Unique souvenir ideas usually happen as a pleasant surprise, when you are in some distant place or on a relaxing or adventurous get away. And travel collectibles and souvenirs are a great way to bring home a special, little piece of your travel and holiday happiness. Of course, food and dining is a wonderful part of the travel experience but bringing back something you can hold (or display, wear and share) is a wonderful way to re-experience your travels for years to come.
When I was in Portugal I came across an old tile factory and merchant. The building itself was beautiful. As someone that makes pottery, including tiles, I loved the colorful designs and cultural details. The tiles I brought home were great travel keepsakes and memories of the time I spent there. They were also an example of the great souvenir gift ideas for friends and family that you can find while traveling.
If you have been wondering what to collect when traveling then check out some of the vacation souvenir ideas below. Some of these are travel souvenirs I have brought home or that family members have gotten while traveling, and others are ideas I have heard from friends and fellow travelers. And, beyond the joy and memories they bring, if you want to know why you should seek out unique souvenirs and interesting travel treasures then read all the way to the end.
Travel Souvenir Collection Ideas
Travel souvenirs and collectables make great keep-sakes. Some of these things can have collectible value that grows over time. But most of the handmade crafts we find on a trip come with memories or an experience and, in some cases, a connection to the actual maker.
Here are some examples of unique souvenir ideas.
Travel Artwork and Heritage Collectibles
Beautiful artwork of all sorts can be found while traveling. These can be inexpensive or high value (and high priced) works by experienced artists. Heritage collectibles are original or reproduction objects with special historical meaning.
Textiles and fabrics from far away places can be wonderful additions to a room, as either a furniture covering or a wall covering like artwork (and floor covering like a rug). Of course, these can be wearable like scarves and clothing items too.
Glassware and Pottery
Glassware and especially pottery items are among my favorite types of local crafts and keepsakes. These most commonly are things like plates and cups but can be vases or pitchers and other pottery. I cherish the Portugese tiles I brought back from Lisbon.
Some of the best collectable souvenirs are inexpensive, handmade crafts by local folks that reflect the ethnic and cultural aspects of the community. They can also be decorative only (like a figurine) or useful (like handmade soap or utensils).
Musical Instruments and Recordings
If you are a music lover (or know one) getting a musical instrument or recordings of local musicians is an amazing way to re-experience the local culture.
Cookbooks & Spices
For a food lover like me this is a great option. Some people have huge cookbook collections. Finding a cookbook that’s only found in that locale along with some local spices is even better.
Local Guidebooks, Maps, Coins and Currency
This might seem odd (in the age of online) but local guidebooks and maps are great mementos of your local adventures, and foreign bills and coins are especially good collectibles for kids.
Cheap Souvenir Ideas
Sometimes the best souvenirs or local travel gifts are inexpensive and often even free. The small souvenir ideas below range from common holiday souvenir ideas to very odd and unusual gifts.
Key Chains, Coasters, Patches, etc
These sorts of things can be found in most souvenir shops in any place that gets tourists or travelers passing through. But many people become serious collectors of these things.
Sending your family and friends postcards while you travel used to be commonplace. But in the age of the internet it has become rare. That is what makes this such a great idea. You can also send them to yourself! And postcard collections can even be made into works of art.
DIY Local Crafts
Instead of buying handmade crafts from the local community, consider making your own! In many places there are programs that allow you to experience making local crafts work yourself.
Journaling and Sketching (or Photos, Video and Audio)
Travel journaling is pretty common and it really is a great way to relive special memories. Photography seems obvious but you can also draw and sketch, and even do audio journaling.
Rocks, Sand and Shells
This is a great one for kids and adults both. But if you go snorkeling or scuba diving, never take anything from the environment that marine life are still using! Leave things as is if you are visiting a natural protected area.
Other Odd Ideas
Ok, these might not be precious treasures that you save forever, but some people do collect things like Do Not Disturb signs, hotel card keys and even air sick bags. What can you think of?
Local Tourism and Travel Collectibles
Local tourism generally refers to travel that supports and leaves money in the hands of the local people and cultures in those visited destinations. The main reason we travel is to learn about and experience new places and people. But the many unique cultures and special places around the world cannot sustain themselves on appreciation alone.
Of course, eating in a locally owned restaurants and sampling delicious local food is essential. But purchasing unique souvenirs made by local producers and craftspeople is just as important. These travel treasures bring us years of memories and enjoyment, but they also support local communities in these travel destinations, which helps preserve them for future generations of travelers.
Whatever travel souvenir ideas or family and friend gifts you decide on, make sure they are special in some way (to you or the recipient). Sometimes the story or meaning of a thing is worth far more than the monetary value of the object itself.