Travel Souvenir Home Decor Ideas
Every time I travel to a new place, I always feel the need to bring back some kind of foreign treasure to remind me of my trip. I love the idea of having a piece of home decor from every country I’ve ever travelled to, that would be amazing! Although I definitely failed at that plan a very long time ago! So instead, I settle for trying to find a special piece from a few places as and when I can.
It can be hard, first of all to even find something worth bringing back with you that isn’t cheap and designed purely for tourists. Finding home decor pieces actually worth buying can be a challenge in itself. And then if you do manage to find a good quality item, who knows how much they’re going to charge you for it! After all that, the even bigger problem is how to get it home! If you’re anything like me, your full luggage allowance is probably already maxed out before you set off on your travels, (and let’s be real, you’ve probably slipped a few things into your other half’s case too! The number of times my husband (AKA The Boy) has found a pair of my shoes in his suitcase…Oops!)
The ideal travel memento is small, lightweight and not breakable. You want to be able to wrap it in as many clothes as possible to protect it - honestly there’s no point pretending your luggage isn’t going to be thrown around baggage control, and probably trampled on by a heard of elephants! Plan for the worst, and make sure that anything you buy is well wrapped up inside your case.
So how do you get around all that? Here’s my suggestions for souvenirs that survived the journey, and now happily live in our home.
Coconut Shell Bowls
These are an easy item for anyone to bring back from their travels. So many holiday destinations will have them for sale, just make sure to shop around so you don’t pay the tourist tax! They’re small enough to wrap up well in your case, and weigh next to nothing.
The other great thing about coconut shell bowls is how easily you can incorporate them into your home interior. They look great just empty on a shelf, or make great key bowls, paperclip pots, jewellery holders, anything really. And you can move them around from room to room so easily.
So far we only have two, but they’re definitely something I’ll be hunting out on future trips. The first one we bought was this beautiful turquoise bowl, from a little market in Hong Kong. That was over 5 years ago, and it’s still going strong. When we went to the Maldives in 2017, I spotted this black and white one too, which is perfect for our interiors style, so of course I had to have it!
You can also keep an eye out for woven baskets, and small wooden bowls too. They’re always a great addition to any home.
Wait, what?! Yep, Christmas decorations. When we went to Australia, I certainly wasn’t thinking about buying Christmas baubles in June. But there they were, and they were perfect.
I love Christmas decorations which actually mean something, and ever since I was little, I’ve been a huge fan of decorating the tree, always making sure the special ornaments got pride of place. My favourite was always the little ceramic bell with my name on, that my parents got for my first Christmas, one each for me and my brother. They still have them, and 34 years later, they still get pride of place on the Christmas tree!
Anyway, I digress! My point being, when I spotted wooden Christmas baubles which were hand made by aboriginal artisans in Australia, I had to get one. And even better, they have black and white patterns which fit our home perfectly, while still representing the traditional style of aboriginal art. I could easily have bought loads of them, but The Boy was having none of it. So I picked one special one, and now it will always have pride of place on our tree each year, reminding us of our honeymoon to Australia.
I feel like you might start laughing at me at this point…! But I am serious!
The ceramic style door knobs are easy souvenirs to bring back, and popular in quite a few destinations. You probably have to venture more into interiors stores, rather than the usual tourist spots, but they’re a good place to look around. Again, they’re small, lightweight, and actually not that fragile either.
I picked up these miss-matched knobs from a little home store in New Zealand, which worked perfectly with a few I already had from back when we lived in the UK. (Two birds, one stone eh?!) I’ve added them in a few places around the house, mainly on this chest of drawers, but also on the vanities in two of our bathrooms. (Side note, these drawers are also well travelled! They once belonged to my Grandad in the UK. He sanded them down like this, all I’ve done is to add some clear wax, and I love the rustic feel of them. When we moved to Dubai I couldn’t bear to part with them, so they came with us, and then of course they had to make the journey over to Canada too!)
This is an obvious one, but I’m not talking about your traditional photo of a beach with ‘Wish You Were Here’ printed on the front! Have a look out for more abstract designs, things that will remind you of the place, but will also look great framed on the wall at home.
If you can get a set of a few different designs that’s even better, they’d make a great gallery wall or grid of frames. These High Life postcards were a gift from some friends when we left Dubai, and are a perfect momentum of our time there. Just make sure to keep them flat inside a book when you travel home.
This one is not so good if you’re on a tight weight limit, but if you have a bit to spare, wooden chopping boards made by local craftsmen can be a lovely souvenir to bring home with you.
These two wooden chopping boards are a great reminder of our favourite cafe in Dubai, The Lime Tree Cafe. My mum actually bought them for me when she came to visit, and then we shipped them over when we moved to Canada, so technically they’re not a holiday memento, but they easily could be! Weight aside, they’d travel in a case so well.
Sounds random, but tea towels make great artwork! I’m not talking your traditional striped design, but if you spot an unusual design you love, a tea towel is the perfect gift to travel home with - cheap, light, unbreakable, and takes up no room, it’s a win win!
Now while you definitely could just use it as a tea towel, I recommend instead making a wooden frame for it and stretching it over to create a unique piece of art. If you’re not confident DIY-ing a wooden frame, just buy a cheap art canvas and staple it over the top instead. You could also use a small piece of fabric rather than a tea towel.
This ‘Ay Up Duck’ tea towel is the perfect reminder of my home town of Stoke-on-Trent in the UK. (‘Ay Up Duck’ is local slang for saying hello to a friend). I just made a very simple frame out of scrap wood, and nailed it all together. It looks great on a bookshelf or small tray table, with a few other decor items grouped with it, and always reminds me of home.
If all else fails and you can’t find that perfect souvenir while you’re travelling, don’t worry. Forget the desperate shopping spree, and wait until you get home instead. Our papercut maps and travel themed mandala prints are the perfect reminder of your trip. They make especially good gifts for your travelling buddy too!
What souvenirs have you bought on your travels? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your ideas!