Polaroid stacked images of vacation memories

Travel can be busy. Sometimes a trip can be filled with so many wonderful experiences that it left you with no time to find a souvenir to add to your travel collection to commemorate your journey. You are faced with the airport gift shop, paying way too much, for something that isn’t authentic in the least. Or, instead, have you spent too much time shopping for souvenirs, and you were forced to buy a second suitcase to bring home all of the chocolates, coffee, t-shirts, and coffee mugs you purchased? Beautiful photos taken on your phone are always the best memories to take away from your travels, but here are seven fantastic souvenir ideas that are meaningful, and also minimalist, to keep in mind for your next adventure.

Create a Unique Piece of Wall Art with Cheesy Magnets

There is a a little DIY involved in this memento idea. First, purchase a map of the world. There are so many beautiful maps to choose from in all different color combinations. We recommend somewhere between 5 and 10 square feet. Second, glue the map to a plate of metal (also the same size as your map). Now your world map is magnetized.

During each trip you take, purchase a fun, cheesy magnet to represent your visit. Instead of cluttering the refrigerator, simply place the new magnet on the location of your map. So, if you just returned from a mountain adventure in Breckenridge, Colorado filled with fresh powder and hot chocolate with peppermint sticks, place your new winter magnet just outside of Denver on your map.

Soon you will have a piece of unique, conversation wall-art, not only to be proud of, but to really represent you as a traveler.

Postcards Mailed to Yourself

At the beginning of your trip, purchase as many postcards as the number of nights you are staying. At the end of each day, write a postcard to yourself and include all of the memories, funny quotes your fellow travelers said, and small moment stories you remember from your day. Each morning, mail the postcard home to yourself.

By the time you return from your travels you might have a few postcards already waiting with even more to arrive in your mailbox. You’ve created a diary of memories on each postcard to add to your travel collection to remember the special moments in real time.

Elderly couple looking at photos of past vacation memories

Map Covered Memory Boxes

To travelers, maps are beautiful. Many travelers love studying, admiring, and discovering new places on the delicately printed colored roads, location dots, and monikers. On many vacations, you can pick up complimentary maps during your stay. Instead of recycling them, take them home as a souvenir.

Next, purchase small cardboard gift boxes with lids. You can order online, or purchase from craft stores. Using a hot glue gun, adhere the maps you’ve collected onto the lid and box, covering both. Feel free to get even craftier by including stickers or other brochures from your trip. Add a finishing touch using letters (sticker letters from craft stores, or cut out letters from craft paper) to spell out the destination name.  

Now you have a beautifully wrapped box to keep any other photos or memories from your stay. These boxes can stack to make great displays on bookshelves or coffee tables.

Ornament for the Tree

A “travel tree” is the best kind of tree. Collect an ornament from each destination you visit and soon your Christmas tree will be filled with so many memories all about travel. Sure, matching colored balls and ribbon is nice to look at, but a tree filled with ornaments from around the world is special. Many ornaments include the year and destination name on them, but if they don’t, write it with a Sharpie or paint pen on the bottom of your ornament. Each year your tree will look different, hanging more and more unique ornaments to remember your travels.

Rocks and Shells

If you have kids, this idea is a must do for future travel. Yes, a beach trip is the easiest place to find shells, coral, sea glass, and stones, but city and mountain destinations can also uncover this free souvenir idea. Challenge your kids to find the ‘best’ stone during your stay. Their minds will be in overdrive, becoming detectives on the lookout for shiny, smooth, bumpy, and sparkly natural rocks and seashells. At the end of the trip, tell your kids to pick their favorite to add to your travel collection.

Next, if it fits, write the destination name and year on the shell or rock. Large mason jars, or a glass tumbler work great to collect these natural souvenirs. The more your travel, the bigger and more colorful your container will become. Kids will have fun taking the stones and shells out and remembering the great times they had on their family vacations.

Siblings playing on Myrtle Beach outside their Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare

Handmade Jewelry

To avoid buying a second suitcase just to bring home souvenirs, why not buy a memory you can wear? Many destinations have farmers markets or other events with locally-made jewelry. Find out when these events are, and purchase a special necklace or bracelet to add to your travel collection. Wearing a piece of jewelry from your adventures is a great way to remember searching for “Nessie” in the Highlands of Scotland, or trying new street cart foods in Bangkok. You will also get to wear a unique piece of jewelry that no one else you know has.

Professional Travel Photography

Photos are still the best memories to take away from a trip. But the lighting and creativity of a professional photographer can bring travel photos to the next level. If you are planning your next Christmas card, or looking to put an updated family photo in the frame above the fireplace, consider hiring a vacation photographer on your next trip.

Flytographer.com can help you create a beautiful memory on your next vacation. This vacation photography company has 3 simple steps to come home with professional photos.

  1. Book Your Flytographer Shoot. Select your destination and choose your vacation photographer. Their Shoot Concierge Team will help you plan your shoot.
  2. Meet Your Flytographer. Once all of the fun details are planned, meet up with your local Flytographer to capture your vacation memories.
  3. Receive Your Photos. Your photos will be emailed to you, ready to download and share within 5 days of your shoot.


Why spend the last day of your treasured vacation on the hunt for gift shop souvenirs that will most likely end up in a forgotten box somewhere in the garage? And why schlep a new suitcase home filled with souvenirs for every person in your extended family that weren’t even on your trip? Instead, have a plan for a creative, and minimal way to remember your visit. This way, you can spend your last day outside making more memories, and of course, begin thinking about your next trip!

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