Postcards, t-shirts, refrigerator magnets. Are these the keepsakes that capture the memories of your travels or are you one of the inspired few who seeks something a bit different? Something that reignites memories of a unique experience or destination!

Warm leather and fur hats can be found in shops throughout Norway.

For me, donning my toasty Norwegian leather and fur hat brings back the emotions and joy of photographing landscapes in the frigid Arctic Circle. Isn’t it funny how a travel souvenir can bring you back to those special places?

Patricia and Steve Bonem are enjoying retirement traveling around the US in their new recreational vehicle. They have traversed the mountains and the Plains. The Cincinnati, Ohio, couple fondly remembers their trip to Monument, Utah. The colors of the isolated red mesas and moonscape-like desert vistas are captured on a Navajo wall hanging. “It was woven by a weaver who lives in the Valley — with no electricity,” says Patricia.

Spiritual Souvenirs

Religious destinations and souvenirs hold a special place in people’s hearts. Amy Ballenger Guest of Georgia treasures the olive wood chess set she acquired during a visit to Jerusalem.  Another prized possession is an elegant, consigned wedding kimono from Osaka, Japan.  

For Danae Fanuel-Richards, a realtor from Westchester, New York, fond memories of a trip to The Vatican are rekindled every time she looks at the new family Bible purchased while on her honeymoon trip. 

Sometimes you don’t have to travel to the destination to experience its magic. Rose Mithamo of Kenya received a special housewarming gift from a friend who had visited Dubai: a hand-crafted glass cross made by a young boy with Down’s Syndrome. 

Musical Notes

Erin Ann Simmons from New York’s Hudson Valley, celebrates her Irish heritage with a tin whistle she got from a thatched room shop in Doolin, Country Clare, an Irish music mecca. “It was 1991, and I was 16,” she says. “A German man back at the B&B taught me how to hold it and play.”

“My all-time favorite souvenir was a framed music sheet cover from Newport, Rhode Island,” says Connie Tejeda a communications pro and artistic furniture renovation expert from Hartsdale, New York. “I bought it a year after we were married, and it was dated around 1921. We enjoyed it for 30 years.”

Colorful Murano glass is perfect for stylish cuff links.

Some Italian Favorites

When you think of Venice, thoughts of gondolas and St. Mark’s Square probably spring to mind. Those images come back to life when Harley Mayersohn, a retired hospitality executive from Boston, wears his favorite cuff links, which are crafted from exquisite Murano glass.

“My favorite item was from Perugina, Italy,” says Amanda Cline of Phoenix, Arizona. They had an international chocolate festival, and I brought home a small poster and chocolate Roman statue heads.”

Scandinavian ornaments share images of folklore.

Seasonal Trinkets

Holiday ornaments make a great gift and help you share a destination with family and friends. I bought my best friend in Connecticut hand-crafted ornaments from Belgium that looked like real chocolate pralines — and I didn’t have to worry about them melting in transit!

Hilary Hansen of Minneapolis had the same idea. “I brought my family back Christmas ornaments from Iceland. Everyone loved them.”

Mike Olson, an Employee Relations Consultant with a large international financial services company, has lived and traveled abroad. An avid cook, his favorite travel souvenirs include handmade, wooden, old-school kitchen utensils from East Berlin, including a meat tenderizer, citrus reamer and cooking spoons.

A Little Whimsical

“My husband knows I want a small house in Costa Rica to retire to, with chickens,” explains Joy Rubenstein Lewis of Lake Ronkonkoma, New York. “The last time he was there, he bought me a ceramic house with chickens in the yard. It might be the best thing he’s ever given me, which will have to do until I get the real thing.”

Of course, there are still fridge magnets. Jayne Singer, a California special education teacher, still smiles when she looks at the whimsical fridge magnet she picked up in Iowa. It shows a masked robber holding a gun on an overweight, elderly educator. “You can’t scare me,” it reads. “I’m a teacher.” 

Finding Love on the Map

Travelers can even find love while on holiday. For Patrice Flesch of Boston, it was “Playa,” the beloved cocker spaniel puppy that she brought back from a trip to Mexico. She calls it her best travel souvenir ever!

Although she didn’t purchase her “souvenir,” Anne Albanese jokes that the best thing she brought back from a trip was her husband Frank. The Redding, Connecticut, couple recently celebrated their 21st anniversary in September.

So, what have you brought home from your travels?

Share Your Favorites!