Wise men often say “Keep some souvenirs of your travels, else how do you know it wasn’t all just a dream.”
Just kidding wise men never talk about travel or mementos. This is a modified version (aka my version) of a quote I found online but I believe it holds true.
For me, a souvenir could just be a memory from your travels – a tattoo, an entry ticket, a marriage certificate, a shell, a piece of rock or just anything that you resonate with or is special to you. It’s as simple as that. Even the cliched souvenirs like fridge magnets make for excellent collectibles and I often look at mine and ponder back on the wonderful memories of my previous adventures.
Souvenirs are important. Period.
So here we have 28 avid globetrotters telling us about their one (or more) special & interesting souvenirs they collected from their escapades. These are bound to give you some serious ‘souvenir craving‘ (if that’s even a term!).
Quirky and Cool Souvenirs from Around the World
Kellie Mogg from NomadicNymph
While in Thailand, I purchased a leather hip pack from a local artist. I hadn’t expected to fall in love with the art scene the way that I did there, particularly in Chiang Mai and Pai, but wow did I. This was my first time being in a country that I really knew nothing of the language. Looking at people’s art was my best chance of getting to know local people. It was intimate without words and I really valued it that opportunity.
I couldn’t justify buying much because I was traveling for 3 months and hate to lug a lot of stuff around. My leather hip pack was justifiable because in addition to wanting terribly to support that particular artist who’s store I wandered into so frequently in Chiang Mai, it was also an efficient travel purchase.
As of now, I think it’s the only thing that I have from Thailand. Everything else I’ve given away. So it’s significant as my sole souvenir from a place that took a piece of my heart.
Suman Doogar from NomadicShoes
There are things we hurriedly pick up from flea markets or airport shops while travelling as a sign of remembrance but sometimes a well thought out souvenir can speak a thousand words. A gift should ideally be a distilled symbol of the relationship you share with the other person. Usually I prefer buying things which represent the place and is in accordance with my loved ones liking, like buying Handmade paper/chocolates/organic soaps from Pondicherry, scarfs/gloves/headbands from Himachal Pradesh, Spices/oil/pickles from Kerala, handicrafts/stoles from Rajasthan etc. One problem with buying souvenirs is to carry them along with you while you are still on the road, so I found a way out, I courier most of the stuff to my own address or directly send it to people whom I want to gift. My all-time favorite souvenirs are undoubtedly Postcards and Fridge Magnets. On my trip to Ladakh I bought a beautiful compass for my husband which was symbolic of our shared love for travelling.
It was purchased in Leh, Ladakh for Rs 500, it holds a lot of meaning. As a compass protect a sailor on rough waters and ensures that they return home safely, my gift also symbolized that no matter wherever we are the compass would direct us towards each other. He is my compass, giving me guidance and protecting me when I feel lost.
Tip – Book only reliable Ladakh Tour Packages
Gemma and Craig from TwoScotsAbroad
The most unusual souvenir I’ve come home with is a marriage licence, and I hope it’s just as permanent as my travel tatts! Craig and I partied at the music festival South By Southwest in Austin, Texas then eloped two days later at the scenic (and free!) Lou Neff Point on Lady Bird Lake. We figured we could shell out £25K for a one day wedding or travel the Americas and Europe for a year, you can guess what option won. Now that we’re home, I’m yet to do anything with the wedding certificate, I should really put it in a frame like the plastic straw cover fashioned engagement ring Craig used to ask me to marry him with while living in Vancouver!
Gabor Kovacs from Surfing the Planet
One usually buys souvenirs in foreign countries, but one of the most liked souvenirs we have at home is actually from Hungary, my home country. To understand that you have to know that I am married to an Italian girl, and I live in Spain, so I travel to my country a couple of times a year.
I bought this baby doll to my wife 6 years ago, during the first Christmas season we celebrated together. As usually during the Christmas period I went home to visit my family, and I thought it would be a great idea to bring her something typical of my country. Walking around the Christmas market in Budapest, I found this doll that wears traditional clothes with the colors of the Hungarian flag. In addition, she also wears hairclips of the same red, white and green colors. I was sure that she woul
d love it and I was not disappointed. I don’t remember the exact price, but it was around 10 euros as I recall.
Kunjal Karaniya from UnpluggedMoments
These are playing cards from Prague, Czech Republic. During my solo trip to Prague last October, I got these cards for my dad as he loves playing cards as so do the locals in Prague. These cards have pictures of famous monuments of Prague which is the best way to remember places and moments. Exactly a year later, my friends from Prague also gifted us another pack of cards as a Thank you gesture. We had couchsurfed them in Mumbai where we had gifted them Indian cards and exchanged the method of playing cards of both the countries simple love for cards kinda connected us to another level.
Jarryd from NOMADasaurus
Wherever I go I can look at the souvenir and recall my days of wandering around Canada, for the rest of my life.
Rishabh Shah from GypsyCouple
On visiting the markets of Prague it is impossible to miss the witch puppets of Prague hanging all around. Activated by either sound or movement, the red orbs it has for eyes start glowing and it starts laughing hysterically. Leave alone darkness where it would be the most lethal, the sudden laugh is scary enough to embarrass the strongest of us. It is also representation of the rich culture of Prague of which there are quite a few rituals involving witches. The burning of the witch is one such festival marking the end of the winter season.
Hali Navarro from TaraLetsAnywhere
I got this bamboo mug as a souvenir along the road to Lake Holon, South Cotabato in the Philippines. It is sold by the T’boli community, an indigenous tribe with a rich cultural history. This bamboo mug is sold along with other handicraft, such as body ornaments, textiles and cloths with geometric patterns.
I think this bamboo mug is a good representation of not just the T’boli community but the Philippines as a whole. The country is rich with bamboo plants, which are considered a strong material, and it is often used for native products – from flooring to handicraft and even dinnerware such as this bamboo mug. Over time, the use of bamboos lessened in favor of modern materials. The T’boli community have managed to preserve this use of bamboo and keep in touch with nature, for both practical and creative purposes.
This bamboo mug costs P25 (about .5 dollar).
Raksha Prasad from SoloPassport
Collecting souvenirs and memories is always an integral part of travel. There are varied collection of souvenirs that people collect. It could be postcards or fridge magnets or pins or spoons. I try to pick a souvenir that depicts the place I visit, along with my other collections. As part of my travel to Iceland, I picked up a piece of a lava rock. Yes, you heard it right – a piece of a volcano rock. Iceland is known as a land of fire and ice. Fire because of the active volcanoes and ice because of the glaciers. The souvenir is an authentic piece of lava rock from ‘Eyjafjallajokull’ volcano. And there was nothing better that I could have come home with.
Lina Stock from Divergent Travelers
One of the first things you are told when you talk to someone that has been to Malawi is that you can’t leave the country without buying some wood carvings. The people of Malawi are known worldwide for their ability to create beautiful pieces of art with their local wood. You can even commission custom pieces if you have the time to wait for them. We visited many wood markets during our 6 days in the country and ended up purchasing a wide variety of pieces. One of our favorites was a tribal mask with intricate details. Other items pictured in the photo include another wood carving of a gazelle head from Malawi and a knife from Egypt.
Currently this is placed in home, which always brings back memories of those sunny pleasant afternoons in Sri Lanka sipping an English afternoon tea and lapping up all the pretty sights and scenes.
Barbara Wagner from JetSettera
As I travel around the World, I like to get dolls in different countries wearing the traditional local outfits. I got these two dolls in Northern-Chile, while I was visiting the Atacama Desert. One is a boy and the other one is a girl. I thought the dolls were funny shaped and I liked that they were wearing colourful, traditional local outfits, so I bough them. They are really cute, I keep them on my shelf and they always remind me of Chile and some of the fun memories I had while I was there.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers from Travels with Carole
I do have countless souvenirs I treasure, but my most recent one was picked up at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. I bought three little fleece pandas with magnets in each paw–designed so you can have them “hug” something or hang together in a panda thread. They were for my young grandkids. But as I left the shop I realized I needed one for myself as well, because they were so sweet to scrunch in my hand, and so I went back into the gift-shop.
I started collecting fridge magnets a few years back and my collection has since grown like crazy. Its one of those things that are easy to buy and travel with. I always buy them from places i visit and get them as gifts from my friends and family. All of them are up on my Travel wall in my room as shown in the pic. I also collect one souvenir from each place..some of which have been displayed here along with a India Scratch Map. It reminds me of all the good times that i have had on my trips and also motivates me to travel more.
Naomi from Probe around the Globe
I traveled in Nepal and had the opportunity to give an Asian Elephant a bath in the river. I sat on her head (scariest thing ever) while she ran into the river. She dove right in and I had the (hard) task of rubbing her with stone and splashing water on her.
It was such an thrilling experience to give so much joy to such an amazing animal. Later that night, I walked into town and found a corner shop with all kinds of wood carved elephants. At that moment, I had the intention to buy a souvenir for my mother and farther. I choose 2 big wooden elephants and to compliment the family, I included a little one too. I was traveling for a longer period of time, so I took everything with me to Kathmandu and shipped it to my parents in Europe.
They told me how surprised they were to found on old box with newspapers in a language they could not read. They unwrapped the treasures and took good care of it. I asked them about the toothpicks representing the tusks of the papa elephant. They were wrapped carefully in a piece of smaller paper and were taped against the leg of one of the elephants. But my parents didn’t notice these tiny tooth picks so my dad went through the trash to try to find the thrown out news papers. And yes, he found them!
I always said the family of elephants from Nepal could live with my parents, until I would find them a permanent home with me. But my parents had a hard time letting go of them but I am happy to have them with me after all those years.
Ayandrali Dutta from Wanderlust Craving
Whenever I have travelled the most common of all Souvenirs that I had picked was a fridge magnet. Now that my fridge almost overflowing, I thought to pick something different but close to my heart from the Greek Land.
This time it was SPICES. Those who know me, also knows how much I love my kitchen essentials. While in Athens I knew I was going to explore the spice market and bring back some flavours to India. Loitering around Syntagma Square through Monastiraki and after some help in direction I reached the central market of Athens Vervakios Agora. The market was bustling with energy – Greek spices, herbs, cheese, fresh veggies it had it all. I was like a kid ina candy shop, jumping with amusement to see so much of spices all in display. Be it the Red pepper or the Tzatziki mix or the Thymari (thyme) and Chilli I picked all. Even today they pep up my dull home and transport me back in time.
Kathleen from Kat Pegi Mana: Where Is Kat Going?
I travelled to Iran in 2015 and Shiraz was one of the cities that I had visited. Shiraz is the sixth largest city in Iran and is one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia. It was the centre of Persian culture for more than 2000 years ago, thus the city is a cultural capital of Iran and a city of poets and garden.
I bought this lovely souvenir from Vakil Bazaar, the largest bazaar in Shiraz located right in the historic centre of the city. The souvenir is calligraphy work featuring the Persian word “Ishq” (centre). Ishq means love, and the term is used by Sufis in their poetry and literature to characterise selfless love for God. This love for God is the core concept in Sufiism as it is a basis of creation and the key connection between man and God. The word Ishq has also found its way in other countries in the Indo-Persian region influenced by Sufiism such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The souvenir cost approximately USD40.
My Ishq souvenir is laid on another travel souvenir from Iran costing approximately USD30 – a floral block-printed table runner bought from a George Clooney lookalike merchant at the Grand Bazaar in Esfahan 🙂
Margherita Ragg from TheCrowdedPlanet
I’m not great when it comes to souvenirs, as I only like buying things that I need and know I would use.
Last year I travelled to Bangkok and I didn’t realise how strong the air conditioning was going to be, so I found myself in need of a light sweater. I headed to the crazy Terminal 21 shopping centre, where all floors follow a different city theme, and started browsing the tiny boutiques of the ‘London’ floor. As soon as I saw this cat hoodie, I knew it was the perfect one – I love cats, and pretty much anything cat-related, plus it was a great reminder of how cute and quirky Bangkok is! It only cost 200 baht, so it was a bargain as well. Needless to say, I have worn it so much that now it has holes!
Vrushali & Dev – Salt2Taste
As they say, ‘You have to Taste a culture to understand it’ .. Eat like a Local tops our list of itinerary wherever we travel, We love taking back speciality foods/drinks along with art décors and of course the popular Fridge magnets with me as a memory of the beautiful time spent. Out of all the places we have travelled to, our love for Iceland remains unparalleled. With so many breath taking Waterfalls & magnificent landscapes, We say this land of astounding nature should be part of every ones travel list!! As a memory of Iceland, we bought a bottle of Fjallagrasa Liqueur – a tasty liqueur containing ground Iceland moss, quite a piece from Iceland which we shall cherish all our lives! Another favourite is this unique ceramic wall art bought from Amalfi, it’s a memory of the beautiful & distinctive landscapes of the Coast of Amalfi!
Karin of Girl Astray
Pilgrim´s Shell from Santiago de Compostela – I usually don´t buy souvenirs (a.k.a. no space in my backpack), but I used to get quite a few each time I went abroad during my studies. I don´t even remember most of those things – nor do I actually care for them. There is one item however that has a deeper meaning for me. When I was twenty, I set on a pilgrimage across the North of Spain, following the yellow arrows of the (now famous) St. James´ Way. It was my first time abroad on my own and a sort of an initiation at the same time. The shell is a typical symbol that all the pilgrims carry on their backpack (some people have several of them!) and it traveled with me all the way as I walked almost 900 km, step by step, day by day. Along with my credencial (a pilgrim´s “passport”) it is something I cherish and have stored very well before leaving to travel full time. Although whoever visiting Santiago can get such a shell (there are even vending machines which sell them cheaply!), the one I carried has a special meaning for me – it is a reminder of how far one can get just by making a small step every day.
Jessica Solomatenko from Family in Faraway Places
Before we went to Indonesia our son had been going through a really difficult time and was suffering a lot from separation anxiety. We had recently watched an animation of the book “Owl Babies”. The baby owls are frightened to find their mother is not home when they wake up, but true to form, their mother always comes back.
The island of Bali is well known for beaches but further inland in Ubud there is a very strong artist community. Galleries and studios line the streets. Our hotel had a small store selling locally made silverware and my son helped me to choose an item. He chose an owl pendant. I never take it off. Mommy is like an owl and I will always come back. We have now collected other owls but the pendant in Ubud began it all.
Divya RC from Thru D Lens
Every time I just happen to open the fridge door I feel something good about it and a reason to smile in case you are a globetrotter souvenirs are must have in your traveller’s den. Here’s my collection of souvenirs (fridge magnets) brought by my parents during their visit to USA,Malaysia,Dubai and Singapore picked by me.
“Travel is still the intense mode of learning” and souvenir’s is one mode and a part of your travel memory.
A city which wears many crowns-New York, USA representing a colossal sculpture statue of liberty and the important skyscrapers.
Nicknamed as the windy city in the world-Chicago, USA the souvenir denoting the city’s tallest building Willi’s tower.
Here’s something nice from middle east a city with ultra modern architecture-Dubai this souvenir neatly engraved with the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa,Burj Al Arab and national flag. I recently added this one to my collection given by my friend.
Petronas twin towers-Malaysia an architectural souvenir.
This silver metal piece just speaks volumes of a vibrant and lively country Singapore depicting the official mascot and Singapore’s national personification the Merlion a mystic figure rightly called as the lion city. Marina bay sands the iconic and futuristic building, Singapore flyer, national flag and other prominent buildings. I picked this cute little souvenir from cultural and authentic district of Singapore China town.
Sheli Msall from NutritionistaAbroad
When we’re traveling, we generally try to find a Christmas ornament (or something that can be made into one) and a magnet in each country. These are always inexpensive (less than $5 USD each) and easy to fit into our luggage. Anything additional depends on luggage space, weight, and fragility. Local bottles of wine used to be favorite souvenirs, but Kuwait is a dry country so that’s on hold for now.
When we moved to Kuwait 4 months ago we had to leave many of our souvenirs at home in storage. My favorite souvenir is a tea light candle holder made of Icelandic lava rock. A piece of it crumbled taking it home from Iceland though, so I decided it was too fragile to bring to Kuwait.
Here’s what we did bring:
- African statues carved from ebony wood – Zambia
- Gnome ornament – Iceland
- Flag Magnet – Turkey
- Iraq Magnet – Iraqi Kurdistan
- Spice Grinder – Iraqi Kurdistan
- Camel (turned into) ornament – Dubai
- Burj Khalifa magnet – Dubai
- Luzzu Boat (turned into) ornament – Malta
- Azure Window magnet – Malta
- Water Torsyks – Kazakhstan
- Map keychain (will become ornament) – Kazakhstan
- Ascension Cathedral magnet – Kazakhstan
- Spiral Mosque magnet – Qatar
- Dagger magnet – Oman
We choose items that will remind us of something special or our favorite thing about our trip. The gnome represents Iceland’s rich folklore, the Iraqi spice grinder reminds us of their delicious food, the Luzzu boats are iconic of Malta, and the Spiral Mosque was the most beautiful site in Qatar.
I am hardly a souvenir kind of person, though I usually buy something very small in each place I visit, just to be reminded of it. But my only souvenir from Angkor Wat is actually the entrance ticket to the archeological park. I had a 3 day pass, so the ticket shows a picture of me, all smiley and excited to go in and visit. And my excitement was not let down at all. A 3 days pass costed me $40 dollars. It may seem slightly expensive, especially to budget travelers, but if you think that you get to spend 3 full days roaming around one of the most incredible archeological sites in the world, it really isn’t so much. My main tips for visiting are to dress modestly (cover your shoulders and wear long pants or a long skirt): for as hot as it may be, as there are monks wandering around the temples; and do get a guide, as a good one will know how to dodge the crowds and will put everything into perspective and give actual meaning to what would otherwise be just gorgeous buildings.
Carly “Wayward” Heyward from FlightOfTheEducator
My grandparents had been traveling and collecting spoons since before they were grandparenting. I have fond memories of looking at all the tiny and seemingly useless spoons that they had collected and learning about where those exotic places were. I had always attested it to be a funny thing that old people did and had never seen them when I traveled.
When I was 23, I took a job in Germany. It was a hard decision because my grandfather had already passed, and I wasn’t sure how much longer my grandmother had. She thought it was a cool idea, and I went. While I was living out there in the picturesque town of Rothenburg, I came across a small decorative spoon. Just like my Grandmother’s collection. At a cost of about $8, it was a no-brainer to immediately buy it.
Since then, I always brought her home a spoon from every country I visit. She died when I was 31, 2 days before I came home from 4 weeks in Asia. I brought the final 5 spoons home to what is now *OUR* collection of spoons. We have almost 70. They cost about $8, but they’re priceless.
The wearing of masks a tradition dating back to the 13th century was originally employed to hide one’s identity and expressions that rendered secrecy and helped bridge social status. Consequently leading to restrictions being imposed on wearing masks. The art of making and wearing the Venetian masks regained fame with the ‘Carnival of Venice’ an annual festival held in Venice, Italy.
Sonal and Sandro of Drifter Planet
My husband San and I are music festival junkies and travel around the world based on which music festival we want to attend and where. In fact, this is how we met each other many years back when we were dancing in a PsyTrance music festival in Thailand! This year, we attended seven music festivals in different countries and our favorite travel souvenir is our collection of music festival bands. It’s amazing to see how each band is intricately designed based on the theme of the festival. I love the artwork on my band from the Boom Festival, 2016 (Portugal) and San’s favorite is of SUN festival, 2016 (Hungary) where we are lifetime members.
Nisha Jha from Lemonicks
Souvenirs, the beautiful memories from our travels. Some of us, including myself, collect them, treasure and cherish them. I even run a monthly series on my souvenirs. Today I take you to Sydney, Australia.
Year 2000, the year Sydney hosted the Olympic Games. Being in Sydney, I witnessed the zeal, the hullabaloo and the enthusiasm of the locals preparing for the prestigious games. The whole country was exhilarated with excitement and so was I. I could smell and feel the Olympics in the air. The shops, the malls, the streets, the buildings … all were decorated in festive mood and Olympics souvenirs, including mascots, called Syd, Olly and Millie were selling everywhere.
So what better than collecting & treasuring a few Olympic souvenirs? Flags, pins, mascots etc and the most important among them being Olympic commemorative gold coins! Total 28 different coins for 28 sports of that Olympics. We bought all 28!
Front side of these coins depict the sport and the back side is embossed with the Queen’s face. Each coin came in a cover which described the sport and details about the coin. These coins are one of the prized possessions I have.
My fave souvenir(s)
I would say my top souvenir would surely be my dragon in a pentacle tattoo from Nepal on my back. Inked by one of the top world renowned tattoo artist, who had also worked with Miami Ink, I was psyched to have this artistic piece on my back.