returning to Aussie with 20 extras from my first solo adventure, Mum told me to stop which I did.
So I had a bit of a rethink and now my main collectors items are earrings (still the wearable souvenir) and postcards. Am planning on laminating some of the postcards to make books and also possibly frame a few to hang in my own place, once I get around to buying one.
My collection of earrings from Europe is quite impressive, Masks from Venice, Eiffel Towers from Paris, a number of different shamrocks from Ireland and my latest addition, Stonehenges. Slightly bummed I didn’t buy any Nessie earrings from my visit to Scotland though!!!
I’ve picked up a lot of tablets, masks, and other wall hangings from my travel. Luckily my I can keep them at my parents place until I’m done traveling and actually decide to find at least a semi-perminant address.
We collect a T shirt and now we have started to sew them together to make blankets/ quilts so we can always have them as keep sakes
I buy wooden masks or wooden statues. I also collect material patches. I am missing a couple of patches because I didn’t know they existed until I saw them on someones backpack. I will have to go back to those countries or get some one to buy them for me:)
I have collected pencils from all countries visited. Light weight so easy to travel with. Then I display 10 – 12 in a drinking glass on return. Takes up no space and they are on display at all times.
I usually pick up something that reminds me of a good time I’ve had. For example I have a coaster
From the restaurant where my boyfriend proposed, a shot glass after with I fell down and broke a toooth (I have the broken piece too), a stolen wedding decoration from a wedding we crashed on the beach. Its very personal for me.
But compulsively, I pick up a flag from every country I have been to. That sort of gives me vacation closure.
I buy something unique to the country if possible. I have a nice collection of handmade wooden boxes. I also have a collection of coin purses. I have a collection of ceramic creamers from around the world. I have hauled back some very big things as well. Two beautiful vanity mirrors from Spain. A lovely tablecloth from Avignon and another from Cinque Terre. Kimonos from Japan. Oil paintings from Montmartre. Embroidered cloths from Budapest. Bohemian wine glasses from Prague. I like to pick up a piece of original art, often purchased on the street. I enjoy all kinds of ceramics, some are used daily like bowls from Sorrento and others are hung on the wall, like plates from Spain. I keep my eyes open for unique items, always handmade if possible. In Kyoto I found a woman who made small kimono pictures out of kimono fabric. Very inexpensive, I bought two for 10 each and once framed, they look like they belong in a museum. It does not matter to me if it is big or small, I only need to love it. Georgeous wool throws from Ireland. A photographer, I have my framed images mixed with the art work and call my design style, “Farmhouse Meets Trip Around the World”. In Venice, I bought beautiful handmade photo books, my husband wisely suggested having the books signed by the maker. Some things are so ubitiqueous that you don’t realized how special they are until you get back home. In Japan, handmade and handpainted bookmarks were everywhere for 1.00 apiece. Wish I had brought back more. Everything purchased takes me right back to the exact moment and place. I have learned to save the clothes I was getting rid of that year and use them to travel, so by min-tour my suitcase is half empty. I also save all year so when I do travel I can afford to bring home my treasures.