If you travel a lot, you must be inclined to collecting souvenirs from the places you've gone through. Perhaps you have a detailed figurine that imitates a city's signature building or a collection of colorful fridge magnets or snow globes that illustrate the country's remarkable tourist spot. Whether they are big or small, cheap or pricey, these objects are meant to remind you of the wonderful experience you've had during your trip.
Souvenirs, however, don't have to break your pockets. In fact, some of the best souvenirs aren't sold in tourist shops always. They are either cheap or free, yet can evoke your senses and memories and will make you feel the excitement of globetrotting over and over again.
1. Natural elements
Instead of buying knick knacks like magnets and figurines that mimic the beauty of the area, why not take home a piece of the area?
Great souvenirs are all around you, and the best part is they are free. When you step out of your hotel room for a walk, look for natural elements like dirt, sand, pebbles, small sea shells, leaves, birds' feathers, and other pieces that will have more meaning once you leave the place.
A lot of travelers, especially those who love visiting beaches, collect sands from different beaches of different countries or regions. They put the sand in clear glass jars, vials, and bottles, and label them. Look for the natural element you think represents the country best and get a piece of it. For instance, you can get a small branch of Japan's cherry blossoms, some feathers from Milan's birds, or a cup of the salty waters of the Dead Sea.
Aside from collecting dirt, another cheap souvenir from the country is its currency.
Yes, keep those excess bills and coins from each country you visit before you can even use it for unnecessary spending. Of course, it would be more practical to collect the ones with the low denomination. Put the coins in a bowl or jar, make a collage out of the paper bills, or simply frame them to remind you of your great adventures during your visit.
3. Artworks from local artisans
Carvings, paintings, figurines, jewelry, and other precious artworks made by their local artisans should be part of your must-have souvenirs. We're not talking about the expensive, museum-worthy pieces but the cheaper but original ones. Take home something you would evoke your emotions and thirst for interpretation.
Aside from visual arts, it would be nice to collect pieces that could stimulate your other senses like distinct fragrances and authentic music. Bring home perfumes or scented candles to remind you of the country's memorable scent. If you're a music lover, you can collect tapes, albums, music sheets, or folk musical instruments that represent the country best, and display them on your world travel gallery.
4. A Variety of Spices
Tasting the country's finest cuisine is one of the best ways you can connect to their local culture. Unfortunately, you cannot bring home the authentic dishes you had from the country you visited. You can only bring the soul of their dishes - their spices.
Grab a handful of spices, dried herbs, condiments, and other dry and non-perishable foods. You have an advantage if cooking is your cup of tea since you can easily replicate the dishes. If you have no plans of cooking them, you can have a snippet of these spices and foods and display them creatively in your gallery by putting them in glass containers and letting them add color to your space.
5. Reading materials
We're not only talking about travel brochures and hotel flyers.
Collect local newspapers, magazines, and other reading materials even if you can't read most of them. It would be interesting to look at the diversity of culture and language all over the world. Furthermore, local newspapers, which are often given when you check into a hotel, will also remind you of the current time and event during your visit. It will also be ideal to collect locally published dictionaries.
6. Local market goodies
If you want to get the best out of your visit, skip the tourist shops and visit their local markets instead. There you'll see different stuff that may seem unusual for foreigners, which is a good thing. You'll have that element of surprise and will learn to appreciate the country's heritage better.
Check out their local wines and liquor, as well as their local produce and snacks. Aside from the munchies, you can also look for their unique clothing. If you go to Southeast Asian countries, you'll appreciate market-hopping more if step out of the city and go to the countryside, where you'll see garments, home decors, tableware, musical instruments, and other goodies crafted from natural elements and are often based on cultural and religious practices.
7. Those simple, everyday stuff
Maps, transit passes, movie tickets, table napkins from local restaurants, freebies from hotel, and other simple treasures you get every day are all worth displaying. You just have to be artistic on how you're going to showcase them. You can put it in your journal or scrapbook, or frame them like the one shown here made by the photographer Jordan Hebl.
If you can't buy souvenirs, make them - make memories and freeze them through photographs. Nothing beats the power of still images in showcasing the fun (or sorrow) you've had in your previous destination. Photographs capture scenes and places from your point of view, which makes them more personal.
A friendly tip: capture more moments, not just tourist spots. After you've taken a picture or two of each famous landmark, spend time observing the scene around you, the people as well as their emotions. Capture the busy streets and off the grid places, watch out for priceless moments you can record with one click, and look for different angles that you might not have seen in Google or typical postcards. If you're alone, ask a kind tourist or local to take a photo of you in front of a landmark.
After taking photographs, print them then frame them or clip them on your journey board.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Holiday Inn Parramatta Accommodation, a modern hotel in Western Sydney known for their exceptional accommodation, service, and location, which appeals to travelers in Australia. She has always been passionate about giving in to her wanderlust and collecting mementos from different places.