Meaningful Travel Mementos For Minimalists

It’s all about finding something that makes you smile and remember the great times you all had together!

By Adventurtunity Family
Explore Ambassador

Whether you’re taking a vacation, road trip or weekend getaway, you will most likely experience an opportunity to pick up a souvenir or two as a reminder of your travels. Oftentimes, these little mementos are overpriced trinkets that you find at gift shops, gas stations or attraction kiosks — also known as “tourist traps.” Their entire goal is to dazzle you with so many options you can’t help but leave with a few things, most likely items you didn’t really need. And the attractions are the toughest to avoid. Over the past two years, we have seen time and time again that at the end of the attraction or amusement park day, the only way to the exit is to go through tchotchke central, also known as the gift shop. And if you have kids, after a long day of fun, that’s the very last place you want to try to escape meltdown-free!

Like most families, we too love to have mementos of our trips and have come up with a few questions to ask ourselves before buying. First, does the item really bring us joy, and second, does the item have a purpose? Meaning, will it actually be used or seen versus ending up in the junk drawer or some box in the basement? With these questions in mind, we are sharing seven great ideas that either don’t take up too much room or are useful items that will keep you remembering your awesome family travels for years to come! 



Postcards are commonly found in any tourist gift shop or gas station, highlighting specific towns, iconic landmarks, wildlife, landscapes and more. Usually, you pick one or two up and send a note to loved ones. But have you ever thought about sending them to yourself? A fun way to remember some of your family fun is to write down some of your favorite vacation memories and mail them home. Hopefully, they arrive after you return, and you can read them together and relive those fun times. When you are ready to store them, punch a hole in the upper left corner and hang them on a single loose-leaf ring or clasp ring. You can hang them on the fridge or display them on a coffee table or foyer table for others to enjoy when visiting.



We won’t say stickers are the smallest souvenir because we have seen quite a few large ones. But they are certainly the lightest and can be a fun way to collect memories of all the places you go. We like to collect stickers and keep them in a leather-bound coffee table book along with written comments about the place or experience. Adding stickers to our water bottles has been another fun way to keep reminding us of our travels and make for great conversation starters when around other travelers taking water breaks along a hike. A few other sticker ideas are to apply them to the side walls of your RV slide-outs or vehicle bumpers, or apply them to cardstock and frame them as a collage for art in your home.


Edible Treats

Indulging in the local cuisine can certainly be a way to remember a town or experience. Temporary as it is, it can be a fun souvenir that only takes up space in your belly! We’ve enjoyed huckleberry milkshakes in Driggs, Idaho, after watching a hot air balloon festival, eaten dessert waffles on top of a mountain in the Grand Tetons and enjoyed mini doughnuts in Alpine, Wyoming, before a fun day on the water. All of these unique food experiences are wrapped up in memories that we continue to talk about and share with others. We also have picked up six-packs of local brews, bottles of wine, candy, syrups, coffee and a few other items to enjoy for a longer period of time that eventually all gets used. And, of course, you can always take photos of your food and favorite places to share with others you know who will be visiting that area.


Household Items

Souvenirs that are actually useful might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but they are often available in gift shops. Think about the main areas of your home where you, your guests and family spend the most time. Usually it’s the kitchen, bathroom and living space. Once you start perusing the aisles with intent, items such as hand towels, soap holders, serving bowls, platters, coffee mugs and more will become obvious as great souvenirs!


Home Decor

Another useful souvenir idea is selecting items that can be displayed throughout your home as home decor. You may find a beautiful watercolor painting, handcrafted wood bowl for your table, wall art or coffee table books. A few other home decor ideas could be handwoven baskets to store blankets or other items, drink coasters, pottery, candles, handcrafted soaps, pillows and blankets. All these kinds of items help to decorate your home but also become conversation starters or carry with them great stories to share!



We have two favorite souvenirs we try to collect, and Christmas ornaments are one of them. It is true that we don’t get to enjoy these mementos year-round, but when we do, it is a magical time for our family! We love decorating our Christmas tree with meaningful memories that always make us laugh or cry about special times we have had together. There have been numerous times when we weren’t able to find traditional types of ornaments available and had to improvise. We have turned key chains, magnets and even junior ranger park badges into ornaments. It’s fun to be creative, and some of these are actually our favorite ornaments. These ornaments turn our Christmas tree into an incredible stroll down memory lane and also get us excited for more adventures to come in the new year!


Professional Family Photos

(Photo: Maewood Photography)

Our second-favorite travel memento is family photos with a professional photographer. If you have taken any kind of trip with someone, you know that capturing “good” photos together can be challenging. There is the selfie option, or you can hand your phone/camera over to a stranger and hope it goes well, or you can take the time to set up the tripod and shoot it yourself. None of these are really ideal. And when you’re visiting epic locations, doing incredible things and spending time all together, it’s great to document your memories with photographs that you’re proud to share and display.

We used our professional travel photos as home decor in our house, and now we do the same thing in our RV. We refresh the photos seasonally or whenever we travel to a new place. Your professional souvenir photos could work as the perfect holiday photo card, too!

Now you might be thinking that you love this idea but have no clue how to go about finding a photographer while traveling. The good news is that there are a few companies, such as Flytographer and Snappr, designed to help you. They have already negotiated the rates and packages with photographers in your travel area. You head to their websites for your desired shoot location/date and they connect you with the best photographer based on your criteria. You then book your session like you would any other excursion. Once you have your photo session, your photographer will deliver a gallery of photos to you that you can cherish for always!


Hopefully, these meaningful travel memento ideas were helpful for you and your family. Of course, there is no right or wrong way of selecting souvenirs for your family. It’s all about finding something that makes you smile and remember the great times you all had together!

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