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Travel Keepsakes Keep Memories Alive

I had a great conversation with a colleague the other day. It was one of those conversations where you wanted to sit on the floor with your legs crossed like you did back in elementary school and just listen for hours. It started when I asked her about a beautiful scarf that she was wearing around her neck. That scarf was passed down to her from her grandmother. Her grandmother loved to travel the globe. The scarf was purchased from a market in Venice. The conversation continued about where her grandmother had traveled and the keepsakes that she would always bring back and have since been passed down to the next generation. I think I actually saw tears in my colleague’s eyes at one point. I think she missed her grandmother and the keepsakes were more then just items - they were also memories.

My mom is actually somewhat of a travel collector herself. She has a cabinet full of small bells that she has collected over the years. The bells are from different states, cities, and even National Parks. She probably has close to 200 on display and I can’t tell you how many are in storage. My mom says half the fun of collecting bells is exploring the different shops just to find the perfect bell to take home. I’ve been on some of those journeys with her. I can honestly say they were a lot of fun and a great way to explore a new city.

I am ashamed to admit that I fell off the keepsake wagon. I’ve been on several trips where the only thing I brought back was dozens of pictures that were uploaded to my Facebook account. Before smartphone technology, I always sought out local items. Usually it was either a picture frame, or a bar of sop that was made from a local vendor (and usually the bar of soap I would take from the hotel). I eventually ran out of room for the picture frames and my dog ate several bars of keepsake soap (my vet found this hilarious after a lunchtime snack landed us in his clinic).

So I stopped collecting items during my travels. After my recent conversation with my colleague, I think I need to get back on the wagon sort-to-speak. Now that I have a kid, I think it would be fun to acquire items from my travels that I can hand down to him. And then maybe he can pass down to his kids, as long as my dog doesn’t destroy whatever we bring back. The trick is finding items that I can bring through customs without any hassle; items that will fit in my suitcase; items that I can easy store or display at home.

If you just booked your International Vacation Home Exchange, and you want to embark on the keepsake journey with me, here are some ideas that I have been kicking around.

·         Small blankets or pillows made by local vendors
·         Key chains
·         Scarfs
·         Snow globes
·         Shirts that can be turned into quilts

I am still looking for suggestions. If you have any ideas, please let me know!

Thank you to guest travel writer Carla Pruitt. You can follow Carla on Twitter at @crobscarla.


  1. I loved collecting items during my travel. I remember bringing picture frames too back home. But i'd love to suggest coffee mugs and travel spoons to add to your bucket list!

  2. Great article - we always collect Christmas tree ornaments from the places we travel. It's been a fun tradition to place them on the tree each year and talk about a favorite memory from that trip. It's a great way to keep the travel memories alive for our kids. Thx for sharing ;)


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