Art & Design

5 Most Meaningful Travel Souvenirs

May 5, 2014 • By

When you return home from a trip, its always nice to have a souvenir. Just after college I went through a phase of collecting kitschy shot glasses.  Nowadays, I only bring back things that truly inspire me.  Here are my top five most meaningful souvenirs, from decades of travel:

1.  Pottery and Dishes

I like to bring home plates, platters and bowls to use throughout the house.  Here is a large painted bowl my husband brought home from China.  I keep it in my mudroom, filled with sunglasses, so I can grab the perfect pair on the way out the door.

Bowl from China, filled with Sunglasses

Bowl from China, filled with Sunglasses

I also love to set my table with a global theme, so it is nice to have various items from my travels in the mix.

Moroccan Tagines are the Centerpiece of this Dinner Party

Moroccan Tagines are the Centerpiece of this Dinner Party

2.  Destination-Specific Ingredients

I love to bring home the herbs, spices or condiments I’ve experienced in my travels, so that I can recreate some of those same foodie experiences later.  Herbs de Provence is an obvious one.  So is wine, dijon, moustarda de crema, etc., if you’re traveling through France.

Herbes de Provence in a Cute Crock

Herbes de Provence in a Cute Crock

I like to purchase ingredients in interesting containers that I can continue to use after the contents are gone.  I did this with a tea tin that I purchased full of jasmine tea in Hong Kong.  Reminder: Make sure you’re not spending money on a food item that won’t make it back through customs.  In almost all cases, your souvenir ingredients must be in sealed containers when you reenter your home country.

Other examples? Buy chiles in Santa Fe, Old Bay seasoning in Maryland or mini-Tabasco bottles for your purse, from Louisiana.

3. Natural Mementos

I have a huge pine cone that I picked up in my brother’s back yard, the first time I visited him in Northern California. I was just a kid at the time, but that pine cone has been displayed in every home I’ve lived in since then.  I’ve had it for years and still have great memories whenever I look at it.

A Giant Pine Cone I've Had for Years

A Giant Pine Cone I’ve Had for Years

Recently, as part of our Progressive Road Trip, my husband and I paid the obligatory visit to The Petrified Forest. In the gift shop we picked up a slice of petrified wood which now acts as a coaster on our coffee table.  We also went home with a few other pieces of nature.  Just be sure you’re not removing anything protected from a National Park or other location.  Check out the gift shops, or select a stone from a private location if you have permission.

A Piece of Petrified Wood (left) is Displayed with Other Organic Objets

A Piece of Petrified Wood (left) is Displayed with Other Organic Objets

A Desert Rose or Cluster of Gypsum Crystals

A Desert Rose or Cluster of Gypsum Crystals

4.  Jewelry and Accessories

We recently spent our anniversary in Santa Fe, and it was impossible not to come home with a piece of turquoise jewelry. In Wyoming, I bought cowboy boots.

Turquoise is an Ideal Souvenir from the Southwestern US

Turquoise – the Ideal Souvenir from the Southwestern US

There is one important question to ask yourself before you buy, however.  Are you too caught up in the moment?  When you’re swaying your hips on a moonlit beach, you may think you’ll wear that Hawaiian grass skirt later – BUT you might be wrong!

5.  Art

Artwork means more when you’ve met the artist while on holiday, or visited a gallery in a special place. Mr. H and I are often drawn to artworks as a memento of our trips together.  These three small paintings were purchased at an artists’ colony outside of Jerusalem and we think they look great in our bedroom

Paintings from Safed

Paintings from Safed

What are the most meaningful souvenirs you’ve collected over the years?

Tell us by commenting below – and you could win a signed art print!