Travel Souvenir Ideas: 8 Chic Items You'll Love

Choosing the best souvenirs when you travel can sometimes be daunting. So I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite souvenir purchases from our travels! When we lived in Germany and just began traveling Europe, I didn't often purchase souvenirs because I didn’t know what to buy. I knew I didn’t want a bunch of cheesy knick knacks and I often went home with nothing. I ended up regretting it later, so I started making a point to do a better job searching for souvenirs I would love. Here are some ideas of things to bring home that are beyond the knick knacks you find at the airport stores and tourist trap shops. These are great ideas for yourself, but most could also be great gift ideas as well!

Souvnenir Idea 1: Vintage Prints 

Some of my vintage themed souvenir purchases. A framed print of the Opera House in Paris, magnets from Prague and Chamonix, and a framed postcard of the Berliner Dom.

Some of my vintage themed souvenir purchases. A framed print of the Opera House in Paris, magnets from Prague and Chamonix, and a framed postcard of the Berliner Dom.

Something about anything in a vintage motif seems to add elegance and charm immediately. I have a few things that fit this category. A framed print of the Opera House in Paris, a couple magnets, and a postcard of the Cathedral in Berlin. Postcards and magnets are also very inexpensive and easy to transport. Look for stylized postcards that can be framed as a small piece of art, rather than the typical photographic style. Another great souvenir I look for are vintage maps of the location. Sometimes they can be pricey, but they make lovely framed pieces!

Souvenir Idea 2: Christmas Ornaments

Christmas ornament from a Christmas Market in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Christmas ornament from a Christmas Market in Kyiv, Ukraine.

These are probably the souvenirs we purchase most. It is always fun pulling out the ornaments from our travels and reliving the memories. We try to pick something representative of the place we went or a memory we have there. Sometimes I can’t find an ornament, in that case a magnet will do. I glue a ribbon on the back later when we get home, and voila! 

Souvenir Idea 3: Professional Photography Session

The BEST souvenir! Family Photos in the Tuileries Garden in Paris, France. Photo by  Michelle Wever Photography .

The BEST souvenir! Family Photos in the Tuileries Garden in Paris, France. Photo by Michelle Wever Photography.

This is a little more of an investment, but worth every penny. We all know how hard it is to get everyone in the picture, so let a professional take over! These days there are several companies out there to help you connect with local photographers. FlytographerWanderloud, and Travel Shoot are a few examples. Know someone who had a great shoot in a destination you’re heading to? Ask them to pass along the photographer’s information. You can also ask for recommendations on Instagram, Facebook groups, or by searching Google. You won’t regret spending the money to have beautiful pictures of your family all together while on vacation! 

Souvenir Idea 4: Children’s Books

Some of the children's books we have collected along the way.

Some of the children's books we have collected along the way.

Buying a children’s book as souvenirs in your destination is a great way to keep the conversations going when you get home. My daughter was too little to remember a lot of the places we have been, but she likes looking at the books we have from different locations! I typically look for books in English so I can read them, but buying something in the native language is another option. It’s an item you can use over and over again when you get home.

Souvenir Idea 5: Textiles

Moroccan rug from Fez. This is a sentimental souvenir for me because I bought it for my daughter while I was pregnant.

Moroccan rug from Fez. This is a sentimental souvenir for me because I bought it for my daughter while I was pregnant.

Carpets, table linens, Turkish towels, or even a beautiful piece of fabric can make interesting and useful souvenirs. This carpet from Morocco is one of my favorite purchases. The buying experience was not pleasant (think high pressure sales and haggling) but it was memorable, and I love it!  We bought it when I was pregnant for the first time and had just learned I was having a girl. The carpet is still used in her room today. To get something like this home you may have to pay an additional baggage fee. The shop was able to wrap it up like its own little package. We managed to squeeze it in a bag, but could have checked it separately if we needed to.

I also love a cute tea towel for decoration as well as function. Tea towels can be found inexpensively most of the time. You can buy something with the destination name right on it, or something more subtle that just nods to the location, like a bike motif when you visit Amsterdam. These can also be conversation starters when people come to your home. 

Souvenir Idea 6: Food and Wine

Food items can make excellent souvenirs. Like these churchkhela, traditional desserts in Georgia.

Food items can make excellent souvenirs. Like these churchkhela, traditional desserts in Georgia.

Though food and drinks won’t be around forever, they are generally crowd pleasers and bring back good memories. Look for packaged candies, cookies, crackers, pasta, honey, wine, or spirits. Ask for some extra paper or bubble wrap if available and pack inside a plastic bag just in case. You can save it for a special get together, give it as a gift to someone when you return, or just pull it out on any old Friday night! 

Souvenir Idea 7: Local Art

Local artisan in Sarajevo working on metal engraving. We purchased a silver platter as seen behind him and have it hanging on a wall.

Local artisan in Sarajevo working on metal engraving. We purchased a silver platter as seen behind him and have it hanging on a wall.

How many times have you seen artists selling their work in the big plaza in town? This is usually very easy to find in Europe. Buy a watercolor or small oil painting that can fit in your luggage. Often the artist can help you find a way to package and protect your art for its journey home. Also consider art in the form of a beautiful wood carving or metalwork. Our silver platter from Sarajevo is one of my favorite decorative pieces. Think outside of the box!

Souvenir Idea 8: Clothes and Jewelry

Wearing my red cape from London in Berlin!

Wearing my red cape from London in Berlin!

Find a piece of clothing or jewelry you love and bring it home! It doesn’t have to be a traditional folk piece, it can be from a modern store. I think it’s more fun to find something at a small, local store than at a big box chain store that could be found anywhere. I bought this red cape in London near the Portobello Road Market and it is one of my favorite souvenirs ever. The red will always make me think of London!

What have been your favorite souvenir purchases? Please share with me below!

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