Cheap Souvenir Ideas for People with No Room in their Bags


When you’re traveling, space is limited. Unless you’re willing to ship a box to mom and dad, you might stop buying souvenirs altogether.

But there’s a problem with this approach. Even the smallest and cheapest trinket can flood the mind with memories. And it doesn’t matter how small or cheap it is, a souvenir for your loved ones will be appreciated.

I’ve been notoriously neglectful in buying souvenirs and gifts, and often regret not having collected something from each place I’ve been. Shopping stresses me out, but buying souvenirs doesn’t need to be a hassle. The key is to buy things that are small enough to not burden the bag, cheap enough that you don’t have to think about it too hard, and most importantly, routine enough that buying them is second nature.

A souvenir is not like other items in that it has to be explicitly from its place of origin. Otherwise, you won’t remember where it was from a few years down the road. That beautiful shell you found on the beach in Bora Bora looks just like the one you found on the Coromandel Peninsula. Souvenirs are indelibly and often literally stamped with the character of a place.

1. Stamps

Philately is delightfully old-fashioned, and I think it deserves to make a comeback, especially among frequent travelers constrained by their bag’s cubic inches. Stamps take up no space, but you do have to ensure your stamps against the scourge of humidity. Try wax paper; it seems to work well.

2. Money

You always end up with a few coins or bills after each new nation. I’m sure you have a good collection by now. I love mine, and it often occurs to me how valuable money is as a souvenir. Of course, your €50 bill isn’t a souvenir, but your Euro coins collected from different nations can be. Kids in particular love coins and “funny money.”

3. Postcards

Seems like a no-brainer, but I rarely send postcards anymore. Even if you don’t mail yours, collecting them and scrapbooking later can be a trip down memory lane.

4. Magnets

I had a friend once who collected fridge magnets, so whenever I went somewhere new, she would ask for one. Magnets are inexpensive, light, and easy souvenirs.

5. Tattoos

Before we got our first tattoos in Tahiti, I never realized the potential of tattoo as a keepsake. Tattoo is a powerful and permanent memory, so don’t take it too lightly. If the timing is right–do it like this blogger does. I don’t necessarily think this approach is the best idea, but there are creative concepts that tattoo-friendly travelers can collect such as tattooing a local flower from each country.

6. Brewerania

All beer lovers love brewerania. My parents used to collect beer coasters from their travels, and when I was a kid, I loved playing with their collection. Now, I have thousands of beer mats from my travels too. When you carry just a few, they don’t weigh much, but they can add up surprisingly fast. When the pile builds up too high, they are a lightweight enough to be shipped home easily–no box required. Beer bottle labels and beer bottle caps can also serve as souvenirs.

Jewelry, spices, and other items can be souvenirs, but not all countries have unique spices or jewelry and so these types of things aren’t necessarily going to become routine items. Besides the obvious, like your own photographs or one-of-a kind items, what other types of souvenirs do you like collecting or sharing with loved ones?

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