Your budget traveler’s favorite souvenirs are…(hint, real estate agents)

I don’t buy myself souvenirs when I travel, mostly because I’m cheap.  I love clothes and lipstick, but otherwise I’m not a “thing” person.  I am a food person, but most of what I want to bring home is liquid; local honey or you know, about twenty bottles of olive oil, which certainly would exceed the 3 ounce limit imposed by airport security.

Also, I just don’t have any extra room in my backpack.

Also, shopping is boring and takes valuable time from more important activities, such as picnicking in front of cathedrals.

Also, I’m cheap.

DSCN3753 (2)

I do end up with souvenirs, though, such as these real estate agent business cards from Estonia.   (I collect real estate agent cards—the kind with portraits—from around the world.  Want to send me some?)


Travel tissue makes a good, accidental souvenir. When I was growing up there were a few wealthy kids who would go skiing in large resorts and wear their ski lift tags all stacked up on their jackets for months afterwards like pretentious twerps.  I like to channel the twerps of my youth and ostentatiously pull a tissue packet from my pocket, as if to say “Oh dear, do I still have this old Kleenex from Taipei in my pocket?  And my gawd can you believe how scratchy they make the hankies in Zagreb?”


Getting souvenirs for other people—especially those excellent people who take care of your cat or cover for you at your job while you’re out buying Albanian Kleenex—is just good manners.


When buying souvenirs for others I look for locally made crafts, such as this papier-mâché bird from a farm on the Estonian/Russia border or the shadow puppet from the Muslim market in X’ian.


HOB and I gave these painted eggs from Romania as a wedding gift to friends who married shortly after we returned from our trip.


Foreign junk food makes a funny souvenir, though I find that locally made chocolate is better received.  (Don’t tell anyone but I often “accidentally” buy an extra chocolate bar to get out on the airplane when HOB’s being cranky.)


Best souvenir of all?  Muddy shoes.  I can rinse them, but that stained memory of a unique cultural experience will never wash out of my walking shoes.  Call me cheesy (hell, I know I’m cheesy) but you can keep the souvenir spoon because I got to keep the trip.

Do you buy travel souvenirs?  If so, what?


  1. Yeah in another life I had a kitchen full of stuff I”d picked up on trips. In my fantasy people would wander in my kitchen, ask me where I got stuff and I’d say ‘oh I just picked up this in (wherever). But nobody ever came in my kitchen and if they did they never asked.
    I like transport cards, or phone sims thee days..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, how could I have forgotten transport cards—the perfect bookmark souvenirs!


  2. I like to scour local thrift shops for stuff I could not afford in a touristy gift store. Example: in Norway, I found a deer hand-carved out of a knotted branch of a tree. It weighed a ton but I managed to get it into my carry-on. Thrift-shop jewelry is good too—I’m way too cheap to buy any otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hail fellow cheapskate!

      I’ve popped into a few thrift stores abroad (because I frequent them at home I’m curious). I’ve never bought anything though. What did you do with the deer?


      1. I’d post a picture of it if I knew how. It’s on a table in my entry way and the antlers are little branches that kids who visit get a kick out of replacing. I guess it’s about ten inches high, a deer bending way down to graze. The shopkeeper said it was by a known folk artist. A real cheapskate find!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I collect Christmas tree decorations, either featuring something iconic to the place or made in a local craft tradition. That and my ten million photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must love Christmas markets!

      Oh man, tell me about the ten million photos, story of my travel life!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve only ever been to one Christmas market, in Prague, and it was good! Generally most gift type shops have some sort of decoration that can be made to work on a tree. It’s quite an eclectic collection including a little velvet Hamlet from Denmark and a painted skull from Mexico – super festive!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the muddy shoe thing!!! We buy some postcards, maybe some tea, or coffee, and sometimes chocolates!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pretty sure if I’m not covered in mud by the end of a trip I’m doing something wrong.

      I get postcards too–usually just at those infuriating places with no photography policies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t hit like, because I appreciate the “No Photography” policy, but because I agree with you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was in Germany, i used to collect “Deckel” (hope I’m getting that right!) the listtle cardboard coasters you get placed under your beer in any Kneipe (pub)anywhere in Germany. Usually they advertised the logo of the local beer: Bitte ein Bit! ((Bitburg) Warsteiner (Warstein) Koelsch (Cologne) etc. Apparently I am not alone in this:

    According to that article Bierdeckel, meaning beer “lid” came from the days when a beer stein had a lid to keep the flies off! The name stuck even though the pressed paper coaster goes under your beer, not on top.

    Love the shadow puppet!


    1. These are new to me—I’ve been to Germany a few times but never to a pub. If I go back I’ll swipe one. What did you do with your collection?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good question. I expect some of it is here, somewhere. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. In his younger days Leo brought back a large wooden lion from Sierra Leone…British customs confiscated it on the grounds that one leg was lighter in colour than the others and so it must contain drugs….
    It was eventually returned to him with said leg unattached by a customs official who hissed ‘You were lucky! I’d have had you!’
    End of souvenir buying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aha, the old trojan horse, errr, lion trick—I’m on to you Leo!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmm, I must be quite boring, my only souvenirs (apart from photos which I eventually post on Instagram) are local guidebooks, mostly in English but occasionally in French or Italian if that’s all that’s available abroad. I love reading about the history, culture or architecture of wherever we go, plus the books include photos I couldn’t take myself and maps so I can mentally walk around the place when I’m back home!

    I used to keep receipts, bus and train tickets etc to stick in an album with the photos but as it’s been about ten years since we last had photos developed that’s all gone by the board.

    Incidentally, I was briefly entertained by “friends who married shorty”…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for pointing out my embarrassing spelling error—I’ve corrected it. Anyway, the friends are still happily married so perhaps the eggs are responsible?

      Yeah, I went through a phase of making combination scrapbook/photo albums of our trips. These days they are gathering dust while I’ve moved on to misspelled blog posts…


  8. What a wonderful post, you have a way of picking up on topics we all deal with but most of us would never think to address. I have had phases, the keep every receipt and ticket stub and glue it in a journal phase, the print photos for frames phase, the buy clothes, hats and shoes phase, the buy wine and olive oil and then find I cant fit them so have to drink the bottle of wine in one evening before flight home, the buy artisan items from local artists and then get home and am not sure where to put that filigree letter opener. But what really transports me to places I loved… reading back through my posts, reading other peoples posts, facebook travel images and just taking the time and space to occasionally take a little trip down memory lane. None of it is really captured in the stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have pictures of HOB and I drinking olive oil straight from the bottle at the end of an Italian trip, no lie.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I collect program booklets from the opera, or at least try not to lose them before I get home.


  10. Charming post. I like to buy something handmade, not very expensive, and also look for fallen leaves or pebbles.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: