Family travel tips

Souvenir Shop Like a Pro with this Awesome Guide

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Ever been on a trip that you never wanted to end? One of the best things about traveling is embracing another’s culture and trying new things. It’s only natural that we would want to capture those moments and continue to revisit the feelings that we experienced while exploring new places. Souvenirs are the best way to do that, and this guide to awesome souvenir shopping will ensure you pick the right items.

 Altar. Teak wood wall panel. 4' x 3'
The Perfect Souvenir

How we found our perfect souvenir

During our first visit to Thailand, my husband and I set out to find the perfect souvenir. We walked down dozens of rows at night markets. We hit almost every street vendor we passed in search of a token. The two of us had no idea of what we were looking for or where we’d get it, but we knew we’d find it.

The night before we were set to depart Phuket, we wandered into a shop in Patong. This store was full of handmade Teak wood carvings. It was here that we made an incredible discovery. Covered in 5 layers of dust, peering at us through dozens of wooden sculptures, was a 4-foot wood panel carving. After an intense price negotiation exchange, this intriguing piece now hangs in our living room. It has a presence of its own and draws attention to all that enters our home.

Refrigerator covered in travel magnets as memorabilia
Easy reminders of trips

Many people ask about where we acquired the piece from, why we chose it and how were we able to bring it home. Our answers were never enough to satisfy them that it would lead to more questions and before we knew it we were discussing other keepsakes we’ve collected along with sharing beautiful memories of our travels.

Ready for fresh ideas?

Traveling is such an incredible way to step out of your comfort zone and experience different cultures. We want to be reminded of our journeys and share those experiences with our loved ones. To most people, the word “souvenir” suggests cheap novelty gifts you get when someone gets back from a vacation. These trinkets usually end up in a drawer, slapped on the fridge or a spare keychain.

Now, don’t get me wrong, magnets, keychains and shot glasses all make great souvenirs, but once you’ve run out of room on your keychain or fridge, what do you do? This post will give you some fresh ideas for Souvenir hunting on your next adventure.

Add relic hunting to your itinerary

Start thinking of souvenirs before you have officially started your trip. I know packing for a trip is stressful as it is. I have a toddler and a baby, trust me, I get it! Even though airlines are always “updating” their checked bag fees, try to anticipate the extra space you’ll need on the way back. Both times we traveled to Thailand, we ended up buying a new carry-on because the price was affordable.

I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling rushed while on a getaway. Allotting shopping time each day or one full day will allow you to move at your own pace.

Spice up you souvenier game 

Dozens of bags of brightly colored incense
Incense and Spices make awesome souvenirs

Spices and loose tea leaves make incredible souvenirs. Sure, you won’t be able to keep them forever, but if an experimental chef or tea drinker is in your midst, the gift of discovery is the greatest gift of all. Bonus: Look for individual tins and jars to keep the spices in.

Ask for the right memento!

Toy tuk-tuk made of small tubes of plastic and wire
Mini Tuk-Tuk is a fun momento

If you’re able to communicate with vendors, ask them about something rare. Most shops in touristy areas stock the same mass-produced items. I guarantee that by the third day of your trip you will have a pretty good idea of what the hot buys are. Every now and then you’ll come across a store that has a trinket you haven’t seen yet and if it appeases you buy it!

The right price for the right item

Keep in mind that a souvenir is nothing more than just “a thing” that reminds us of a person, place, or event. It doesn’t have to be expensive or cheap. A prized relic doesn’t even have to be for sale: think about rocks, ticket stubs, menus, matchbooks.Great souvenirs must resonate with you.

DIY Memorabilia

Snap photos of cool stuff like food, buildings, people (with their permission of course), and landscapes. Websites and apps like Shutterfly, Zazzl, and even stores such as Costco make personalization unique and straightforward. Items such as coasters, throw pillows, and phone cases are all good ideas as well for any occasion or hobby.

Do you have a favorite souvenir? Let us know. While you’re at it, don’t forget to like and share this post and subscribe to our page for updates and more family travel tips.

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If you need help figuring out how to make room in your luggage for souvenirs, check out our packing guide.


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