When we go on trips, buying souvenirs for loved ones is usually on our to-do list. Many souvenir shops sell the same trinkets, and sometimes it’s hard to buy something more significant. Sometimes, buying them could even seem like a chore and can be frustrating. The worst part yet — we usually forget to get a souvenir for ourselves!
I mean, we’re the ones on the trip, shouldn’t we have some type of memento besides pictures and faded memories? Below are eight ideas for personal souvenirs that you can start collecting for yourself. Some of these are easier than others, and some might be more significant for you than the rest. Do what you want to do to give yourself a little gift from your trips.
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Postcards are one of my favorite souvenirs because they’re like snapshots of my travels. You can send them to yourself, or even to loved ones. I send my mom a postcard from every country I visit and she frames them in her room! (Love you Mom!)
Basically, when you’re touristing around, look for a nice postcard, write yourself a sweet note, get a stamp for it, and mail it off! That way you not only have the postcard from that country, but you also have one of their stamps. It’s also a nice surprise when it arrives to your home unexpectedly.
When I look at my postcards, I remember exactly where I was when I wrote my little message. It’s a nice way to visually remember your trips. They can also be kept in different forms — you can frame them, hang them, pin them to a board, or even put them in a box — whatever you like best. They are nice mementos that will stay with you forever and make you smile.
**Side Note: If you would like a postcard from Barcelona, let me know!
2. Foreign Currency
Collecting foreign currency is also one of my favorite personal souvenirs. Each currency is distinct. Some notes are smaller or bigger than others. Some are made of paper; others of cloth or cotton. There are even non-tearable and water-resistant notes! They also have various textures, and use different pictures, colors, and languages. My favorite one to date is the 20₣ Swiss Franc!
Foreign notes don’t take up much space and you can frame, hang, or pin them around your home. They even go great in a travel box or photo album. This is also a great alternative if you have leftover currency from a trip! Give yourself a little gift and don’t lose money by converting it back to your home currency. They also make great gifts for others, as many people collect notes from around the world.
3. Boarding Passes and Tickets
Train tickets, bus passes, metro cards, movie theater stubs, concert wristbands, etc. The list is endless. Now, I’m not recommending you start hoarding papers like flight printouts and receipts. But tickets that are different from those you find at home, can always be nice souvenirs. Look at the teeny tiny Budapest metro ticket above (so cute!)
Each country has their own system and it’s nice to keep these in a box. In time, when you look through the box, you’ll have a rush of memories coming back to you! The best thing about this is that tickets usually have the date, the time, the place, etc. A bunch of information that is always nice to have and to help trigger memories. (Especially concert wristbands — which you don’t need to travel to do!)
4. Bottle Caps, Labels, or Beer Coasters
Now for those who enjoy beer tasting around the world, there are a few things you could keep as souvenirs!
First: bottle caps. Collecting bottle caps from beer brands native to the region you’re visiting, is a cool way to keep track of both the places you’ve been, and the beer brands you’ve tried.
Second: beer labels. You know when the beer bottle is nice and cold and there’s condensation? Well, the water on the outside of the bottle could help make beer label removal easier. Note — not all beer labels are created the same. Some are easier to take off than others, but if you are out with a few people, you have a few tries to get that label off and take home a souvenir!
Lastly: beer coasters. I only have a few, but I know some people who have a growing collection!
All of these could be nice for you, or for anyone else you know who collects them!
I know a few people who keep sand and pebbles from the destinations they go to (provided the location has sand and pebbles). For example, when some friends and I took a trip to Morocco, my friends were collecting sand from the Sahara Desert! Now looking back, I wish I would’ve done that — would’ve been so cool! I barely started this now in Barcelona, but I’m ready for ‘sandenirs’ from other places.
You can collect sediment in small bottles and even put a small tag on it saying the location and year. Remember — sand is NOT the same everywhere!
This one comes last because it is the most time consuming, however, it can be the most significant out of all of these.
When I was in high school, one of my summer programs took us backpacking. On one of the days, the group leaders had us follow them and they dropped us off one by one in the middle of the woods. They left each one of us alone — in the middle of nowhere.
They left me stranded on a huge rock with a stack of paper and a pen. We were each given three hours to sit in solitude and write about whatever we wanted. They found us after time was up and we handed in the letters.
A year later, the letter showed up in my mailbox at home, and woah, a lot changes in a year. Anyway, this letter brought back SO many memories of that specific backpacking trip and that summer as a whole. And I still have it to this day.
–OK, BACK TO THE POST–
When writing yourself a letter, you don’t have to take three hours to do it, and you don’t have to seclude yourself in the middle of the woods. BUT, you should definitely have time to yourself to think and write. You can write about anything — what’s on your mind in that very moment, the highs and lows of the trip, your favorite experience, things that shocked you, etc. Literally anything!
You can then take this letter home with you, and if you want to make it more memorable, put it away in a little box or capsule. Whenever you go back through your things, you can then reread this letter and see how far you have come or relive the past a bit.
This moment can be super sentimental, or can make you laugh or smile. The point is, it takes you back — and that’s what souvenirs are for, right? Oh! And remember to date the letter!
Related: 24 Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years
There are many things that can be used as a personal reminder of all the trips you’ve been on. You can even collect pins, miniature flags, or iron-on badges for your backpack. Pictures and videos are also very nice, but some of these listed above could be fun to collect, and can mean a lot more.
When you go looking for souvenirs for others, don’t forget about yourself!
Do you already keep any of these souvenirs? Or do you have another way to remember your trips?