What We Consider A Souvenir!


I used to collect shot glasses and/or ceramic tiles when I could from the places I visit,  and my collection has grown quite a bit.  I would spend quite some time looking for that unique and perfect shot glass to add to my existing collection.  Below are a few examples from the collection.

tiles and shotglasses

Washington D.C;  Charlotte, N. Carolina; San Diego and San Francisco, California; Fossil Rim Wild Life Center, Glen Rose, Texas;  Roswell and Taos, New Mexico;   Reynosa, Mexico
Washington D.C; Charlotte, N. Carolina; San Diego and San Francisco, California; Fossil Rim Wild Life Center, Glen Rose, Texas; Roswell and Taos, New Mexico; Reynosa, Mexico
P1060239
Atlanta, Georgia; Hearst Castle, California; Sandia Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Hot Springs, Arkansas, Universal Studios, California; Holocaust Museum, Washington D. C.; Route 66

Barcelona, Spain 2007
Barcelona, Spain 2007

I struggled with deciding what souvenirs to bring back  for family and friends.  Because we travel so much, searching for souvenirs became time-consuming, overwhelming, costly and often put more weight in our luggage.

Sending  postcards to ourselves, family and friends is an inexpensive, but thoughtful souvenir. Unlike email, it is a hand written note with thought and attention placed in that card. We still purchase small souvenirs, but mostly for immediate family members.   Sending postcards is a way for us to preserve precious memories of our family trips and to let Emma know how much fun we had together.   Rarely are we on a trip without our daughter.  When we do go on a trip without her,  we still send a postcard to let her know we are thinking about her.

Postcard to our pkg from Hawaii
Hawaii 2004
Disneyland, Anaheim, California 2008
Disneyland, California 2008

Now that she is older she writes and sends post cards to Mommy and Daddy (with messages like *I love myself*).  She also sends cards to her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and her close friends.  Upon returning home I collect the postcards from various locations we visited and I turn them into wall decorations.  Our home is usually surrounded by memories of our travels. Regularly, I would revisit the pictures and the postcards with Emma and start a conversation with her.  This is another great way to educate our child about geography and consistently integrate travel into our lives.

We also take pictures of ourselves sending postcards.   Actually, this is a fun activity for all of us. Now, Emma reminds Mommy and Daddy to take pictures of her mailing the postcards.  Combined with  the pictures and the postcards, we have an ever lasting memory treasure/souvenir box, or shall I say “Souvenir Wall!”

We have not had any, not once,  professional studio pictures taken as a family.  We feel that it makes more sense for us to utilize our own travel pictures and have done so even before Emma was born.

the bathroom wall
Bathroom wall
bathroom wall #2
Bathroom wall
Taiwan 2008
Taiwan 2008
Boston, MA 2008
Boston, MA 2008
Disneyland 2008
Disneyland, California 2008
Disney World 2009
Disney World 2009

Monument Valley, Utah 2009
Monument Valley, Utah 2009

Arizona 2009
Arizona 2009
Bryce Canyon NP, Utah 2009
Bryce Canyon NP, Utah 2009
living room wall
Living room wall
Dining room wall, Venice, Italy 2006
Dining room wall, Venice, Italy 2006
Dining room wall, Venice, 2006
Dining room wall, Venice, 2006

Another thing I did one year  was a photo-slide show video highlighting our travels of that year. From time to time, we would view the video together as a family.  It is a great way to spend quality time together,  and yes,  there is a learning opportunity for her even during a homemade video.  Sometimes, when I am feeling blue or miss traveling, I watch the video to reminisce the wonderful times we had together.

These are all wonderful, inexpensive, memorable and meaningful souvenirs and they do last a lifetime. What I love the most about the souvenirs is that they come from a place of love and passion.  As a parent, I can only teach and guide our daughter with examples and role-modeling hoping that one day she will keep the family traditions we established to carry on in her own adult life.

Here’s one of my favorite souvenirs and my favorite Disney buddy!

This cards says it all
This card says it all!

Now it’s your turn!  Tell us!  🙂

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30 thoughts on “What We Consider A Souvenir!

  1. Great collection there. Souvenirs are always weird i find. It’s hard to find something that isn’t tacky and represents your experiences of a tourist destination. These days i usually only by for the 6 Nephews and Nieces I have! That’s more than enough. I like the idea of posting yourself postcards too. They are the one personal souvenir that friends and family often keep.

  2. Love this post! I was thinking about doing something similar. On my first overseas trip, I made the mistake of buying souvenirs for EVERYONE…not cheap, and such a waste. Now I tend to bring back a bottle of wine or some food to share with friends. Although a shot glass has never failed as a pleaser. 🙂

    I love the postcards! After six weeks in England, I took my plane tickets, ticket stubs, attraction passes, etc. and assembled them in a really nice collage.

    1. Hey Candice.. yes, souvenirs are costly. Now that we are totally trimming our stuff to suitcases, we’ll have to store our shotglasses somewhere like a storage.. the collage is an excellent idea, we still have lots of stuff we haven’t put together… a scrapbook perhaps.. but then again, will end up in storage when we move. Will still do postcards as this is a tradition for us. Thanks again for stopping by!! 🙂

  3. Love the Roswell ceramic. I rarely buy souvenirs, pictures are the best. Anything I can keep on a hard drive for that matter, otherwise I end up giving them away since I’ve got few places to keep souvenirs.

    1. Hey Anil.. great to see you back here — I agree w you. Now that we are trimming down our “stuff” we don’t need anymore souvenirs.. memories and pictures are great for us. Out tradition, we still send postcards to ourselves! 🙂

  4. I love the postcard idea. On my return trip from Brazil 75% of my luggage weight was gifts (I did a combined souvenir/christmas gift that year) and you are right it can become time consuming looking for the right gift for each person. Where as a thoughtful written note is just as meaningful if not more.

    I love the video idea too!

    1. we are definitely keeping the postcard idea. it’s a tradition. Videos and pictures/slideshows are the best… and a blog too of course!

      Great to see you here little monkey.. come back often.. send you some virtual bananas.. yeah??

  5. Love the idea! I’m a bit of a mug girl myself. However, local art is the best for me whether it is a small painting or a kitchen tool. We also save local currency and stamps. If it is possible with the type of travel we also try to get a bottle of spirits if there is one specific to the location such as a local rum from the Caribbean. Coffee is another big item for me if it is a location that grows it own or has a special brand.

  6. I love my magnets! They must be handcrafted or painted and typically inexpensive small works of art. We also collect our tequila bottles–crazy,I know! They are often handblown or have unique labels or impressions in the glass.

    1. Thanks ladies and gentlemen for stopping by and sharing! Great ideas. Yes, Ms. Steph, we know about you and Tequila!! haha
      Jen– keep those post cards from now on!!
      Everyone seems to you their own favorite and special ways to remember their journey by! Thanks so much for sharing them here!

  7. Oh, I wish I saved all the postcards I’ve received throughout the years. When I was younger, I used to ask people to send me postcards of their travels as my souvenir. But on the move from the Philippines to Canada, I lost most of them. Except 1 from a Japanese friend who went to Colorado and 1 from a Filipino friend who went to Atlanta in 1996 Olympic year…Sigh.

  8. Loving the post cards. We always buy them wherever we go, but never seem to send or display them. You have inspired me to start sending them on the next trip! We also love the photo’s. All of the art on our walls is Dave’s photography. I love having a story to everything in our house, whenever I look at my surroundings it makes me smile. I left this message on facebook, but we used to collect shot glasses too! and beer steins whenever we are in Europe. It is a hard habit too break, because we still buy glasses or mugs wherever we go.
    What a fantastic idea for a post!

  9. What fun – I also buy postcards but I don’t think I’d ever get round to sending them to myself – instead I bring them home and then use them as note cards, except I never like to use them as I want to keep them.

    I used to collect plates, and ceramics but now my walls are full, so I bring back things I can use everyday – normally tea towels and mugs. Oh and then there are always the Christmas decorations

  10. Post card are one of my Favorite too, other Souvenir I collecti is stamps and currency….

    what I look for in souvenirs are Inexpensive, Evocative (something that evoke me and put a smile on my face). I’d rather have a souvenir that I can use than one that sit and collect dust. unless is decoration that adds to your home/lifestyle.

    Some of the Souvenir I look for:
    Post Cards,
    Local Flayers
    Subway/Metro/ Museum Memorabilia
    local currency
    Stamps
    Local Music
    Some thing for the kitchen or for the house
    specialty of the country
    Take pictures and use them as souvenirs

    Travis T

  11. Great post. I started sending postcards to my grandmother and a really good friend a while back – and he has a map on the wall with all the postcards around it. For each postcard I try to put something positive about the place that I would want to remember in the future and they’re being kept for me. You can read more about my collections here.

  12. Hey Guys,

    Loved the post card idea. It is great to have something from every place you have traveled that you don’t have to carry around for months on end 🙂
    We too started out collecting shot glasses from all of our travels and have quite a few around the house. We also found that when we are on a long travel we ship stuff home. It makes it kind of like Christmas when you get home because you tend to forget about what you have sent.

  13. Hi! Just came across you on Twitter. Love your map shower curtain. Our big world map is hanging on the kitchen wall – we post stickers from produce and other products to keep track of where our food (and other stuff) comes from !

    I also just started a blog: http://www.childrenraisethevillage.com. All about volunteer travel with kids. I took a volunteer vacation with my children in June to the Quileute Indian reservation – a great trip for cultural exchange and basically right in our own back yard! I hope any of your friends and readers will comment and participate in that blog if they are interested in volunteer vacations with kids. Thanks!

  14. Thanks everyone for your interest in our posts and for your wonderful comments. They inspire ME to keep writing/blogging.

    Shannon: When I return to Burma, I did the shipping thing as well straight from Burma. It’s nice to have a cousin in the shipping business. ha ha! Now we just tried NOT to buy THINGS in general. Our problem now is expanding our storage for pictures.

    Thanks again everyone. Love hearing your individual stories from each and everyone of our readers.

  15. Love the postcards and how you have integrated them into Emma’s life – that is wonderful and will surely infect her with travel love 🙂 I learned the souvenier problem the hard way and have shipped home lots of packages on my rtw trip – but before they got shipped out each time was a struggle to carry them and repack my bags – what a hassle. Now I too have started sending lots of pc to fam and to myself!

  16. Your postcards are charming in that there is nothing more evocative of a place than a memento with your handwriting on it!
    Somehow seeing (and being able to touch) one’s written hand done in a distant place can transpose/connect you back to the moment that your pen touched the paper – and all of its associated other senses – the sounds, the smells, the textures that were around you at the time 🙂

  17. @Shane: love hearing about your own photo wall. Dinner with travel destination reflected in the menu is a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing.

    @Amy: Please steal away. That’s what are posts are about: sharing our experiences and traditions to inspire others! Thanks for your comments.

  18. We have two photo walls in our home. The rules are simple – one features images of places we’ve been and taken our selves – it runs down out entry hallway. The other is a family photo wall where we add pictures each year of our family doing something fun but in a casual relaxed environment.

    I also have a hard time finding souvenirs for friends & family from our travels and usually focus on local food products. We also try to have a casual dinner for our friends when we get back home with our travel destination reflected in the menu.

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