Creative Vacation Souvenir Ideas That Are Clever, Cheap, and Fun

Vacation Souvenirs that are clever and frugal! Cheap Travel Souvenir Ideas!

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Discover unique and inexpensive vacation souvenir ideas to help you remember your travels in style. From classic keepsakes to quirky finds, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and explore the world of vacation travel souvenirs and mementos!

We’ve broken this list into the following 7 categories:


These cheaper souvenir ideas can be found at almost any vacation destination you visit.


A keychain with a special design or representing the place you visited can be a nice souvenir. It can be a useful reminder of your trip every time you use your keys.

Chris Hammond from Phoenix Arizona collects keychains from his travels

“My souvenir of choice is a keychain. They are usually cheaper than anything else thus saving money. I have all my keychains linked together. It’s really long!!

Cost: $3 to $10

Refrigerator magnets

Refrigerator magnets for travel souvenirs

Magnetic souvenirs with images or designs of the visited place can be a great functional and decorative option.

Martha S – Sheboygan, WI has a tradition with refrigerator magnets from her travels.

“When I was single, I decided to purchase refrigerator magnets as a souvenir of my travels. They are easily found in many locations and take up very little space in my luggage.

They usually cost less than $5.00, which definitely makes the most of your vacation budget!

Once home, they are useful while also serving as a reminder of your trips.

Cost: Free to $5

Window stickers and bumper stickers 

A collectable window sticker from Chicago as a travel momento.

Stickers with the name of the city or country you visited can be a fun and easy way to show off your travels on your car or luggage. 

Cost: $2 – $10

 Squished Pennies to Commemorate Visits

Squished pennies (sometimes called pressed pennies) are unique and inexpensive souvenirs that you can collect from various tourist attractions or landmarks. These are usually available in coin-operated machines and can be customized with different designs. 

“Our favorite souvenir has become the squished pennies out of the machines. They are just about at every tourist spot we have been to and only cost less than $1.Long ago, I purchased a little album that they fit into for around $5.”

Angel Moore from Somerset, KY

  You can also drill a hole in the squished penny and attach it to a charm bracelet.

a bracelet made from souvenir squished pennies from sites all over the world.
Image courtesy of

Cost: Squished Pennies usually cost between fifty cents to $2 (plus your penny).

Here are 10 fun facts about squished pennies!


There are lots of souvenirs that make great collectibles, shot glasses, spoons, thimbles and more. Keep reading to see some unique things that people collect.

Collectible Spoons, Thimbles and Shot Glasses 

Lauren Lockers collection of vacation destination spoons.

These small items can be found in souvenir shops all over the world and can make for an easy-to-carry collection of souvenirs. 

Cost: $5 – $20 They are also relatively inexpensive, making them great for those on a budget.

Playing Cards

Collecting decks of playing cards from vacation locations is an inexpensive and unique way to commemorate your travels. Not only do they make great souvenirs, but they can also be used for game nights with friends and family, adding a special touch of nostalgia to your time together. So, next time you go on vacation, consider adding a deck of playing cards to your souvenir collection.

Lauren Locker from Scottsdale, Arizona collects playing cards from her family travels.

“We get decks of cards! Decks now have lots of photos which we enjoy for years.”

Cost: $2 – $10

Souvenir decks of playing cards.

Drinking Glasses

Collecting drinking glasses with location names can be a fun souvenir experience, especially when finding glasses that hold 12 ounces or more.

“I have started looking for 16 oz glasses, that I can enjoy every day, and they are practical. A different one makes my drinking glasses not match, but easier to identify for later use, after a meal with friends followed by games.”

Julie Harden from Tucson, AZ

Cost: Individual glasses with local text or logo will cost between $7 and $25. You may also be able to find them at thrift stores for less.

Hat Pins Souvenirs

a baseball cap with hat pin souvenirs on it.

Our friend Hazel Cotten collects and trades hat pins. Here’s her vacation souvenir tip:

“I am a serious hat/lapel pin collector.  I’ll find pins for the sporting events I attend and the towns/cities I visit. For example, there is a Pin Trading board at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May for the Indy 500. 

They’ll let you trade two pins a day (not nearly enough for a serious collector).  You can buy a pin at the souvenir store for $9-$10 and swap for a cool, older one.”

Hazel Cotton – Texarkana, Tx

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Cut Glass at Home and Save Money

Postcards and prints

Vacation postcards used as souvenirs to remember a trip.

Postcards and prints featuring local landmarks, scenery, and cultural icons can be affordable and easy-to-carry souvenirs.

“You find gift shops everywhere you go these days. My children are ages 5 and 7. They tend to want to get something as a souvenir whether we are at the zoo, on a road trip, etc.  To allow them to purchase something with their allowance, but still avoid spending too much, I have started a postcard album for each of them.

When we are on vacation or on a special day trip, they can choose a couple of postcards to add to their album of memories.  This is also a great way to avoid having all of the “junk” cluttering their room.”

Christine T. from Annandale, MN does something unique with vacation souvenir postcards.

Cost: $1.50 – $5

Coffee mugs

A coffee mug with a unique design or one that is emblematic of the place you visited can make for a great souvenir. You can enjoy your morning cup of joe while reminiscing about your trip.

Cost: $5 to $30. 


We call these disappearing gifts. Bring them home, share them with friends and enjoy them. They don’t take up storage space and don’t have to be dusted either.

Local Food Items 

Bring back some delicious local treats, such as spices, jams, teas, and chocolates, that capture the essence of the place you visited.

Local Alcoholic Beverages 

Whether it’s a bottle of wine, a craft beer, or a spirit unique to the region, alcoholic beverages make great souvenirs that can be enjoyed later at home. There are wineries in many locations where you can take a tour, taste some wine and then bring home a few bottles to commemorate your trip.

Local Alcohol

Apart from wines and spirits, there are other alcoholic beverages unique to certain regions or countries, such as sake in Japan, Ouzo in Greece or tequila in Mexico, that make for great souvenirs.

Regional Snacks

Snacks and treats that are unique to a certain place, such as Cactus candy in Arizona, Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Alabama, Ghirardelli Chocolate in San Francisco, Mauna Loa Chocolate-Covered Macadamias in Hawaii, Maple Kettle Corn, and Maple Cashews in Vermont, Stroopwafels in the Netherlands, Pastel de Nata in Portugal, can make for a delicious and easy-to-carry souvenir.

Regional Hot Sauces

If you love spicy food, regional hot sauce can be a fun and flavorful souvenir. Look for hot sauce made with local ingredients such as chili peppers or fruits.

Cost: Smaller containers should be inexpensive, but gift sets could be pricy.

Local honey

Honey made from the local flora and fauna can be a sweet and healthy souvenir that can also support local beekeepers. 

Cost: Honey can be expensive and it can be quite heavy. But if you limit your purchases to smaller-sized jars it shouldn’t be too costly.

Local Flavors

Buying disappearing souvenirs such as unique foods from a visited locale is a great idea.

Kathy from shared her experiences

We like to bring home some of the local flavors of the places we’ve visited! This past year it was Linden Blossom Honey from the bee museum in Weimar, Germany; Violet & Rose Chocolates from Windsor Castle in the UK; and Hot Sauce from New Orleans.  

Regional Spices and Rubs

Spices and rubs unique to a particular region or country can make for a great souvenir for the home cook or grill master. Look for blends used in local cuisine or unique spice combinations. 

Cost: Spices can be pricy, but you should be able to collect some unique flavors for between $10 and $30 (depending on the size of the package).


Buying a souvenir that is unique to the area you’re visiting is a great idea.

Music from Local Musicians or Cultures

Buying music from local musicians or cultures can be a unique and meaningful vacation souvenir. Not only does it support the local music scene, but it also allows you to bring home a piece of the culture and memories of your trip through the sounds and rhythms of the music. 

Plus, listening to that music when you’re back home can transport you back to the places and experiences you had while on vacation. 

Cost: The cost should be less than $20.

Local Pottery

Pottery can be both functional and decorative. Whether it’s a set of plates or a vase, local pottery can be a great way to bring home a piece of the local culture.

Cost: These could be moderately priced to expensive – we can’t estimate a price here.

Local Cosmetics and Skincare

Natural cosmetics and skincare products made with local ingredients, such as lavender in France or olive oil in Italy, can be luxurious and useful souvenirs.

Cost: The price for cosmetics is all over the place – it’s hard to estimate.

Local Art

Original art, prints, and posters by local artists can be a great way to support artists of the place you visited while also bringing home a unique souvenir.

Cost: These could be expensive – we can’t estimate a price here.

Handicrafts and Art

Morraccas from Mexico

From hand-woven textiles to hand-painted pottery, unique handicrafts can make for beautiful souvenirs that showcase the cultural heritage of a place.

“When we went to Mexico as a family for the first time is was in the 8th grade.I really appreciate the souvenirs from that trip which were:


An Indian multi-colored long vest with fringe (not sure what you call those)

And now I have (from my mom) a Mexican older woman with a scarf (a decorative candle) and her mate, a Señior with the most real-looking hat. I love this “couple,” they look so real!”

Alicia Renkema from Scottsdale, AZ fondly remembers a childhood trip because of souvenirs she purchased.


You can find wearables without gaudy logos or insignias on them. Look for native wear that fits your fashion pallet and buy something that transports you to your favorite places every time you wear it.

Traditional and Local Styled Clothing and Accessories

Local fashion accessories such as scarves, hats, or belts can add a touch of local style to your wardrobe and make for a unique souvenir. Some wearables can have the local name tastefully included in the garment making it a perfect (not gaudy) memory. 

The prices for local fashion and accessories are hard to estimate. Just set your budget for what you want to spend and keep your eyes open. Don’t forget to visit consignment and second-hand shops. You could stumble on some great deals.

Cost: The price range of clothing and accessories varies greatly. 

Local Textiles

From colorful woven fabrics to embroidered tablecloths, textiles can make for a beautiful and functional souvenir that can be used in your home.

Cost: The price range of textiles varies greatly. 

Street Fair Jewelry

Local street fairs and markets can be great places to find unique and handmade jewelry that reflects the local culture and style.

“I like to go to street fairs and buy vintage jewelry. For example, I have a silver buckle ring from my first trip to England and a gold ring with a tiny purple stone that I bought in Berlin. I’ve had them for years and wear them every day. They remind me of the wonderful times I’ve had traveling.”

Jayne Byrn from Kentucky

Cost: Jewelry can be moderate to costly – look for deals.


No matter where you go and what time of year it is, you’re likely to find Christmas ornaments and other holiday decor items at gift shops. We have many memorable Christmas ornaments from our travels and love pulling them out each year.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Collecting ornaments from different places you’ve visited can be a fun and meaningful way to decorate your Christmas tree each year. Look for ornaments that represent the local culture or landmarks of the place you visited.

Three different email newsletter subscribers wrote in about collecting Christmas ornaments as souvenirs.

Venita Ballard from Phoenix, Arizona said  “We have gotten to a point where the only souvenir we buy is an ornament. We love looking at our past years of vacations on our Christmas tree…such a great way to remember our experiences!“

Carol Topp from Cincinnati, Ohio mentioned, “My Christmas tree is full of memories of our trips. And I’ve bought a lot of keychains that are used as ornaments.”

Linda Crosby from Phoenix, Arizona said, “We also do ornaments. My whole tree will be done in a national parks theme in the years to come!”

Cost: The price range on ornaments is all over the place. $2 to $50.

Christmas Decorations

If you are traveling during the holiday season, consider picking up a local Christmas decoration such as a nutcracker in Germany or a nativity scene in Spain. It can be a festive way to remember your trip.

Cost: The price range of Christmas decorations varies greatly. 

 Souvenirs as Christmas Gifts 

Buying souvenirs as Christmas gifts can be a thoughtful way to share memories and experiences with loved ones. We don’t mean the type of gifts like T-shirts that say, “Grandma went to Hawaii and all I got was this crummy shirt.”

We are talking about something meaningful to the recipient.

When choosing souvenirs, consider the recipient’s interests and tastes, as well as the uniqueness and practicality of the item. Some popular souvenir ideas include local food and drink, artisanal crafts, and personalized items such as photo albums or custom-made jewelry.

“Since it’s fun to shop when traveling to new places, I start Christmas shopping early. I too get unusual ornaments and squished pennies, but also local costume jewelry, pottery, unusual mugs, and scarves. Chinatown in both Honolulu and San Francisco provided some great bargain gifts.

Unusual local jams make another good gift/souvenir, though only if I’m driving. I don’t want them in checked luggage.”

Kathy Kuhl from Washington, DC sent in this story of her souvenir gift buying.


Local Cookbook

Buying a local or ethnic cookbook as a vacation souvenir is a great way to bring a piece of the destination’s culture back home. It allows you to experiment with new recipes and ingredients and provides a lasting memory of your culinary experiences while traveling. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter when entertaining guests with your newfound cooking skills. 

Cost: The cost should be less than $20.

Local Coffee Table Book

Buy a coffee table (large format) photo book of your vacation location. These types of books can be pricy, but you could save some money by visiting a local thrift store and look through their books for one. If you can’t find a thrift store, look for a used book store or a regular book store to make your purchase. 

Cost: These types of books range from $5 to $50.

Personalized Photos and Photo Books

Take photos with your photo or digital camera and then go to Walgreens or Shutterfly and make a printed book of your vacation memories. Several friends of ours shoot hundreds of photos, select the best and memorialize their trip with a book that they can share with others. 

Cost: Depending on the number of pages your book could cost between $40 and $70.

Customized books from your photos using Walgreens or Shutterfly.

Photo courtesy of AccidentalDisneyFamily

Local literature

Local books such as travel guides, books about history and culture, and those written by local authors can serve as a lasting memory of your trip.


We couldn’t put these final ideas into a category, but these unique souvenir ideas are still worth considering.

Musical instruments

If you’re musically inclined, a traditional instrument can make for a unique and memorable souvenir. Examples include the ukulele in Hawaii and the sitar in India.

Local Sporting Goods

If you’re an avid sports fan or enjoy outdoor activities, a piece of sporting equipment unique to the area can be a fun and functional souvenir. Some examples would be a souvenir baseball or bat, tennis or golf balls with an event name on them.

Kitchen Items

For foodies or those who enjoy cooking, local cooking utensils such as a tagine in Morocco, a wok in China, or a tortilla press in Mexico can make for a unique and practical souvenir.

I buy kitchen tea towels for myself! They remind me of all the places I’ve visited.” 

Maureen Williams Melbourne, Australia

International Currency

A binder with a collection of foreign currency gathered on vacations.
Typical paper money collection album courtesy of Wikipedia

Collecting international currency as a souvenir and displaying it in an album can be a fascinating hobby. 

The unique designs and historical significance of each currency note or coin can serve as a visual reminder of one’s adventures abroad.  Collections of currency can also be passed down as family heirlooms, providing a glimpse into past travels and experiences.

Cost: Minimal. Just saving some paper money and coins from each location should be relatively inexpensive. Most foreign coins cannot be converted to U.S. currency anyway.


When it comes to finding unique and creative vacation souvenirs, there are plenty of places to explore beyond the typical tourist shops.

Flea Markets and Antique Stores

Flea markets and antique stores can be treasure troves for finding one-of-a-kind items that are both affordable and memorable. Many of these venues offer a wide range of goods, from vintage postcards and maps to quirky figurines and retro clothing.

Exploring the stalls at a flea market or antique store can be a fun way to immerse yourself in the local culture and discover hidden gems that you might not find elsewhere.

Sporting Events

Hazel Cotton from Texas shared this sporting event tip:

“I go to Major League Baseball games on vacation.  I’ll get cheap tickets in the upper deck, especially if I wear non-home team apparel.  I also go on a day when there is a promotion.  I’ve scored free hats, water bottles and shirts, all useful to me.

Minor League Baseball is also very affordable and offers reasonably-priced souvenirs.

Hazel Cotton – Texarkana, TX

Farmers’ Markets and Craft Fairs

Farmers’ markets and craft fairs are also great places to find unique vacation souvenirs. Local artisans often sell handmade items like pottery, jewelry, and textiles that reflect the region’s unique style and traditions.

These markets and fairs can also be a great way to sample local foods and drinks, like artisanal cheeses, craft beer, and freshly baked bread. By shopping at these venues, you’re not only supporting local businesses but also taking home a piece of the local culture that you can enjoy long after your trip has ended.

In addition to flea markets, antique stores, farmers’ markets, and craft fairs, there are several other places to find creative vacation souvenirs.

Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

Thrift stores and garage sales can offer a range of vintage and secondhand items at affordable prices. You could easily stumble on vacation location branded items or other collectibles that tickle your fancy. Going to a garage sale in a city you’re visiting also offers the opportunity to see local neighborhoods. You’ll likely have some charming conversations with the locals and perhaps get some tips on great restaurants or sites to visit too.

Bookstores and Beaches

Local bookstores can also be a great source of souvenirs, with many offering a selection of books on the region’s history, culture, and cuisine.

Finally, if you’re visiting a beach or coastal destination, seashell shops can offer a fun and unique souvenir, with a variety of seashells, starfish, and other marine life on offer.

By exploring these alternative souvenir shopping options, you’re sure to find a unique and memorable item that will remind you of your vacation for years to come.

Vacation Souvenirs that are clever and frugal! Cheap Travel Souvenir Ideas!


When it comes to souvenir ideas that are both inexpensive and memorable, there are many options to consider. These ideas not only serve as a reminder of your favorite vacations but also provide an opportunity to remember and share with others about the culture and traditions of the places you’ve visited. And the best thing is that these cheap souvenir ideas all can be had without breaking the bank.

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