Tchotchkes pile up and become an obligation to collect. T-shirts are bulky and there becomes an irrational attachment to purging them from our drawers. The goal in finding the perfect souvenirs is to choose something lightweight, small, and mildly functional.
Technically, I don’t advise taking them home with you, but rather having them waiting at your house. Get a few different postcards, write what you were doing on that day, and mail them to yourself. When you get home, you will have them as a tangible collection of memories.
Reusable Grocery Bags
I recently came across this idea in Vienna. Their version of Aldi, called Hofer, had very darling, reusable bags branded with the Vienna store name. The VIE airport also had unique Manner Wafer bags for 1,80 Euro. Anyone could use one of these, or it could double as an affordable gift bag to put other items in.
Chopsticks from China and Splayds from Australia are great examples of taking some local culture home. Branded ink pens cost next to nothing, or are often complimentary. Take them for your own use at home and trash them when they run dry. Everyday utensils tend to be small, functional reminders of a visit.
People like stickers. The fad of perfectly organizing beloved stickers on coolers and laptops has created a huge market for tourist destinations to have their own unique stickers. They can easily fit inside the pages of a book to stay flat on the journey home.
While these items can quickly pile up, I have to give them some credit. Keychains wear down quickly so it’s nice to have a backup. Magnets can hold up the previously-mailed postcards to the fridge until the next journey. They are cheap, small, and found in most places around the world.
Other items you love
Souvenirs don’t have to be immediately indicative of the place visited to incite a memory. Many worldwide companies have different items they release in different areas of the world depending on the demographic. (Platform Crocs??) I needed new sneakers recently but knew I would be going to Spain where they have fabulous shopping, so it would be a win-win. I could get something unique to Spain that I also needed back in the states. Find out before you leave what the place you are visiting is known for, and plan some souvenirs ahead of time.