How to Collect Cheap and Free Souvenirs

May 18, 2015

I’m only $10. I’m cheap compared to all the others. Look at them, sitting there up high on their shelf that rises above all the others, flaunting their expensive price tag, waiting to be displayed on someone else’s marble shelf. 

Don’t worry, I’m not like them, I’m inexpensive and I’m better quality than all the others. Buy me, buy me, buy me!

Hopefully this personification of inanimate objects doesn’t happen when you go souvenir shopping, but I’m sure the back and forth battle of what to buy, does.

It can be pretty tempting to buy a cheap souvenir just to get something. Souvenir shopping can also be quite difficult at times, especially when your choices are only hats, bags, and tiny figurines, or things that you’ve seen half the tourists in the city have already bought. 

When you travel somewhere, there is always going to be a strong urge to buy half of the city and bring it home with you. Unless you’re like my friend who used to collect rocks and tiles from the sidewalks, but she’s a different story.

You’re always going to want to have that small piece of something to remind you of your travels. You’re going to want to display it in your living room for everyone, but mostly yourself, to see.

But what if you’re strictly on a $20-40 a day budget, and don’t have room for any souvenirs?

Well, sorry, then you’re out of luck!

Just kidding.

I’ve slowly been trying to master the art of collecting unique and cheap souvenirs, so that I can still have something from traveling that doesn’t leave a dent in my wallet.

Here are tips on how to collect cheap and free souvenirs, one’s that will last longer and have more meaning than anything you can buy at the store. 

Keep a Journal

This will always be the cheapest and most valuable souvenir you can ever give yourself. There will always be ways to make your travel memories last, but this is, by far, the most precious.

If you keep a journal, you will always have that object that holds how you thought, how you viewed the world, and what you did that day. It will be trapped inside a leather bound cover, scribbled in illegible handwriting because you wrote it on the back of a bus.

I still look at my journals from the past, and am so thankful that I wrote about my day in detail, let alone kept them.

I wait for the day when I can stack my journals on top of each other in a bookcase, displayed for everyone to see, but not read (my eyes only!).

How to Collect Cheap Souvenirs

Collect Postcards

When I was in Denmark, I stumbled upon a bunch of cafés that gave out free postcards. They were strange and in Danish, but I loved them.

They’re small, cheap, and easy to carry. If you don’t feel like sending them out to your friends or family, you can frame them or make them into a collage.

Collect Stickers, Newspapers, and Tickets

These random reminders of pieces of the city you encountered during your travels abroad are very meaningful. Keeping a concert or plane ticket can remind you of a fun night out or an eventful plane ride, while a newspaper can remind you of something that was happening in the city during that time. 

Instead of buying a ton of random souvenirs in each country I visited, I would collect either a sticker, newspaper, wrapper, plane ticket, concert ticket, or post card. Then i made this:

How to Collect Cheap Souvenirs

I love having something so special from each country, in one frame, that I know no one else has.

Collect Street Maps, Beer Bottles, and Beer Bottle Wrappers

This is pretty much doing the same thing as above; collecting tiny knickknacks that are a part of what makes up the city. Kudos to you if you circle where your hostel was, which monuments you saw; even the routes you walked on a street map you saved.

Try collecting beer bottles and beer bottle wrappers of the country’s beer. It’s even better when it’s in another language! 

How to Collect Cheap Souvenirs

Collect Coins

Those tiny coins (which you can’t change back into your home currency!) make great souvenirs. You can even make them into necklaces or bracelets!

In Denmark, some of their coins have holes in the center of them. I tied a string through one of them and now wear it around my neck. It’s one of my favorite souvenirs I have from there.

Collect Shells

If you’re going to visit the beach in a new country, collecting shells is a fun and easy way to get souvenirs. I collected these beautiful, long, spiral shells when I was in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. They were sprawled out around the beach, and I couldn’t help myself but to take dozens of them.

Remember, every souvenir you collect has to fit in your suitcase and make it through customs. Have fun, get creative, and enjoy collecting tiny trinkets from around the world.

Maybe you’ll end up like my friend from when I was studying abroad: she now has a collection of used beer bottles, rocks, post cards, shot glasses, stolen bar glasses, and even a candelabrum.

Do you have anymore tips on how to collect cheap and free souvenirs?

Top Photo Cred: Kayla Gray


  1. Comment by Janet Sunderland

    Janet Sunderland May 18, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Collect tiny things from out of the way, hole-in-the-wall shops. Or the market where they sell tiny things for locals. For example:

    Each of those in the photos are about an inch to an inch and a half tall. Most of my pieces from Mexico I bought in markets, not tourist shops. (and I have journals and shells and maps!) All great tips. You’re a wise traveler already!

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica May 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      I love those tiny figurines (and your post!!). Finding things in markets and non-touristy shops are the best places to find cheap and unique souvenirs. Thank you so much, Janet!

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