Best Souvenirs to Remember Your Expat Experience13 Aug 2021
When traveling to a new place, people invariably desire to take souvenirs to remind them of their adventures.
We asked a group of returned expats for the best souvenirs to capture life in a foreign country. They ranged from the practical to the extravagant. What was clear was something as simple as a river rock can be just as meaningful to one person as a framed art piece by an acclaimed local artist to another. Many respondents regretted not buying a particular painting that caught their eye, but they worried about how they would get it shipped home at the time. (If you’re worried about shipping fragile goods, you might like to read about “Moving fragile goods the right way and the wrong way”)
Experiences, friendships, and new traditions are arguably the most remarkable treasures, but what about the more tangible reminders that can spark conversations about their origins?
We hope the following ideas inspire you to think outside of the box for meaningful souvenirs.
Local cuisine & Kitchenware
Sharing meals by using local kitchenware like a Japanese kitchen knife, a Moroccan clay tagine oven, and a French crepe pan is a fantastic way to help your friends and family get a “taste” of what life was like for you abroad. In this vein, cookbooks and kitchen gadgets unique to that country or culture can be great souvenirs.
This is a BIG one for many (excuse the pun) as recreating the look and feel of your life abroad. Furniture can be both practical and aesthetically pleasing and can keep your memories alive through daily use. A grandfather clock, Japanese kaidan tansu chest, and Korean medicine chest were some of the standout pieces mentioned.
Pieces by local artists capturing a familiar scene are common, but a significant example mentioned by one person was artwork they commissioned to capture their foreign homes, incorporating their family into the scenes.