The coolest souvenirs.

Do you have a certain kind of souvenir you always look for while you’re traveling? I just love the idea of a collection from far-flung places that we can add to over the years.

With that idea in mind, I’ve been collecting a scoop of sand on each of our coastal vacations.ย So far, we’ve got Puerto Vallarta, Maui, San Diego, Seattle, Miami, and Tampa.


My daughter Bird collects keychains, while my son Bear goes for playing cards.

What do you think of souvenirs? Do you have a collection already? I love the way the sand inspires memories and conversations around our dinner table. Anyone have any other good ideas?




  1. Sand/shells and golf balls. Early on, I collected shot glasses, but it really made no sense to do since I do not drink so I stopped doing it.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Ms. M – I like the golf ball idea. Even though I’m not a golfer, I can imagine that a big jar of golf balls would be an interesting conversation starter.

  2. Magnets, preferably the ones that are flat and about 2″x3″. The top half of our refrigerator is covered with them.

  3. I get a Christmas ornament from each place and also one for my now grown children to put on their trees from places they go. It’s great to remember my trips each time I decorate our tree. I also get one from the city/destination where my relatives get married and give them it on their anniversaries.

  4. When we travel to another country, we get a musical instrument. It started when my husband brought back a didjeridoo from Australia. We now have a wooden flute from Guatemala, a drum from Jamaica, a steel drum from Antigua and a bodhram drum from Ireland. We don’t really bring home a souvenir for our domestic travels… just pictures : )

    • Points Pixie says:

      Robin – Wow! Josh and I brought back a small drum and a few percussion instruments from Ghana, and he had a mouth harp from India (it got stolen a few years ago, sadly), but you guys could start a band!

  5. I do an ornament also. But, I want to carry a small, plastic Christmas ornament to fill with a handful of sand from our next trip to Aruba. I’ve been nervous about getting through customs with it. So, sand is allowed? I also worry that it would be damaging to the ecosystem if every tourist took something back with them (shells, sand etc.).

    • Points Pixie says:

      Michelle – I’ve never had a problem carrying sand through customs.

      And aw shucks, you are probably right about damaging the ecosystem. Maybe I will have to rethink my sand collection and use one of these other cool ideas instead. I just love the way sand looks!

  6. Ah! San Diego sand. I grew up in SD, many a lazy summer and winter afternoon spent at the beach. Now that I live in Japan, I kind of miss it.

    As for souvenirs, i usually get the starbucks (I know, I know, but they are everywhere) city coffee tumblers for myself and local items for my friends and for me as well.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Andrew – You get where I’m coming from about the sand.

      Actually, a collection of Starbucks mugs sounds kind of cool, especially if you had a lot of them.

  7. Have done Christmas ornaments and refrigerator magnets in the past. Still love beautiful dish towels, though. Some actually get used but most get rotated through the stove front just to look pretty and inspire memories. Husband knows not to use them.

    Have a hilarious sand story. The first time we took grandson to Waikiki his mother asked for some sand from the famous beach. Before going home he filled up a baggie and put it in his carry on. Apparently it looked quite suspicious to the x-ray screener and they searched his bag to see exactly what it was. We all had quite a laugh (well maybe not the TSA agent) and we still tease him about nearly getting his thrown in prison.

    • Oh my gosh, I forgot our most important collection because it is such a part of our lives. We have a mug from every country we’ve visited and even from a few states. Since we’re retired morning coffee is a relaxed and warm part of our lives. And each morning we pick where we are “going” out of our collection. It always inspires memories.

      • Points Pixie says:

        Anne – That’s funny, I was going to ask if anyone had a dish towel collection!

        Love the fact that you use a different travel mug every morning.

  8. I normally go to yarn shop in cities I visit. I buy a skein of yarn that is something my local yarn shop does not carry. I’ve brought home beautiful skeins of sock yarn from my favorite store in Venice Florida. Then I look for a pattern to knit or crochet a memory from that trip. My sister bought me a set of interchangeable knitting needles on her trip to China. So I think of her while knitting with these needles. I’m currently working on a scarf to remember a trip to Glacier national park. The yarn was hand died by a shop near Glacier.

  9. Iยดm loving your sand idea! I love those bottles! They are classy and perfect! (may have to steal the idea ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) .. I used to pick up a small flag of the country visited, and a little bracelet with country colors.

  10. I hope you really didnt name your daughter “Bird”. You do know what “bird” means in slang right? You dont want guys or girls calling a girl “bird””

  11. As a child, napkins and matchbooks.
    As a young adult, shot glasses – though I don’t do shots
    As a middle age adult (now) – sand (mostly various beaches all over Hawaii incl black sand and glass “sand”), also have from couple places in Brasil, Singapore, Bahamas

    btw, I was looking up sand laws in HI and I believe it’s a gallon permitted each day one can take. I don’t recall if there were restrictions on resident vs tourist. I never had problems when I took a small bag as a tourist, though I did usually pack it well. Lava rock however is a no no.

    On my international travels, I like to pick up a local souvenir, I.e. Prague was crystal & those lil nested wooden dolls, China was jade, tea & silk, Brasil bikinis, Scotland some golf momentos (1st golf course ever in St Andrews), etc.

  12. Shot glasses.

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