You don't have to buy things to make your trip memorable - check out this list of free souvenirs that you can get from virtually anywhere!
Have you ever heard of FOMO? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and I think it’s safe to say we all experience a little FOMO especially when it comes to traveling. Making sure we squeeze everything into our itineraries, getting depressed about having to come back home before we’ve even left, and of course, making sure we buy lots of souvenirs to remember our trip by. Sound familiar?
It’s almost as though souvenirs have been marketed to tourists as absolute necessities, you know? Like, you came here to this country, so therefore you need to buy something from here to make your whole trip legit. And I get that, to an extent. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying souvenirs, especially if they come from local artisans and actually somehow relate to the culture. But, whatever floats your boat!
Personally, because I hate clutter and I try to be realistic and thoughtful about any purchase that I make, I look for alternative memories to bring home that aren’t just “things,” or “stuff.” Stuff bogs you down physically and mentally and it takes a toll on our planet when it ends up in a landfill. But then again, sometimes you find things like this seal pillow that you simply must have, and so of course there are exceptions to the whole “stuff” rule.
The cutest/most absurd souvenir I think I’ve ever seen. In Keflavik International Airport!
But here are a couple ideas for souvenirs to take home that cost absolutely nothing (and are environmentally conscious)!
So obvious, but so true! Photos are legitimate moments in time that you captured; visual representations of actual things that you actually did. It’s crazy to think about them that way considering they’ve become such a natural part of our lives! But really, what better way to relive your trip than through photos! Granted you already have a camera (or a phone), photos are completely free to take, you can take unlimited amounts of them, and they’re uniquely yours.
I mean, come on. We’re pretty cute, right?
When you get home there are lots of ways to showcase your photos, like:
Add them to your Instagram
Turn them into Mixtiles
Create a photo book using a site like Snapfish
Create a photo collage or scrapbook
2. Written account of your trip
This is one of those things you’ll be so thankful that you did! It’s such a cool thing to be able to look back on your trip through your own words. And while handwritten journals and diaries are awesome and I am a huge fan of them, travel journal apps are a great option too. I’ve tried quite a few of them and I have to say that my favorite one is Polarsteps. It’s easy to use and has a clean interface. You can add text, photos, and check-ins, and their map feature makes it easy to visualize the exact steps you took. And when your trip is all over, they’ll even turn your entries into a travel book! That’s SO convenient and SO cool. That way, your travel journal doesn’t need to stay in your phone!
Boarding passes and admission tickets are the types of things that you either throw away immediately, or hoard forever in a box in your home. But somehow I think I fall somewhere in the middle. If you’re the type of person who is inclined to keep tickets and things like that, they can make a great keepsake with just a little bit of craftiness! Buy a shadow box and turn them into a piece of wall art for your home! Or include them in the scrapbook with your photos. You can even write a bit of text including a few details about what you did!
Boarding passes, train tickets, and even change in the local currency make great souvenirs!
Does anybody else just love maps? I freakin’ LOVE maps. I have a map of the world hanging in my living room and I love it not only because it looks cool, but because I actually use it as a reference. It’s so nice to be able to turn around and see exactly which countries border China, you know? I know I can’t be the only one who has questions like that. But regardless…
The hostel front desk, the hotel concierge, or the city information center will typically have free maps for you to take and use. They’re not only useful for navigating a new city, but they can turn the walls of your home into a work of art. With a simple frame and some scribbles to mark your route or any places that you visited, these free maps can become awesome conversation starters for your home.
If you’re into beer or if you’re a foodie, coasters might be a fun thing for you to collect. That is, if collections are your thing. Snag a coaster at every place you can and then write a little bit on the back of it. The date, the drink or food you had, a funny memory, you get the idea! When you get back home you’ll have a fresh set of coasters for yourself and your guests and a constant reminder of that time you had tapas and sangria in Spain.
6. Beer or Soda Bottles
Alright, I know that you technically have to pay for a beer or soda bottle. But if you’re already buying one so that you can drink it, keeping the bottle as a keepsake is a free souvenir! I always think it’s so interesting to see Coca Cola bottles written in different languages and see which beers are stocked on convenience store shelves. I’m not one to have a collection of dusty bottles on my kitchen shelf, but I am super into the idea of repurposing bottles for something like a rustic/bohemian flower vase! Or if you’re the crafty type, bottles can even be turned into drinking glasses with a simple bottle cutter and some sandpaper!
This is by no means an extensive list – just some of my favorite free souvenir ideas! What do you like to take as free souvenirs?