Souvenirs are designed to bring back happy memories of places we’ve visited. They may often be small and inexpensive, but they’re also a great reminder of our adventures abroad. Whether you’re looking for some nice souvenir ideas to surprise a friend or to collect yourself, this list features some of the best souvenirs out there.
From useful and edible souvenirs to unique and traditional collectables, you’ll find plenty of souvenir ideas that will inspire you in this post.
45 Best Souvenir Ideas to Bring Back From Your Vacation
Unique souvenir ideas
Pottery is not only a great souvenir to remind you of your travels, it’s also one of these perfect souvenir gifts to bring back for friends or relatives. This craft comes in many shapes and colours, and it’s often unique to the region you’re visiting.
As pottery is often made by local artisans, this one goes hand in hand with #7 in this list (which are local artisans crafts). By purchasing these, you’ll go home with a nice souvenir while supporting local craftsmen.
2. Local art
By collecting a piece of local art from all the countries you visit, you can transform a part of your house – or even your office – into a place full of beautiful travel memories. You can decorate the place of your choice with paintings, statues, wood carvings, tapestry, or any other type of art.
3. Something that represents a country
This is one of my favourite souvenir ideas. Getting something that represents a country not only looks good in your home, it can also bring back some amazing memories.
I love listening to traditional tunes that bring me back to certain places. Music is so powerful, and it can create a totally different atmosphere pretty darn fast.
There’s so much beautiful music around the world, from Tuareg music of the Sahara Desert to ancient Hindu chants from India or Nepal. Bringing home CDs or vinyl from the countries you visit will undoubtedly bring joy to your ears.
Many of the countries I have visited have some kind of cultural masks. Think about Venitian carnival masks, Chinese new year masks, Indonesian Topeng masks, or Angolian Chokwe masks, just to name a few. These masks are often used for traditional ceremonies or festive occasions.
Bringing back home one (or more) of these will make your interior more unique while reminding you about the place you got them.
6. A tattoo
Getting inked is probably the most temporary travel souvenir on this list, and it’s something that you’ll always carry with you. Therefore, it’s important to think things through and make sure it’s not a spur-of-the-moment thing. You’ll also need to find a good local tattoo artist and know what kind of tattoo you want to get.
I haven’t gotten tattooed abroad myself yet, but it is something I’ve been thinking about. As I’ll be spending more time in Asia next year, I might actually get one there.
7. Local artisan’s crafts
These are one of my personal favourite souvenir ideas! By buying these, you support local artisans and encourage the craftsman to keep the tradition going. On top of that, these crafts are handmade, unique and often more environmentally friendly than products made in huge factories.
You can find locally made items in any country in the world. From home decor to jewellery, scarves, and more. Do some research online or ask the people at your hotel for recommendations if you’re not sure where to start looking.
8. Local food
When we travel, we get to discover numerous local flavours and delicacies. These come in many forms, but it’s true that packing an entire dish isn’t the handiest thing to do. Some other delicacies, however, can easily be brought home. For example, chocolate is one of the things Belgium is famous for and it’s easy to pack. Or if you’re heading to Turkey, you could bring home some Baklava.
Food souvenirs are the perfect way to bring foreign flavours home or to share them with friends or family. It may not be a souvenir that will last for a long time, but it’s definitely one of the most satisfying ones.
9. Spirits, liquors, beer or wine
From French champagne and Belgian beer to Peruvian pisco and Russian vodka, nearly every country has a famous local beverage.
Depending on what you’re opting for, this souvenir may be a bit more expensive, but it will surely make for a great treat once you get home.
10. Local herbs and spices
Quite similarly to local food, herbs and spices can bring foreign flavours back to your own home. You can use them to cook meals that will remind you of your travels.
A nice thing about herbs and spices is that they don’t really expire, so you’ll get to enjoy these for a long period.
11. Coffee or tea
Some countries are famous for their delicious coffee or tea. For example, Ethiopia is argued to have the best tasting coffee in the world. But countries like Brazil, Nicaragua, and Indonesia are also known for their high-quality coffee beans.
If tea is more of your thing, you could bring home some tea from China, India, or Kenya. These are some of the world’s top tea-producing countries.
Useful souvenir ideas
Whether you’re opting for traditional clothing, football shirts, a shirt with something on it from the country you’re visiting, or something totally different, country-specific clothing is a useful souvenir that you won’t find in any other country.
I brought back a longyi (a traditional Burmese wraparound skirt) that I had tailor-made in Myanmar and it’s one of my favourite travel souvenirs.
When you’re abroad, you’ll probably find many fashion accessories that you wouldn’t find in your home country (or anywhere else in the world). For example, scarves, hats, handbags, and socks can make for useful souvenirs.
I visited Saint Petersburg a while ago and fell in love with these beautiful traditional Russian shawls. I decided to bring one home with me and it reminds me of Russia each time I’m wearing it.
Bookmarks are not only cheap, but they’re also small, nearly weightless and easy to bring back home. Although it’s true that bookmarks are mostly used to stick inside a book, there are other things you can do with them if you’re not much of a reader.
For example, you could hang them on your wall or create an album full of bookmarks from different countries that will remind you of your travels.
15. Beauty products
From Burmese thanaka, a local skincare product to mud from the Black Sea, there are so many different beauty products around the world. These are one of these useful souvenir ideas that you will be able to use every day once you get home.
Cookbooks are one of the best souvenir ideas for foodies or anyone who loves to cook. These will allow you to make (and savour) all these delicious dishes that you enjoyed on your travels once you get back home.
17. Tote bags
Why not bring back a tote bag with a picture or a drawing of the country you’ve visited on it? Or maybe you prefer one saying ‘I love Paris‘ (or whichever place you got it from).
Tote bags are useful souvenirs that you can use on many different occasions. You can use them for shopping, as a beach bag, as a purse, or even as a laundry bag when you’re travelling.
18. Kitchen utensils
Cooking utensils are one of these useful souvenir ideas that you’ll get to enjoy for a long time. A Tajine, for example, can remind you of the time you spent exploring Morocco or a beautiful tea set can take you back to when you were sipping Chai tea in India.
Make sure to bring back something you will actually use though. There’s no point in buying cooking accessories that will stay in the back of your kitchen shelf for years.
Coasters are not only useful, but they’re also great souvenirs. If you put them on your dining room table (or on any other table), you’ll see them every day and they will remind you of your trip.
Although you can buy coasters, this is also one of these souvenirs that you could get for free. Just take one with you from a bar or a restaurant where you stopped for a drink.
20. Music instruments
If you’re a musician or a music lover, bringing back a small instrument from your trip is a great way to discover new sounds.
From Chinese chime bells and Polynesian nose flutes to South African kalimbas and indigenous Australian didgeridoos, there are many different types of instruments to choose from.
Free souvenirs ideas
In my opinion, photographs are some of the best souvenirs out there. I love taking pictures of all the places I visit and often find myself going through pictures of previous trips! Photographs are free, don’t take up much space, and evoke wonderful memories when you look at them.
Another amazing thing about collecting photographs is that you can easily bundle your favourite images in an album or hang them on your wall.
22. Entry tickets
You can collect entry tickets from all the places you’ve visited and put them in a scrapbook or travel journal. By doing this, you’ll be overflowing with travel memories each time you look into these books.
Entry tickets is something I used to collect myself but I stopped doing so a few years ago. Although it was fun to collect, I decided to downsize and only keep the things that are most valuable to me.
23. Travel journal
Keeping a travel journal is a fun way to document your adventures. The only things you need in order to start is a notebook and a pen. Over time, this journal will become a treasured keepsake.
As a part of running this blog, I always carry a journal with me to write down the things I want to remember. There would be so many valuable things I’d forget if I didn’t.
24. Passport stamps
I’ve been collecting passport stamps ever since I got my first passport when I was 12. There’s something incredibly fun about collecting these different-looking marks from all over the world. Not only are passport stamps great souvenirs, but they’re also mandatory, which makes it impossible to forget one.
Though it is possible to get unofficial passport stamps from famous places around the world, it’s better not to. Sounds kinda hypocritical considering the picture with the Machu Picchu stamp right above this text, right?
Well, I didn’t know that when I had my passport stamped in Peru, but unofficial stamps make your passport invalid. Though it is rare, people have been denied boarding their flight or entering countries because of them.
25. Rocks, shelves or sand
By collecting rocks, shelves or sand as a souvenir, you’re somehow bringing a piece of the country you’re visiting home with you.
These are one-of-a-kind souvenirs that you can collect very easily. Do make sure to remember what country each piece is from, though. As it could get hard once you’ve collected a bunch of similar-looking rocks.
26. Dried leaves or flowers
Quite similarly to rocks, shelves and sand, dried leaves or flowers are also a small piece of a country that you can bring back home. Once you get back, you could put them into an album or frame them so that you can hang them on your wall.
Make sure to check the regulations if this is the souvenir that you want to bring back home, though. Depending on where you’re going, you might have to declare these at the airport.
If you enjoy cooking (or eating), then you will love this one. Recipes is another one of these nice and free souvenirs that will bring back beautiful travel memories.
Similarly to cookbooks, by collecting recipes, you’ll be able to enjoy all those delicious dishes that you discovered on your trip once you get back.
Collecting necklaces, bracelets, rings, charms, or any other kind of jewellery is a great souvenir that you’ll also be able to wear. I brought back a bracelet from China, Guatemala, and Ghana and love wearing them because each time I do, I’m reminded of the country.
There’s a story around the bracelet with my name on it in the picture above. When I was visiting a museum in Accra, Ghana, someone asked for my name near the entrance. I didn’t think much of it because it happened all the time when I was travelling in West Africa. A little while later though, I left the museum and they gave me this bracelet they had just made. I actually thought I’d have to pay for it and felt a little uncomfortable at first, but it turned out to be a genuine gift.
29. Scratch-off world map
This may not be the kind of souvenir that you’re purchasing in the country you’re travelling to, but a scratchable world map is a beautiful reminder of all the places you’ve been to. As its name suggests, the purpose of these maps is to scratch off all the countries you’ve visited (and hang them on your wall).
30. Local currency
Although it wasn’t my intention, I have a collection of local currency from most of the countries I have visited. This is one of the most compact souvenirs and it’s pretty easy to bring back home. After all, chances are that you’ll have some coins or paper money left at the end of your trip.
A map of the countries you’ve visited is not only an easy souvenir to bring home, but it’s also an inexpensive one. You can simply collect maps or you could create something unique with them, like a poster or an album.
When I visit markets, I often find myself gazing at all these beautiful fabrics with an endless variety of colours and patterns. As these textiles vary according to the region you’re visiting, they’re a great souvenir to bring back home.
The fun thing about fabrics is that there are plenty of things you can do with them. You can turn them into clothes, pillow covers, pouches, shoelaces, or even a blanket combining all the fabrics you’ve collected over the years.
If you’re looking for small souvenir ideas, then collecting stamps from around the globe might be something for you. Apart from digital pictures, this is probably the smallest souvenir out there, and it’s easy to collect too.
You can put them in a binder once you get home, that way you’ll have a clear overview and you won’t risk losing any.
If you’re looking for some lightweight and cheap souvenirs, then postcards are a great choice. Once you get home, you can make an album with a collection of all your postcards or hang them on your wall. Either way, a postcard is an inexpensive souvenir that will bring back some awesome memories.
Collecting flags as a souvenir is a nice memory of the countries you’ve been to. You could either hang them up on your wall or create something with them. Drapes, blankets, or pillowcases, for example, aren’t too hard to make.
Keychains can be found nearly anywhere in the world and they’re both great as a souvenir for yourself or as a gift to friends or family. Apart from carrying them with your house keys, you could also showcase your keychain collection on a display cabinet at home.
37. Hard Rock Cafe merchandise
With venues in 75 countries, Hard Rock Cafe merchandise is a popular souvenir to collect. This chain of restaurants comes with a shop, and you’ve probably already seen its most popular souvenir: a t-shirt with the Hard Rock Cafe logo and the name of the city it’s from.
But these stores have more to offer than this popular t-shirt alone. Some of the other items you can find here are sweatshirts, pins, keychains, glasses, etc.
38. Fridge magnets
This is an all-time classic that can be found on many fridges around the world. Magnets are inexpensive and easy to pack, which makes them ideal souvenirs.
Although I don’t collect magnets myself, I love gazing at them whenever I come across a fridge full of them.
This is a cool souvenir that you can sew on your backpack, jacket, or tote bag. But there’s more that you can do with patches. For example, you could turn them into a flag line or a quilt, which would be quite a unique souvenir!
Quite similarly to patches, you can wear pins on clothing, tote bags, or on your backpack. Alternatively, you could make a display for your pins and hang it on your wall.
41. Mini figurines and statues
From traditional European mini figurines to statues of Buddha, Ganesha or the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’An, these are some of the most popular souvenirs out there.
Mini figurines and statues can be a beautiful addition to your home while reminding you of the place you got them at the same time.
42. Snow globes
Snow globes are another of these immensely popular souvenir ideas (especially in Europe). They can be bought at most souvenir shops and often feature a miniature of a landmark of the country you’re visiting.
43. Coffee mugs
This is a classic souvenir that many travellers love to collect. You can often find coffee mugs with the flag, a landmark, or a symbol from the county you’re visiting.
I brought one back from London myself (you can see it in the picture above) and it reminds me of this city every time I’m sipping coffee from it.
44. Christmas ornaments
If Christmas is your favourite time of the year, then collecting Christmas ornaments as a souvenir may be a great idea. This way, you’ll be reminded of all the places you’ve visited every time you look at your Christmas tree.
It’s true that Christmas ornaments may be hard (or even impossible) to find in some countries, so if this is the souvenir you’re going for, you might have to get a little creative every once in a while. With some imagination, though, nearly any item can be turned into a Christmas ornament!
45. Shot glasses
Shot glasses are another one of these popular souvenirs that many travellers collect. You can display them on a shelf in your kitchen, living room, or any place you want.
Tips for buying souvenirs
- Check out the local shops too, you will find more original souvenirs here, and it’s a good way to avoid tourist traps.
- If you’re bringing back edible souvenirs, dried flowers, or leaves, make sure to check what’s allowed to bring back to your home country.
- When purchasing liquids, check out your airlines’ regulations on what’s allowed to bring in your luggage.
- Learn how to haggle. This is a useful skill in many countries.
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Do you have more souvenir ideas? Let me know in the comments, I would love to know! 🙂