The Best Family Travel Souvenirs

The temptation to pick up a trinket every time you leave home is strong. The “what-didja-bring-mes” that used to greet me as soon as I walked through the door are a testament to years of me doing exactly that.

Then I stopped and started focusing on memories instead.

Sometimes the memories live in a tangible object.

There’s the mask we bought from the carver after asking our guide to take us up into a less touristy part of Thailand, the hats we paid too much for in Peru because we saw the babies the money would help to feed and the schoolchildren who would read because of it.

Peru Mom

Meeting familes in Peru gave special sentiment to hats and scarves purchased there

There’s the 2 x 3 framed carving I brought back from south Africa in the days when carry-on sizes were unlimited (ah the good ol’ days). I saw it and knew I had to have it because the child on the dad’s shoulders in the carving so reminded me of my husband and son doing the same back at home.

African Art

Kids on shoulders - just like home

Each one of those items was purchased because they held meaning for me at a particular moment in my life. They still do.

When I walk through my home I relive those moments and the trips that brought them to me.

Occasionally I falter, grabbing a t-shirt for the collection my husband and I started for the kids when they were babies and we didn’t know better. But those shirts are falling farther between and are no longer sought out the way they once were.

I’m guessing that next year the souvenirs will be the best ever. The whole family, together, for a full year of experiences captured by cameras and notebooks.

I expect that the kids will occasionally ask to buy a souvenir on the trip.

I’ll probably give in when they stumble across some cool toy or trinket , but I’ll call the trip a real success, if what they bring home  lives in their heart and not on their mantle.

Have you or your kids got a favourite souvenir? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below.

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Arrows Sent Forth November 19, 2010, 1:29 PM

    We try to find a Christmas ornament everywhere we go that reflects that location. Someday I hope to fill a tree just with our travel memories. It’s fun to get them out each year and talk about our many wonderful destinations and memories! (Plus, they are small and usually relatively inexpensive.)

  • Heather Greenwood Davis November 19, 2010, 5:17 PM

    I love that you get to relive the travel every time you pack and unpack the ornaments. Great idea.

  • Melanie Fine - EVI November 20, 2010, 6:07 PM

    We take lots of photos and then make a poster size collage when we get home and hang them in the family room so we can be reminded of our favorite parts of the trip!

  • Heather Greenwood Davis November 20, 2010, 6:18 PM

    Hi Melanie :)
    Love that idea. Too many of our photos are stuck in the computer. Working on getting them out and up where we can enjoy them.

  • laura November 21, 2010, 8:55 AM

    Our best souvenirs (after memories) are photographs, children’s books about the place we’ve been too, and art for our home! My children have a few handicraft-type souvenirs from the trips we’ve taken or the places we’ve lived (right now we’re in Vietnam, so plenty of silk lanterns), but whenever we’re at Disney, it’s something soft to hug that they appreciate.

  • Heather Greenwood Davis November 21, 2010, 5:00 PM

    Thanks for the reminder about the kids books Laura. I’ve used them in the past to help my kids relate to a place I’m visiting and to show them how different (or similar) the place is to their own lives. The lanterns sound beautiful. How long have you been in Vietnam? We’re planning on making it a stop on the Round the World trip next year. Any suggestions?

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