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A Practical Guide to Bringing Home Souvenirs From Vacation

By Daily Passport Team
Read time: 4 minutes

For many travelers, choosing the perfect souvenir is a highlight of any vacation. They can be a heartwarming reminder of fond vacation memories or a gift for loved ones to show them the new cultures and experiences encountered along your journey. The choice of which souvenir to buy is highly subjective and personal, but the process isn’t always simple. Do you go for a cheap magnet or splurge on an expensive piece of artwork? And what can you realistically bring home on the plane? Keep these eight helpful tips to keep in mind when looking for the best souvenirs to bring home from vacation. 

Take Note of Local Specialties

Horse-drawn carriage in Munich, Germany, with church towers in background
Photo credit: FooTToo/ iStock

The value of a souvenir is to remind you of a place you visited, but if it offers a connection to a local culture, all the better. You can research local crafts or specialty items ahead of your trip and plan where to buy them — or learn about them as you go. Either way, they will be a great reminder of a destination you visited and the culture you experienced. Often, the best places to find local handmade crafts are markets and street stands, where you also get a chance to interact with locals and find out more about the goods they are selling. As an added bonus, you can feel good about supporting local businesses or families who rely on tourism for their income.

Consider Starting a Collection

Christmas market at night in Kraków, Poland
Photo credit: Sckrepka/ iStock

As they make their way around the world, many travelers like to collect souvenirs with a particular style or theme. Whether you’re into snow globes or painted pottery, adding to the collection as you visit each new city or a country can be an enjoyable way to document years of traveling and showcase all the different destinations you’ve visited. 

Follow Your Passions

View of Eiffel Tower across Seine River in Paris, France
Photo credit: carmengabriela/ iStock

Some of the best souvenirs connect to our personal passions. If you’re an art lover, you might cherish a painting purchased near the Eiffel Tour. Enjoy cooking? Consider bringing home an apron from Spain to wear in your kitchen at home. And if you’re a sports fan, local team jerseys can also be a cherished keepsake. The more personal the souvenir, the more you’ll appreciate it.

Shoot for Something Useful

Pedestrians and motorbike on narrow cobblestone street in Rome, Italy
Photo credit: tunart/ iStock

Souvenirs don’t just have to sit on a shelf collecting dust. It’s even better if you can actually make use of them when you return home. Espresso cups from Italy, chopsticks from Japan, a bottle of perfume from France, a handmade wool sweater from Peru or a sarong from Thailand are all practical souvenirs that have long lasting value, in addition to being an instant reminder of our past travels.

Consider an Edible Souvenir

Spices at traditional market stand in Morocco
Photo credit: nimu1956/ iStock

This type of souvenir won’t be long-lasting, but foodies or those who love to cook will appreciate lingering on memories of local tastes for weeks after they have unpacked their bags. A morning cup of coffee from the beans you brought back from Colombia, honey from a local farm in Slovenia, fleur du sel from France, wine from Italy, or spices purchased at a Moroccan medina can all bring back great travel memories every time you use them in your kitchen. 

Snap a Great Photo

View of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Photo credit: turtix/ Shutterstock

Souvenirs don’t always have to be something you purchase. Travel photos are some of the best reminders and connections to our past travels. To make them more souvenir-like, consider printing out the most special photo from each new place you visit and create an ever-expanding travel wall at home. Or start a travel photo collection by capturing the same pose or a fun selfie in different places around the world you visit. 

Be Practical

Hiker climbing steps beside waterfall
Photo credit: nattrass/ iStock

It might go without saying, but it’s important to consider how you will get your souvenir home. That’s especially true if the item happens to be bulky, heavy, or highly breakable — or if you plan on traveling to several other countries before your flight home. You can also choose to have your purchases shipped home, but make sure you’re aware of the total cost (shipping, packaging, and insurance) and any regulations before doing so.

Close-up image of wine and meal on table overlooking river and cityscape of Porto, Portugal
Photo credit: DianaRui/ iStock

Fridge magnets or coffee mugs won’t be a problem, but taking certain items out of a country and bringing them into another could be a problem. A shell you took from a protected beach in Costa Rica to remind you of your perfect vacation might be confiscated at the airport as you go through security, since it is considered a national treasure. Reptile skins, tortoise shells, plants, seeds, or coral are other examples. Another thing to consider is quantity. For instance, wine lovers should double check the regulations on how many bottles they’re allowed to bring home before purchasing their favorite vintages.

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