How to Choose the Most Memorable Vacation Souvenirs

By Denise May Levenick Premium

choose best souvenir

Vacation souvenirs have come a long way from plastic snow globes, scenic plates, and ashtrays. Instead of bringing home a trunkful of cute clutter, consider collecting vacation memorabilia you will actually use and enjoy. Here’s how.

Be a savvy souvenir shopper.

Going on a vacay of your own? One unique memento will be treasured longer and stored more easily than a cabinet full of trinkets. Bring home a souvenir that reflects the local specialty, whether it’s an Amish quilt or Nantucket Island basket. Don’t fall for the tourist traps; instead, seek out art galleries and museum shops that offer paintings, ceramics and textiles for home décor. Notecards and scarves make useful gifts without breaking your budget. I love stopping at a local market—the smaller, the better. The shelves are often stocked with locally made preserves, seasonings, cookbooks and kitchenware, at prices lower than gift shops.

Curate a collection.

If you’re a frequent traveler, create a collection by purchasing one of the same type of souvenir on each trip: a kitschy magnet, a small print or photograph, a shotglass, or a postcard.

Send custom postcards.

Our ancestors printed vacation snapshots as real-photo postcards to send to friends and family. Nowadays, smartphone apps like Postagram and Touchnote let you mail a photo postcard right from your mobile phone. (Both are free for IOS and Android, with a small fee for each postcard sent.) Download the apps and note mailing addresses before you leave.

Go for nostalgia.

Kids seemingly beg to spend their pocket money in every souvenir shop you pass. Steer young shoppers toward the kinds of keepsakes you wish you had today. Charm bracelets never go out of style. Pressed pennies are inexpensive (and make fun DIY necklaces and key fobs). And it’s free to take snapshots with welcome signs. You also could bring a favorite stuffie and make a photo journal of the traveling gnome’s adventures.

Bring the outdoors in.

Save rocks, shells or sand in a mason-jar memory globe or shadowbox frame, along with a topographical map or photo. Of course, these mixed materials may deteriorate over time. They’ll last longer when displayed away from direct light and heat, with archival-quality framing materials from suppliers such as Gaylord Archival.

How to Preserve Vintage Vacation Souvenirs