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Before I began traveling I sat down and brainstormed what I wanted to collect from each country I visited.  I knew I wanted to travel the world, and I thought it would be amazing to have some kind of unique collection to show for it at the end of my journey.  I mean how cool would it be to have shot glasses from every country in the world for instance!

As I traveled through Europe on my first year abroad I collected everything!  I have unique shot glasses from close to all of Western Europe and the UK (my particular favorite being from Ireland with a cheeky drunk leprechaun on the front), boxes of tacky souvenirs including one very naked Statue of David collected from the museum in Florence, Italy; enough sweaters boasting the local university name to keep the homeless population of America warm at night, and more local city maps than would actually fit on the surface of my 4 bedroom walls!  Literally, walking into my bedroom after that first year abroad was like jumping into an Atlas!

It wasn’t until recently when I had to box up all of my belongings for an international move that I realized half of these collectibles had been sitting in boxes at the back of my wardrobe collecting dust.  The idea of collecting all of the above was amazing at the time, but when do you ever display or use them after the purchase, and what on God’s earth was I going to do with a sweater for every day of the year – especially moving to Florida where the sun shines year round!

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I also hang onto any left over currency I have from a trip abroad! I’m surprised TSA in America didn’t flag me for smuggling money on my recent move to the State – I probably came close!!

The vast majority of my collections were boxed up and put in my parents roof in Australia when I moved, or donated to charity in the case of the sweaters!  I did however bring with me to the US a giant stack of postcards from absolutely everywhere which I’m now slowly sending out to you amazing readers via regular Facebook competitions.

I’ve realized that the most valuable collectibles which I cherish the most are my photos.  At 60,000 and counting, my photos are the one thing which I will always keep going back to as a way to remember each amazing journey.  I have them displayed in frames, I have them uploaded online, they form the background of my blog, and I see a collage of my favorite few each I switch on my computer.

I hardly ever buy trinkets any more, and I stopped buying my family and friends “I’m going overseas, have a present” presents after the first 5 trips!  They take up too much luggage space, too much money which could be better spent on experiences, and too much space at the back of your wardrobe after the trip!  My photos however only take up space on my 2 terabyte hard-drive!

Intrigued by what other people collect, I asked 12 other experienced travelers what they collect from each country when they travel.

Emma from “Gotta Keep Movin

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“I collect bracelets, all of which I wear around my wrist when I’m travelling (my arm got pretty heavy) but they had to come off when I broke my arm recently. I also collect those old school patches of country flags, and sew them onto my backpack.”

Find Emma on Facebook and Twitter

Megan from “Meganotravels

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“When I travel, I try to buy things that I can wear. Often, that means a piece of jewelry, a scarf, a purse, etc. I like wearable things because not only do I have something no one else has, but I don’t have to worry about dusting something, or finding room for another little trinket on my shelves.”

Find Megan on Facebook and Twitter

Hannah & Adam from “Getting Stamped”

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“We collect magnet bottle openers from every place we go! We try to get it to be the local beer from that area and preferably say the country on it. We also collect photo albums made out of local materials.”

Find Getting Stamped on Facebook and Twitter

Bobbi from  “Heels and Wheels

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“I really don’t collect anything these days. I was a souvenir freak on my first few trips. Now it’s not really possible, because I don’t have a stopping point to unload. However, people seem to always give me things and I would never give them up. I can remember in Italy getting a lot of art from random men. I have a drawing from a guy I met on a train to Naples and a glass horse I was given at a glass blowing place in Venice!”

Find Bobbi on Facebook and Twitter

Sofie from “Wonderful Wanderings

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“I gain a bit of weight each time I travel – does that count?!!”

Find Sofie on Facebook and Twitter

Sarah from “The Travel Spotlight (by Sarah P)

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“I buy a key chain from every city I’ve visited around the world! Lately, I’ve also begun sending myself a postcard from each country I visit.  Apart from that I also collect currency notes for my grandma – she loves travelling but her age has slowed her down quite abit – so I take joy in bringing back various currencies around the world as a souvenir for her! Her collection is growing & it’s a lovely (albeit unusual) snapshot of where I’ve been!”

Find Sarah on Facebook and Twitter

Jenna and Micah from “Wander the Map

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“We collect Christmas tree ornaments from every place we visit – my parents started doing this for me when I was young and I have kept up the tradition!  I love looking at our Christmas tree every year and being reminded of all the fun places we have visited!”

Find Jenna and Micah on Facebook and Twitter.

Kimmy and Drew from “AfterGlobe

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“Tattoos. I’ve always wanted to get a half sleeve, but for stupid work reasons I haven’t. Now that I will be traveling around the world, I plan to get that half sleeve through souvenir tattoos. That way I have something I can take away from each country that I won’t have to carry and will always be with me.”

Find Kimmy and Drew on Facebook and Twitter

Nicole and Michael from “Suitcase Stories

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This is very different now we are nomadic.  The only things I collect from each country I visit are photos and memories.  I see so many beautiful things every where we travel and I am always tempted. But until we decide where in this world we want to settle down and call home, there is no room in our bags for such items.

Find Nicole and Michael on Facebook and Twitter

Bex from “Leaving Cairo

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“I like collecting seashells if possible, but otherwise I collect memories – they stick with me forever!

Find Beccy on Facebook and Twitter

Vanessa from “TurnipSeed Travel

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“I’ve started collecting magnets in the last few years -usually just one small one from each destination. If we’ll be going to a National Park, we’ll get one from their gift shop. It’s cheap, easy to carry, fun & cheesy to display at home, and when we buy at the parks, we’re supporting a good cause. Other favourite items are food based – coffee is always on the top of the list, along with hot sauce, jam, vanilla & spices, and alcohol. All of which are dangerous to my ultra-light packing strategies! On our last trip to Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii, we bought so much coffee that it was equal to a mortgage payment! Luckily, it lasted us a really long time and we really do love good coffee!”

Find Vanessa on Facebook and Twitter

And lastly…

Justin from True Nomads

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“I collect foregn currency.  I have a huge wad of bills that make me look rich… even though its worth less than $100!  I have currency from Turkey, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Colombia, Brazil, Latvia, Australia, Malawi, Tanzania and Iraq…just to name a few!”

Find Justin on Facebook and Twitter

What do you collect when traveling?

    20 Comments

    • I started collecting shot glasses – even though like you I dont do shots! They’re an awesome collectible item though!!
      Megan Claire recently posted…An Ode to My Travel ComputerMy Profile

  1. I don’t collect souvenirs unless I see something super-gorgeous.
    I love foreign money though. If I go home with a couple of notes and coins stuffed in my pocket, it’s as they have the imprint of the people of that country on them together with some of that country’s defining characteristics. Although I’m now denied this pleasure in European countries since they foisted the boring ole’ Euro on us.
    Stephanie Buick recently posted…Rocking the Campanile, San Giorgio Maggiore Island, VeniceMy Profile

    • I share your love of foreign money!! I don’t have anything from Europe as I started traveling after they introduced the Euro, but I think my grandfather has a pretty impressive collection from before that time period!
      Megan Claire recently posted…Mapping Myrtle BeachMy Profile

  2. I collect magnets. However I’m missing Toronto and Houston.

  3. I love ethnic bags! I love their colors and patterns and how they are different from my friends’ bags LOL
    If I couldn’t find ethnic bags, I would buy other wearable stuff. I almost never come back home without a pair of shoes/ a bag/ clothes.

    • Ethnic bags are cool items to collect! I totally agree with you on buying wearable stuff – I get the most use out of clothes I have bought overseas, and it’s always nice to be wearing something which brings back fond memories!
      Megan Claire recently posted…The World’s Worst Travel Tips!My Profile

  4. I started off collecting everything – ticket stubs, shot glasses, small trinkets to display, maps, etc. and found they were just “dust gatherers”. Now, like Vanessa, I collect refrigerator magnets… It’s an obsession. I also like to buy reasonably priced local art.
    i*Kan recently posted…The 3 ‘M’s: Our most memorable meals in HawaiiMy Profile

    • I did the same thing when I started out – and now have also collected a LOT of dust!! Local art is a very cool collectable – I love walking into houses which have art from everywhere displayed. Plus it’s an ice-breaker if you have people over!!

      Sadly my husband doesn’t like displaying fridge magnets, but I’m slowly sneaking some onto ours 😀
      Megan Claire recently posted…How To Take Amazing Vacation PhotosMy Profile

  5. I really wish I would have started collecting flag patches much earlier. From my past travels I have a lot of random things – especially stuff I can wear like scarfs and some cloths. I plan to start collecting flag patches in my next adventures (starting late is better than never!!) 🙂
    Alex recently posted…The Great Colosseum of RomeMy Profile

    • I’m with you – I wish I had started collecting one thing a littler earlier on lol now just have a lot of boxes with random trinkets from all over the place!

      Definitely late is better than never! Get that collection going!!

      Have a wonderful Easter weekend 🙂
      Megan Claire recently posted…Taiwan – A Beautiful Island Blending East and WestMy Profile

  6. Hi Megan. My souvenir collection from used to look strikingly similar to yours, even down to the little Eiffel Tower. Though my memories are fading — those things have been sitting in a box for years. I have since become more disciplined. Four months in China and I still haven’t bought any shot glasses.

    Thanks for posting about this dirty little secret. Even backpackers like collect stuff.

    -Dan
    Dan Perry recently posted…Blood Moon Train to BeijingMy Profile

    • Crazy how similar we all are with our buying habits!! Though then they do tend to collect dust afterwards lol 😀 Glad you’ve become more disciplined, as have I! I’ve found I enjoy putting the money towards experiences a lot more 😀

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. I collect earrings from everywhere I go. I try to find really random ones or ones with stones from the local area.

    • Earings are a great idea for a collection piece – I imagine you’d be able to find some really spectacular sets from around the world!! I might consider starting the same actually; I always love the shell earings you can get from Pacific Island regions 🙂

      Happy travels Tawny!

  8. Hallo there Megan an Mike. It’s always important to have something that reminds you where you have been, especially if you travel a lot. I have visited 16 countries so far and I have a flag, bracelets and scarfs for most countries. Thanks for sharing.

    Minnie

    • Hi Minnie, I absolutely agree 🙂 Sounds like you have a fabulous collection going! Here’s to more amazing travel opportunities in 2016 🙂

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