If you’re going on a trip you might already be thinking about what you can bring home as a souvenir. I’ve got you covered! I love souvenirs. Something that when I look at it reminds me of the amazing trip I had. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Some of them are even FREE! Here’s a list of 37 souvenirs to bring home from your trip.
Budget Friendly Souvenir Ideas
If you’re on a budget and don’t have much to spend on a souvenir but you still want to bring something home then these souvenir ideas are for you. These are inexpensive and will only cost a few dollars. They’re something to take home from your trip and won’t take up too much room in your suitcase.
Probably the most popular and one of the cheapest things you can buy is a postcard. You could mail it to someone but then it wouldn’t be yours anymore. If you still want to do that just buy yourself one too. They generally cost around $1 and take up no room in your suitcase. This is one of my personal favorite things to buy and I have an idea to share about what to do with them.
I will generally buy a postcard for each day I’m at a location and at the end of the day write on the backside about my day. I’ll write about what we did, where we ate, people we met, and pretty much anything that happened that day. When I get home I put them in a display box where I can pull them out to read them whenever I want.
If you collect magnets then you’re in luck! They are cheap and you can always find magnets at pretty much every single souvenir shop from big cities to small little European villages. Slap it on your fridge and you’ll see it every single day.
If the outside of your fridge is full then get a piece of sheet metal from the hardware store and put a frame around it. You can hang it on your wall in any room in the house and just call it art.
Stickers are easy to find in souvenir shops. A friend of mine likes to buy a sticker from the places they visit and puts them on their ice chest. You can also use them in a travel journal or scrapbook, display them on your suitcase, or just put them on a bulletin board. So many possibilities!
Souvenirs to bring home for the Kitchen
Almost every country or region in the world has their own food specialty. Something they’re known for that is unique to them. Here’s a few ideas of what you might find on your next vacation.
There are some places that are known for their spices: India, Morocco, and Thailand are just a few. If you’re a foodie or want to cook a meal you had on your trip, then you’ll need the spices they used. And when it’s something specific to the country you’re visiting then it will likely be cheaper to buy there.
Not every country will have their own wine but many do. France, Italy, and Chile have excellent wines. Of course, you can get many wines at your local Total Wine but they won’t carry all of them. If you went on a wine tour in Italy or loved the wine you had with your dinner in Spain then you probably need to grab a few bottles to bring home. You might not find it back at home and you don’t want to regret not picking up a few bottles.
What better way to relive all of those amazing dinners than being able to cook them over and over again yourself. And you’ll have plenty of recipes to try out that you didn’t get a chance to eat.
It’s always fun to try candies from around the world. Unless you just don’t like candy. But that’s crazy so buy the candy. Whether it’s chocolate, licorice, or the crazy Japanese candy that you have NO IDEA what you’re about to bite into. Candy is always a fun thing to bring home.
If you like to cook or know someone that does, an apron is a nice souvenir to bring home from your trip. Gotta keep those clothes clean when you’re cooking!
9. Tea Towels
What’s a fancy way of saying a kitchen towel? A tea towel. They’re usually thin little towels with something decorative on it that you may or may not use. You could always just use it as a decor piece in your kitchen.
I love pretty decorative bowls. I usually pick up something small that I can use to put hot sauce in, dips, or whatever. When I lived in Japan I always found these cute little bowls from the 100 Yen store, (yes, just like the Dollar Store) and now I have a collection.
I never intended for that to happen but here we are. One time we were in Tulum and they had these cute little Mexican decorated bowls our salsa was in and my friend and I each bought one from the restaurant to take home.
11. Coffee Mug
Okay, I’m not a coffee drinker but my husband is. When we first started traveling back when I was 19, we started collecting coffee mugs. I think after like 5 or 6 trips I realized I didn’t want to collect them because I DON’T DRINK COFFEE. And they take up a lot of room. But if it’s your thing then do it. I’m sure if I was a coffee drinker then I would totally have dozens of coffee mugs in my cabinet.
Coasters don’t take up a lot of room and are very useful. You can find them in all the souvenir shops and they keep your furniture from getting ruined. And if you end up with too many, frame them. Really, you can frame anything and just call it art!
13. Shot Glass
I don’t collect shot glasses but I have purchased a few in the past. Shots of tequila in Mexico will do that! Now, the few I have sit on a shelf in our bar area. I still look at it when I walk by and remember exactly what I was doing and where I was.
14. Bottle Opener
Keeping with the drinking theme I have going on here, bottle openers can always be found in a souvenir shop. You’ll find them with a country or state flag or just the name of the city. You will not have a problem finding one. I even found one at the Vatican! Well, it wasn’t actually in the Vatican souvenir shop but from a seller right outside the Vatican. But still, you can always find one anywhere you go.
Best Souvenirs to Buy for Friends
If you want souvenirs to bring home for family and friends then this next section is for you. Of course you can’t bring everyone something back but there’s always someone from work or your neighbor that says “will you bring me something back”. Depending on how good of a friend they are will determine what you bring back.
I always wonder when t-shirts became such a big souvenir to bring home from a trip. They’re easy to find just about everywhere and not horribly expensive. If you prefer, you can always get a hoodie, sweatshirt, tank top, pretty much anything clothing related.
Books are always a great gift! There are historical books, religious books, art books, any kind of book you want you will for sure be able to find.
You might as well pick up a bookmark to go with that book! Go ahead and grab several of them. They’re in bookstores and in the souvenir shops.
18. Local Art
Local art is probably one of the best souvenirs to bring home. Whether it’s from a local artist on the street or something a little fancier from an art dealer, art is one of the best souvenirs to buy. The picture below is etched scenes from the Inca period. I purchased this in Cusco Peru.
Souvenirs for Women
If you’re looking to bring something back for your mother, sister, daughter, wife, or friend then here are some ideas she will love.
We’ve already mentioned t-shirts but there are so many more clothes that are NOT t-shirts. Blouses, a pretty scarf, an amazing pair of shoes, you will definitely find something. Just be sure that whomever you’re buying for you know their personal style.
Jewelry is always a good idea. Unless you don’t like jewelry then it’s not. :-/ But luckily, most of us do like jewelry and getting a piece made by a local artisan is one of the best souvenirs to bring home. I have a nice little turquoise ring I bought in Santa Fe, a carved Berber bracelet from Morocco, and about a dozen cheap little bracelets from Thailand, El Salvador, and many other places. I love them all!
21. Coffee Table Books
A coffee table book is another form of art. It could be location specific, such as London or maybe it’s all the best places to visit in the entire country of England. A coffee table book is always a fun souvenir to bring home.
You can find small little charms to go on a bracelet for all the places in the world you visit. A tiny Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, a Mayan pyramid…so many options for charms to put on a bracelet.
Souvenirs for Men
We can’t forget about the men in our lives. Most men aren’t really into souvenirs but they still appreciate getting something and these are a few things they will love.
You can find hats all over the place: in souvenir shops, vendors on the street, and even specialty stores. I see baseball caps everywhere I travel but if you’re going somewhere like Panama, they are known for their Panama Hats. It might cost a little more but how can you go to Panama and not get an authentic Panama hat??
24. Golf Balls
If you play golf or have a person in your life that plays, you can purchase a set of golf balls from a local sports shop to bring home. You don’t have to use them if you don’t want to. You can display them in the office or start a collection and pick one up wherever you travel to.
25. Playing Cards
We’ve picked up a few decks of cards during our travels. We have one set from Aguascalientes Peru when we were at Machu Pichu. If you or someone you know loves to play cards (Spades!) then pick up a deck of cards on your travels. It’s likely they won’t have that particular set.
Souvenirs for kids
I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember when they had those cheesy t-shirts that said something like “my grandparents went to Italy and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” but I am. At one point in the 80’s it seemed like everyone had them. I think they still make them but I don’t see them that often anymore. Anyways, here’s some souvenir ideas to bring home for kids.
Yes, a t-shirt but not the cheesy one. Kids do have to wear clothes right?? Kids grow so fast so when I do purchase a t-shirt for my grandkids (God I feel old writing that), I like to buy it one size bigger so they can wear it for a while. Maybe they’ll sleep in at first until they grow into it. Hey, gotta get your money’s worth!
27. Those Flattened Pennies
I’m sure you’ve seen them somewhere. You put the coin in the machine and it flattens it out and imprints some design of the place you’re in. It’s inexpensive and kids love putting the coin in themselves and watching it come out. It’s cheap and they got something and are happy.
It’s always interesting to see toys from around the world. In the states we are so used to seeing these expensive toys like Lego sets or XBox games. If you ever walk into a toy store in another country you will see toys that you’ve probably never seen before. You can pick something up that you likely won’t get in a toy store in the United States.
Best Souvenirs to buy for yourself
Traveling is a very personal experience. You choose a place to go because you likely have some kind of interest in that place. Whether it’s getting to know the country where your ancestors came from or you have a deep interest in history and culture, there’s many reasons. So you’ll want to pick something up that reminds you of that place.
29. Ticket Stubs
While not completely free because you did have to buy that entrance ticket to a museum or church, saving your ticket is always a good souvenir. You can display them in a frame, memory box, or scrapbook and 30 years from now you’ll have a big collection of memories and all the places you got to visit.
I love to find patches when I visit a country with that country’s flag on it. I have a collection going and have plans to sew them on my travel backpack. But, you can put them on a jean jacket, sew them onto a pillow, a sweatshirt, or just frame them.
I don’t always buy an ornament when I travel (mostly because I don’t think about it) but when I see one I like I’ll buy it. I only have a handful of them but if I had thought to do it about 30 years ago then I might have started collecting them. I think it would be cool to have a Christmas tree just for your travel ornaments.
Yep, this is another thing I collect: Money from another country. When I was a kid I had a coin collection (still have it) with some coins from around the world and a lot of those old wheat pennies. So, I always make sure I save a few different coins and bills from wherever I travel. I plan on doing something with them one day but for now they sit in a box. I’m a little bit of a pack rat.
These souvenirs won’t be for everyone but they’re definitely for someone out there! These are a little unique and very personal to the traveler.
I’m not suggesting you get a new tattoo everytime you travel (but you definitely could if you wanted!) but there are some places in the world where doing so is a very unique thing to do. In Thailand, you can get a tattoo from a monk, called a Sak Yant.
There’s this tattoo shop in Isreal called Razzouk Tattoo that is supposed to be the oldest tattoo shop in the world. It’s been around for 700 years! I have plans to get a tattoo there when I visit one day.
34. Souvenir Specific
Okay, so this would be a unique one-of-a-kind souvenir to bring home that you can only get in one place. For example, we hiked up to the top of Mt. Fuji and we purchased these hiking sticks at the store at the bottom of the mountain before our hike. As we hiked up to the top there were stations along the way where you could get your stick branded. And now we have a really cool souvenir for our accomplisment.
Souvenirs that are FREE
Who doesn’t like free? Free is one of my favorite things because it leaves me more money for traveling! Maybe you aren’t much of a collector or the thought of having to buy something everytime you travel isn’t what you want to do. Well, this last section is for you then.
As a photographer, photos are my absolute favorite thing. There is no souvenir in the world that will bring more joy than looking through your photos and reliving those memories. And you don’t need a fancy camera. Cell phones take amazing photos and at around $1000+ for an iPhone, they better.
I probably take 2000 or more photos and video for a week long trip. Sometimes more. My last trip was a month long trip to Spain, Morocco, and France and I ended up with over 11,000 photos. Crazy, I know!
Okay, hear me out here. I love nature and rocks are everywhere. Anytime I travel I pick up 1-2 rocks to bring home and put in this bowl I have. I actually have several bowls now and my collection has gotten so big that I can no longer tell you where each individual rock came from but I don’t even care.
I have a rock from the top of Mt. Fuji, one from my El Camino hike in Spain, the Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, and every other place I’ve been. It’s one of my favorite things.
Maybe souvenirs aren’t your thing. Maybe the thought of having yet another thing to keep the dust off has you saying nope, not buying anything. Fine, you’ll always have your memories and those won’t cost you anything. Well, other than what you spent to make those memories. But that’s it. There isn’t a souvenir in the world that is better than that!