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Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

I know there are plenty of travelers who eschew purchasing souvenirs when they travel. They’re big on the whole “collect memories not things” mantra. Well, I’m a firm believer in the notion that one can have both. If I’m not a nomad (never my thing, never will be), why would I want to live in a stark place with nothing to remind me of my past travels?

I think a lot of people hear the word souvenirs and automatically think of tacky, kitschy” things like shot glasses, cheap replicas of famous landmarks, and the one I “love” the most, vulgar t-shirts. But no, I don’t buy any of these articles. What I list below are items I love to pick up on my travels and most places you visit will have them.

Spices

Okay, unless you’re keeping them around for posterity, spices are not something you’ll be able to look back on with fondness 10 years later. However, as a culinary addict, I love nothing more than picking up something food related that I can use later on in my own kitchen when I cook. I bought a packet of spices at Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne Food Hall on my trip there in June and can’t wait to start using them. I’ve also bought saffron in Morocco and basil in Rome. Not to mention, spices are incredibly easy to pack and take home with you. While a bit bulkier, olive oil is also a great article to get.

If you don’t cook, obviously any food or treat that is a specialty of the area you’re visiting is also a great souvenir-on my trip to Savannah last month, we bought a bag of peanut brittle, a local favorite there.

Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

Spices from a food market in Copenhagen, Denmark. Locally harvested salt from Salineras de Maras (Inca salt pans) in Peru.

Wall Art

I’m huge into decorating my home with beautiful wall art I’ve picked up on my travels. Whether it’s the panorama picture I got this past March from Arches National Park or the little wall hanging curio I got as a child at the Mexico pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, these are all perfect and lovely reminders of past trips since I get to see them all the time. But even better is when you buy a piece of art from a local artist on the street; I did this once when I was in Costa Rica. If you live someplace, you don’t want bare walls, now do you?

Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

Books

This is the bibliophile in me, but in the last couple of years I’ve started to collect children’s books from foreign countries I’ve visited. I’ve gotten a Tintin book in French in Brussels, a Tintin book in Spanish from Peru, and most recently, a children’s book about trolls from Norway-obviously this is a book I will just have to enjoy the pictures since my Norwegian skills are lacking. If you have children or even just nieces/nephews, these are wonderful AND educational gifts to educate young people about other countries and cultures. If you love to cook, another favorite thing to get are cookbooks. These are timeless, truly.

Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

Christmas tree ornaments

This is something D and I didn’t start buying until the last couple of years. But now with every destination we visit, we try to pick up an ornament although sometimes this isn’t always easy as some stores don’t have them. While some perhaps are of the mass-produced look, others are handmade and just lovely. My favorite is one of the newest ones we got last month in Savannah-an angel figurine that was made from a seashell from Georgia’s coast.

Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

Magnets

Okay, so magnets are my guilty souvenir pleasure. But just like with wall art, nothing is more sterile to me than a plain fridge. I started collecting magnets back in college during my study abroad days and have been doing so ever since. Every destination we visit, we pick up a magnet although believe me when I say they’re classy-nothing tacky or vulgar about them. And as a refrigerator is something I open and shut multiple times in the course of the day, nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing all of the incredible places I’ve been so lucky and fortunate to visit over the past decade. Another plus-these are incredibly easy to transport.

Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

Postcards

Okay, so technically this is a sixth but it’s somewhat different which is why I’m including it. In addition to buying postcards to write and send people (maybe I’m the only young person to still do this?), postcards also make for a great souvenir. Why?  Well, for starters they’re cheap, not to mention so lightweight. On my trip to Scandinavia, I ended up easily buying two dozen postcards (I only sent about four). I bought a variety from each of the places we visited and obviously on a cruise, one visits a good number of destinations. I used a lot to decorate my photo album of my trip and the rest, well, they’re there to do with whatever I would like with.

Five souvenirs to buy on your next trip

What are some items you like to pick up on your travels?

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Lynn O'Donnell
    August 10, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I bring postcards for myself as well as coworkers. It’s a great way to bring something back for everyone without breaking the bank. We have also been doing the Christmas ornaments since our honeymoon. They’re not always super Christmas-y, but say something specific about the place visited. I hope to soon be able to do a small Chriatmas tree just with travel ornaments.

    • Reply
      Julie
      August 11, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      Great idea about a souvenir for all the co-workers! And yes, they are one of the most economical purchases ever (save for Disneyland where I couldn’t find any being sold save for a grossly overpriced hologram style one ha ha). I started doing the XMAS ornament purchases after hearing about your tradition-it’s such a meaningful one 🙂 And a Christmas tree with just those ornaments would be such a fun thing!

  • Reply
    Traveolani
    August 10, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I always buy souvenirs, in the recent years something that I can actually use at home – napkin holder, bottle opener, coasters etc. This year I bought so many spices from the Caribbean and especially Martinique and Grenada, and I also bought cocoa :). I stopped buying magnets as they can’t stick on my stainless steel fridge 🙁
    Traveolani recently posted…Oregon: A 3 day Road TripMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      August 11, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      I adore spices and I’m sure the ones you got in the Caribbean were fantastic! And cocoa, well, you can never go wrong with that. Thank you for providing a reason as to why I shouldn’t upgrade to stainless steel (something to share with the husband who I know would love to go that route 🙂 )

      • Reply
        Traveolani
        August 12, 2015 at 1:55 am

        My husband didn’t like the magnets on the old fridge and is very happy now :(. However, I am considering buying a magnetic board and put the magnets there – they are memories and I want them out! 🙂
        Traveolani recently posted…Oregon: A 3 day Road TripMy Profile

        • Reply
          Julie
          August 16, 2015 at 1:50 pm

          Thankfully my husband is a magnet fanatic like me (i.e. he gets just as excited about picking out new ones on our travels). The magnetic board sounds like a great alternative though and I’m definitely like you-I would want to display them and relive those fun memories!

  • Reply
    Emma
    August 11, 2015 at 2:41 am

    Love your suggestions. Our government is pretty strict with what types of items we can bring back to the country but I always try to bring back some type of food product and something for the house. I love the idea of getting Christmas decorations, your tree will be such a good reminder of your travels. My fave things I have are the books I’ve bought on exhibitions I’ve gone to, a Venetian mask, a ceramic olive oil pourer and a carpet. I got some great prints in France years ago which I wish I had up on my walls now but I stupidly didn’t frame them for my flat at the time and they got damaged in moves. Magnets are always fun too!
    Emma recently posted…Why Everyone Should Travel SoloMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      August 11, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      I love those types of books, I haven’t bought any recently but I did in my younger years. They’re so beautiful to peruse. And a carpet sounds lovely-I assume from Turkey? I’d love to buy one in that part of the world but am afraid I’d end up with an inferior one in terms of quality.

      I also bought a lot of cool prints too but never framed them and they definitely got ruined over the years from just using tape to apply them to the walls. Live and learn!

      • Reply
        Emma
        August 12, 2015 at 2:09 am

        Yes, I was afraid of getting something of low quality as well but we were taken to a great place outside Selcuk where we able to see how everything was made, all the different stages of the process etc. I had actually thought carpets were far more expensive than they wore, so I didn’t budget for one at all, but when we got there we fell so in love with them that we had to get one little one for the hallway – I wish we had budgeted for a larger one but we’ll definitely be contacting that company in future when we know what size and colour we want for a large one as they show a limited selection of carpets on their website.

        Yes you do! I try and think that now I know where to get some great things when I go back to places and next time, I’ll frame them asap!
        Emma recently posted…Istanbul’s Rooftops and MarketsMy Profile

        • Reply
          Julie
          August 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm

          That’s great you had a positive buying experience! And that they have a website you’ll be able to patronize in the future. Nothing beats decorating your home with memories from wonderful trips.

          The amount of money I spend on frames from all the things I purchase on my trips-it’s semi-scandalous 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel
    August 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    I always buy art! Spices are a great idea too – hadn’t thought of that. I bought Mexican chocolate in Oaxaca, but there were so many more spices I could’ve gotten in the markets for way cheap.
    Rachel recently posted…What it’s like Staying in Santurce Puerto Rico – “The Brooklyn of San Juan”My Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      August 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Mexican chocolate es lo mejor! Especially for some of the places you visit, spices are always a fraction of what you pay in the American supermarkets. I still need to get to Oaxaca-I know as an uber foodie it would be like heaven for me 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Adventures All Around
    August 21, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    I love this post, you’re clearly a traveller after my own heart!

    I’ve been collecting magnets for many years now, but about four years ago started on Christmas ornaments as well. I love the way you bring them out once a year and see them with fresh eyes again, rather than getting used to having them on display all the time.
    Amanda @ Adventures All Around recently posted…A Boutique Budget Stay in KirribilliMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      August 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks for commenting Amanda! Great minds always think alike 🙂

      I love what you said about the Christmas ornaments and you’re absolutely right. They make them all the more meaningful and special when you do “unearth” them again. Although I don’t want to wish away summer, I’m not going to lie-I’m excited to put our newest ornaments on the tree 🙂

  • Reply
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