How many keychains and wooden masks does a discerning traveler need?

Trippy user Melinda Vance asked:

Interesting things to collect?
I will be heading off on a transatlantic trip in the future, and I was wondering what I should collect from each different city I visit. I have collected bracelets and beer bottle caps and postcards and barf bags in the past, but I really wanted something that could really be memorable and super cool. Thank you!

If you’re anything like Melinda or me, you’d have knick knacks from around the world either given by co-workers, friends, family or you bought them on impulse. Basically, souvenirs you don’t love and never used. Most end up collecting dust, donated to thrift stores or in a landfill somewhere.

But don’t write off the idea of getting souvenirs just because you had a few bad purchases. With a little help from Trippy users, you’ll be on your way to collecting cool souvenirs for your next trip.

We’ve rounded up 19 here:

1. Hand loomed cushion covers

Everyone has at least one cushion at home. Why not spruce up your old cushion covers with hand loomed cushion covers from Myanmar. Hla Day is a craft shop in Yangon, the capital city of Myanmar. This treasure trove houses products from over 40 artisans, HIV positive women, and disadvantaged people from around the country.

Products include whimsical children’s toys, clothing, jewelry, candles, and housewares.

2. Panama hats

If you’re visiting Ecuador, you must get Panama hats. These hats are made of Paia Toquilla, a palm-like plant that is native to the Andes in Ecuador. You may think these hats are from Panama, but they’re not. The name stuck since the 1900s with workers working at the Panama Canal.

Panama hats in Cuenca

Panama hat in Cuenca Ecuador

I bought one from Barrancos Panama Hats at Casa Paredes Roldan in Cuenca.

3. Toiletries

Trippy user, Brenda Burns from Long Beach recommends getting toiletries when in France:

… go to a local drugstore. They have wonderful bath salts, inexpensive hand lotions and some lavender oils and soaps from Provence that were fresh and lovely and really inexpensive. They even wrapped everything in fancy paper! Everybody loved what I brought them and stuff was small enough to fit into my suitcase and carry home.

I couldn’t agree more. In Porto, you should try getting Claus Porto’s soap. It’s made from 100% natural ingredients, plant-based oil, and shea butter.

4. Shoes

Women (and some men) love shoes! Why not buy them when on vacation? Fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan has this to say about women’s obsession with shoes:

Yes, buying a pair of shoes has always had near-supernatural effects — like instantly updating an outfit from last year or just making you feel hotter than hell…

Trippy user Katherine Daniel was excited to share this:

I love to get things that will last like jewelry, a coat, a purse or wallet, or my fav -shoes! That way, when someone says, “Cool shoes, where did you get those?” I can say “Paris,” and it takes me back!

I have my fair share of shoe buying experience in places like Florence, Shanghai, Singapore, and Auckland as well. Though I would say, not all shoes are created equal. A pair from Florence that I bought from an old shoe shop on Via Nazionale is still in great shape after 11 years. Unfortunately, the store is no longer there.

5. Scarves

Trippy user Beverly Woolworth said:

I collect scarves. They are lightweight, reasonably priced, easy to pack and you can actually use them. When people compliment the scarf, you can just smile to yourself or share a little bit of your trip with them.

6. Cookbooks

We know that technology and the readily available recipes online make cookbooks seem obsolete but there’s nothing quite like holding a cookbook with mouthwatering images. It’ll be even more enticing when the book has your favorite dish from the country you visited.

I like visiting old bookstores. Some bookstores worth visiting and getting cookbooks from:

7. Gourmet foods

Haleigh Walsworth from Paris recommended gourmet foods that you’ll hardly find in your hometown like:

Fauchon has an amazing selection of gourmet foods where you can get them French jam, amazing chocolates, teas, coffee and more that are delicious and unique to the country. I would also try La Grande Épicerie de Paris where they have a great selection of gourmet French foods that you can take home. Lastly, if you do end up at the super market, there are some very cute packets of Vanilla Sugar used for baking in France that are a cute authentic local thing here that I have never seen in the US. I always bring them back to my mom. Have a great trip!

Note: There are some restrictions when bringing food in from another country. Please read more on U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website.

8. Coffee and tea

Coffee and tea are my top picks for food souvenirs to bring home. I like Hierba Luisa (lemongrass) tea from Ecuador. A pack of 25 cost $0.89 from Coral Hipermercados – a large supermarket in Cuenca.

Café Aquila de Oro coffee

Buying coffee from Café Aquila de Oro, Quito Ecuador

I bought coffee from Puerto Rico, Indonesia, Finland, and Ecuador. The best was from Puerto Rico’s coffee farmers in Jayuya, central Puerto Rico.

9. Jam

Expat Edna wrote this about buying jam in Paris:

I always bring back JAM! You could choose a good brand in the grocery, or go to La Chambre aux Confitures which is just a shop full of jams — and they don’t mind if you sample all the cool combinations (I know from experience)! For a friend’s wedding, I once brought back jam with champagne in it 🙂

10. Christmas ornaments

A few Trippy users bought Christmas ornaments and recommended them too. Recently I bought one for myself while in Prague from a local artisan.

Heather Benson said:

I collect Christmas tree ornaments from every country I visit. They are fairly easy to find, affordable, and tell a great story sitting on your tree. Plus it’s a great excuse to make people listen to all your travel stories. 😉

Haley Martin from Destin replied:

I collect Christmas ornaments from all the places I visit. They may only be used once a year, but I love unpacking them and having a tree full of memories. I also always grab matches from hotels/restaurants.

11. Yerba mate cup with bombilla (straw/spoon)

Having spent two months in Uruguay and three weeks in Argentina, I’m still not a fan of Yerba mate, but I love a good mate cup with a bombilla. If you’re a Yerba mate ‘tea” drinker, you must get the Yerba mate cup with a bombilla from Uruguay or Argentina.

Yerba mate cup from Uruguay

Yerba mate cup with a bombilla from Uruguay

Or if you’re a coffee drinker you might want to get coffee mugs like Trippy user Lynn Farrell. She wrote:

I collect coffee mugs from the different countries/cities I visit. Then when I have my morning coffee, I think “where will I go this morning?” & choose a cup. Of course, my cupboards are getting quite full… I have friends who collect bookmarks, tea towels, fridge magnets, etc.

12. Cup coasters

Rick Schulze from Canada wrote:

I like to collect cup coasters from bars, cafes, and restaurants. They are small, light, interesting, and they travel well. Once I’m back home, they create conversation and bring back memories. They don’t last forever, but the wear and tear add to their character.

13. Artisanal bags

When you buy an artisanal bag, you’re supporting an artisan, creating jobs, helping the community, encouraging the continuity of a skilled trade and you get an authentic piece of art. Make sure you’re buying a genuine artisanal product, not a cheaply made imported bags.

Recently I bought a cork tote bag from an authentic artisan in Portugal. 10 years ago, I wasn’t that savvy and bought an “artisanal” straw bag in Nassau that was “Made in China”!

14. Chocolates

Chocolate is another favorite food souvenir. Did you know you can buy camel milk chocolates in Dubai? Watch Andrew Zimmern tasting camel milk chocolate on this video on Travel Channel.

Trippy users Ashley and Ryan R from Calgary said:

Can’t go wrong with chocolate!!

I do agree with that statement.

15. Sugar packets

Trippy user Tiffany Weber collects sugar packets. She shared:

I collect a lot of things, but as far as small, inexpensive ones, I love my sugar packets. I bring them home and put them in a jar for people to use when they come for coffee. Is always a fun memory and conversation started since the packets always have the name of the restaurant on them.

16. Sauces and spices

Joan Fisher from Arizona likes the sauces and spices in Paris. She recommended the following if you’re visiting Paris:

I love to buy Persillade which is a mixture of garlic and parsley in the spice section. You can’t find it here in the states. Also look for various Knorr and Maggi cubes of bouquet garni, Persillade, shrimp, mushroom, etc. and tins of Demi-glacé. There are so many wonderful things to discover and bring back for yourself and your foodie friends.

Paprika and cookbook from Budapest

Paprika and cookbook from Budapest

Paprika is one of the top souvenirs sold in Budapest. On my recent trip there I bought a sweet paprika, a hot paprika, and a Hungarian cookbook.

17. Cigars

Cigar aficionados may like to get the premium hand rolled cigars when visiting Cuba, Dominican Republic and Tampa, Florida. According to Cigar Journal, Dominican Republic is a dream destination for cigar smokers and cigar souvenir hunters.

18. Notebooks

Personally, I like buying notebooks for friends and family especially notebooks with indigenous designs.

Most travelers like Sean Kelly from Hudson, New York prefer keeping a journal:

Finally, I keep a journal. I mean a real journal; paper, pen, and hand written.

Every now and then I’ll place some of the papers, along with some photos, in the appropriate section of the journal, and leave it on my coffee table. The act of assembling it together brings me back to that place and time. Curious guests who look through the journal usually have plenty of questions. Also, I find that many people would rather investigate my travels on their own than listen to me blathering on about it. Let’s not even mention the dreaded slide show (no, I’ve never done that, but I’ve been captive to many).

19. Postcards

You can’t go wrong with postcards. They are cheap, lightweight and tell a story of where you went. Send one to yourself and loved ones from the destination you’re visiting. You don’t even have to carry them home.

What are your favorite souvenirs to buy or to receive? Have a question about what and where to buy souvenirs at a destination? Become a Trippy user and get your question answered.

Mentioned in this post
  1. Yangon
    City in Myanmar

    Yangon Myanmar
  2. Cuenca (Ecuador)
    City in Ecuador

  3. Porto
    City in Portugal

    Porto Portugal
  4. Province of Florence
    Attraction in FI

  5. Shanghai
    City in China

    Shanghai China
  6. Singapore

    Singapore Singapore
  7. Auckland
    City in New Zealand

    Auckland New Zealand
  8. Bertrand Books And Music
    Attraction in Lisboa Portugal

    73 R. Garrett
    Lisboa Portugal
    21 347 6122
  9. Libreria Más Puro Verso
    Attraction in Montevideo Uruguay

    675 Sarandí
    Montevideo Uruguay
    2915 2589
  10. Kinokuniya Book Stores Singapore (Main Store)
    Attraction in Singapore Singapore

    Singapore Singapore
    6737 5021
  11. Jayuya
    State in Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico
  12. Prague
    City in Czech Republic

    Prague Czech Republic
  13. Uruguay

  14. Argentina

  15. Dubai
    City in United Arab Emirates

    Dubai United Arab Emirates
  16. Budapest
    City in Hungary

    Budapest Hungary
  17. Cuba

  18. Dominican Republic

    Dominican Republic
  19. Tampa
    City in Florida

    Tampa Florida