These Are the Most Genuine Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You

Inside: How to find those special travel souvenirs you’ll love forever.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

A month ago I was in Amsterdam.

Staring at a closed door. Locked out of the apartment my sister, my friend and I were renting.

Not my proudest travel moment. But good things can come out of bad times.

While my friend waited on a locksmith, my sister and I explored the city.

We walked the cobblestone streets and analyzed each step of how we managed to lock ourselves out. How did we do that? But as we turned a corner, the happy white tents of a flea market greeted us.

We found the best souvenirs of our two-week trip at that flea market. (Scroll to the end to find out what we scored!)

Besides including a good story to tell people back home, those souvenirs were also the real deal. There were genuine finds that I’ll love forever.

Talk about a serendipitous moment. If we hadn’t locked ourselves out, we never would have found that flea market.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home |

Why Choosing the Right Travel Souvenirs Matters

The souvenirs you bring home from your travels should make you feel good.

You want them to spark memories, be useful or purely enjoyable.

None of us will remember every aspect of our trips. But like a good photo, the right souvenirs will remind you of the good times.

Don’t buy a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of the place you’re visiting simply for the sake of buying a souvenir.

Instead, look for travel souvenirs you’ll love for a lifetime.

10 Genuine Souvenirs To Remind You Of Your Travels

These are the best travel souvenirs to bring home with you.

1. Local artwork

Keep an eye out for local art. Whether you’re wandering the streets of Paris or road tripping through Minnesota.

There’s nothing like decorating your home with uncommon art from your travels.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

Every time I look at the hand drawn sketch of the Eiffel Tower on my wall, I remember buying it. I bought it from a street artist selling his sketches on cobblestone avenue near Notre Dame. It was money well spent compared to buying the same cheap tchotchkes sold in stalls all over the city.

Travel tip: Look for street artists, art galleries or boutiques. These are your best bets to find local artwork to fit your style and taste. (And to find art not sold by every tourist vendor in the area.)

2. Mugs or pottery

Every morning when you sip from that handmade ceramic mug you picked up on your travels, you’ll remember where you bought it.

As a coffee addict drinker, I love buying mugs when I travel because I use them in my everyday life.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

But, don’t stick to mugs alone. Any pottery vessel makes a great souvenir. Think cups, plates and bowls.

Travel tip: Scope out art fairs, local coffee shops or small art galleries. These are the best spots to find handmade pottery. Besides mugs, I also like to buy small plates or shallow bowls to hold jewelry or small trinkets.

3. Clothing

When I travel abroad, I always pack light and plan on buying a piece of clothing at my destination.

Clothing doubles as a functional item and a travel souvenir.

Whether you need a raincoat in London, a dress in Paris or a sweater in Reykjavik (all items I’ve purchased,) be sure to choose a piece of clothing you’ll want to wear again.

Every time you pull it out of the closet, the memories of where you purchased it will return.

Feels more genuine than a plastic statue of the Empire State Building, huh?

4. Locally-made soaps

Buying locally-made soaps as travel souvenirs will remind you of your travels, even if the soap bar doesn’t last forever.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

Every time I suds up with my patchouli soap bar scented with patchouli, sandalwood, myrrh and vanilla, I feel a humid Arkansas breeze blowing across my face. I smell the dust from the gravel road sifting through the rolled down windows of our Toyota Four-Runner. I remember the rural country store we pulled into, where I bought the soap and lingered over jams and jellies, ice cream and gifts.

Travel tip: Even if you’re not a bar soap fan, opt for the bar. It travels better than liquid. Choose small hand soap bars if you don’t think you’d use a full body bar. They’re smaller and less expensive—both useful qualities when traveling.

5. Scarves

I never pack scarves when I travel.

I’m not forgetful. I always plan to buy one.

Why? Scarves are more than great travel souvenirs that you’ll wear again. They’re also useful while traveling.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home |

Handy uses for scarves while traveling:

  • Wrap a scarf around you or use it as a blanket on chilly airplanes
  • Pull a scarf over your head if you’re caught in an unexpected downpour
  • Add some style to your outfit if you forgot to pack accessories
6. Non-perishable foods

Loved the tea in England? Gorged on stroopwafels in Amsterdam? (Oh wait, that was me!)

Pack those non-perishable foods in your suitcase and bring them home to remember your trip by.

Travel tip: Non-perishable foods like coffee, tea, candy, wine and packaged cookies make great souvenirs (and gifts.) When you’re back home, they’ll give you a taste of where you’ve been.

7. Something you need

Do you always forget to pack something while traveling?

Who doesn’t?

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

It may sound silly, but that practical item you need right now also makes a great souvenir.

That umbrella, pajama shirt, pair of shoes, hat, raincoat or backpack will remind you of your trip every time you use it.

8. Jewelry

You probably wear jewelry to express your style, for sentimentality or simply to feel good.

Those are all great reasons to buy a new necklace or bracelet as a souvenir from the place you’re visiting.

Besides looking stylish, you’ll have an accessory that’s also a memory.

Travel tip: You don’t have to buy expensive jewelry. Scope out flea markets, craft fairs and boutique stores for unique, inexpensive jewelry.

9. Postcards

When traveling, I always send postcards to family members and friends—and myself.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home |

Mailing yourself a postcard is a fun (and inexpensive!) souvenir. Be sure to write a short message on the back like, “Enjoying Copenhagen! June 5, 2016”

When you get home, you’ll get excited to find the postcard in your mailbox alongside the usual utility bills and grocery store flyers.

10. Flea market finds

Shopping flea markets filled with vintage and antique items from the country, state or town you’re visiting is fun in itself.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

If you find a unique necklace, houseware, tool or sign you can’t leave without, well, that’s the cherry on top.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

Bonus souvenir idea

On the last day of a trip to Paris, a flea market popped up right outside my hotel.

I’d already purchased my metro ticket to the train station and I had one euro left in my pocket.

Hauling all my luggage—my travel backpack on my back and a smaller backpack on my front—I scoured the flea market for something I liked marked at one euro or less. After rummaging through a one-euro bin, I found a little blue pill box I loved.

Silly experiences like that make souvenirs memorable.

The experience is what means something to you. The souvenir is a reminder.

Look for experiences, not souvenirs.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home |

So, what did I find at that flea market?

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

Here’s what I found:

  • Two Delft blue bowls with lids for €3.75 each
  • A vintage Delft blue tea strainer for €5
  • A vintage tin made in Holland for €2
  • Two yellow license plates for €4 each.
  • (The poster and the wooden shoe in the picture weren’t from the flea market.)

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You |

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How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath

Inside: Discover how to create a faux succulent wreath in an unexpected way.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

When I plant succulents, they’re happy one moment and dead the next.

While I consider myself a plant-savvy person, succulents are my downfall. A perky cactus deflates like a balloon. Purple echeveria browns within days. Jade shrivels away from me like I’ve scorned it.

So, when I saw the living succulent wreath trend that’s been making the rounds on Pinterest and home decorating websites, I knew no way would I keep one alive for longer than a few days.

Rather than killing some pretty succulents, I opted for a different option.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.comHow to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

This is the Easiest Way to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath

I decided to make a faux succulent wreath. Fake it til you make it, baby.

What you’ll need:

  • 10 – 15 faux succulents (I got mine at the Dollar Tree)
  • Wreath form (I used a wire form because it’s what I had. A straw or foam wreath form would also work well.)
  • Burlap ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.comHow to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

Your handy hot glue gun will handle the bulk of this project. Since I’m no expert at sewing or using power tools, I use hot glue a lot. It’s a DIYers best friend.

Ready to make your faux succulent wreath?

Step 1: Wrap it up
Start by wrapping your burlap ribbon in even layers around the wreath form.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

Step 2: Trim off
Once you wrap all the way around your wreath form, trim off the burlap. Then, secure the end with a dab of hot glue. Make sure you leave enough ribbon so you can secure the end of the ribbon to the back of the wreath form. You want to keep it pretty, you know?

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

Step 3: Prepare the succulents
The faux succulents I purchased came complete with mini pot. So, I had to detach them from the pot then trim the stems off. This way I could hot glue the succulents down flat to the wreath.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

Step 4: Hot glue the succulents
Carefully hot glue the back of each succulent to the wreath. I decided to concentrate my succulents in one area, but you could cover the entire wreath in succulents if you like.

Once you’ve hot glued all of your succulents, your faux succulent wreath is complete!

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

Full disclosure: When I went to hang my faux succulent wreath, I noticed that my wreath wanted to dip toward the side with all of the succulents because the weight of them was pulling it down. After some finagling, and placing it just so, I managed to get it hung straight.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

This faux succulent wreath looks fancy, and I love that it’s made from simple craft store items. And, the best part? No plants were harmed in the making of this wreath.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath |

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How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden

Inside: Who doesn’t love when something’s free? Discover how to get free seeds for your garden.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

With visions of rows of lettuce, tall tomato plants and cucumbers curling up trellises, you head to the nursery to grab some seed packets and bags of soil. Only to realize you also need containers. And, maybe some transplants in case the seeds don’t work out. What about fertilizer? And mulch?

Suddenly this fun gardening project has turned into a money pit.

Gardening expenses add up. But that shouldn’t get in the way of the fun. Growing your own food has so many benefits. Fresh air. Exercise. The joy of picking a plump, ripe tomato off a four-foot-tall plant you grew from a seed.

You’ll probably still need to buy some gardening supplies this season, but I have a secret way you can save money. It may seem like a small money-saver, but you can get all kinds of seeds for free—if you know where to look.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

3 little-known ways to get free seeds

The first option is by far the most accessible for newbie gardeners.

1. Find a local seed library

I recently discovered that my local public library offers a seed library. (The seed library is at the Ruiz Branch of the Kansas City Public Library if you’re local and interested.)

A little 20-drawer cabinet tucked away in a corner of the library houses dozens of herb, flower and vegetable seeds. All you do is pick out the ones you want and “check them out.” After you plant and grow your seeds, you harvest them and return them to replenish the seed library’s stock.

What a cool concept!

(P.S. If you’re in the Kansas City area, you can also check out Seed Savers KC, which offers a seed library with more than 200 varieties.)

How to find a seed library in your area:

  • Check at your local public library
  • Check with a community garden in your area
  • Join The Seed Library Social Network, an online forum that can connect you to a seed library and other gardeners in your area
  • Join the Seed Savers Exchange, a member-to-member seed swap

Even more benefits of seed libraries:

  • Find seeds specific for your region
  • Get heirloom seeds, old-time varieties that increase biodiversity
  • Improve your community through teamwork and shared interest in gardening

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

Seed libraries aren’t the only way to get free seeds. If you’re an experienced gardener, you could start delving into saving your own seeds.

2. Save your own seeds

The first time I saved seeds from bell peppers was easy because the seeds are right there and easy to grab from inside the fruit.

But saving seeds from other plants is a bit more confusing. What’s the method for saving cucumber seeds? Or tomato seeds? And how the heck do you save seeds from a carrot?

While saving your seeds is the most cost-effective option (and a personal goal of mine for the year,) it’s best to take it in baby steps. Saving seeds requires more know-how than you’d first expect, as I found out when I started researching the best seed saving techniques.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

And, if you’ve already started saving seeds, or plan to soon, you have another option for getting free seeds. From your friends.

3. Host a seed swap party

If you know a few avid gardeners, then host a seed swap party, where you each bring a few different varieties of saved seeds and swap.

If you’re not close to that level yet, keep this option in mind for your future awesome gardener self.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

I can’t wait to watch my tomato, bell pepper, lettuce, basil, dill, kale and spinach seeds grow thanks to the free seeds from my local seed library.

Starting my garden didn’t turn into a money pit, after all.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

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