Discover the Ultimate Collection of Quirky Souvenir Gifts to Wow Your Loved Ones – Boost Your Travel Memories with Our Must-Have List
by Stefanie Michaels
I’m a sucker for tchotchkes (pronounced cha-ch-key). They are those inexpensive souvenirs you’ll find anywhere tourists are. I admit it, I love cheeky sombreros from Mexico!
I’ve had to stop myself from purchases like this because I’ve determined from friends and their feedback that something more sentimental would suffice if I was bringing anything back from my travels for them.
Here are some unique souvenirs you could bring home as gifts:
- Local art or crafts: Look for art or crafts made by local artists or artisans in the place you’re visiting. This could be anything from paintings and sculptures to pottery, jewelry and textiles. On my last trip to Africa, I purchased carved wood statues from a vendor at a local market and braided bracelets from his wife.
- Food or drink specialties: Many places have local food or drink specialties that make for great souvenirs. For example, you could bring home some artisanal cheese or chocolate from France, or some spices or tea from a far-flung location. In Paris, I always stop at Bon Marche– one of my favorite places to drop in and grab candy and chocolates to take back home for friends.
- Books or music: Consider buying a book or CD by a local author or musician as a souvenir. This is a great way to support local culture and bring a piece of it home with you.
- Clothing or accessories: Look for unique clothing or accessories that are made in the place you’re visiting. This could be anything from a traditional garment to a trendy accessory. If you are looking for space savings, small items like key chains, bracelets or even specialty perfume samples.
- Gifts that give back: Consider buying souvenirs that support a good cause or benefit the local community. For example, you could buy handmade items from a fair trade shop or purchase souvenirs that support a local charity or non-profit organization. You can ask the business if you can donate in someone’s name.
- Maps or prints: Look for maps or prints of the place you’re visiting that you could bring home as a souvenir. You could even have a map custom-made or framed as a special gift. For my 20 year renewal gift to guests, I included a globe and compass in gift bags, we lovers of travel
- Local currency or coins: If you’re visiting a place with unique or unusual currency, consider buying a few coins or notes as a souvenir. I love giving them as gifts at a dinner party, which can spark conversations, break the ice and share travel memories.
- Home decor items: Look for home decor items that are inspired by the place you’re visiting. This could be anything from hand woven rugs, ceramics or small baskets.
Did you know?
The word “souvenir” comes from the French language and means “to remember”? The term was initially used in military campaigns, where soldiers would return with small items as mementos of their experiences. Over time, the tradition of bringing home souvenirs spread to other areas of life, and today it is a common practice for travelers to collect small gifts or trinkets as reminders of their journeys.
A little history:
The tradition of giving souvenir gifts to remember a place or experience has been around for centuries. Ancient travelers often returned small items from their journeys as souvenirs, such as rocks, shells, and other natural objects. During the Middle Ages, religious pilgrims often returned with small tokens from their journeys to holy sites as reminders of their experiences. These items might include small vials of holy water, religious icons, or other religious artifacts.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, European aristocrats often collected souvenirs to show off their wealth and worldly knowledge. These items might include exotic textiles, pottery, or other decorative objects from foreign lands.
In the 1800s, as travel became more accessible to the middle class, souvenir-giving became a more common practice. Postcards, photographs, and small trinkets such as keychains and magnets became popular souvenirs, and the tradition of bringing back gifts for loved ones from one’s travels has continued to this day.
Today, souvenirs come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional trinkets to unique, handmade items that capture the essence of a place or experience.
TIP: If purchasing liquids, make sure the amount is under 3oz. Opt out of buying things that light– lighters and candles. Buy a trinket instead to put into a homemade candle when you return from your adventures. Also, ask the business you purchase your item from, if they have a biz card you can add into the gift package.