While the memories of a great trip are often times the most powerful thing to bring home after vacation, it never hurts to have something tangible and beautiful to remind you of the places you’ve been. It’s easy to grab a touristy t-shirt or shot glass from the airport on your way home, but we recommend buying items that are a little more unique and a lot more meaningful. Luckily, there are more than a few ways to do that without blowing your budget.
Now, onto the goods!
Often given away for free, or available at a minimal cost, maps fit the bill when it comes to affordability. Whether it’s a map of the city you were in, a transit system you navigated, or even your favorite museum, they come with a lot of practical display options. They also fold up flat and are easy to find room for in your suitcase or carry-on. When you get home, you can frame them, mark which routes you took or monuments you visited, or let the DIY-er in you go crazy making coasters, lampshades or scrapbook pages.
For truly one-of-a-kind pieces, look no further than the local market or art fair. Many times, artists have smaller prints available of some of their larger works that are a much more affordable option. Depending on what the artisan makes: small pottery, jewelry, or other goods, they make excellent choices. (Author’s note: I’m still regretting not buying one of those colorful hand-painted salsa bowls pictured at the top of this post on my last trip to Puerto Vallarta.)
It’s hard not to take tons of photos on a trip and those snapshots make the best kind of free souvenirs. When you get home, don’t just upload them to Instagram and call it good. Print them out into a photo book, scrapbook, or large size print for your home. If you want to keep more of a written or visual record, try opting for a travel journal. You can write about which restaurants you loved, the sounds of the city streets, and even draw or paste in photos. It will make an ideal memento to revisit when you’re trying to remember small details of the trip years down the road, like where you had those amazing scallops in San Diego.
Speaking of restaurants, we think that local cuisine is another one of those wonderfully distinct things that make new places memorable, so why not take some of those flavors home with you? Bring back little reminders like some southern tea from Savannah, or Mexican spices from Cancun. Local spirits or beer make fun options too, provided you pack them up tightly in your checked luggage and only bring home the allotted amount. If you’re looking to play it safe, cookbooks are always a great non-perishable option, too. That way, when you get home, you can recreate all the flavors you enjoyed with family and friends.
You never know what kind of unique things you’ll find, like these small ceramic tiles for instance. Keep an eye out for inspirational pieces that could be the pop of color or unique touch you needed to kick off that room redecorating project you’ve been dreaming about. Or, that throw pillow that perfectly matches your couches back home. Not only will they look great, they’ll make excellent conversation pieces, too.
Taylor is the partner and promotional Social Media Manager at Sun Country Airlines. What she loves most? Sun Country’s love of all things Minnesota and the airline’s focus on making everyone – from crew to passengers – feel right at home. If she were hopping on a flight tomorrow, she’d be headed west to Portland or south to Puerto Vallarta.