How to pick the best travel souvenirs for your home decor

Where have your travels taken you in 2016? What interesting souvenir did you bring home? There’s a certain tackiness associated with the word souvenir. You buy something in a far away land and once you get home, you never display it, or it sits collecting dust; instead of enhancing your home decor. The whole purpose of a “souvenir” is to add a bit of nostalgia, to spark a great memory from a trip or experience. For that to work well, you need to put your designer cap on and have a little strategy. Here are 10 Souvenir Ideas and 4 Home Decor Strategies to think about:


1. Textiles: Add a layer of texture and coziness to any room with fabrics. Drape a beautiful ethnic textile over a chair, sofa or accent your bed linen. Cover a dining table, make a curtain or hang a pretty fabric on the wall like art!
2. License plates: I always search for a license plate of the country or state I’m visiting. Bonus points if you can find a real vintage plate. Why not display the license plate souvenirs as an art gallery on a patio wall? It gives the patio such a fun, no worries vibe. Or if you do this indoors, you can achieve a cool urban look.
We have added Quebec, Canada since this photo.
3. Musical Instruments: I have a small, personalized wooden drum from the Bahamas on display on my mantel that compliments the natural brick on the wall. I also have a “birimbau” from Brazil on a corner wall.
The Bahamian drum sits on the right, in the center is a photo from our trip to Brazil, printed on metal.
4. Street artists drawings: I bought affordable frames at Ikea and filled it with city drawings that I bought on the street in various locations. Now it’s symmetrically displayed on one of my living rooms. It’s always nice to reminisce about Paris, Rome and New York. Sigh…
5. Postcards: Cheapest souvenir you can buy and the possibilities are endless! I have some simply tucked into a big yellow mirror over my bar and some postcards are framed and part of a gallery wall.
I love a fun bar
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6. Seashells & rocks: Collect seashells and rocks from all the beaches, rivers and lakes you visit. Fill a vase and use it as part of a table center piece or display it in a row on a shelf or mantel.
7. Sand: I’ve seen this displayed in a collection of glass bottles. You would be surprised on the wonderful color gradient you get out of the different sands.
8. Shot glasses: We have ours displayed on the kitchen windowsill.
9. Espresso cups / coffee mugs: Perfect to display on a china cabinet and best of all, you can use it every morning #win
10. Glassware & Pottery: Bowls from Mexico, Portugal, Morocco (or anywhere) in various sizes are perfect for holding your keys by the front door, or on your nightstand for your everyday jewelry. The hubby and I brought home a jug from Northern Michigan’s Taproot Cider house (which I consumed rather quickly) and the cider jug has become my favorite fall vase!
11. Christmas Ornaments:
Probably my favorite object to search for and buy in a new city! If you are not visiting during the holidays it might be a little harder to find, but you can get creative here too. When I visited Brazil I bought a “Christ Redeemer” wooden keychain, took out the chain part and added a ribbon so I could hang it on the Christmas tree. I love adding a new ornament to the Christmas tree every year!
Adding Canada too
See that pretty Mexican blanket draped over the chair in the living room?
12. BONUS: A map! Ok, so if you forget to get a touristy map from a city you love, you can always order a world map from Amazon and have a great time pinning all the places you’ve been and the places you want to go! (MORE TIPS HERE)


 – Pick an object: Such as pottery items, shot glasses, mugs, postcards, drawings, license plates, postcards etc… Buy one whereever you go. This starts a collection.
– Display, display, display: Now display your travel collection and don’t be afraid to try things. Buy a giant poster frame and fill it with postcards, then hang it on a wall where everyone can see it. Postcards are probably the cheapest souvenir one can buy. If you’re into photography, why not make a gallery wall of your very own travel photos? Display shot glasses, plates or pottery in the kitchen or dining room on a shelf as a focal point.
– Functionality: Look for items that do double duty; meaning it looks pretty and is functional as well. Mexican blankets anyone? I drape one of mine over a living room chair, so anyone can cozy up while sitting on the couch. Textiles can be used as table linen, table runner, it can be hung on the wall as art; you name it. I recently read my House Beautiful September issue and one of the designers recovered the dining room chairs with African fabrics bought at a local market. It looked gorgeous!
– Local Markets, not malls: Forget the fancy malls! Go to flea markets, bazaars, street vendors. Local markets have the best deals and you get to experience more local culture.

 So what was the most interesting object you ever brought home from your travels? What is your favorite travel souvenir and what city did you get it from?


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2 thoughts on “How to pick the best travel souvenirs for your home decor

  1. This is a great article! One of my aunts who always traveled would always bring back shot glasses from everywhere she went, and growing up I always said I would do the same and collect “tiny cups” (I had no idea what shot glasses were for at the time lol). Now I have a collection of over 25 shot glasses, which I love and they’re a conversation-starter for my guests, but I’d like to start collecting other more sophisticated and homey things as well lol, so this list is super helpful! Thanks xo


    1. It always starts with shot glasses lol. And that’s one of the things I love about souvenirs, they start a conversation. It’s awesome that your aunt’s travel souvenirs influenced you to travel yourself! Now time to evolve, and add more “sophisticated” items to the list. Maybe on your next trip look for pottery or textile pieces you fall in love with to bring home! I’m so glad you found this article and list helpful, thank you for stopping by Laura!

      Happy Travels, Ana W

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