The Art of Souvenir Hunting: Discovering the Best Keepsakes on Every Trip

I’m a huge fan of souvenirs. What better way to immortalize your travel memories than souvenirs? Souvenirs not only serve as tangible reminders of our travels but also allow us to bring a piece of the destination back home. In this article, we will delve into the art of selecting the best souvenirs on each trip, helping you choose meaningful and authentic mementos that truly capture the spirit of your getaways.

Research the Local Culture

Before you leave, take some time to do your research and familiarize yourself with the local culture, traditions, and specialties of your destination. Make sure your souvenirs truly represent the essence of the place.

Seek Local Artisans

Choosing souvenirs that support local artisans is a wonderful way to make a positive impact on the communities you visit, and to take home something truly authentic. By purchasing directly from local craftsmen or artisans, you can not only contribute to the local economy, but also the preservation of traditional skills and artforms.

Check Flea Markets

One of my favorite places to find souvenirs is thrift stores and flea markets. They are less categorized than other stores, so you can really find anything.

Think Small and Portable

When it comes to souvenirs, remember that bigger isn’t always better. Opt for smaller, lightweight items that you can get home easily.

Double-Check Customs

First, be aware of what you’re allowed to bring home with you. Depending on where you are from, certain items (such as alcohol, cigars, or even knockoff designer goods) are not allowed to be brought into your country. If you are from the states, check this list for prohibited items.

Some Ideas for Any Trip

Capture Memories with a Photoshoot

Sometimes the best souvenirs don’t take up any luggage space at all. One of my favorite souvenirs for any trip is hiring a photographer to capture some memories. We did this for the first time in Paris, and those photos are my absolute favorite souvenir we brought back.

Get a Tattoo

Another favorite souvenir of mine is TATTOOS. I can’t tell you how many souvenirs I have lost or broken over the years. But I have started getting tattoos on my travels, and those are souvenirs that I can keep with me forever.

Clothing & Accessories

I personally love getting clothes, jewelry, and accessories on trips. I love fashion, and it’s always nice to respond to a compliment with “Thanks I got it in Paris” or wherever. I have a leather bag from Italy, a pair of vintage sunglasses from Paris, a Merino Wool sweater from Ireland—and I love wearing each one.

Home Decor

My home is filled with things we’ve acquired on our travels—a portrait of me painted in Montmartre, a mask from Venice, framed playbills from New York. Our little collection, each piece with it’s own story behind it.

When in Doubt, Keep it Simple

There’s a reason things like shot glasses are a cliché souvenir. They’re inexpensive souvenirs that don’t take up a lot space. Things like magnets, stickers, and patches will always be on my list for this exact reason…and maybe a shot glass every once in awhile.

How to Get Your Souvenirs Home

Leave Room in Your Luggage

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It’s easy to get carried away with shopping while on vacation, so remember to leave some extra space in your luggage for souvenirs. I know many travelers who pack an empty duffle in their luggage just to fill with souvenirs on the way home.

Plan Ahead

When you know there are specific souvenirs you absolutely want to bring back, a little planning can go a long way. For instance, if you’re heading to a wine region, invest in padded bottle protectors to shield your wine bottles from breakage. Likewise, if you anticipate buying posters or prints, consider bringing a sturdy tube to protect them from creases and tears.

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Use What you Have

I’m not suggesting you travel with packing materials—a lot of what you already have in your luggage will work just fine. Use your soft clothing to create a protective layer around your souvenirs. This added cushioning can help absorb shocks during transit. I once got a hat home from Rome by filling it will socks and then wrapping it in scarves. Who needs a hat box?

Put Your Most Fragile Items in your Carry-On

If you’ve purchased especially delicate souvenirs, travel with them in your carry-on bag if possible. This way, you can personally ensure their safety and minimize the risk of damage during checked luggage handling. Keep in mind the airline’s restrictions on liquids, sharp objects, or other restricted items in your carry-on.

Bring a Luggage Scale

My luggage scale has saved me on more than one occasion. Easily portable, it helps avoid overweight luggage fees when you’re leaving with more stuff than you came with. Remember, your checked bag typically has a weight limit, while your carry-on usually does not.

Shipping Options

Shipping souvenirs can be costly, but is possible. But some vendors offer direct shipping, which is the best option if available. Even if they’re not advertising it, it never hurts to ask, especially on higher ticket items. On our trip to Tuscany, the vineyard we visited shipped your order for free if you bought a certain amount.

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In the end, the art of souvenir hunting is all about capturing the essence of your trip. To have something to remind you of that time, that place. Each souvenir has a story. With the proper research, you can curate a collection of meaningful mementos that truly reflect your adventures.

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15 thoughts on “The Art of Souvenir Hunting: Discovering the Best Keepsakes on Every Trip

  1. Great post! I love a souvenir but don’t want to clog up the house. My top souvenir is food and drink – just came back from Japan and Taiwan laden with tea and crackers. I also love books and then, sometimes, a small tchoktche… was into small inexpensive jewelry and Burmese weights for ages. Usually, I try to buy something that I need anyway – a piece of clothing, fabric, something for the kitchen. I give the commercial souvenir stalls a wide berth

  2. This is such a useful post and really resonates with me as I tend to only buy local artisan pieces and if budget allows have a location photographer take some keepsake photos. Great post Anna

  3. I’m a big fan of souvenirs and I bring them from every trip. I’ve already been thinking about getting a tattoo as a souvenir, I think I should get one! Great list of souvenir ideas.

  4. All such great ideas. One of my favorites is to send myself a postcard, then I get a postcard and a stamp, plus a little moment captured from how I was feeling on the trip.

  5. These are great tips! My go-to souvenir is a keychain for my collection and my kiddo sends postcards to family members. They are easy to pack up and take back home so that is helpful. Love the recommendation of buying from local artisans when souvenir shopping. Great post!

  6. 💯 agree! A photo shoot is a great idea. I love my tattoos from places I’ve lived abroad, and paintings and home wares I bought while travelling over a decade ago are still top pieces in my apartment. Great ideas for more sustainable souvenirs 🙂

  7. I’m always so unorganized when it comes to souvenir shopping, but these are some great tips i’ll keep in mind! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. I had no idea that there was an art to souvenir shopping, but now you’ve totally convinced me! In the past, I’ve mainly only considered size (and sometimes going with local artisans), but this gives me a lot more to think about for my next trip! We also did a little private photo shoot in Barcelona and agree that it was well worth the money and such a fun souvenir to bring back with us! Xx Sara

  9. Love this post! I love finding home decor items to bring home, but sometimes it can be challenging choosing something that is still going to look right at home (and fits in the suitcase). Great tips on getting your souvenirs home!

  10. I must admit we do not bring many souvenirs back from our travels. Unless it is consumable – food or drink – nobody we know wants things from our travels. But we do check out local markets and browse. And once we even bought a Venetian chandelier that still hangs in our house. The lesson we learned was that it was shipped in parts and now has to be moved very carefully as it cannot be easily transported. While we don’t bring things back, we take lots of photos – and stream them to friends as we travel and our our tv when get home.

  11. I love souvenirs! I bought a sew-on patch from every city I visited during my 3 months backpacking Europe and I hope to make a big blanket with them all soon! I had never considered getting anything shipped home but that is such a great idea for larger items! I wish I shipped home some glass from Murano in Italy as it was beautiful but I knew it wouldn’t survive long in my backpack!

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