When most people think about souvenirs, horrible images of those stupid bags with a city’s name printed on it a bazillion times (Exhibit A), insanely ugly plastic keychains, kitschy refrigerator magnets featuring lots of glitter, and those pens with moving objects inside come to mind. Now, one could argue that kitschy magnets can kind of work in an ironic way and that these guys may very well become collector items one day (or might already be), but all in all, most souvenirs are just a regurgitation of generic crap with different cities’ names and cliche icons plastered over them. Which is why I am not big on collecting the kind of souvenirs you find inside of most museum gift shops and outside big tourist destinations.

I will admit that when I was young I had a random collection of shot glasses (super random and strange choice of collector items for an 8 year old, I know) from different places as well as those smushed pennies with the different images pressed into them, but eventually I outgrew collecting things that ended up just mostly collecting dust, and opted for more considered takeaways from places I had visited. (Although to be fair, I am pretty intent on jumpstarting my elongated penny collection again, cos shit’s kinda cool and they are just so satsifying to make).

In high school, I started to collect pieces of nature from the places that I had visited. Not one to try to destroy natural habitats, I only took one small thing as a totem of my time in another place. When my friends went on visits and asked what they would like me to bring back, I always gave them a small film canister (yes folks, I am that old) and asked them to fill it up with a bit of dirt or grass from wherever they were going. To me, the truest piece of a place was an actual part of it, not a manufactured piece of plastic created in a sweatshop thousands of miles away. The items I collected then in high school as well as in uni can still be found on the wall of my bedroom at my parents’ house.

Although I still collect pieces of nature when I visit different places, I have also allow myself to take home other souvenirs, if said souvenir is truly one that is unique and full of love. When I was in Florence, I came across L’Arte de’ Ciompi. It is a small family-owned shop whose owners hand make all of the items found inside. I found this store to be just so sweet and whimsical and the idea of taking home a piece of handmade love from Florence and supporting a small local business at the same time sounded completely good to me. I opted for a lovely deck of cards and am very happy to add them to my collection of loved memories from my many travels.

Souvenirs – How to collect Consciously

1. Skip all the plastic crap – You don’t need another pen or key chain. Trust me. If you are anything like me, your pen collection is already overflowing despite never really recalling buying any pens in the first place. (I swear it’s like medieval spontaneous generation.) Pretty sure my pen “collection” is simply made up of all those free pens from restaurants and hotels, because, hey, free pen!

2. Return home with a small token rather than anything bought – There are plenty of times when I visit a place without purchasing any souvenir, as there really is no need to consume more things that will just go to waste. In many cases, I simply come home with either a small piece of nature (a rock, or a seashell, for example) or…

3: Ticket stubs and business cards count as souvenirs – I tend to like to collect business cards, maps, and tickets from the places I have been and count them as my souvenirs. This way, I can look back on the places I enjoyed and can also give friends recommendations if they ever plan to visit the place I have just come back from. It’s also a great way to mentally bookmark places to check out again, should you ever return. These items work really well for a travel scrapbook as well.

4: If you do buy, shop with consideration – There is nothing wrong with bringing home a new purchase from your trip, but just be sure that it really is truly something that reflects the area and is truly unique to the region. No, clothing or accessories from H&M or Zara do not count!

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

L'Arte de' Ciompi - Florece, Italy (photography by Rae Tashman - www.lovefromberlin.net)

photography by: Rae Tashman

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Stay conscious, Rae


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Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • I completely agree with this. Wonderful post!

    Chelsey | http://www.chelseythornton.com

  • I shudder when I think about all the nonsensical souvenirs I bought when I went to Italy at 15. Thankfully, I have amended my ways since then. Now I approach souvenirs as I would anything if I were shopping at home and that is: if I walk away thinking about it, it’s worth purchasing. If I forget about it, it’s not. I can usually tell which item would have me kicking myself for not buying it.

    Thanks for such a helpful guide! Also, I am enchanted by that shop. It looks stunning!
    xx Carina

  • Lovely post! I love bringing ticket stubs home, and I always search out independent shops in new-to-me places. xxx

  • I love that first photo, so much depth. Some of my favourite souvenirs have been tickets for tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, boat rides etc. I think we’ve all been guilty of bringing back the cheap crap too haha.

    Kirstie | http://www.kimamelybeauty.com

  • Thanks for the tips! I am loving your photos so much♥


  • What a lovely article! I love that you integrate sustainability on such a small but important lever. I love the idea of asking friends to take home specimens of grass or succulents. I think I’m going to do that as as well, one can never have too many plants right?! C:

  • Amazing post dear! Love the photos,they are so gorgeous!!


  • Wow what beautiful photos! Totally agree with everything you said, I always keep tickets and maps as souvenirs! x

    Brigitte | brigittehayley.com

  • Josie

    Gorgeous photos! I’m the same, I always keep tickets etc from trips. I like buying postcards too x

    Josie | Sick Chick Chic

  • Laughed out loud at your admission shot glasses are strange collectors item for an 8 year old haha. Love your angle, I kept a scrap book when I went travelling and sticking in leaves/shells/feathers – means so much more. Really original post, haven’t seen anyone else talking about this. xx

    Rosie | http://lookslikerosie.com/

  • Love your tips and photography. The souvenirs you picked out are so unique and intricate. Thanks for sharing.

    Stephanie | http://www.stephykeung.com

  • I love your tips! I especially agree with the ticket stubs and shopping unique to the area. Especially in places like San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. There is so much uniqueness there.


  • Thalyne Vieira

    Great post darling as always ! :)

    FASHION & BEAUTY BLOG: http://www.theclassicv.com

  • sileas

    That’s a wonderful and cute shop you’ve found! I love that kind. Totally agree with you regarding the tacky plastic crap, however I can’t stop collecting fridge magnets, although they’re all made in China. Keeping business cards, maps and tickets are my passion too, they always bring back good memories…


  • Hi Rae, those cards that you got in Venice are truly beautiful! Such a great souvenir to get.

    I agree with everything you said; I hate all this crap that is sold in tourists’ shops, too. The only exception may be magnets – I actually buy those, haha :) My boyfriend and I saw a collection on someone’s fridge and we decided it would be cool to have our own. But we’re far from buying those plastic kitchy ones – we always look for something a bit more unique – wooden or in style of old posters.

    I love little stores that sell handmade products, too. I usulally look for items that I can actually use instead of regular “decorative” pieces. During my last trip to Greece I bought a handmade soap dish made of olive wood; it looks interesting in the bathroom and it’s extremely durable. I also like to bring pieces of nature – we even set up a jar for every journey and fill it up with things like sand, seashells or cones. I’ve never thought about collecting tickets or maps, though; I need to start doing that!

    Another thing that I love to bring is food. It may not seem like a real souvenir, as you’ll eventually eat it, but every time I use my Greek olive oil, it reminds me of dinners with my friends in a little tavern :)


  • I love to collect things from travel as well but I tend to get small but significant things. Your tips are really helpful as sometimes it is so easy to buy everything you want when you are in a new place. Xx

    every LiTTLE thing07

  • I usually collect ticket stubs or just random stuff like that and stick it in a journal. Aside from that, I sometimes collect pins. But I generally don’t really buy souvenirs for the sake of buying something to show off where I’ve travelled to.

    Nat | Dignifiable

  • Ah that shop is beautiful! I tend to collect little things like my train cards and boarding passes and stuff, I just keep all the little things like wrist bands I may have had from a club. I found it weird the last time I went away to Paris I didn’t bring any physical souvenirs home (well except my train tickets and such) but I do now keep video diaries of my travels which I think is a better souvenir because you can relive the holiday through it. Pictures and videos are me souvenirs. I used to buy thimbles wherever I went but I decided collecting one thing doesnt work for me because I get bored of it easily <3

    The Quirky Queer

  • Kiki Rampone

    I absolutely love your photos! These are such great tips. I really like the idea of collecting a bit of nature from each place. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

    xo Kiki


  • Siffat Haider

    Your pictures are truly beautiful and these are great tips!

  • Rae, you’re starting to make me fall in love with the idea of conscious living! I’m typing up a little summary for what I’ve learned from consciously spending for the past two weeks, right now. You’re right that there are so many souvenirs that are mass-produced, it doesn’t really give it a special meaning – in fact, it probably isn’t even produced regionally! Collecting little pieces of nature is such a cute idea, I like that you’ll truly have a little piece of wherever you went with you.

    becky ♡ star violet

  • Molly Hogan

    Love this! I’m such a souvenir junkie and definitely end up buying things I don’t need. Going to need to follow this advice!


  • Kay (shoesandglitter)

    This is a fantastic, helpful post! Personally, me and my boyfriend have this rule that wherever we go, we just pick up a snow globe. It’s kind of our thing and we have quite a collection by now. :)


  • Beautiful pictures.

    ♥ Nissi

  • Lovely photos!

    When I travel I too try not to buy anything. Except for scarves. I love them, they keep me warm, I can wear them over my shoulders if I’m going into a temple, etc., they serve as extra blankets, and depending on where you find them, many are really unique and handmade with local materials. I also like the idea of keeping ticket stubs and luggage tags. I have a box full of papers now, and I’ve been meaning to paste them all into a scrapbook or something, but I just haven’t found the time. (That, and I’m lazy haha).

  • The shop looks very lovely, there are so many nice souvenirs! I like your idea to use business cards in a travel scrapbook :)

    Gift Ideas To Suit Every Budget // http://www.keenonbeauty.com

  • great post !!! thanks for stopping by my blog and your nice comments!!!kiss!!!

  • SO ACCURATE. This is one of those things you don’t really think about until you reeeeeeaally think about it… if that makes sense? I usually pick up little rocks from every beach I go to, and ticket stubs and metro tickets to compare how they look all around the world. Also I find flea markets or thrift stores the best ever for any souvenirs. The last time I was in Europe I bought a little necklace pendant from a fleamarket in Paris for 2Euros and its a great reminder of hours spent searching through the market and seeing cool things (the vintage postcards are fun too!)

    This post is so good! And that deck of cards is beautiful.

  • Adaleta Avdic

    I travel a lot for business, and I collect a magnet in each new place I go. My boyfriend & I have taken this task upon ourselves, but I travel more so I end up spending WAY more $$ in magnets! xx, adaatude.com

  • Tash Collier

    How this is very lovely idea!


  • Nadia

    LOVED this post hon and all the great ideas and tips.
    I always keep whatever means a lot to me: from an old postcard to a tiny shell <3
    Amazing post, honey. Made me emotional (in a good way) awww :)
    xox Nadia

  • Lovely post with beautiful photographs! A really great post – I have been guilty in the past for buying too many ‘tacky’ souvenirs but now I try and get something little that is handmade and typical to the culture of the place.

    Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches

  • I had so much trouble finding souvenirs for people when I was abroad. I also hated those kitschy souvenirs so I ended up getting them things that weren’t even from the country I was in, just things that I thought they would like. I did however get business cards from restaurants! I collected a whole stack of them when I went to Taiwan. I really should start collecting again!
    How To Be More Like Lauren

  • I loved this post! I agree with you and I absolutely loathe those standard cliché souvenirs! I like your idea of collecting dust or dirt from a place – it’s so much true to the place you visit – I like collecting leaves or shells or maps :)

    Pop over to my blog!


  • I love this post! Ever since my first holiday without my parents when I was 19 to America I wrote travel journals with an entry for every day and saved ticket stubs and brochures and all kinds of things which I stuck in there. I also got some of those flattened pennies, and then when I went away to Europe in 2010 I started buying snowglobes which although they’re cute, definitely fall into the mass produced consumer crap category. But on that trip I also started collecting little vials of dirt or rocks from different places, and I did the same on my trip last year, and it turns out my dad does it too! He’s got his own rock collection. So I definitely treasure my little bits of dirt or sand or rocks more than the snowglobes.

    jessica – littlehenrylee.com