There’s nothing quite like coming home from a trip and being able to share physical reminders of your adventure with friends and family. But let’s be honest; not all souvenirs are created equal. Rather than filling your home (and your loved ones’ homes) with tchotchkes that will end up in the garbage, why not bring back gifts that are actually meaningful and will be cherished for years to come? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
One-of-a-Kind Pieces of Artwork
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling to a place where artwork is abundant, whether it is paintings or sculptures, why not pick up a piece to bring home? Not only will it serve as a beautiful reminder of your trip, but it will also be unique; unlike mass-produced items, no one else in the world will have the exact same piece of art.
And if you’re worried about finding space for it, smaller pieces can easily be hung on the wall or displayed on a shelf or mantle. You could even frame a postcard of your favorite painting or photograph and turn it into a piece of art for your home.
Personalized gifts are always appreciated, and there are plenty of ways to make them unique to your trip. For example, if you are visiting Texas, you could have a customized belt buckle made with your initials. This way, you’ll always have a little piece of the Lone Star State with you, no matter where you are in the world.
Another option is to find a local artist who does custom-made jewelry and have them design a piece based on your travels. For example, if you are going to the beach, you could get a necklace made with shells or stones collected from the shore. Not only will it be a beautiful piece of jewelry, but it will also be a reminder of your amazing vacation every time you wear it.
For a truly unique gift, why not find something handmade by a local artist? This could be anything from pottery to woodworking to jewelry. Not only will your loved ones appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gift, but they’ll also be supporting a local artist.
To find handmade gifts, you can either look for markets or fairs where artisans sell their wares or ask your hotel concierge or tour guide for recommendations. If you are really struggling to find something, you could even commission a piece from an artist; for example, if you fell in love with a painting you saw on your trip, you could ask the artist to make a copy for you to take home.
Tickets, Maps, and Other Physical Mementos
One of the great things about physical mementos is that they don’t take up much room and can easily be stored away until you’re ready to look at them again. If you are feeling sentimental, consider saving things like ticket stubs, maps, and other ephemera in a photo album or scrapbook.
That way, you can flip through them whenever you want and relive all of your favorite memories from the trip. Another fun idea is to frame some of these items and create a sort of “travel gallery” in your home — an ever-evolving display of all the different places you’ve been.
Gifts for Others
Of course, one of the best parts about coming home from a trip is being able to share your experiences with others — so why not bring back gifts for your friends and family? If you are struggling to think of something thoughtful, try to find unique items that are specific to the place you visited.
For example, bringing back a bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar would make for a great (and delicious) gift if you traveled to Italy. Or, if you went somewhere with plenty of jewelry vendors, picking out a nice piece for someone special would be a surefire way to score some points. However, if you do go this route, just make sure not to get caught up in tourist traps and overspending — after all, it’s the thought that counts!
The next time you plan a trip (or even if you’re coming back from one), keep these ideas in mind and see how many meaningful mementos you can bring home with you. You might be surprised at how much joy they bring — not just to you but to everyone around you. So get out there and start exploring — and happy gifting!