Have kids in your life? Need unique travel gift ideas? I’ve got you covered…
Teenagers can be picky & hard to buy gifts for. Everywhere you look when you travel there is a plethora of crazy souvenirs bombarding you. What if your favorite kids don’t want an Eiffel tower keychain or Colosseum t-shirt, or better yet, a naked David statue? (cue the eyeball rolling.)
Never fear, I have 2 teenagers who have been kind enough to share their favorite off the tourist circuit souvenirs.
I hesitate to even call them souvenirs, they are more like travel treasures…And the best ones always have a story to go with them.
Check out our list below and keep it handy if you are shopping for your favorite teenager on your travel adventures!
An Unconventional Guide to Souvenirs for Teens
Abby & Ben’s Picks:
- Old Books (bonus points for other languages) | Our number 1 place to shop when we travel are bookstores. You can really get a sense for a city by browsing its bookshops, whether new or used. My kids are old souls and love sorting through piles of used books and have collected some great ones in various languages. They are one of their top treasures for sure.
- Funky Postcards | Some of my daughter’s favorite postcards are old black and white photos, or a local artist’s rendering of the neighborhood or a famous site. We also love used postcards from all over the world, often sold in used bookstores or flea markets.
- Jewelry (new or antique) | Found at street fairs, local boutiques or flea markets, you might have to hunt for a favorite piece, but you are guaranteed something unique and possibly with local history.
- Musical Instruments | This may not be for everyone, but our family loves music and we love learning about local music & instruments when we travel. Collectors by nature, our kids gravitate towards any instrument, ordinary or unique. Abby has gathered quite a collection, we tease her about being a music teacher someday- which she vehemently denies. Instruments come at varying price levels of course- depending on what you are buying.
- Stickers for Laptop | The modern day version of collecting stickers for your suitcase, our kids love to find odd and fun stickers from our trips to stick on their laptop case- creating a 1 of a kind scrapbook of sorts.
- Quirky Hats | Hats to match each personality can be found almost everywhere. My daughter has loved hats her whole life and her favorite treasure is a hand spun wool hat dyed with vegetable colors we bought in Amsterdam at a craft fair. My son humored us with trying on hats different places, but the only hat he actually bought was in France and I have no idea what made that one different but he wore it for 1 month straight. (Super cute. I much prefer this look instead of the flat bill look he usually goes for.)
- Sports Team Memorabilia | Sports gear is a great souvenir for the sporty kid in your life. A soccer jersey, ball or even a hat with their favorite team on it makes a great gift. Sure you can probably find it online, but somehow it takes on a whole new meaning when you buy it where the team lives!
- Old Coins | A favorite of Ben, he started collecting coins when he was about 6 and so it was a natural draw for him to add to his collection wherever we traveled in Europe. Flea markets were the best place we found to find treasures, although some cities will have special shops that sell rare used coins. (for a much higher price)
- Art Prints | Collecting art is something Chris and I make a priority wherever we travel. Finding local colorful art is so much fun and a favorite way to remember our adventures once we are home. The kids started their own small collection, finding a few inexpensive prints at different places along the way, as well as posters & oversize postcards (which are great framed!) from museum gift shops.
- Room Decorations | A local market or bazaar is a great place to find inexpensive things to decorate your teen’s bedroom. Candles, small lamps, jewelry boxes etc. Some of our favorite finds were in Granada, Spain and Istanbul.
- Swords/Knives | Ben was 10 when we moved to Italy and his interest in weapons, especially Roman or Greek weapons was at an all time high. Everywhere we went, he saved his souvenir money to be able to add to his sword collection and because of his devotion was able to find some unique items in Volterra, Rome, Athens and Granada.
- Old Maps | Is there anything better than old maps? Flea markets and used bookstores are a great place to find old maps to add to your collection. We frame these and hang as art, keep them in a basket to browse through or to make art with. I think they would be neat as gift wrap but haven’t had the courage to actually share my precious maps to do this… 😉
- Fabric/Linens | My daughter is obsessed with pillows and blankets and poufs and cushions for her room. An easy way to add color and a unique touch to a teenage bedroom, but at many places these items are completely out of the budget. Another backup plan for us was to look for unique and colorful fabric or linens that could be used to make pillows or a small throw blanket once we got home.
- Buttons for backpacks | Along the same lines of the stickers for the laptop, how fun to collect buttons from all over the globe to add some character to your favorite backpack? Great for all ages, but my teens really loved these from about age 10-15.
- Mugs | Mugs are easy to find and even great for a last minute gift at the airport. Some of the most interesting ones we have found have been at independent local art shops and museum gift stores.
- Flea Market Finds | Flea Markets are a gift in themselves in my opinion, a treasure hunt where you are never sure what you will find, if anything. Our kids love looking at old records, coins, tin containers, maps and books. But there are plenty of other quirky things to be found at a local flea market.
- Games | Another great gift for families are board & card games. Every town and country seems to have a past time of a local favorite game and it is fun to learn about them and bring home a few. Ben is our game guy, and his treasures include a chess set made of olive wood from Umbria and a Rummy set with inlaid wooden designs from Istanbul, as well as many card decks from different areas of Europe.
- Candy/Sweets | We always try to stay in self catering apartments when we travel, and so regular trips to the local grocery are always on the agenda. We usually don’t travel home with much of the local food, but it’s fun to find local candies or to try while we are visiting a new place. These also make a great gift for the kids to take home to their friends. Candy from another country is exotic to friends from home- and so fun to share!
What are your favorite souvenirs for teens? I’d love to hear! Let me know in the comments below…
Ciao for now! Happy Shopping…
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