Screen Name Required

A screen name is required for sharing content on REI. Click here to create a screen name before continuing.

Set screen name

Show-and-Tell: Favorite Travel Souvenirs

What is your favorite souvenir from your travels? Wherever we as members of the REI Adventures team explore new places, a souvenir reminds us of the adventure or gives us a special connection to a place or person. It can be as simple as a photograph, or it might be something that reflects the artistry of the local culture, such as a carpet. These mementos, every time we see them, use them or sometimes even taste them, transport us back to those places.

Throughout our travels, it seems everyone on our crew has collected one special souvenir. Here are a few of our most interesting finds:

Tibetan carpet from NepalSuzanne:

"My favorite souvenir is a 3x5-foot royal blue Tibetan carpet purchased in Namche Bazaar, Nepal. My husband, John, and I were on an REI trip trekking in Nepal for our honeymoon. Toward the end of our trip we enjoyed a home-stay with a local family. They brought out armloads of gorgeous carpets and we chose to purchase one to remind us of the lovely people who open their doors to travelers." 

New Zealand teapotTeresa:

"My favorite is this New Zealand teapot. On my first trip to New Zealand in 1979 every single household had one of these stainless steel teapots in a variety of sizes. The only tea they drank was loose leaf tea. The best thing about this teapot, as is the case with all the New Zealand teapots, is that they have the strainer built right into the spout so you don't get a cup full of tea leaves."

Tibetan incense from Kathmandu, NepalAmy:

"Sandalwood Tibetan incense that I bought in Kathmandu, Nepal. I love this incense because:

1. Every time I light one it relaxes me and takes me back to my travels in Nepal.
2. It's a super-cheap souvenir with a big impact.

"I have to use them sparingly now as I am running low. Luckily I know 2 people who are going to Nepal in the next couple of months who will, I hope, pick more for me."

Spices from around the worldJessica:

"When I travel I like to find spices for my pantry that reflect the flavors of the places I visit. Vanilla beans from Hawaii, sweet and salty dried tamarind from Thailand, or the heat of ground green chilies from New Mexico bring back far more vivid memories of my travels than a postcard or a fridge magnet ever could. It's also a special way to share the experience with friends and family at home."

Italian Murano glass statueCandace:

For Candace, it all comes down to a specific moment:

"1988, Bellinis (a cocktail) at Harry's Bar, black ink pasta...roaming the streets of Venice in search of the perfect piece of Murano glass.

"Here it is—my favorite Italian!"

Tanka painting from NepalJames:
"My favorite is a Tanka, or scroll painting. It was created by REI's guide in Nepal, Thupten, who used to be a monk.

"The image consists of 4 panels that depict how Everest came to be. Now framed and hanging in our living room, it's a daily reminder of this incredible place, and Thupten's smiling face."


Buddha relic from Thailand

"My favorite souvenirs are my 3 Buddha relics (one is shown here) given to me by a monk in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had a private blessing ceremony with him and he had the kindest eyes I've ever seen in my life. I really felt he was looking into my soul.

"He asked about my family and dropped 3 of the wooden Buddhas (one each for my immediate family) into my hand. He told me these would help keep my family safe and far, so good."

Nicaragua sea turtle souvenir

Liz E:

"While at a beachside restaurant traveling in Nicaragua, I happened upon some young boys playing in at the beach. One older boy, who I guess was about 10 years old or so, was determined to set up shop and sell me a souvenir. He had hand-made little turtles out of seashells by gluing the shells to cardboard and each other. He used seeds for the baby turtle's feet; and for the mouth and eyes of the turtles he used some kind of red and white paint. I bought this cute little turtle with a baby on its back, and I will always remember this little boy who was trying so hard to be a grown man."

New Zealand Maori fish hook necklace


"I recall the first and really only souvenir I acquired on my first solo trip in New Zealand. When I was 16, I met a very kind and engaging Maori gentleman on a sea kayaking excursion in the South Island. He gave me a necklace with a fishing hook hand carved from whale bone. It is calledhei matau. It is considered a cultural symbol of prosperity and safe travels over water. The fact that it is still around my neck after 15 years has become, for me, a representation of my love for and connection with New Zealand."

Guatemala cheetah maskWendy:

"After many a trip where I got caught up in the endless sea of trinkets, I've come to the conclusion that I will only buy things I can either wear or eat—unless it's a cool mask.

"I bought this cheetah mask in Guatemala in 1997 and was the very first item of my collection. I fell in love with the bright colors and animated expression. It now accompanies other masks I've collected from around the world: Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Bali, Korea and Japan."

 Souvenirs serve as our windows back to a place, time or person we yearn to always remember. We'd love to hear about your favorite souvenirs, too. What are some of your most cherished keepsakes from faraway lands?



Posted on at 2:10 PM

Tagged: REI Adventures, Travel and souvenirs

Ratings and Comments

(0) (0)
write a comment
You already voted on this.
Log in to comment or rate.

Unable to Post Comment

We were unable to post your comment at this time. Your opinion matters, so please try again later.

  • Most Recent
  • Most Commented

    No entries found

    No entries found