What’s the best way to remember your travels? Photos are great and diaries can really bring the memories flooding back, but finding a special item to take pride of place in your home will tell a story every time you look at it.
From Japanese handmade necklaces to shells from a secluded beach in the Philippines, these top travel bloggers share their souvenir stories…
The most memorable item we have brought back from our travels would have to be these hand-made necklaces from Ishinomaki in Japan, one of the areas that was devastated by the big earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The roofs of many homes in the area were tiled with beautiful Ogatsu stone quarried from the local Kitakami mountain. With so many houses destroyed by the tsunami, however, these roof tiles now lay broken and scattered across Ishinomaki.
Instead of adding them to the piles and piles of tsunami debris that remain in temporary dumps, locals have been collecting these otherwise unusable, broken roof tiles and transforming them into pretty accessories such as necklaces and key chains, as well as larger pieces to display in your home or garden. Each piece is original and carries a story deep within it, serving as a reminder of all that happened there while, very importantly, raising much needed funds for communities struggling to get back on their feet. If you’re looking for a wearable souvenir with purpose, these locally made accessories are a great choice.
We were in Bora Bora and just randomly asked what other things there are to do which are not your usual resort activity. We were introduced to one of the boat captains of the resort, who happened to love fishing. That’s him in the photo. He spoke no word of English, and we didn’t speak any Tahiti or French. How we managed to communicate in-depth just by gestures, body language, and sound effects is beyond me. And by in-depth I mean, we met outside of his resort shift, he invited us to his home, and showed us how they actually gathered food; by deep sea fishing at night! It was such an amazing three days, and striking a friendship with someone who you don’t have a common language with is even more amazing. As we were departing the resort and saying our goodbyes, he gave us these shells. I’m not one to buy souvenirs but this has stayed with us for years now. These shells are more than just a token. It speaks for all those days that we bonded because our friend does not have email, internet access, or even a formal street address. Definitely a treasure that money cannot buy.
In my case, the item I brought back from one of my trips is the “perfect picture”. I am not a huge fan of collecting things but mostly memories and pictures. During my last trip to Paris, I managed to capture a photo that I had in my mind from a very long time. I found an incredibly deserted spot to admire the Eiffel Tower by night and took the best travel souvenir ever: the picture I’ve always wanted! Why buy postcards if I can create my own?
As full time backpackers we don’t often bring home souvenirs from our travels. However, last year in the Philippines we worked with a group of typhoon Yolanda survivors and helped them establish a candle-making business. We left on the first day of their production and they gave us a set of candles to take back home. They somehow survived in our backpacks unbroken and we think of our ladies in the Philippines whenever we light them.
When I took my first solo trip, I wanted to bring something home that would remind me of that trip. I was in Greece, and while exploring Santorini, I bought one of those big spoons you put next to the stove so you have someplace to rest your utensils while cooking. I like that it’s a useful item, and now I can think back on that gorgeous island every time I cook.
I don’t personally buy or collect a lot of souvenirs from my travels, but I love to find something special that has meaning to me and reminds me of a trip. One treasured object is a baobab fruit from Tanzania. Before setting out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, we went along with our head guide Salim to purchase food for our trip at an open-air market near the base of the mountain. At the market, I asked Salim what something was and it turned out to be a baobab fruit and he purchased it because of my interest and attached it to the outside of his pack. It went up Mt. Kilimanjaro with us and at the end every member of our 14-person crew signed it for us – a very special treasure that holds a lot of memories!
Last year we got to spend the most amazing five days while getting Open Water certified in Koh Tao, a little Thailand blissful island that managed to keep itself away from the big resorts that populate its neighbouring islands. Without any doubt, our Open Water Diving Certifications are one of the most special items we have managed to get while traveling around the world!
The most memorable items we brought back came from San Remigio, Cebu in the Philippines. We brought back shells from an isolated beach where my grandfather used to play as a child.
My most favorite things that I bring back with me on my travels are Christmas ornaments. My Christmas tree is almost entirely made up of treasured decorations from all over the world as I get to enjoy and reminisce about my journeys every holiday season and share them with friends and family. I feel it makes my tree very personal and unique!
You never really know who you will meet on your travels. I met a Chilean Sculptor named Sergio Castillo while in Santiago, Chile and brought back a souvenir…one of his sculpture pieces! He has since passed away and I am honoured to have been able to purchase this amazing piece of metal art that he created into a Spanish Bull.
Back in our early 20s, Mrs Chasing the Donkey and I decided to take our first international holiday together. The destination was Bali and it was this trip that really sparked our joint passion for travel. While there, we explored Bali extensively and met a local artist in Ubud, where we purchased our first piece of art together. Every time I look at the artwork which, by the way, hangs in our lounge room in Croatia now, it reminds me of our absolute need to explore and experience this wonderful world.
One thing I like to take home whenever I travel is a bottle or can of local beer. Every country has their own iconic brand and the label usually features something interesting about destination. If I can’t take the beer home, I just drink it abroad and try to keep the beer label or bottle cap (which I stick on a magnet). It makes a unique but affordable memento of the trip. Looking back on the photos of all the beers consumed brings back a lot of travel memories.
My favourite travel treasure is a bracelet I brought back from the heavenly isles of Fiji. The Fijians are probably some of the friendliest people I have ever met and this bracelet is a perfect example of their kindness. One of the locals climbed up a palm tree to get this coconut and then spent a good hour hand-carving its shell into this beautifully decorated bracelet.
My travel treasure is a necklace with a replica of the Florentine florin. This gold coin was issued in the mid-1200’s and became the dominant trade coin of Western Europe. The necklace was purchased from one of the jewelry stores on the famous Ponte Vecchio and serves as a reminder of my favorite city in Italy.