“I went on vacation and all I got was this crummy t-shirt…”

I. Love. Family. Traditions. A family game night once a month. Doing a Christmas puzzle each year. Visiting a cottage on a lake every year. Some large, some small, traditions are a great way for families to stay connected, to create and remember memories.

How you take vacations and what you bring home can be a fun family tradition. My grandmother and aunt collected small souvenir spoons from their travels. My Mom collected a variety of souvenirs from her travels, but encouraged me, as a child, to choose a specific type of keepsake and try to stick with it. I began by collecting pins from the destinations we visited as a family. When I couldn’t find a pin, I would get a magnet. I made sure to collect a pin or magnet from every state I set foot in. It’s easy to lose track of the places you’ve been, especially when you’re young and I could easily go back and look at my collection and be sure.

il_340x270.1121341141_tjbuRegrettably, when I began my adventures with my own family, I didn’t settle on a specific type of memento right away. It was an opportunity missed. Eventually, I remembered the lesson my Mom had tried to teach me. I began having my family choose a Christmas ornament from each of our destinations so that each Christmas we could pull them out and reminisce together.

vintage-us-state-souvenir-glasses-s8-8180More recently, my husband decided we should also begin collecting pint glasses from our adventures. They are a conversation piece when we have company and are more fun than a set of regular drinking glasses. Our glasses give us daily reminders rather than the once a year reminders from the Christmas ornaments.


I’ve seen a lot of great souvenir traditions. Just the other day, we saw a Thule car carrier covered in bumper stickers from their many travels. Such a fantastic idea, great stickers without ruining the value of your vehicle. Superb idea.

There are a lot of fun ideas you could adopt. Some things are easier to find than others. If you want near guarantees for availability, try collecting mugs, magnets, coasters, shot glasses, key chains, or snow globes. My daughters collected snow globes and my youngest gravitated toward pocket knives. Be aware that snow globes aren’t the easiest to transport and are quite easily broken even after they make it home… just something to consider as we’ve had some tears shed over a souvenir lost.

Whatever you decide on, have fun searching for the perfect souvenir that will continue to be a reminder of the seeming cheesiness of souvenirs and just go for it. Make it a new tradition and enjoy the hunt!

I challenge you to hit the road and while you’re exploring, take time to scour the souvenir shops for that perfect memento.

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