Decor, Travel

Non-touristy souvenir ideas

You can’t escape travels without some kind of crazy story, and it’s fun to have a token to remind you of past adventures — even if they’re the kind “you’ll laugh about later”! Some of my favorite souvenirs are everyday items, bought from a regular store, only from a different land.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas |

What makes a good souvenir?

Possibly something that:

  • reflects the country’s culture
  • won’t take up much room in your suitcase
  • is useful
  • isn’t incredibly fragile
  • you’ll want to see sitting on your shelf in five years

These are some of my favorite souvenirs:

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - fabric


Ashby brought me this tapestry home from her mission trip to Kenya. It’s such a great idea because cloth art can be folded up in a suitcase with no fear of breaking it, and framed after you return home.

nontouristy souvenir ideas - pillow cover

Pillow covers

I’ve also bought pillow covers with unique stitching and found inserts later. I found this one for my mom in Prague.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - tablecloth


I bought this at a flea market in Ecuador. It’s seen a taco night or two.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas -- nativity


I also bought this nativity in Ecuador. I would love to collect nativities from different nationalities, especially if they are as personalized as these. Christmas ornaments or items that can be made into ornaments would be fun too.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - earrings


My cousin, Liz, brought me these earrings from India. They’re beautiful and don’t take up much space in luggage.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - hand towel

Hand towels

Hand towels aren’t all that expensive and can be a bright spot for the guest bathroom or in the kitchen. I wish I would have bought two of these to go together!

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - small vase


A vase could obviously break, but this one is so small it could be wrapped up in a pair of socks. I love tiny vases to for the occasional flower from my son or the lone flower not wilted from an old bouquet.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - rocks


Be sure not to take anything from a preserve or national park, but it is fun to bring home unique rocks from different places. These are from the United Kingdom and Ireland. You could also consider a shell or press a flower in your guidebook.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - espresso cups


These hand-painted espresso cups remind my husband and I of a beautiful trip to the Amalfi Coast. We spent an evening together with my parents, Marcello’s good friend, and his parents — at their house in Amalfi’s center. His mother prepared a phenomenal seven course(!) seafood dinner, and their window overlooked the quaint town square. Fireworks happened to go off outside during dessert to top it off. At the end, his father put a small slice of lemon in our espresso, the signature fruit of Amalfi. These cups are special to me.

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - scarf


Scarves aren’t a novel souvenir idea, but they are sort of perfect. They don’t take up much space. They’re beautiful and functional. What woman doesn’t love a lovely new scarf?

Non-touristy souvenir ideas - towel

These are some non-touristy souvenir ideas, but I have to say, I’m not completely against the tourist trap takeaway. I bought this colorful hand towel in the midst of a crowd of tourists outside a famous landmark in Italy, and I adore it. It showcases the region of Italy where Marcello is from and where we met. I need to find a frame!

Are you taking any trips this summer?

Airplane graphic source: Freepik

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5 thoughts on “Non-touristy souvenir ideas

  1. Great ideas! We collect christmas decorations in our travels. We hang them every holiday and it reminds us the special places and different cultures.

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