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!
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”
“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.”
Megan from “Meganotravels”
“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.”
Hannah & Adam from “Getting Stamped”
“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.”
Bobbi from “Heels and Wheels”
“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!”
Sofie from “Wonderful Wanderings”
“I gain a bit of weight each time I travel – does that count?!!”
Sarah from “The Travel Spotlight (by Sarah P)”
“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”
“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!”
Kimmy and Drew from “AfterGlobe”
“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.”
Nicole and Michael from “Suitcase Stories”
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.
Bex from “Leaving Cairo”
“I like collecting seashells if possible, but otherwise I collect memories – they stick with me forever!
Vanessa from “TurnipSeed Travel”
“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!”
Justin from True Nomads
“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!”
What do you collect when traveling?