5 Smart Ways to Minimize the Cost of Vacation Souvenirs

If you’re clever, you can find opportunities to claim vacation souvenirs for a lower price. (Getty Images)

When you’re at an awesome event or in the midst of a fantastic vacation, it can be tempting to capture that experience by buying a souvenir. Whether it’s a shirt, a pin, a gift shop item, something you see in a craftsperson’s shop or something else entirely, an item that serves as a memento of your trip can be lovely – but expensive.

If you’re clever, however, you can find opportunities to claim a souvenir for a lower price. Or you can find a souvenir for free if you think outside the box.

Here are five ways to score a wonderful souvenir from your trip without breaking the bank.

Collect paper items and make an easy scrapbook. Many people like to put together photo albums and scrapbooks after an event. Even if you’re not into the art of scrapbooking, putting together a simple picture book can be a great way to memorialize your trip at a reasonable price.

One affordable way to combine scrapbooking, or making a photo album, with the desire to collect souvenirs is to intentionally collect paper products as you go. Pick up maps, paper menus from places you ate, napkins from interesting bars or breweries you visited, brochures from cool stops, stickers, decals – anything that’s flat and could fit in a photo album. Keep these, take them home and use them in spots in your photo album.

Buy souvenirs online before or after the event. Rather than paying the high prices of buying souvenirs at an event, consider looking online for the shirts or other items you want to buy. Many concert tours and sports teams sell their shirts and other apparel online.

Buying such items online rather than at the venue has several advantages, starting with the big one: reduced cost. Those items are almost always less expensive from online vendors. Plus, if you order online and have the item delivered to your home, you don’t have to worry about carrying it around at the venue.

Find items on your journey rather than buying them. Found items such as rocks and seashells often make for wonderful souvenirs.

Be careful with this strategy. You need to make sure that you have permission to take items such as rocks and seashells. Not all areas allow for visitors to claim them. Be sure to read the rules for the area you’re visiting before you collect these mementos.

Keep a vacation journal. Bring a small notebook and pen along with you for the trip and write down your thoughts as you go. Most vacations have periods of downtime when you are riding in a car or airplane, relaxing on a beach or sitting in a restaurant, so use those times to write down your thoughts.

With a bit of tape or glue, you can also stick paper souvenirs into your journal, adding some quick visual flavor to the edges. For example, you might cut up menus (if the restaurant provides them) and affix the logo of the restaurant to a page along with the entree you had right below it, or you might include a map of an interesting place you visited.

Send a daily postcard to yourself. One nice strategy for finding low-cost souvenirs while traveling is to buy a postcard each day and promptly mail it to yourself. Sit down in a cafe somewhere, fill out the postcard, address it to yourself, then pop it in the mailbox.

When you get home, there will probably be a postcard or two already waiting for you, and many others will trickle in over the following days. Postcards often fit perfectly in photo albums with 4-inch-by-6-inch slots, so you can easily add those postcards to a photo album of your travels, or simply keep an album of all of the postcards you’ve sent home from your travels over the years.

Souvenirs don’t have to be expensive if you apply some creativity and frugality to finding them. You can bring home all kinds of memories – and perhaps find a few already waiting for you at home – without breaking the bank. Happy travels!

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