6 Souvenir Ideas You’ll Make Everyone So Jealous Of
We all like bringing souvenirs back home from our travels to remind us of the places we visited.
In today’s economy and easy access to the world, one thing that’s sure changed for the worse is authenticity. When was the last time you saw something new and interesting in a souvenir shop which you couldn’t buy in all souvenir shops in all the other places you’ve visited?
From t-shirts to wooden figures, from ceramics to refrigerator magnets, you can find the same souvenirs in every corner of the world. Sometimes it’s only the name of the place where you buy them that’s changing. These are the kind of souvenirs which end collecting dust in some corner of your home or even in the basement.
What’s the point of finding, buying and displaying something, which is unauthentic, cheaply made and overpriced? Or even worse, wearing it? Did you see those disgusted looks the last time you wore an “I [heart] some-touristy-place” neon t-shirt?
After making your mistakes in choosing souvenirs several times myself, I’ve managed to learn from them and have gathered some amazing souvenir ideas, which I’m now going to share with you!
Souvenir Ideas Which Will Bring You Jealous Looks
So what are some souvenir ideas which aren’t going to end collecting dust, long forgotten and never to be shown or used?
You have to ask yourself first, what do you need a souvenir for in the first place? Is it to help you remember your trip, is it to make your vacation feeling last longer, is it just for show to make your friends jealous of the places you’ve been to?
Here I give you 6 souvenir ideas which will make your friends jealous and are useful and fun to bring back home as well.
1. Something For The Stomach
You eat, let me guess, three meals per day? Don’t lie to me, you eat at least twice a day, don’t you?
If you bring something consumable from your vacation, your experience will be prolonged beyond the 2 weeks you spent in an incredible resort (exploring secluded Dominican Republic beaches, maybe?).
The souvenir ideas here are endless:
- You can pack a few unripe mangoes or pineapples and eat them within a few days of your return.
- You can buy a pack of coffee or tea and enjoy it each morning in the next few weeks.
- You can get a pack of snacks, nuts or dry fruits to munch in front of the TV in the evenings.
- You can bring back some typical spices and mix them in your kitchen for the next month or so.
- You can learn a few new dishes and use the recipes to impress your friends next time they visit you.
- You can get a bottle of the local (alcohol) beverage and mix your friends or family a new drink.
Make sure you buy these items from a supermarket or a vendor, not a souvenir or tourist-oriented shop.
There’s no way something like this will end in your basement, right? It won’t even take up space on your shelves because it will be (sadly) gone in a while. Except for the recipes ;)
2. Something For The Outlook
I know I hinted t-shirts are stupid and widely found everywhere but hear me out.
I’m not talking about the souvenir shops t-shirts, hoodies or caps with “I HEART [input name of touristy place here]”. I’m talking about genuine typical clothes from the place you’ve visited:
- Like the cool woollen cardigan I bought in Portugal.
- Or t-shirts from a local brand which is not widely popular in your state.
- Or a new pair of shoes, flip flops or sandals.
- Or even a sexy negligee ;)
- Or a piece of hand-made jewellery, not necessary something fancy or expensive.
You get the picture. Make sure you buy something which you’ll actually wear back home and not just hang in your wardrobe. A sombrero or a poncho might seem fun and a good souvenir idea at the time, but when exactly are you going to wear it?
Try to find a little boutique or even a shopping mall with local brands, don’t just go to the next souvenir shop near the beach, and chances are everyone back home will ask where you got your new piece of clothing or jewellery.
3. Something For The Everyday
I admit, buying a coffee mug or a ceramic pot is one of the most touristic souvenirs possible. But if you’re actually going to use them for your morning coffee or to serve snacks to your friends during the next party, why not?
There are a few things you should consider about these souvenir ideas:
- Make sure they are authentic and not made in China with only the label being printed somewhere nearby.
- Make sure the quality matches the price – those are some of the favourite tourist souvenirs and prices are usually based on the location of the shop and number of tourists passing by. Visit a few shops and compare prices before deciding. Best is to buy from a store where locals would buy, easiest is to just visit a big supermarket. Sometimes factories are a good option, other times they’re the biggest tourist traps. Don’t pay more than you might pay back home.
- Are you really going to use that glass, cup, dish, pot? Or are the colours of the decoration hypnotising you? Is the seller too pushy? If you’re unsure, just walk away. If you still want to buy it the next day, just come back – they won’t run out of stock overnight.
We once bought a wine bottle stopper and although it’s not the prettiest souvenir or of very high quality, it serves its purpose and the memories it brings are invaluable to us.
Another time we brought a hammock back home – well, that’s something everyone who knows us is really jealous about! Of course, we had to carefully consider if it would fit on our balcony before purchasing it, so don’t be spontaneous with a souvenir idea like this.
4. Something For The Walls Of Your Home
Looking at the same pictures day after day in your home will make you ignore them after a while. They’ll stop serving their purpose.
So why not consider adding a few new ones or exchanging some of the old ones?
Here are a few souvenir ideas in this category for you:
- Take lots of photos. Sort them well, choose the ones which make you most proud of or bring back the nicest memories. Printing them will only cost you a few cents, but the memories they’ll wake up each day from your walls are priceless.
- Send yourself a postcard. Time it to arrive after you’ve come back from your vacation and it will feel like time travel. You can then pin the postcard somewhere around your home.
- Buy a poster or a picture. Make sure you can transport it properly, you don’t want the disappointment of it being ruined when you unpack your luggage.
- Bring only a picture frame. Sometimes a beautifully ornamented frame is much more fun to look at than the image it frames.
- A mask you can hang e.g. over your couch is always something unusual and interesting to show to your friends. No matter if it’s a papier-mâché mask from Venice, a wooden carving from an African village or a Mexican lucha libre wrestler mask, they’re all eye-catching.
5. Something For Your Next Trip
Set your imagination free. What is it you need during a trip? Have you searched back home to buy a swimming suit in winter, or a ski mask in the middle of the hottest summer days?
It’s much easier to find what you need for a vacation once you’ve arrived at your destination.
- A good book is very useful not only next time you travel but also at home. It doesn’t really matter if you pick up a book about your destination, its people or history, or a fiction novel. While you’re reading it, and even each time you look at it on the shelf, you’ll remember your vacation.
- A gadget or utensils or a tool you always forget to pack or buy back home. This could be really anything, from a Swiss army knife to a belt, or a travel pillow, an adaptor, or a small flashlight, or a lighter.
- Toiletries to either use at home or on your next vacation. In many countries, local cosmetics are much more affordable than at home. For example, aloe is widely used in many creams and lotions and you can find a large number of products on the Canary Islands, one of the biggest aloe growers.
- A new pair of sunglasses, new bathing suit, swimming goggles, a ski mask, a beach towel or sarong – all products, which are only seasonally available back home, but you can always find at vacation destinations.
Need more ideas? Check this list of practical travel gifts for further inspiration.
6. Something Priceless
Souvenirs are just a way to make us remember our travels. The sentimental value they have to us often exceeds their practical use or their actual price.
Sometimes it’s best not to buy anything but just to pick up something from a place you enjoyed:
- a little stone from the Sahara desert;
- a few seashells from a Caribbean beach;
- a maple leaf from Canada;
- a small container of sand from a tropical island;
- several coins or banknotes from the local currency.
Even a matchbox from that place where you had the most delicious cocktail ever is an excellent souvenir idea.
Some Souvenir Ideas Might Actually Bring You Trouble Rather Than Jealous Looks
Whatever you decide to take with you, don’t forget that some items are actually forbidden to export or amounts are strictly regulated, so make sure you check each country’s regulations and you don’t end up in trouble.
- Live or stuffed animals are not a good idea. Including corals (yes, they’re animals).
- No hallucinogens. Only because it’s legal to smoke weed in your vacation destination, does not mean you can take some home, too.
- Weapons, this goes without saying, are illegal to take on a plane, even in your checked in luggage. Even some knives will get you into a lot of trouble with the customs officers. Check the regulations at both your vacation’s and your home’s customs.
- Alcohol, cigars and cigarettes are limited in amount.
- Meat, fish, eggs and milk products are often not allowed to import. They will not only be confiscated if found, but you’ll also have to pay a fee.
- Forged and fake items can get you into trouble with customs officers. You knew already that Gucci bag or that bargain watch were fake and the quality sucks, is it really worth the risk?
We all love remembering our trips and vacations.
Sometimes the photos we take don’t seem like enough memorabilia. We need to bring back home something we can hold, easily show off and put on display.
Don’t be that person, who buys the same crap everyone else buys, though.
A wooden penis-shaped figure might seem funny and like an excellent souvenir idea to bring back home after a few drinks, but are you really going to impress anyone with it? Or are you more likely going to embarrass yourself by putting it on display?
Better buy typical, authentic products, which help local producers and bring money into the country of your visit, rather than supporting cheap labour in Asian sweat shops.
Be a responsible consumer, this will make you stand out from the rest of the tourists, who don’t even remember the name of the last place they visited.
And will eventually make everyone jealous.
Which souvenir ideas are you going to use on your next trip? What are you usually bringing back home from your travels?
I’d love to hear all your comments and thoughts. Even if you say (*sigh*) that you buy “I <3 [vacation spot]” t-shirts.