3 DIY travel souvenir ideas

I’ll be honest with you. I like to bring a little something to my family and friends back home when traveling, but I absolutely hate the process of buying souvenirs. Unless there’s something I spot unintentionally on my way and think that a certain friend or relative would love it (in which case it’s always a pleasure to gift it), the simple thought of spending time & money on buying random useless stuff, that also might burden my luggage, just in order to show everyone I thought of them while away, is way too overwhelming and annoying for me. I’ve met people that set aside even one day from their travel journey just for “souvenir shopping”, which to me equals to wasted time that nobody will give you back and that could be invested into better endeavors (and yes, I’ve done that years ago during my first travels and I’m never doing it again).

So when I was away in 2014 for 6 months living in Spain, I decided to come up with some creative and less expensive (money was running out) ideas for souvenirs. Here’s my favorites that I’ve already done (will be updating this article with new ideas after testing them):

1.A piece of that place

Many people (including me) love collecting shells or interesting pebbles from their travels (I even have a small broken piece of Lisbon’s pavement just because I found it so interesting), but what if you find a more creative way to gift them, not just like that?

Well, here… I brought sand directly from the Sahara Desert for some of my closest friends. Some of it was intentionally stuffed in my pockets and carried through most of Morocco with me, another part sneaked in the ankle folds of my jeans and in my backpack pockets, so I had plenty of it. I didn’t know how I was going to gift it yet, but back home I found online some cute tiny glass bottles (about 3 cm tall) at a great price, ordered them, filled them up, covered them with bits of kraft wrapping paper and secured everything with some simple rope. Ta-da-dam! And turns around these were quite a success as everyone liked them!

This would work great with sand from beaches as well (I’m thinking of starting a collection, I’m just sad because I didn’t come up with it earlier), especially if it’s something really unique (like dark or pink sand). You can use bigger bottles/ recipients and get even more creative with adding other things inside as well.

sahara sand souvenir_ andreea iancu - blog

2.Handmade postcards

This is one of the most easiest for me, ’cause I love to snap pictures of the places I go to and I’m always looking to improve my photo skills, to find not just the best views, but unique, less photographed spots and angles as well. So by the end of my stay in Spain I made a list with the people I wanted to send a little thought to and started selecting and editing some of my best captures.

I spent a lot of time doing this, from choosing images to making print layouts, printing at a local shop in Seville, cutting them, buying stamps, writing my message and eventually throwing them in the mailbox with the hope they arrive safely to their destination. I loved the whole process and would do it again every single time (hope the recipients loved it too!). It’s a bit difficult to do it if you’re always on the road, but not impossible with the help of a laptop and a local print shop.

Funny idea: On one occasion I photoshopped the friend I was sending the postcard to into the image as part of the scenery. Taking it to another level!

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3.Handmade drawings

This is what I usually buy as a souvenir for myself when traveling. Unfortunately, I can’t always afford to buy a handmade drawing from local street artists (which would be ideal), so I have to settle with smaller copies from souvenir shops, but I love them so much. However, if you’ve got drawing skills, this would make a great present for your dear ones! In the photo below, the drawing captured was made by my friend and apartment colleague from Seville, Kati, and it’s one of my favorite souvenirs from there. I’m not as talented as she is, but, while there, she taught me some tips & tricks and I managed to draw something similar for my sister, in the form of a bookmark.

kati drawing_andreea iancu

In the end, remember that it all comes down to the person you’re gifting the souvenir to and what they value. I’ve got a few friends that are crazy over fridge magnets, so I most certainly won’t be sending them a postcard, but bring them a cute magnet.

So, do you have any DIY ideas for souvenirs? Share them below!

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