When you need a coffee, you need something to drink from, so make it fun at the same time!
The best travel souvenir, as far as I am concerned, is one that is useful, regularly used, has a sense of place, and makes a nice display. The winner, hands down, is coffee mugs.
In fact, I can't even think of anything that comes close. Tea towels, silver spoons, snow cone are not in the running. T Shirts, mousepads and keyrings are all good, but the T shirts fade and wear out, and how many keyrings can you use at once?
I do have a few rules - they must be a place personally visited by me, or a gift from family or friend who brings it back. Thus, there is always a personal link.
Why does anyone collect souvenirs?
But there is a challenge element, too. The challenge is to find a GOOD mug, not just any mug.
I have a ten point rating scale based on:
1. Design - the best is custom designed full colour artwork that encapsulates the essence of the place; the worst is "I've been to xxx" in black Helvetica.
2. Artwork - is the design 360 degree wraparound (best), front and back panels (medium), front panel only (worst)
3. Mug style - chunky stoneware, or translucent bone china? I don't have particular favourite style, but undoubtedly some designs are a pleasure to drink from, and others are, well...clunky. I have passed up some nice designs simply because they were too big to drink from.
4. Special Attributes - some mugs are just more special than others. Perhaps they have an iconic image on them, or they are rare (eg Asian and African coffee mugs), they have a clever quirkiness factor to them, or maybe they were a gift from a person, who on a busy trip overseas, especially looked out a nice mug for me, and brought it all the way home!
5. Country of Manufacture - most mugs, when you look on the base, say '"Made in China". But if it was made in the country I bought it in, then it has a special affinity with that country.
At a trivia level, most mugs are right-handed. That is, you see the design when you are holding it in your right hand. Surprisingly, I also have a few left-handed mugs. I am not sure whether that was intentional or incompetence.
No, but if you promise to bring a nice coffee mug I might rethink.
Yes, pack your suitcase or backpack carefully! I still remember purchasing a fabulous design from a great city. It was the first thing I opened on my return home - and it was smashed.
There is a tiny percentage that never make it home, but I do try and pack them well.
Also, if you are interested, you can see my other collection of Wood type and old printing.