Collect moments AND collect things

There is one of those travel quotes floating around the web that says ‘Collect Moments not things’. Totally cringy but also a fab little writing prompt for me as I don’t see the problem in collecting moments .. and wait for it… collecting things. Especially from your travels I mean is it really that bad to want a thing, memento, souvenir from where you have been?

I know this quote is trying to say that experiences, memories and moments are the best way to remember your travels and that buying a piece of tat from a souvenir shop doesn’t really compare to if you were to spend  your money on a bungee jump or a meal in a traditional restaurant.  In some respect, I agree. For me though as much as I like having the moment and memories I also like collecting things to bring home. Maybe I’m a  hoarder or maybe I just like the idea of having different bits of the world throughout my home and daily life.

Sometimes collecting things on travels isn’t just for yourself.  It’s also more than just bringing a gift back for someone special.  My best friend collects pencils and I always get her one from wherever we go.  A pencil with a funny topper or destination written along the side- wherever I go she gets one. It’s become a regular ritual I always get her a pencil and she gets me a magnet. My dad and his friend have an odd but kinda cool tradition. Whenever either of them goes away they collect a small rock from there and then mount it on a bit of wood when they get back with the date and location written on the mount. They have been doing it for years and both have a healthy collection of rocks from all sorts of destinations. They were maths and science teachers so it makes sense.

This photo is of me about 10 years ago riding a camel in Egypt. I was being led by a small child that was certainly not going to be able to catch me if I fell off or even control the camel if it took off. Thankfully neither of those happened.  I couldn’t tell you what the weather was like, how long we were on the camels for, what the little boy or camels name was, what I was thinking or feeling as these details of my memories have started to slip away to make room for new ones (think like in the film Inside Out). However, when I see this picture in its token Egyptian frame that I purchased whilst there, it prompts my mind to bring those memories back. It reminds me that I’ve ridden a camel and will never do so again, that they were big and smelly, that it was so scary getting on and off and that it was an amazing thing to do whilst I was in Egypt.  Also whenever I see this picture on the shelf at home I always think about the end of the film the titanic when they do a montage of Rose’s life in photos and there she is on a horse on the beach. This photo of my rocking the worst outfit with the worst hair on top of a camel in Egypt would totally be in my end of days montage.

It’s not just photos that do this but I have a tea towel from Portugal that whenever I use I think back to walking through Albufeira  Old Town in the afternoon shopping for ice cream and souvenirs or the soft toy Penguin named Alan with the knitted jumper we brought on Philip Island after seeing the fairy penguins come in and that the sale of this went back into helping knit jumpers for penguins affected by oil spills. Everything I’ve ever brought back has a memory associated with it that then makes me smile, cringe or go searching through the house for other bits I’ve collected.

Over the years I’ve dabbled in I Heart (insert destination here) t shirts, mugs, tea towels, money, photo frames, jewelry,  soft toys but the big three main ones for me are magnets, postcards and paintings/prints.

Magnets – the more the gaudy the better. Such a touristy thing to collect but I don’t care. We have them all over our extractor fan at home and will religiously buy one whenever we go somewhere new. We also now have friends get them for us when they go somewhere we’ve not been.

Postcards- Similar to the above I always buy them without the intention of ever sending them. I think one day I will do something creative with them. I’m sure Pinterest will have some ideas for me.

Paintings and prints- I try and buy these off street artists or in markets. Some are also obviously reproduction prints but I like the idea of having them hung up around the house so its like you get to be in all the countries at once. The Eiffel Tower on the same wall as a Venetian canal and the bright wildlife road signs of Australia.

I reached out to a few travel bloggers for their collectible of choice to show you it’s not just about gaudy magnets or lots of postcards. Some of these might even start you on a new holiday collecting tradition…


I love to collect different liquors from around the world. Whether it is what a country or area is known for, or an alcohol unique to them, I need to have a bottle! They remind me of the places I’ve been (and usually more than a few nights in said country), and afterward cracking the bottle is a great way to celebrate the big occasions!

Missy from The Journey Project |


I started collecting magnets when I was 18, after seeing a friend’s fridge covered with magnets of the places they’d visited. My first was a circular wooden magnet with a colourful bird from Nicaragua. Since then my collection has expanded massively to 59 magnets – all are a little piece of the world I’ve brought home from places as far flung as Denmark, Japan, and Zanzibar. My parents now always make a point to bring me back a magnet from the places they’ve been to as well! I love that every morning when I get the milk out of the fridge for breakfast, I get a glimpse of the globe staring back at me. One of my favourites is from Venice, with Italian flag colours and a tiny gondola dangling down.

Laura from One More Step Travel |

Shot Glasses

We were lounging and celebrating our honeymoon with glasses of champagne in Santorini when we instinctively decided that we are going to collect shot glasses from all the places that we visit henceforth. Since we love recalling and laughing over our favourite travel memories while sipping on some drinks once we are back, collecting shot glasses was probably our best decision ever! We have a cosy little bar counter at home and have done up a wall display to showcase all our shot glasses right above the counter. Whenever we host a get-together, all our friends are invited to raise a toast to their favourite or dream holiday destination from our selection! It’s so much fun to be able to actually use these little souvenirs than to just stack them up somewhere. Besides being very useful, shot glasses are generally found easily in most countries, are not very expensive and can spoil you for choice! We still remember visiting Stone Town in Zanzibar three times just to lay hands on the prettiest and most colourful hand painted shot glass of the entire lot! Here’s a small glimpse of our collection =)

Trailing Abroad |



Years ago I started collecting patches from each country I visited. For me, they were the perfect light-weight and cheap travel memento that doesn’t take up much space in my bag. But, they sat in a drawer at home because I couldn’t figure out how to display them in a way that would be a daily reminder of my adventures! For Christmas one year, my mom got me this piece of vintage luggage. It’s the perfect place for my patches! It makes me smile every day and now, because my friends know that I collect them, they always ask to see my latest patch!


This Big Wild World |


I love art and I love to travel, so what better than to pick up art pieces while traveling? Our home has a nice collection of paintings, sculpture, figurines and other knick-knacks that we picked while traveling to destinations far and wide. One of my favorite purchases of all time is this beautiful “door” that I picked up from a local store in San Juan, Puerto Rico that sells miniature door figurines modeled on actual doors in the city. You can also personalize it as I did!

Year of the Monkey |


We love to travel cheaply and while pictures may last forever, we like something more substantial to remember our trip by. On our honeymoon to Puerto Rico, we picked up a handmade door and had “Casa Blanca” inscribed (in honor of our last name). That little yellow and purple door hung in our kitchen proudly! We decided that this will become our memento of choice on future trips!

We ventured to Italy next, where we found loads of various tiles for sale. We now collect small tiles from each city we journey. The tiles are handmade or used as part of home renovations because we want to support the local artists! Our tiles adorn our kitchen to remind us of the delicious flavors we sampled abroad.

The Wanderlust Dietitian |


I am a very conscious souvenir hunter. I do tend to document my travels through things and love my ever-growing magnet and mug collections. However, out of everything we bring home the one collection we cherish most is our authentic books.

We purchase books directly from the original place they were written! We love the authenticity and uniqueness of having a manuscript directly from its source. A couple of our favourite additions to our collection include the following:

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – When travelling to the Lake District England, we popped into Hilltop Farm where Beatrix Potter lived and wrote the story and purchased the book right then and there! In doing so, our edition of the story sports an embossed stamp inside to indicate its authentic purchase at Hilltop Farm.

Another example is our recent purchase of the novel “The House of Seven Gables” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Written by the same author as the famed Scarlet Letter, when exploring Salem, we decided to tour the actual house of seven gables that inspired the novel and marks the location where the book was written. Inside the front cover, you will find in our copy a stamp stating we purchased the book at the famed location in Salem.

Other examples of our collection include:

Sherlock Holmes from 220 Baker Street in London (The Sherlock Holmes museum), The Ladurée Cookbook straight from the Ladurée café itself- home to the famous macarons, Paddington Bear straight from Paddington Station’s gift shop, Shakespearean book straight from Stratford Upon-Avon in the UK, and much more.

When we travel we need to be conscious of the items we bring home and the businesses we support. With purchasing books from their origin, we feel it is a special collection we won’t outgrow that will be loved in our family for years to come.

Fill My Passport |

Do you collect anything when you are away? Anything different or out of the ordinary? If so I’d love to hear so please do share in the comments below.

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25 thoughts on “Collect moments AND collect things”

  1. OMG, I am following Deb in the comment section again 🙂 Well, just wanted to share as you do, that my mementoes from our travels are usually things I need to buy or replace. Just bought a fantastic small leather bag to sling over my body. Small bags are perfect for wandering around the streets for hours!! So yes we still manage to buy souvenirs they just tend to be more practical for long term travellers who have to live out of a suitcase. Having said that I think we will be buying a few things in Portugal before we head back to NZ for a few weeks 🙂 Your post did make me realise that I do need to start buying more little “things”!.

  2. I am a sht gass collector myself, and I can totally relate. I have them all on display and I love assigning “destinations” when I’m offering my guests something to drink 😀
    As for alcohol, I like to buy miniature bottles for my dad. I have spontaneously started this collection and now it’s his collectin. Every time I have the chance to buy a small bottle of liquor for my dad I will. It had all started one day when I was travelling with hand luggage only, and it became sort of a tradition.

  3. I *hate* when people throw that phrase out like they are superior to anyone who might happen to consider purchasing a souvenir. I buy mugs, reusable tote bags, and keychains- I want things that I can use on the regular that reminds me of wherever I went 😊 Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days of disposable cameras, but I’ve gotten back into the habit of printing pictures for another souvenir!! I say, collect the things!!

    1. totally agree!! Hate when people use that phrase its like when they try and have the argument about being a traveler and not being a tourist. Tote bags is a fab one!! Might have the start doing that

  4. Great ideas here. We travel full time so collecting things it a lot more difficult as we have to cart everything around with us. I buy a postcard from every country and display them on my wall whenever I live somewhere. Makes a great conversation starter!

  5. You have collected such great treasures! I am 100% a collector, borderline hoarder ;), for all the reasons you listed. I love amassing postcards, because while the image on them is generic, I can take one look and I’m back to where I found them. Trinkets are my favorite things to bring back from a trip with me, mainly because they don’t take up a lot of space, they make charming gifts, and they are always unique to the place I purchase them.
    Keep on collecting! 🙂

  6. Love this…I am such a lover of collecting…since childhood! Mine all hold meaning & special memories & I loved reading about your thoughts! Agree with the other comments…these things/souvenirs are little reminders

  7. I love this! This is exactly how I feel! Even in my early 20’s, my memory is horrible. I honestly don’t remember the majority of my childhood or even a few years ago. I HAVE to take as many pictures as possible whenever I travel. These photos help me to recall so many things. Not only that, but I’ve begun to do travel journals as well. This has helped me so much. I just write down the activities and any notable events and the end of each day, and it is an incredible way to jog my memory and match pictures to places and dates. When I travel, I am also big on purchasing postcards (never intending to send them to anyone) as well as stickers, bookmarks, shot glasses, and anything else small that is easy to transport.

  8. We collect adventures and dreams. It was an early decision to spend on the adventure and not be bringing what the husband refers to as ‘tut’ ( pronounced as soot) back. Endless photo shots and sometimes a new garment slips in but though I love all of yours. My favorite is the tile. A wonderful collection and post. Happy #socialSaturday.

  9. I grew up moving around the world and my parents chose randomly one day what each of us 4 daughters would collect. Mine was spoons, and my sister’s had patches, hat pins, and keychain. If I made the choice for myself it wouldn’t have been spoons… probably patches or pins… most of my spoons got ruined in hurricane katrina, but I’ve been lucky enough to replace at least some of the destinations I had even though they aren’t the exact same spoons… anyway, I’m a collector of things too. I have more collections now than just spoons… The moments are awesome, but they fade eventually as you said. I want memory prompts and things my grandkids can one day ask about which will prompt a story I can tell them 🙂

  10. I’m a big hoarder of things and collector of moments; I love anything that can transport me back to a time or a place. Every few years I get a photo album printed too, normally at a section of my life (like a big move, or a change in job), just to remember the times. As a photographer, I put a lot of value into the ability a photo has to provide a memory where your memory may be lacking!

    Lovely post 🙂

  11. That Egypt picture is amazing. I always try to buy the frame or album from a country for my photos or postcards. I love framing really quirky photos. I collect magnets too for my parents who I have been playing the ‘became you collect them’ game with for years. The fridge is covered.!

  12. I love this post, Melanie! My family is like your dad; we collect rocks from wherever we go. 🙂 I also love the idea of collecting art and books! Books are something I’ve never thought of, but how cool would it be to collect a classic children’s book from wherever you go – that’s something descendants may even keep around for generations to come.

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