Photo Tips: Add Spice to Your Travel Gift Souvenirs

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travel inspiration, travel gifts, gifts for travelers, Travel Souvenirs, travel photography

Photo Tips: Add Spice to Your Travel Gift Souvenirs

Souvenirs, travel photos and photo gift tags, oh my…

Attention all travel photographers, tourists and souvenir shoppers… want to spread the spirit of travel around and add some fun to your souvenir gift giving? Want to inspire others to get out and see the world?

Souvenir gifts are a hit or miss practice

When a friend brings back a travel souvenir for me (and it’s not edible or chosen with my personality in mind), it can sometimes feel like, well,… junk!

Likewise, there have been times I’ve been guilty of being a “souvenir junk” gifter too! Perhaps I might occasionally nail a person’s personality with a souvenir; but most often, my gift souvenirs are flawed upon purchase (for examples, keep reading)


A travel souvenir often has more personal meaning to the traveler, than the recipient who hasn’t traveled. Our travel conquests are largely personal. Our friends and family haven’t been to that country, tasted the food, experienced the culture first hand or haggles for that souvenir. No, they’re getting the after-drift of your experience bottled up in some neat trinket, which just says, “you’re getting a gift from some place you haven’t been to.”

Food and drink are probably the only useful souvenirs, because they’re things friends and family can actually experience.

But this got me thinking… how can I transport friends and family to a place I’ve been?

 Photographs are one of the best souvenir gifts

People are visual beings.  Most of them need to see in order to understand.  And yeah, photographs can be pretty cheap to make.  Okay, with printer ink costs climbing higher and higher, maybe not as cheap as I think.  But still using your photography can be a gift to start with.

In lieu of my recent trip to Thailand, where I  souvenir shopped some fun but largely useless ‘travel junk’ for friends and family , I knew I needed to add more to it than a verbal story.  Here’s two things I did:

Turn trip photos into gift tags, murals and cards 

Trip photos make great gift cards and tags. They visually transport your loved one there to see what you saw. share your story and insights as to the country you’ve visited. Take your best and most interesting photos and print them out on photo paper or thin cardstock

Maybe even frame one and autograph it. There’s nothing like getting beautiful artwork from a friend.

Take photos of the site and/or places you bought your souvenirs.

So you bought some souvenir junk, huh? No problem.  Take  a  photo at the site of the souvenir’s purchase. Show folks where and from whom their souvenir came from.   I like to support local craftsmen so I picked souvenirs that were light to carry in my backpack but also ones that were hand-crafted by local artists.  It also made for a more interesting visual story.

This idea obviously requires planning and a little more effort, however. I did this for my family and friend and they said they felt more tied to their gifts (and if not, then the accompanying photo gave the object more of a story they could appreciate.  For my tags, I decided to shoot the faces and the store/locations, where the souvenir originated from.

 In Photoshop, I resized them to approximately 2″x 4″ but you can also import them and resize them in Microsoft Word under a standard business card size.

Cellphone ornaments

Cellphone ornaments.

This gift I gave my Dad and it has to be in the wacky category.  My father is way beyond his slingshot boyish years, but I thought it would be fun to get anyways.  This is in fact,  a “fertility sling shot” and I couldn’t resist the humor of it. The handle of the slingshot is shaped to the head of a penis.  I bought this at a village shack of a store and the store alone as, well as the woman added to the interest of the story.

Photo: Left (the accompanying tag); Right (souvenir slingshot purchased)

Tools Required:

Photoshop, Photo editing software, or Microsoft Word
Printer & Photo paper
Point & Shoot Camera

honesty & love

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4 Comments. Leave new

I love this idea! As my trip in Cambodia is coming to a close, I’ve started to go hunting for souvenirs, and I hate giving things that can be given to just anyone. Photographs are a great way of sharing an experience with your friends and family. I especially like the idea of taking a picture of the vendor you buy the gift from–It captures the moment you thought of the person you’re buying the gift for. Thanks for sharing this!


    Exactly! I’m glad you can use this idea- it adds a wonderful personal touch. Actually, your writing has such a poetic and sentimental air that I’ll bet you’ll find a way to modify it bit to give it some of your style! If you find an innovation, please post a link to it- I’d love to see what others do with the idea. 😉


What a great idea, Christine! And I love that expression “they’re getting the after-drift of my experience bottled up in some neat trinket”–so true.


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