Everyone loves to souvenir shop when visiting a new place, but it’s easy to buy junk that you’re never going to use (e.g., keychains, shot glasses, or other totally useless trinkets). And they always seem to pile up in a drawer full of other things we never use, right? But now, I only buy souvenirs I’ll actually use, and preferably, ones that don’t take up much space either. Here are my favorite souvenirs worth buying when I’m traveling:
1. T-shirt and jacket souvenirs
This is a tradition for me now that I have Jimmy and I love it because it is also practical. Whenever we visit a new place, I buy Jimmy a t-shirt with the name of the place we’re visiting on it. It checks all of my boxes for a great souvenir:
- Cheap: kids’ shirts are usually between $5 and $15
- Small: you can stuff a t-shirt pretty much anywhere, so there is always room for one
- Useful: obviously the kid needs clothes to wear and these work just as well as any other shirt
- Meaningful: Now, Jimmy can keep all of his travel shirts forever as a sweet reminder of everywhere we’ve been
I also have a habit for buying sweatshirts and jackets while on vacation since I frequently under pack (or just pack all the wrong things).
2. Art souvenirs
Buying art on vacation isn’t necessarily cheap or small (though it certainly can be). It is, however, incredibly memorable. I have (way too many) vases, sculptures, carved stone figurines (see below), wall hangings, and even a fossil. I like to opt for something small, but unique to the location we’ve visited. In fact, nearly every piece of art I have in my home is from somewhere different and they each hold a different memory. If my home were on fire, these would be some of the things I grabbed on my way out.
3. Houseware souvenirs
Housewares are a nice alternative to buying art. One thing I recently picked up was a set of chopsticks from a Chinese tea garden in Portland. I’d lost all my previous chopsticks so now whenever I eat sushi I am reminded of our amazing trip to Portland!
When we were in Morocco, we bought a couple leather poufs for the living room too. And because we were in Morocco, they were a fraction of the price you’d pay in the U.S. and they were gorgeous and authentic. Not only do the poufs bring a ton of personality to the living room, but they are a great conversation piece and Jimmy loves to flip them over when he is angry.
4. Booze as consumable souvenirs
Buying alcohol can be a good souvenir, depending on where you’re visiting. If you visit a winery or brewery, for example, it’s an obvious choice. I like that it’s relatively cheap, can fit inside a suitcase, and it’s consumable, so that means I’m not going to find it in a junk drawer in ten years. Exotic booze is also fun to share with friends when they visit at home too! Just recently, we picked up some liqueurs on our trip to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone.
What are your favorite souvenirs to buy when traveling?