Forget ref magnets, mugs, and keychains. These are too cliché that even the movies won’t touch them. Throw in snowballs and t-shirts there, too. Although nothing says “I visited Beijing” than the ubiquitous “I love BJ” shirt, forget about it and focus more on what you can bring back home that will remind you of both the place and the story it revealed to you. It’s not just about what you saw in these places. It’s more about what these places made you feel and what you discovered about them.
There’s a lot that people love about traveling. It makes you feel like you are part of an elite group of worldly people. It feels like you’re in on a secret that the rest of your family and friends don’t know. Traveling to different places and meeting different people give you a sense of comfort, confidence, and knowledge that you can’t pick up from anywhere else.
That’s why people love remembering their travels; yes, even the bad ones. Even if you got lost in Paris and somehow found your way back after two hours, that’s still a trip worth remembering. Somehow, even if you spent the better part of your week-long vacation in Macau on your hotel bed because you sprained your ankle, that is still worth remembering.
All countries have antiques that they are proud of. You don’t have to buy something expensive, but it does need to have a cultural significance to the country. In Beijing, for example, a lot of souvenir stores there have Bagua in different sizes. You might want to get one even if you don’t necessarily believe in Taoist cosmology. They will have the Chinese knots, too, which symbolizes luck and good health. While you don’t have to hang them in your foyer, you can certainly keep that in a treasure box of travel items.
Have you forgotten about postcards? Because people no longer use snail mail, a lot are overlooking how beautiful postcards are compared to ref magnets and mugs. If you’re into vintage stuff, you can create a bulletin board full of postcards of your favorite places. You can do that, or you can also frame them and hang them on your wall. Look for postcards that best represent the essence of your trip. Did you go to Napa Valley? Then, make sure to get some cards of a vineyard.
Nowadays, people can travel to places without even holding a physical map. When was the last time you’ve seen one? When you go to the tourist center of your destination country, pick a map and keep it in your knapsack. You can even choose some vintage-looking ones so you can display them on your wall. You can even encircle the exact places you have visited on the map.
You can get patches from national parks, monuments, and various shops in the tourist sites and spots you visit. If you want, you can also buy patches of sports teams and other local organizations to remind you that you have visited these places. You can then sew it on your jacket to make it look more vintage or you can display them on a felt board.
Before, hotels and restaurants would provide their customers with customized matchboxes. This kind of tradition is not so common today. But if you do experience being given these matchboxes, keep them as a souvenir. They are becoming rarer by the day. You can display these mini boxes in a bowl on your coffee table.
No matter where you are in the world, art is something that will connect all people. You don’t have to buy expensive art. You just need to find a little piece that encapsulates your travel. How about supporting a street artist? You can have the painting framed when you get home. You can either buy the same type of art like landscapes or black-and-white photography, or you can go for some abstracts. As long as the art reminds you of a certain place, who cares if others don’t get your art?
There are many beautiful and unique places in the world. Even if you have just visited a lot of them already, do not be travel weary. Cherish all the memories you make in these places. Take as many souvenirs as you can bring home. Find the most cliché items and bring them to your house or exert a little bit more effort to find extraordinary pieces. Either way, invest in the experience and in things that will remind you of that experience.