How to find the best souvenirs while traveling

I. Love. Souvenirs. Let me start by saying that!

Not really the cliché snow globe or bottle opener kind, but more the collect-it-yourself kind.

When decorating a room I always try to use personal and unique accessories. Although I’m a fan of IKEA as it can be useful for some rather cheap and practical basics, it just doesn’t cover it (sorry IKEA).

I love it when I can look around a room and see stories everywhere. And often the best stories are related to travel :) That’s why I like to collect souvenirs when I’m abroad.

A few examples to give you an idea: I have some fond memories connected to a book I bought in a tiny road shop in the USA, to a beautiful Larimar ring from the Dominican Republic, and even to a colorful Mexican carpet we dragged around in our backpacks for several weeks when traveling through Central America. You see, it really can be anything!

Travel souvenir from EcuadorGot these cute little birds on a local market in Quito, Ecuador. Love them! 

But souvenirs don’t always have to be bought. When on a journey I try to collect “natural souvenirs” such as stones, sand, nuts or seashells. Over the years I have collected several jars of sand from various places around the world. When I’m sitting in my living room and look at this collection I’m immediately transported back to all these stunning places.

Sand from all over the worldGrand Canyon sand

That’s why I love this type of souvenir, it’s totally unique and personal! And no other expensive piece of decoration can beat this. And… as a bonus, I think these tiny jars with their pastel fillings look so cool!

Coral // Dominican RepublicCollected these natural beauties on a deserted beach in the Dominican Republic. 

Tip number 1:

Little soap or shampoo bottles from hotels are perfect for collecting your personal sand or dirt souvenir.

Tip number 2:

Make sure you look beyond the regular in-your-face souvenir shops that sell more merchandising than authentic stuff. Walk a few extra blocks and I guarantee you’ll find a tiny local shop of someone who poured his or her heart into creating hand-crafted original artifacts, worth way more than a “made in china” souvenir from the first shop.

You might have to dig a little deeper into your pockets, but it’s definitely more rewarding to buy something from a local artist!

Mexican wood carving souvenirBought this carved little Mexican dude from a local artist near Chichén Itza, Mexico.