Our Favorite Travel Souvenir Ideas
Travel souvenirs serve many purposes. They are reminders of the importance of casting off a routine and trying something new; they keep memories alive; and they add a colorful flair to any home décor. They can be seen by their collectors as earned badges and bounty.
When you add kid travelers to the mix, travel souvenirs can also take on a sweet and somewhat quirky nature. No matter what category they fall in, souvenirs are a central accessory of the travel experience. So we thought it would be fun to share our favorite travel souvenir ideas — the ones that the Hilton Mom Voyage Team and their families bring back from their travels.
Vera H’s son collects foreign money simply because he is fascinated by it. He is bummed that Europe does not have separate currencies anymore so that he could collect them all.
Vera’s daughter favors stuffed animals that are representative of the family’s travel destinations. They just brought back a husky dog from Canada to commemorate dog sledding and a beluga whale because they fed and petted them at the Vancouver Aquarium. Other additions to the stuffed animal collection include a turtle from Hawaii and monkey from Costa Rica.
While you of course can’t bring these home with you, images of warning road signs that are unique to a region or country are another item Vera’s family likes to capture while on vacation. Examples include “Watch out for Kangaroos” (Australia), “Surfers Crossing” (San Diego), “Watch out for Nenes” (Hawaiian Native geese), and “Watch out for Snowmobiles” (Michigan).
The only rub about this collection is that they sometimes spot signs on the road but are unable to stop. For example, while traveling a Canadian highway, dangerous stopping conditions forced the family to bypass a “Watch out for Logging Trucks” sign.
When Erin M and her husband got married, they started collecting refrigerator magnets from every city they visited. They’ve since established standards for these magnets: the city’s name has to be somewhere on the magnet and the more unique the magnet, the better. If the magnet actually portrays some of the places or activities they’ve enjoyed, that’s great!
Andrea L tried to postpone business travel without her kids as long as she could, but by the time her daughter was 2 years-old, she had to start taking trips without her kids. She always wanted to bring something home for them, but the costs started adding up. She decided to purchase keychains from every place she goes without them, even the smallest of towns.
The keychains go on their backpacks, and now they’re very loud and jingly when they go off to school. The family has since expanded the collection to include keychain souvenirs from the places they go together, too. It’s an inexpensive choice and you can always find them.
Mary S and her daughter collect dolls from countries they visit. Mary bought her first doll in Ireland during college before she even had kids because she loved the doll’s outfit. Since then, she’s been collecting dolls wearing their traditional or national costumes. Her family also likes dolls that represent a place, like the Kokeshi from Japan or Matryosha nesting dolls from Sitka, Alaska with its Russian influence. Dolls are a great way to learn about a country’s culture and a lovely souvenir.
Mary started collecting decorative plates when she needed to fill an empty china cabinet and kitchen shelves. Now she has more plates than shelf or kitchen wall space! She loves plates that show the country or city’s attractions.
When Marti J and her husband were on their honeymoon, he purchased a beautiful pearl and sapphire ring for her. At that time, she didn’t realize how that would shape her future travel purchases. Fast forward about 16 years and now Marti always brings back jewelry from her trips. Not just any jewelry either, she likes to find unique jewelry, one-of-a-kind pieces that are relevant to the area.
On a recent vacation to Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, one of the employees was wearing a necklace that she fell in love with and made a comment about. The employee said that it was made by a local artist, Allison Craft. Marti made it her mission to find her studio and fell in love with Allison’s beautiful work of leather and sea pearls, a perfect memory of her seaside vacation. When people comment on the jewelry, a sense of calm and peace comes to her as she tells them where she purchased it and is reminded of a fabulous vacation with her family.
For years Susan K collected pins from her travels. She keeps them in Lucite shadow boxes with black felt backing. Pins are cheap and easy to carry around. When she went to the Atlanta Olympics in ’96 and found a world of pin collectors and pin trading, she was in heaven!
Tricia P loves getting out the ornaments each Christmas with her family and reminiscing about their favorite trips. She was excited to find one this year with “Caribe Hilton” on it so she can always remember how much Hilton has meant to her family’s travels.
Sheree A’s daughter collects pens with the destinations on them. But you can’t just grab one and write with it! No no no! She goes ballistic.
Tips from Kristine D on selecting items for your own travel souvenir collections:
Don’t go for ordinary
Is the item unique? Or do all of your friends and neighbors have it?
Make it Meaningful
Does it remind your family something all of you enjoyed together?
Is it affordable? Are you sure you’re getting it at the best price possible?
Can you find it at home?
Vacations are time for unique experiences and adventures, and the mementos commemorating them should be unique as well.
Make Sure You Can Transport it
Can you get your item through airport security?
What does your family collect during your travels? What feelings do these souvenirs elicit for you? Let us know in the comments below.
You may also enjoy:
- Tips for Making Vacation Memories with Your Family
- Planning Your Best Family Vacation
- Taking Vacation Photos You’ll Want to Print
Our Hilton Mom Voyage team members live throughout the U.S. and have traveled by air and car all over the world with their families!