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Travel Souvenirs Collecting

Updated on March 11, 2013

Why collect travel souvenirs?

This lens is devoted to answering that question. Those who regard souvenirs as bric-a-brac or dust collectors are sure to find this lens particularly eye-opening (no pun intended!). To demonstrate the advantages of souvenir collecting, I'll explain a few kinds of souvenirs that fall into two major categories: practical souvenirs and keepsakes. Practical souvenirs are items you need to have in the house, such as dishware or clothing. By finding practical travel souvenirs that represent places you've visited, you'll gain a useful new item that reminds you of the memories you made on holiday. Keepsakes, on the other hand, are beautiful or unique items that remind you of your trip. Keepsakes can really enhance the décor of your home. Because they are so beautiful and so easy to display, keepsakes are often popular with collectors and hobbyists.

A mug
A mug

Practical Souvenirs: Mugs and Glasses

Mugs and glasses are great souvenirs because they are easy to print with pictures or slogans that perfectly reflect the places you've visited. Because of their compact size, they are easy to travel with, and many souvenir mugs and glasses are relatively inexpensive. For more serious collectors, valuable porcelain or china mugs and crystal glasses make particularly treasured keepsakes. Anyone who enjoys having friends stop by for tea of coffee knows how useful it is to have a large collection of mugs. Souvenir mugs can be great conversation pieces, as friends like to inquire about their unique designs and the stories they represent. Glasses are always practical kitchen supplies, and also look great displayed in a cabinet.

t-shirts shop
t-shirts shop

Practical souvenirs: Clothing

Everyone needs clothing, and clothes don't last forever! For these reasons and more, clothing can make a very useful and treasured souvenir from your travels. Having a large selection of sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, ties, or cufflinks in your closet, each representing a different place you've visited, is a great way to expand your wardrobe and proclaim to the world that you are a well-traveled individual.

Clothing items such as sweatshirts and t-shirts also make great gifts for friends at home. Their relaxed fit gives you some flexibility with regard to sizing, and everyone appreciates a new cozy sweatshirt or stylish tee!

Finally, clothing items can be useful even before you get home from your trip. Did you forgot to pack a warm sweater for chilly evenings, or a hat to shield your eyes from the sun? No problem - just buy a souvenir sweatshirt or cap, and you've gained a practical travel item as well as a souvenir that you will value for years to come!

Craft Supplies

Artists, hobbyists, and crafts enthusiast can use their worldwide travels as opportunities to collect supplies that are hard to come by at home. For example, if you like to make your own jewelry, you could collect jade beads on a trip to China. Artists can collect beautiful handmade papers from San Francisco, and those who like to make their own clothing might procure some amazing textiles in India. You'll also be inspired by the cultural traditions of the places you visit, which will make you a more creative and well-rounded craftsperson or artist. Whatever you choose to make with your supplies, it will reflect your personal talent and remind you of the place where you bought the supplies

Original French Wine
Original French Wine

Practical souvenirs: Culinary Souvenirs

Lovers of fine food, good wine, and interesting new flavors will enjoy collecting culinary souvenirs such as spices, kitchen equipment, and local delicacies. One of the best ways to get to know someone is to share a meal with them. Similarly, one of the best ways to understand a culture is to learn about what kinds of foods its people enjoy and how to prepare it. Being able to share this cuisine with your friends when you return home is also a way to share a little bit of your trip with them -- take them on a culinary voyage!

Souvenir ingredients can include spices from India, cured salmon from Nova Scotia, olive oil from Spain, or lavender from France. Cocoa from Brazil and coffee from Ethiopia are prized mementoes, and who can resist tea from China? You can also expand your collection of kitchen tools on your travels. Try preparing a meal in a tagine from Morocco, or buy a pasta maker from Italy. A Japanese sushi set or a smoker from New Orleans will open new possibilities in cooking and remind you of your adventures! Cookbooks showcasing local recipes make great companion pieces to your new purchases, and teach you how to use your new ingredients and tools to their best advantage.


Keepsakes: Books

Books are wonderful keepsakes from your travels, because you can continue learning about the places you visited even after you return home. Photography books can showcase landscapes, architecture, people, and wildlife professionally and comprehensively, making a great complement to your own photographs. History books and books about local cultures are educational, and will help keep your own impressions of your trip fresh. Books, like cuisine, are also a great way to share cultures of distant lands with those who haven’t actually had an opportunity to visit. For this reason, travel books also make great gifts for friends at home.

Oil Painting Peru
Oil Painting Peru

Art and Collectibles

For those who are interested in putting their memories on display and refining the décor of their homes, art and other collectibles such as miniatures, sculptures, and souvenir plates are a great idea. These range from inexpensive art prints and mass-produced items to very valuable original paintings and handmade plates, which will be treasured for generations. Art and collectibles can depict the landscapes and animals you saw and reflect the values and aesthetic of the people you visited. For travelers interested in local cultures, art and collectibles are a way of commemorating the artistic sensibility of the locals and flavoring your own home with artistic creation from afar.



For most of modern history, jewelry has been valued as a personal keepsake, a family treasure, a sign of affection and commitment, and a marker of worth. Different cultures value jewelry differently and for a variety of reasons, so collecting jewelry is a great way to bring back a valued item from the place you visited. Just like jewelry from a friend or loved one will always remind you of the person who gave it to you and makes you feel close to that person when you wear it, jewelry from a distant land will make it feel less far away and make your memories seem more immediate. Anyone who has received a wedding ring knows how easy it is to associate jewelry with connections and memories. You can also buy jewelry for friends at home, who will always appreciate knowing that they were in your thoughts as you traveled. Some jewelry, like charm bracelets or lockets, seems made for souvenir collecting, since you can collect a new charm for your bracelet at each place you visit or use a locket to hold a photograph from the place where you bought it.


Local Handcrafts

Local handcrafts can include all kinds of souvenirs, and they are the best way to take home a piece of the local culture. You might purchase a dream catcher from the Native Americans of Arizona, a cork carving from a craftsperson in China, tapestries from a weaver in Bolivia, or a handmade flute from an artisan in Sri Lanka. All of these items have an air of authenticity and uniqueness about them – you will know that they are not available except to people who actually visited the place where you bought them. Buying local handcrafts is also a great way to support the culture and people of the places you visit. Once you return home, you can store your handcrafts on shelves or in display cases, creating a little museum of your travels!

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