Best Souvenirs

You all know by now, I love photography and I take bunches of photographs at the places we visit. But every now and then, I like collecting something special that serves as a memento.

Canyonlands

When a photograph isn’t enough

Souvenirs are a great reminder of a memorable trip or even a special day. Since we live in our RV full-time, space is always an issue. With that in mind, I’m a sucker for jewelry and t-shirts and neither takes up a great deal of space in the RV.

I’ve purchased necklaces and bracelets from around the country. Wearing the jewelry brings me right back to the place where it was bought, and always elicits fond memories.

best souvenirs

Jewelry and t-shirts are my favorite souvenirs

I love pearls. They remind of sparkling sand and ocean breezes. My pearl earrings were purchased in Hawaii while the pearl necklace was bought in St. Thomas. Our children were teenagers during both those trips and I have wonderful memories of those family excursions. If you asked our children about those trips, that’d both start laughing as stories would quickly be shared. Fun times with plenty of mommy faux pas moments!

bracelet souvenirs

I love my inexpensive bracelets

Purchasing a piece of jewelry needn’t be expensive, and quite often you can find unique pieces that are specific to the destination.

We live a relatively active and outdoorsy lifestyle, which is not always conducive to wearing fine jewelry. I learned that lesson the hard way several years ago when I lost a rather nice bracelet while out boating. Some fish in Lake Powell is adorned with a lovely ruby bracelet 😣

These days you’ll find me wearing multiple bracelets purchased from varying locations. Each one has special meaning to me. My pearl bracelet reminds me of our winter sojourns to the Texas Gulf Coast while the multi colored crystal bracelet reminds me of stunning Sedona, Arizona, and Sedona’s energizing, spiritual vortex, new age thing. Not that I know what that’s suppose to mean, but it’s Sedona, and I’ll roll with it. So far, the crystals that make up the bracelet haven’t energized me nor given me prosperity, but I’ll keep wearing the bracelet since I wasn’t given a time frame as to when those crystals will work their magic 😏

Turquoise stones are easily associated with the desert southwest. Last year, I found this turquoise bracelet in Old Town Scottsdale. Since we spend a far amount of time in Phoenix, Arizona, visits to the Scottsdale farmers market followed by a little souvenir shopping is one of my favorite pastimes. Although I don’t have room or use for the usual souvenir tchotchke, I do enjoy browsing the local shops and buying the occasional trinket.

bracelets souvenirsMy petrified wood bracelet is probably one of my favorite souvenirs. Not because I really like the look of the bracelet, but because it’s petrified wood. Seriously, how fascinating is petrified wood … real petrified wood worn around my wrist … pretty cool in my opinion!

Ah, the memories! My morning exploring the Petrified National Forest was one of my more eventful solo excursions.

RVing has given me the opportunity to experience a multitude of meaningful experiences.  Al and I shared a very special day in Rocky Mountain National Park several years ago.

It moose necklacewas one of those days, we couldn’t repeat even if we wanted to, and probably ranks in our top ten most memorable days as full-time RVers.

If you’re interested in a must do scenic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park or interested in seeing stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife or perhaps curious about why this moose necklace is so incredibly special to me, you can read those posts here and here.

While the words, “I don’t need any more jewelry” will never pass my lips, I do realize I can wear only so much. With that said, what shall we shop for if jewelry isn’t an option?

Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt

National Park t-shirts

National Park T-shirts anyone? Posing with our friends – Dave, Faye, me, and Al

Never worry about the extra space to pack a souvenir if you can wear it! Who doesn’t need a new t-shirt or ball cap? I’ll admit, I’m a t-shirt junkie. If I’m not buying a t-shirt for myself, I’m buying one for Al or the kids. Yeah, I’m one of those mom’s who occasionally brings back souvenirs to her grown children …. sure, thanks mom!

But in all seriousness, our lifestyle necessitates casual and comfortable clothing. So even if we weren’t wearing a shirt with the name of a national park plastered across the front, we’d probably be wearing one that says Nike. Therefore, why not wear a t-shirt with meaning, one that represents a beloved travel destination!

Death Valley National Park

Yep – both of us our wearing “Death Valley” t-shirts while visiting Death Valley National Park

Other souvenir ideas that don’t take up a lot of space

When the photos I take don’t seem like enough memorabilia, I enjoy buying something I can hold, admire or put on display.  My favorite souvenir used to be Christmas ornaments, but with limited space in the RV, my adult daughter has taken over that habit and is now in possession of my collection, a collection that started when she was a little girl. Thus, those ornaments elicit memories for her and our family adventures.

Other popular souvenirs are coffee mugs, shot glasses, and refrigerator magnets. When space is limited, there’s nothing wrong with buying them if you’re actually going to use the mug for your morning coffee or use that shot glass for your favorite whatever or you have a refrigerator that’ll hold those magnets, then why not?

National Park Pins

National Park pins

We have friends that collect logo “pins” from the national parks they visit, and/or have a national park passport book stamped.  If you have small children, signing them up for a Junior Ranger program at a National Park is an educational opportunity, and the workbooks they fill-in or color will serve as a special memento for you, but especially for them.

Items that are locally made are always special; items like blankets or rugs. Think about it, every time you wrap yourself in that blanket, you’ll be reminded of that trip, that day, those remarkable memories.

If you travel to another country, a place where there’s a different currency, save those coins or banknotes. I have a scrapbook from my trip to Germany (many years ago) and added the foreign currency to that scrapbook along with plenty of photographs as well as my plane ticket.

I’ve also been known to collect small stones or rocks (when permitted), but I do keep weight in mind. No  Long, Long Trailer story around this RV 😆  So while I might collect a rock here and there, I have a friend who collects seashells from her favorite beaches.

I treasure my photographs from all the places we visit, but also love having a little sliver of our travels in the form of a souvenir.

Do you collect souvenirs? If so, what?

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
― Denis Waitley

hot air balloon(affiliate links)

I used to have a decorative pillow addiction. Hubby is grateful the pillow collection in the RV is minimal ….. for now 😉

Hey, pillows can also be souvenirs, can’t they?

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67 thoughts on “Best Souvenirs

  1. T-shirts but you knew that, Dave hat pins of course and I get my passport book stamped at national parks ect….darn I should have gone to the Glen Canyon VC to get it signed, guess we’ll have to go back. I occasionally buy jewelry, once piece I’m never with out now is my compass rose necklace that I got at the TX Renfest. Used to the shot glasses but not anymore. And of course PHOTOS!!!

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    • We love our t-shirts and you guys got me started on pins. I bought my first one at the Big Water Visitor Center. So many great souvenir ideas that don’t take up a lot of space.

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  2. Hi Ingrid,
    We’ve been on the road so I’m just catching up on your latest posts and this one is fun. I’ve done magnets and patches but, for some unexplained reason, I bought a souvenir ceramic sewing thimble in the early 1980’s and have been collecting them ever since. Believe me, I’ve taken a lot of ribbing from my pals about being a “thimble boy” but I’m fine with it. I have collected them from Europe and South America and all over the U. S. and my collection now totals over 250. I keep them in display cases that I buy in antique malls and flea markets when we travel. Souvenir thimbles are becoming hard to find, but I comb the “cheapo” souvenir shops until I find them which makes for great side trips. Looking forward to seeing what turns up in the southwest next spring. Again, great post.

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    • Wow – that is quite the collection. Collecting souvenirs can be a fun hobby and offers a reason to explore new places (not that I need a reason lol). Let me know if I can offer any additional suggestions for your southwest excursion. So many fantastic places to see.

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      • I am planning on getting in touch. Hope to have the details finalized within a few weeks. Have already booked Lost Dutchman, Dead Horse Ranch, and Lake Havasu for March. Excited!

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  3. My favorite souvenirs are hiking medallions that are nailed on my maple hiking staff. Every now and again I look at these medallions and remember the trails I’ve been on.

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  4. We rarely buy souvenirs. However, we recently bought sandstone coasters from Monument Valley and planned to bring them with us for use in our condo in Bangkok. They will remind us of the US Southwest when we are on the other side of the world.

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  5. Great post. I’m a sucker for a National Park T-shirt too. I also collect rocks – where permitted – from our adventures. Our mulch beds are landscaped with rocks from all over the nation.

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  6. I love the idea of souvenirs and would gladly purchase unique items reflecting where I’ve been…but, hubby does not like chotskis. I resorted to collecting key chains where ever I go. They don’t take up much space and I can usually find something interesting and different.

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    • I too have purchased a few key chains. Seems I’ve managed to collect a little bit of everything over the years. But space is always an issue and thus it’s the little trinkets that attract me the most 😊

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  7. Father Christmas tree ornaments – Guilty. Some jewellery, but not to much, and scarves. One of big pleasures is local sauces or chutneys. They usually last a considerable amount of time so make good short term souvenirs. Also the odd bottle that of wine that we’ll keep for an occasion down the track a bit. Fridge magnets, yes guilty of owning a few of the sounvinir variety. Even with limited space, and weight issues there’s room for a small selection of memorabilia.

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    • I’m glad my daughter likes all the Christmas ornaments or I might be heart broken. So many fun things to collect along with the memories. I’ve done the food and wine thing also.

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  8. I’m not one to collect souvenirs when we travel but I have bought leather goods in Italy, clothing in France and have been given jarred spices from many of the hotels and restaurants that we have visited in Europe. Your souvenirs make nice remembrances.

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    • I can relate …the shopping in Europe is amazing. When I was younger, if it hadn’t been for my tight budget, I would’ve needed a second suitcase just to bring back all the fabulous things from Germany.

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  9. I do patches, which we sew onto our curtains. Also, passport stamps and Jr. Ranger badges (I’m still junior at heart)! I also like to get jewelry, or art and flat things we can put on the wall.

    I have a friend that collects Starbucks mugs from different places, so I love that I can buy them to give to her, but not have them hanging around!

    I lost a sentimental earring in Petrified Forest National Park, so I feel you on that Ruby bracelet.

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    • I have a friend who collects Starbucks mugs from various airports, but then again, they have a home with plenty of space. There are so many different items to collect and I’ve learned a lot from everyone’s comments. Thanks for stopping by and sorry about the earring. Some critter probably took it to their nest for a collectible 😆

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  10. A very different read than what I expected. I thoroughly enjoyed your perspective on souvenirs. I confess I too am guilty of collecting momentos, seashells, earrings, charms for my bracelets, and yes, the occasional tee. 😎

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    • I find it hard not to pick up a little something in a place I’m thoroughly enjoying. If the stop is just okay, then I don’t feel compelled to collect anything other than a photograph. I love my little collection of Lake Michigan rocks. Reminds me of my Midwestern roots 😊

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  11. Of course I have a ton of photographs of my travels. Our souvenirs run the gamut though – t-shirts and ball caps to shot glasses to ornaments to magnets to postcards to the wooden Giraffe from our Honeymoon in Jamaica and so on and so forth. I try to keep it compact since we have lived in 3 States in the almost 18 years together. Your post brings back some GREAT MEMORIES for me of my travels – Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

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    • Yes, moving a lot as a tenancy to keep collectibles to a minimum, but oh so fun to find small items to collect. Always nice hearing from you Renee 😊

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  12. I used to collect pens from all my travels. The ones with little floating symbols that moved up and down. Now I am into tiny birds, they seem to be everywhere in gift shops around Arizona.

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    • I don’t think I’ve noticed the pens and I’ll definitely be looking for the tiny birds. Although, I don’t have space for knick knacks, I still like shopping and looking at them. Guess I have a new quest when I visit Old Town Scottsdale 😃

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  13. I love your bracelets! I have been collecting National Park Christmas ornaments for years. I would love National Park sandstone coasters but I have only found two. And, NP magnets for the fridge! I have four books of National Park Passport Stamps and they are my favorite collectible. I like having the date of the visit.

    Take care, Ingrid.

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    • The date of a visit is really helpful considering I can’t remember what I ate yesterday let alone when I visited a particular place 😆 So I like your idea of the Passport Stamp. My photographs are all dated thank goodness. I do love those Christmas ornaments!

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  14. We like to buy stickers of where we go, especially the National Parks stickers. We then place inside the door of our belly to remind us of where we went on our adventures.

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    • Yeah, I like the idea of stickers, but Al and I always talk about different rigs…. which will probably never happen, but I still like the idea of a souvenir being transportable 😊

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  15. What a charming post, Ingrid! Love the family photo with the National Parks t-shirts – so cheerful and colorful! Alan and I used to collect mugs (until we ran out of space to display them) and we still collect Christmas ornaments. But my favorite items are National Parks magnets that we, too, display on the range hood. Coincidentally, it was just yesterday that Alan mentioned running a thin strip of metal along the top of the wall above the stove and sink since we’re just about out of room on the range hood!

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    • Thank you Mary. I could go crazy with those magnets, but since I don’t have the space, I’m leaning toward the pins. So many fun things to collect 😃

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  16. Funny, we share a few favorites. I also do the jewelry thing, and we have several trees worth of ornaments, which makes decorating the tree a bit of a challenge since we usually have a very small tree. 🙂

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  17. I had to come back to mention one more thing!

    I make Not only Christmas Ornaments with my travel photos from Shutterfly but also magnets!

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  18. Oh I belong to the Too Many Pillows Addiction Club! So yes I do buy some here and there! 🙄
    We purchase items at antique stores on our trips to add to our numerous collections. 🙄
    Then I purchase the National Park Walking Stick emblems that cover my walking stick. 🤭

    Okay you got me started girlfriend! In Pennsylvania our coffee mugs are ALL Starbucks coffee cups from airports… representing each city we have visited! 😬And you know “who” collects rocks from everywhere! We watched that movie with Lucille Ball … The Long, Long Trailor! We most likely have done that a few times! 🤫 Okay I must stop… what a fun post!🤗😀😁🤗

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    • While writing about collecting rocks, guess who came to mind? 😁 But at least you have a yard for all those rocks. Lots of fun things to collect during our travels and when we use those items or are able to display them, they are worth collecting. My daughter loves the Christmas ornaments I use to collect and they are now hers. I decided to start collecting pins and pinning them to my pack. I like the walking stick emblem idea but haven’t gotten used to using a stick yet. One day!

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  19. Your missing ruby bracelet story makes me think of the baseball cap my dad lost in Disney World. never wear one on a roller coaster!

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  20. Buying souvenirs when you are full time is challenging. My hubbie lives in souvenir tshirts. But it’s helped me save money knowing we have no room! Before rving I collected handmade pottery dishes. I used them all the time, but left them in storage when we headed out last summer. We gathered up a few coffee mugs and shot glasses this winter. But our best purchase was a painting we bought from a Tucson artist whose work we love and resisted buying in the past. Tried hanging it in the rv, but the 5lb command hook failed to stay on the wall. We would need to use something more secure. So it’s wrapped up in a corner until we move into our new house. It’ll be perfect there! And I can still remember our favorite places when I have coffee in our special mugs from New Orleans and Tucson.

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    • All reasons there are times I miss having a sticks and bricks house …. sigh! One day I’ll find what I’m looking for and finally empty those storage units and get my treasures out of boxes. I’m sure you’re excited to do just that. Al and I do enjoy our T-shirts and wear the heck out of them!

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      • It will be like Christmas! No more will I have to say “Oh yeah, that’s in storage. Didn’t think we’d need it.” LOL Only had to buy a few items that we forgot. I have a feeling we will get rid of more stuff after doing just fine in 250 sq ft for close to a year. No more clutter!

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  21. Unique subject matter Ingrid. Thanks for the ideas and I’ll be reading the comments section for more. Karen has been wondering what to do with her jewelry. I’ll forward your blog post to her. So excited she will be; finding out there is a reason to collect even more. One piece she wears is small and inexpensive on a chain. Got it in Eureka Springs Arkansas. She could easily replace it with a diamond she has. But – that piece she really loves. She, our daughter and me had a wonderful few days together on that trip. Suppose its the memory the piece brings up that is more important than a diamond. You and her will have to show each other your jewelry collection someday!

    Karen has the kitchen table covered with small rocks she has collected over the years. She is building small designs with them (gluing and stacking them together). She has the Dremel tool out to experiment with (that’s concerning!) Not sure where she is heading with her new hobby but likes to share with me where she found each and every rock.

    I like the idea of collecting pins (like on your hat) because of the size. Suppose one could keep them in a coffee can like we did with marbles as a child. Takes not much space.

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    • Our friends introduced us to the collecting of pins and it was Dave’s hat that I photographed. I bought my first pin at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and pinned it to my pack. I see more pin purchases in my future 😏 As to the jewelry, for traveling I keep my treasures in a little craft container meant to store beads, etc. The sectioned off areas keep the jewelry from tangling with one another. Hmm, perhaps there’s a blog post in this subject 😆 I do like my jewelry!

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  22. I hear you about space being limited! The best souvenirs are the ones that we will use, that have a double purpose: good memories and coming in handy, like the ones you mention. Since we have everything we need, we rarely buy souvenirs anymore. Maybe a t-shirt here and there.

    I used to collect masks and small statues from all the countries I visited when I was younger, thinking I’d live in a house one day. Now, that possibility has disappeared, and I’m left with a few boxes of souvenirs at my parents’ house in Belgium. But, they are selling their house… What to do with those souvenirs (and photo albums and diaries)? A task for June. 🙂

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    • Please tell me you won’t be disposing of those albums or diaries? Some things are meant to be kept, but I do understand that space dilemma. I love my T’s and Al and I wear the heck out of them making it a win on all accounts. Good luck with that June task!

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      • I’ll have to find another good soul with a spacious attic. 🙂 But, I won’t get rid of the photos and diaries, for sure. The souvenirs, I might have to get a bit more selective about.

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  23. Enjoyed the post! Always buy t-shirts and postcards and magnets. And always get something special. Our recent trip to Arizona meant I had to stuff a 12 pound hunk of polished petrified wood in our luggage. Challenge met!

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  24. Fun post!! We collect magnets, hat pins, shirts, & Passport stickers. My brother who has Down syndrome loves puzzles, so we try to get special destination puzzles. Although, they are starting to take up quite a bit of room!

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    • Thanks Debbie. Faye and Dave introduced me to collecting pins. I recently purchased my first one and pinned it to my pack. My daughter and I love doing puzzles, but like you said, can start taking up space.

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  25. Once upon a time I collected ‘street art’, the little 5×7 paintings or drawings representative of where I was visiting. Amsterdam canals, Paris Eiffel or Montemarte, Rhodes port, Moscow St. Basil’s, etc. Not so much anymore.

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    • Sounds like a fabulous collection of amazing travels, but yes, does take up space displaying such treasures. Unfortunately, overtime we do need to pick our priorities.

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  26. I do fridge magnets. They are useful. They are pretty and they are available just about everywhere. When I am going about my life and I need to mount something on the fridge for later attention, I often get a brief pleasant flash of memory. Plus they are cheap and light. My husband likes to take tons of pictures because the act of taking pictures imprints the experience on his brain. However, he never goes back to look at the pictures again. And if I do he’ll ask me where the picture was taken and then I’ll say at such and such and then he’ll recall the whole thing. The picture doesn’t trigger the memory. The taking of pictures is what fixes it.

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    • I too have a few fridge magnets that are stuck on my range hood since the RV fridge has a wood panel. My photos are still my favorite souvenir, but being stuck in the computer or external drive doesn’t always make it easy to see the photos. Thank goodness for Lightroom date stamping and naming. Thus, I know where and when a photograph was taken 😄

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  27. For me, it’s photos that I print and put on the fridge. Which is covered. I also like magnets, especially of new places. T shirts are good for Al, he seems to be hard on shirts and hats, so he likes to find nice national park ones at the end of the year when they are on sale.

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    • Ah, great advice for purchasing the t-shirts at the end of the season. Our friends (who’s hat I photographed) introduced me to collecting pins. I just purchased my first one at Grand Staircase Escalante which I pinned to my pack.

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  28. We were souvenir over-achievers for many years, amassing a giant collection of magnets, hats, shirts, and knick knacks. Now we only collect decals. Our souvenir stickers get affixed inside a closet door in the motorhome. Decals are inexpensive and take up no space at all. Our closet collage of stickers are a great reminder of all the places we’ve visited.

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    • Ah, decals? Another great idea when space is limited. I like that! I have a few frig magnets, but since space is very limited, I keep it to only to super special places.

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  29. We collect Junior Ranger badges as adults! They didn’t used to let adults do them, but they do now. Gaelyn got us started on them. We always end up learning more about the park’s in the process, Ingrid! 🙂

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  30. I admit it. I’m a souvenir junkie. Except for the pillows, I have bought all the the items you mentioned! I like to buy locally made things when I can. I had to buy a pair of earrings from an old woman who had a table set up in the middle of nowhere in Monument Valley. One of my favorite souvenirs is a dream catcher I got at the Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota. We have it hanging over the head of our bed in the fifth wheel. I had to laugh when you mentioned rocks. Before we started out on our first RV trip we watched the Long, Long Trailer (we’ve watched it a few times since then, too). I promised Henry I wouldn’t collect rocks. Years later I discovered he was sometimes picking up small rocks!

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    • Rocks….my husband likes to collect them too, and the bigger the better. He doesn’t recall where he got them from so we occasionally have a little ceremony where we set them free and let them go feral again. I once found an arrowhead near a creek and dutifully deposited it with the local university and the specialist who examined it said it was a real head scratcher, clearly marked from a tribe thousands of miles away that was from 5000 years ago. It’s presence where I found it indicated trade must have been going on they were completely unaware of. I recall thinking it was likely just a traveling collector like my husband whose wife finally got him to toss out some of them when the collection got too big to carry.

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    • Since moving into the RV, I’m much better at controlling my souvenir habit than when we owned a large home. When I do make a purchase, I tell myself I’m supporting the local economy and any guilt is lifted 😉 How funny that Henry collected rocks. At least you have a yard/home to display the weighted souvenirs.

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