THE BEST TRAVEL SOUVENIRS THAT TAKE UP ZERO SPACE IN YOUR LUGGAGE!
I don’t like clutter. But I love travel souvenirs. There’s something special about being able to bring a little bit of your trip home with you. And because I travel often, I’m always looking for ways to balance out my hatred of clutter with my desire to put down my money for any unique item I find abroad.
To be honest, we all know that we can do better than those kitschy memorial spoons, right? And while sometimes a t-shirt is appropriate, other times it’s simply another thing that you’ll never use again once you get home. So, in light of that, here’s a list of some of my favorite travel souvenirs–that won’t clutter up your life!
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Go to antique stores
One of the coolest things about traveling is exploring the history and culture that’s entirely different from yours. In order to get in touch with that, check out some antique stores. There, you’ll find the kind of souvenirs you won’t get from that gift shop attached to a roller coaster. The beauty of an antique store is that you can just pick up whatever strikes your fancy, incorporating several of the tips on this list.
You might find old jewelry that you really like. Or, it might be ancient coins that catch your attention. You can often find something that just belongs to that country and its history. For example, I think that antique glass insulators are such an interesting find in western America. They’re oddities that belong to a very particular place and time.
Local food items
A country’s culture and history are inextricably linked with its food. Years ago, people ate only what was available in their immediate vicinity, and desire for exotic tastes drove the first traders to traverse mountains and deserts. Today, there are still food items that you can only get in certain areas. Even better, food is the perfect way to bring home a travel souvenir and enjoy the vestiges of your trip later without cluttering up your life.
Local food items are especially great travel souvenirs because your friends actually get to join in the experience instead of having an alienating souvenir that doesn’t have significance to them because they didn’t also have the experience of travel. When I was in Barcelona, I bought a bunch of saffron to give to any friend I know who loves to cook. As a historical hub of the spice trade, saffron in Barcelona is available at a much higher quality and lower price than most other countries.
Click here to read about the Palencia Lobster Festival in Belize
I love wall art as travel souvenirs because it’s so much fun to decorate your home with mementos of your travels. However, when you have way too many knick-knacks and tchotchkes from different areas, it can quickly become chaotic and cluttered. Instead, think about getting wall art abroad.
Wall art is expensive at home, and so you can often (1) find a better value, and (2) find truly unique items. Even better, the reminders of your travels will brighten up your day every time you see them. If you’re worried about your wall decor becoming disjointed and inconsistent, consider seeking out similar color schemes (black and white, even), or getting only a certain size so that you can frame them uniformly. For more ideas to incorporate travel themes into your decor, read here.
Wear your souvenirs
Who says that travel souvenirs have to be displayed on a shelf? Instead, get yourself something that you can wear. One of the best things about this is that we often arrive at a new place only to find that we’re not really dressed the part. The best place to find clothes that will suit your trip to Jamaica is in Jamaica itself!
Buy yourself something that will be perfect for trekking around, and perfectly suited to the weather. You might even have something in mind when you go. For example, you might be due for a new pair of sandals before your visit to Morocco. Well, plan some time to find some new sandals while you’re there!
If you don’t want to go clothes-shopping while you’re abroad, think about something easier, like jewelry. Picking up jewelry while you’re traveling is fun and easy, and it doesn’t take up any extra room in your luggage!
I still love buying postcards. True, sometimes you can get better pictures yourself than what you find at 25 cent stands in the biggest tourist hubs. However, there’s something unique and special about a postcard from far away. I really love to pick out my favorite card and then send it to myself. That way, you get to keep the whole effect–with the stamp and everything. It’s especially fun to come home from a trip and find postcards full of little notes from yourself waiting there for you.
Find creative ways to scrapbook and collage
During the course of your travels, you’re going to pick up a lot of odds and ends. Tickets for shows and trains, napkins from an amazing restaurant, business cards from your hotel, and informational brochures all seem to gather at the bottom of your suitcase.
And while these scraps might be useless in your usual daily grind, even those annoying fliers that they hand out on the street can be exciting when they’re in a different language! Additionally, there are many items that really carry the memory of an amazing experience with them. I don’t know about you, but I tend to grab maps of new places and mark them all up. By the end of a trip, my maps tell their own story.
So, when you get home, sort through all those papers and get rid of the ones that just don’t have the same memorial weight. Then, start thinking of creative ways to use them. I’ve seen people display collages and items in shadow boxes for each destination, which always turns out beautifully. Other people stick these papers into a creative journal, which when paired with sketches and written musings or captions, serve as a great way to reminisce.
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What are some of your favorite travel souvenirs? I would love to hear your feedback so drop a comment below or head on over to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.