Do you need some ideas for souvenirs? Do you ever get to a destination and know you want a souvenir but are not sure what?
Don't worry, that happens to me all the time! In this post, we are going to give you a few ideas for souvenirs that most likely are universal to any destination you travel to.
I love shopping at the gift shops while on vacation. There are some that are unique to a location and some that are more general stores with a wide variety of souvenirs.
Let's explore some ideas for souvenirs before you head on your trip so you know exactly what to get when you arrive!
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A very popular idea for souvenirs is to collect Christmas Ornaments at each destination you visit. Many people love to add a new Christmas ornament to their trees! You will find Christmas ornaments at souvenir shops even in the summertime.
Start A Collection
If you do decide to start collecting Christmas ornaments, I think you will love decorating your Christmas tree every year. It will remind you of all the amazing memories you have created! You could also have a separate small tree to display all of your ornaments.
If you want to start this tradition, but have already visited many places and never thought to purchase Christmas ornaments you can look on Amazon and see if there is a special ornament that will remind you of your past vacations.
I love buying shirts for my vacation. This is one of the best ideas for souvenirs!
Now, it might be crazy but shirts are one of those souvenirs that I love to buy ahead of time. If I am going to Disney, Universal, or even Hawaii, I plan ahead!
In big cities, you can find souvenir shirt stands that will have shirts for very cheap. I have bought these shirts before and the quality is really low. They will not last too long. I like to find a good quality shirt or sweatshirt.
Unique Idea for Souvenirs
One thing to look for is a unique design. If there is a shirt/sweatshirt you know you will not find anywhere else then it is worth buying it! There are some shirt designs you will not find anywhere else except onsite.
Ideas For Souvenirs - Local Food
My favorite thing to buy on vacation is food! Although food is not a forever souvenir, it helps make memories from my trips.
Examples of Local Food Souvenirs
- Canada – Maple Syrup
- New York – Hot Dog
- France – Crepes
- London – Fish and Chips
- Italy – Pasta or Cannoli's
- Maine – Lobster
- Georgia – Peaches
- Texas – Bar-b-que
Trying the local cuisine is always fun and a good idea.
If you visit an amusement park one of my favorite things to do is try the food. At Harry Potter World I must have butterbeer ( you get a souvenir cup) At Disney World and Disneyland there are so many yummy foods to try! Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and City Walk have some fun options as well. SeaWorld's Dining plan is amazing.
Hire A Photographer
One of the best souvenirs you can have is catching the memories you are making. Hiring a photographer is a great way to capture the moment.
One great way to find a local photographer is asking in a Facebook Group in the area you are headed.
You will also want to make an appointment and speak with the local photographer about specific locations in the area.
This is probably my favorite souvenir ideas!
Maps and Brochures
One of the best things to do when you visit any city is head straight to the Visitor's Center. Usually, there are brochures that will give you a general idea of what there is to do in an area. These will have maps, lists of activities, and sometimes coupons.
I love having them while on my trip, but when I get home I put the ones that represent the city or place the most in a special drawer. It is so fun to look back and remember all the places you visited and maybe even dream of what you would like to do when you go back.
I have a few brochures from my first trip to Germany in 2008. It is so cool to see. This is a free souvenir idea.
Typical Gift Shop - Ideas for Souvenirs
Gift shops are so fun there are so many great ideas for souvenirs! I love looking at all the merchandise and figuring out what would best represent my trip.
My son is obsessed with snow globes. He wants to get one from every state or place we visit. I think it is fun to have a collection of just one souvenir item that you automatically know what you are going to get when you arrive.
Magnets are a great idea for souvenirs. They usually have a representation of the place you visited on them. This is awesome because you can place them on your fridge when you get home and every time you see them you will remember all the great memories you made.
Do you know anyone that collects spoons? Well, there has got to be quite a few because pretty much every gift shop has a good selection. Maybe this is something you want to start collecting?
I actually decided to collect plates on my trip to Europe. We went to Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and London. I bought a cute plate holder that hangs on the wall. Every time I look at the wall I think back to that amazing trip. (It did take me 7 years to actually hang them up!!)
Water Bottles are a very practical and useful souvenir. My kids use water bottles every day at school. (and lose them as well!) You can never have enough!
Have you ever seen a piece of art that speaks to you? Finding a local gift shop with some artwork that represents the area is a great souvenir idea.
Mugs are right up there with water bottles! It is a very useful souvenir. It is so fun to have a variety of mugs from different locations.
Deck of Cards
A deck of cards is a fun and small souvenir idea. It is nice that it doesn't take up too much space in your bags.
We also like getting games that represent different areas. There is a fun Trekking the National Park Game that we love. It reminds me of all the national parks I have been to and all the ones I want to explore.
There are many trinkets at gift shops that would look very nice in a shadow box.
Funny story the first time we went to Paris we were very young and poor. We wanted to buy souvenirs for friends but couldn't afford too much. There was a man on the street selling key chains. 10 for 1 euro. That was all we could afford but it was perfect!
Keychains are great ideas for Souvenirs!
Doesn't everyone need more coasters? You do not want your furniture to get ruined and a coaster is the perfect coffee table accessory.
Usually, gift shops offer a large variety of postcards. Buying a few postcards and adding them to your scrapbook is always a fun way to add variety. This is a great souvenir for friends or family.
There are a variety of stamps that would be a great addition to your collection.
I have seen really nice blanket and T-shirt combo packs at a view gift shop.
All of these are the more traditional ideas for souvenirs.
Books are something I love.
Typically, I buy this type of book ahead of time. I always buy a guide book if I am going to a new or international destination. These guidebooks are so helpful to get you excited and planning the trip, they also help you while you are traveling. I love when I get home and I can put them on a bookshelf and look at and see all the different places I have been.
Traveling to Places Based on Books or Films
Have you ever traveled to a place because you read a book? I have been to Prince Edward Island because I loved Anne of Green Gables. I also did a Harry Potter London Tour and planned a Harry Potter Universal trip because I love Harry Potter.
Coffee Table Books
Some people love to buy books at local stores that represent the vacation they are on. A nice coffee table book is a great addition to your home.
Patches and Badges
If you love national parks you will probably know about the patches and badges available.
Junior Ranger Program
If you participated in the Junior Ranger Program you will get a free badge or patch. The Junior Ranger Program has participants earn the badge by filling out a book. When the book is completed you will get the badge. The National Park Service used to give out patches but now they give out wooden pins on badges.
These badges and patches are some of the best souvenirs. I have seen parents sew them onto backpacks or hats. The newer badges pin on. It is a really fun and free idea for souvenirs at national parks.
Nature Souvenir Ideas
One idea for a souvenir is exploring the world around you. You can find some natural treasures if you look closely.
One of the best parts of a beach vacation is finding seashells. We love to collect them and bring them home. You might also be able to find a shark's tooth.
Hiking and Camping
If you visit the desert, bring a bottle that you could fill up with the sand. This would also work for the beach. (think black or pink sand beach)
If there are beautiful flowers or leaves that can be preserved that will remind you of your trip that is a great option as well.
Nature offers plenty of free and fascinating things. Just make sure the items are okay to take or obtain permission if needed.
Most of the time when I travel abroad I use my credit card. But I always like to collect the currency from where I am at.
We have Pecos, Euros, and Pounds. I love looking at the different coins from around the world.
Now, I do not typically keep larger bills as souvenirs, I tend to want to spend them. Currency is an idea for souvenirs as well.
Reusable Shopping Bags
I started collecting re-usable shopping bags recently. I know that sounds weird but all the national park visitor centers have these amazing bags.
The bags have images of all the beautiful national parks. These bags are less than $5 too. So it is a great, inexpensive item to grab.
If you are staying at a nice hotel they sometimes will give you a welcome bag. I love to keep these as souvenirs as well.
Luggage tags are fun souvenirs. In fact, when you purchase a Disney vacation package, they will send you these cute luggage tag to get you excited about your trip
In Alaska, we headed to Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks. They had a neat opportunity to make your own luggage tag for free. It was so cute!
You can also purchase these ahead of time!
Bags are a useful souvenir item. Two places come to mind when I think of purses/backpacks. New York and Disneyland.
New York is famous for knock-off purse vendors. It is fun to hit the street and check out the merch. I bought one on my first trip to New York.
Disneyland is another place where the Loungefly backpacks are a hot item. There are all sorts of cute options and everyone has them. You can purchase them at the park but if you want to save money you can purchase the exact same backpack ahead of time.
If you are visiting the US there are penny press machines at different tourist attractions. These are fun, inexpensive items to grab on your trip.
Jewelry is a great option for a souvenir. In some destinations, handmade jewelry is available which makes a perfect souvenir.
Another great idea for souvenirs is collecting charms from each place. You could also purchase this kind of souvenir after you return. I have a cute charm bracelet with charms from all the places I visited when I was in college. These are great memories!
Tips for Buying Souvenirs
Souvenir Shopping Tip 1
Quality Matters! Gift Shops are not all created equally. Some gift shops offer high-quality merchandise while others do not. Considering the quality of an item is the most important tip to buying souvenirs. Also, consider who you are buying the item for. Lower quality items may be great souvenirs or gifts for children.
Souvenir Shopping Tip 2
Think Local! Local handmade items are great options. Not only are you supporting the local economy but they tend to be great quality and are a unique souvenir idea.
Souvenir Shopping Tip 3
Don't Buy Junk! Think about what you want before you go. Don't waste your money on things you don't love.
Souvenir Shopping Tip 4
Buy Things Later! It is okay to purchase something when you get home to remind you of the trip. After visiting so many national parks, I came home and bought the Trekking National Park Game.
Souvenir Shopping Tip 5
Start a Collection! Think about what you want to start collecting. There are so many fun things you can collect.
Ideas for Souvenirs
Hopefully, this list of over 30 souvenir ideas will help you know what to get while you are on vacation. There are so many fun options!
Do you have any more questions? Join my Travel Community on Facebook. This is a great group that can help answer any travel question you might have. I also try to add any deals that companies send me as well.