I lived out of a 54 liter backpack for two years. All my clothes, toiletries, things necessary for work (notebooks, laptop) went in. There was one point when I realized it wasn’t all about how much I could fit in the backpack but how much I could carry.
For a little context, I’m not very big, so the backpack pretty much covers my whole back and when filled to the max, it can get too heavy for me. Therefore, during my travels around the world with my mom, dad and brother, I made a rule to myself to not buy souvenirs. Because anything I bought, I’d be responsible to carry.
Now that traveling is over, I look back and think about some of the things I wish I bought. Thankfully, there’s online shopping. Even though I think buying online isn’t the same as buying the item in the country (for the experience), the next best option is Amazon, which literally has everything you could ever want.
So here’s my list of 14 Souvenirs I Wish I Picked Up During My Travels, one from each country I went to on my around the world trip.
Since this was the first country on the around the world trip, I was determined not to buy anything but that also meant I honestly don’t remember anything unique from the country that I could have wanted. There were the usual souvenirs though (magnets, mugs, etc.) but through some research I found there’s a stone that is found in Chile which would have been cool to get a hold of.
Find a Lapis Lazuli stone on Amazon here.
It’s no secret that Argentinians (and Uruguayans) love their mate. It was a culture shock for me, especially when living in Uruguay for two months to see people walking around with these cups and metal straws everywhere they went, along with a thermos with hot water to refill. It’s basically their Starbucks cup. But just different…
Find a mate cup on Amazon here.
I think I ate way too many alfajores in Uruguay. These are basically round cake sandwiches with cream in between two pieces of cake, all covered in chocolate. They come in a variety of flavors, but this is the basic one. The little desserts are from Argentina and the most popular brand is Havanna which is also a cafe chain which I loved going to!
Find Havanna alfajores on Amazon here.
I was in Brazil the year before the World Cup and even saw some preparations for the summer Olympics, which is happening this year, three years later! From what I saw and experienced, Brazilians are passionate about football (soccer) and I wish that somewhere during my travels I picked up a jersey from the country’s team.
Find a Brazil jersey on Amazon here.
It was hard to think of something that I wish I brought back from Paraguay since I spent a very short time there and didn’t bother checking out souvenirs as much as seeing the place. I remember eating a Paraguay cheese bread called Chipa. And like I said, you can find anything on Amazon so if you want to try chipa, you can!
Find chipa on Amazon here.
When in Bolivia, you will not be able to avoid seeing a stand of colorful alpaca socks, leg warmers, sweaters, mittens or any cold weather accessory. I did not foresee being in cold weather since at that time Florida was where I considered my home. So now that I live in New York, I wish I bought an alpaca scarf!
Find an alpaca scarf on Amazon here.
One of my favorite travel experiences ever was seeing the Nazca Lines in Peru from a tiny plane. You can read about the experience here. I remember all around the airport and the lookout decks were of course, souvenir stands. I did browse through some and nothing really caught my interest, especially since I knew I had to carry it. Though if I had to pick something, I’d go with the wall decals.
Find Nazca Line souvenirs on Amazon here.
I’ve been to Ecuador twice. The first time I didn’t take anything back (during the around the world trip) but the second (on my own for six weeks) I brought back lots of Pacari chocolate. It’s delicious and I wish I brought back more for myself. But hey, guess what? It’s on Amazon!
Find Pacari chocolate on Amazon here.
I was thinking about what I wish I brought back from Iceland. I remember trying their licorice but I honestly didn’t like the taste. Then I remembered the time I walked into a random store and saw these colorful salts. Turns out the salt is from Iceland, so why not take a piece of Iceland home?
Find Icelandic salt on Amazon here.
I remember seeing the usual souvenir stands all over the touristy destinations in St. Petersburg. But the difference between these Russian souvenir stands and one anywhere else around the world were that lots of the items- t-shirts, mugs, calendars, posters- had Putin’s face on them. I wish I got one. Ok, not really but it was definitely something I wouldn’t have seen anywhere else in the world! I’ll just stick with wishing I got a set of Russian dolls.
For the majority of my trip to Mongolia, we stayed in a ger camp. There wasn’t any shopping for souvenirs to be done there. But on the day we were in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar my parents went to check out a cashmere shop. I don’t even remember why I didn’t go but my mom bought this really soft and unique Mongolian cashmere sweater. I’m not sure if the sweaters on Amazon are really from Mongolia, but I did find some.
Find a Mongolian cashmere sweater on Amazon here.
There’s this saying that everything is made in China. And yes, it is true most of the time. So what would I want from China? I spent the majority of my trip to China in Shanghai where there are huge malls and everyone seems to be obsessed with shopping. You can find all the worldwide recognizable brands like H&M and Zara there. But what I found really common were the luxury goods stores like Louis Vuitton. Which on my trip, I should have picked up a Louis Vuitton bag or one of the likes! (Just kidding.)
Find a bag on Amazon here.
During my stay in Jakarta, my aunt (an expat who used to live there) brought us to a local mall where all stores only had Indonesian brands. The top floor of this mall was dedicated to batiks. While I could find batik sarongs on Amazon, there were way more options in Jakarta for any style and color.
Find a batik on Amazon here.
14. New Zealand
I remember every touristy destination and airports sold body products by a company called Wild Ferns. These products are made in New Zealand and contain ingredients from New Zealand. For example, my favorite Rotorua Mud collection is made from geothermal mud in Rotorua (in the North Island of New Zealand). I was gifted a green tea and chamomile scented hand creme and wish I bought more for myself.
Find the hand creme on Amazon here.