Traveling the world remains one of the best and most important ways you can spend your money, and every visit to a city or country you’ve never been to before changes your life in some way. But how do you hold onto the memories of your travels? Sure, you can take plenty of pictures to post on social media, even videos. But most people love to buy and keep souvenirs. And if you’re a frequent trip-taker, you’ve probably thought about starting a souvenir collection. Choosing what to collect can be difficult. CNN reports that in 2012, travelers spent over $2 billion on traditional souvenirs – magnets, postcards, t-shirts, and knick-knacks that typically get discarded or unused. The passionate traveler is looking for something much more unique than that. Here are 5 ideas to get you started.
1. Pressed Flowers and Leaves
Most natural alternatives to store-bought souvenirs include rocks and seashells, but why not bring along a book to press flowers with? It’s easy to learn how to make your own pressed flower collection, and there are books to help you. You usually have to leave the flowers flattened inside a book for at least two weeks, so bury the book in your suitcase for the rest of the trip. It might take some extra work, but imagine a collection of souvenirs you can flip through – a beautiful book of preserved nature from everywhere you’ve been, marked with dates and locations.
Sticker collections are not just for kids, and sticker souvenirs advertise much more than just a city. They can commemorate historical locations, special events, hotels, and local brands in a way that will represent specific memories of your journey. Plus, stickers are extra durable. Your sticker book is guaranteed to last for years, not get yellow and damaged like a collection of ticket stubs or postcards might do. They’re also cheap and practical if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on souvenirs you have to lag home.
You’re never too old to have a stamp collection, especially if they’re stamps from places you’ve been. For a particularly romantic touch, mail yourself postcards, especially if you’re visiting a lot of different towns, countries, or provinces. This is another idea that would display nicely in an organized collector’s book, whether you opt for postcards with your stamps or just stamps alone. To go even further, many people love keeping travel diaries when they’re away from home. If you’re partial to journaling your travel experiences, why not do it in the form of letters you send yourself?
4. Creative Photography
You’ve probably seen travelers who bring garden gnomes or teddy bears around the world with them, taking pictures at various famous locations. This is a really fun way to make your typical tourist pictures into a unique souvenir project, and your family and friends will probably love seeing your themed pictures on Facebook and Instagram. But why not take it a step further? Bring along a personalized banner with the dates of your trip and whatever message you want, and then hang it in funny, unexpected places along the way.
5. Lapel Pins
Collecting charms for a charm bracelet or other pieces of jewelry can be a little on the costly side, but collecting souvenir lapel pins is a lot more practical. If you don’t mind your travel souvenirs slightly kitschy, you’ll find some interesting pins out there, especially if you’re headed on a road trip around America. The fun thing about having a pin collection is you can easily display it on a decorative cloth or bulletin board, and you can also take pins off to wear on hats and jackets. Your travel souvenirs could really become fashion statements after all.
There are literally dozens of ideas you could use for your one-of-a-kind travel souvenir collection. It all depends what matters most to you about travel, and what you’d most like to commemorate. Are you looking for something pretty and meaningful, fun and unique, or do you just want to find a special way to capture important moments? Any of these options leave you with many affordable possibilities that you’ll love taking the time to fit into every trip. No matter what you bring home in your suitcase, travel is something you don’t soon forget. That doesn’t mean you don’t need something to show for it.