Souvenir Ideas Out of the Ordinary

Unique and special souvenir ideas can be hard to come by. It's so easy to just grab another tee shirt emblazoned with your destination, but wouldn't a local craft or framed print be more meaningful?

I have to admit to having more than a few souvenir t-shirts and trinkets with the location's name on them. But I try to find something a little different each time; something that will remind me of my trip without screaming "I've been there!" Objects that jog our memory and let us re-connect to the experiences we had when traveling are the best souvenir ideas.

For me, unique Christmas ornaments are fun souvenirs. My whole Christmas tree is a scrapbook of my travels, as well as my life (with ornaments from family and friends, too).

Just about anything can be a souvenir

If you're a collector, that's a good place to start. Whether you collect teapots (these are from Korea, Hawaii, and Taiwan) or framed art, chances are you'll find something to add to your collection.

As you'll notice in my photos, I'm a cat lover. The framed prints shown here all have a cat in them; the one on the left is from Chinatown in Montreal, the center print is from Arizona, and the one on the right is from San Francisco.

Hunting for and finding just the right cat souvenir can be a fun activity, and a great memory in itself!

And here's another idea for framing your own photos: mat the photo with a map of the area. Unfortunately I don't have an example of that, but I've seen it done and it looks terrific!

There are all kinds of trinkets you can collect on your travels that are great souvenir ideas, too. I like boxes in all sizes and shapes. These are from India, Turkey, and Arizona.

I love the intricate painting on the box from India, the iridescent design on the tiny box from Arizona, and the carving on the copper/silver box from Turkey.

Other trinkets, like these reverse-painted snuff bottles from Hong Kong and carved figurines from Hong Kong and India, are produced for the tourist market.

But I don't shy away from those; they are somewhat representative of crafts produced for local use and they are definitely not something you'd find at you local store. Just try to avoid anything that has "Hello From (Location)" scrawled across the front!

Mugs are another item that can scream "souvenir!". But the one in the photo simply has some flowers and the phrase "good morning" in French; it reminds me of my trip to Montreal (and the square across from Basilque due Notre Dame, where I bought it). The silver goblets are Chinese wedding goblets and the little pitcher is from Mexico.

Everyday objects with the local language or a distinctive design that reflects the local culture are great souvenir ideas.

Supermarket souvenirs are lots of fun! I don't necessarily go out looking for these, but I often end up keeping an item (or its packaging) when I pick up a snack or soft drink. I especially like foreign versions of familiar items, like the Coca-Cola cans from Korea, Japan, and India. The bottle is from the Coke museum in Atlanta. The other small bottle is a cough medicine from Korea, and, of course, the canned alligator is from Florida (funny how that's the only one I didn't actually consume!)

How Do You Display Your Treasures?

What's the point of bringing back a souvenir if you just throw it in a drawer? Displaying your treasures not only reminds you of your trip, it can be a focal point in the decoration of a room.

I've spent quite a bit of time traveling to many Asian countries on business. I love Chinese culture in particular, and I love the Asian "look" of things, although my overall decorating scheme is anything but Asian or Oriental!

But I also like red, and my living room has red accents. Many of my Chinese souvenirs are red or have red in them; I've arranged them on a single wall as a focal point of the room.

I think the display works on a lot of levels:

- the diverse items are joined by the color red

- everything is Oriental in look and feel, although a few of the items were purchased in the US

- most of the items reflect my passion for cats, from the figurines to the framed prints

This is one of my favorite areas of the living room. For good or bad, it says a lot about me in just a few square feet!

Don't be afraid to come up with your own souvenir ideas and bring things back from your trip; it's not necessarily "touristy" (and even if it is, you are a tourist!). I hope your travels are both educational and fun - who wouldn't want something to remind them of that?

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