How to Choose the Right Travel Souvenirs

How to choose the right travel souvenirs

It's all too easy to buy a bad souvenir. After all, there are so many options available and you can get caught up in the moment or swept along by the magic of your surroundings and end up buying something you regret.

If you want to be sure that everything you bring back from your holiday recalls only happy memories, the following guide is for you.

What to avoid

If you run out of time towards the end of your trip, especially if you have promised to bring back gifts for friends and loved ones, you may be tempted to stop by the airport shops and pick up a few goods there. There is only one rule here. Don’t do it.

Similarly, gifts such as athletics jerseys, caps and visors, often featuring the names of star players, are usually in abundance wherever you travel in the world. The problem here is that thanks to the global market, if you look hard enough you can almost certainly find the same items back home, which means there is little point in taking them back as a souvenir.

If you find specialist items which are clearly manufactured in the country you are visiting and are part of a limited edition or genuinely not available elsewhere, you might be able to get away with it, but this is a gift type that needs to be thought about carefully in advance rather than purchased on a whim.

Unless you know someone who actively collects foreign currency or special edition coins, you should stay away from giving away such items. These sorts of gifts scream out that you spent no time at all thinking about what to buy someone and simply went with whatever you had left in your pocket. Find more creative or charitable ways to get rid of your loose change and find more interesting gifts to take back home.

Think practicality

If you buy something you can actually use - maybe not every single day but at least once in a while - you'll enjoy a wonderful dose of happy memories each time you make use of it. Whether you purchase a set of drinking glasses, a simple pen or even just a keychain, the fact that the item has a practical as well as sentimental function makes such items all round winners. If you are buying for friends or loved ones, try not to repeat the same type of gift otherwise they will have to choose between using a keychain they have grown fond of and a newer one that they may not like as much.

Similarly, if you are having a great night at a local restaurant and you particularly admire the table napkins or the water jug, ask where they are from. The chances are that they have been manufactured locally and will not only be very reasonably priced but will also remind you of your wonderful meal each time you use them.

The perfect postcard

Many people only think about sending postcards to other people but there is nothing to stop you sending them to yourself so that you have a permanent record of your travels. Depending on how much time passes between you sending the cards out and getting to read them, you might even surprise yourself with your level of insight. If you won’t want to send them, you can also just keep them for adding to a scrapbook or journal when you return home.

You can also take advantage of new technology that allows you to create real photo postcards using your own holiday snaps and send them out to anyone, no matter where you are in the world. Rather than having a generic photograph of a key tourist landmark, you can snap a selfie with you standing directly in front of the monument, turn it into a post card and share it with your loved ones. With a wide range of styles and designs available, you are bound to find something to suit.

Memories are made of this

Consider creating a memory box, also known as a shadow box. You simply find a sturdy box and fill it with things that you bring back from past trips. If you include postcards that you made from your own photographs and sent back to yourself, the combination of a picture taken at a certain time and a tangible object in the box with bring back the memories of your trip far more vividly that simply looking at an image on a computer screen. You can set yourself a rule of only ever buying souvenirs that fit inside your memory box in order to ensure your collection never gets out of control.

Consider the alternatives

Just because an item has been manufactured with a single use in mind, does not mean it cannot be given other functions. Use your imagination and decorate your home with the items you bring back in unexpected ways. Just about any item can be mounted or a wall or displayed on a shelf and so long as they look good, there is no rule that forbids you from doing so.


If you want to carry a little reminder of your travels wherever you go, think about bringing back items you can wear, either as pieces of clothing or accessories. You can even buy a local perfume. When you're searching for items, stay away from the major tourist shops as everything you get is likely to be mass produced. Instead, seek out the more authentic market stalls and craft shops where local designers are plying their wares. Not only will you do a better job of supporting the local economy, but you'll also get something far more unique.

Be prepared to haggle to get the best possible price – in some parts of the world the seller will actually be insulted if you don’t do at least a little bargaining. If, however, you really want the item and feel the price being charged is fair, don’t spend too long quibbling over the equivalent of a few cents.