1. Scorpion lollipops
You’ve spent the past six months bragging to your friends how you ate scorpion in some tiny village in southern Vietnam, so why not imbue your loved ones back home with the same street cred? The good news is, the lollipop versions are much easier to pick up – they’re especially popular in Nevada for some reason, and can be now be found in most countries – even ones which don’t have any scorpions, bizarrely.
2. Civet coffee
Nothing says "foodie" like a packet of this stuff. So what is civet coffee? Otherwise known as Kopi luwak, it’s a drink made with coffee cherries which have been eaten then defecated by the civet, a forest-dwelling mammal native to certain parts of Asia and Africa. It’s also the world’s most expensive coffee, so choose the recipient carefully.
The best thing about buying bags as presents for friends? If you run out of space in your own handbag you can use the "present" you’ve purchased as a temporary solution. They’re also relatively cheap, and ridiculously easy to come by. That fabric shopper adorned with "I love Seoul" which was presented to you during that painfully boring conference in South Korea? Someone somewhere will cherish that bag as if it was an Hermès Birkin.
Buying exotic sausages for your nearest and dearest is a great idea for several reasons. They’re easy to pack, relatively cheap and will instantly upgrade the fridge of the person receiving it. A word of warning – it’s a present best purchased on short haul holidays. Smuggle a sausage into countries like Australia or America and you risk being fined for importing potentially contaminated organic produce. France, Austria and Germany have the best pork products. Our personal favourite? The Thuringia Bratwurst, a type of German sausage which dates back to the seventeenth century.
5. Sand or soil from Area 51
Other people might have snapped a selfie next to the "out of bounds" sign warning people to steer clear of Area 51, but how many people have a bottle of soil from what’s known as one of the world’s most famous UFO landing sites? Incidentally, if you can’t make it stateside, similar souvenirs include tiny bottles of water from the River Jordan and tiny bottles of opal fragments from Coober Pedy, the world’s opal mining capital. Suddenly that bottle of Blackpool sand you bought for £5 looks rather boring.
6. Sake set
This one’s especially ideal for older relatives. Their beloved sake set will take pride of place on the mantelpiece, instantly putting that Russian babushka doll to shame. Admittedly, they’re not the easiest items to pack, but that’s why they make such a great souvenir. Getting it home in one piece will earn you even more kudos.
7. A bit of a volcano
So you’ve been to Iceland and smelled the sulphur. Why not buy a bit of a volcano to take home? Visit volcanic tourists destinations such as Hawaii and Iceland and you’ll see plenty of bottles of volcanic ash for sale in souvenir shops. Whether the "ash" is actually dirt scraped from the roadside remains to be seen but that’s not the point.
This is a another souvenir with multiple benefits. That crumpled note of foreign currency that you didn’t get round to spend will make a close friend or family member very happy. The more unusual currencies are best given to those who’ve travelled the least – they’ll either frame it or stash it in a safe place, looking forward to the day they can spend their 50,000 Vietnamese Dong, oblivious to the fact it’s actually worth just a few pounds.
9. Canned air
Another way to bring home a little bit of your travels to those stuck back home, canned air is now one of the most popular souvenirs. Canned Central Park air seems to be especially popular, closely followed by Budapest and Paris air. Which we assume smells slightly more of traffic.
10. Weird beer
Buy your beer-loving friend back home a can of Drunken Spider Canadian IPA and he’ll be pleased as punch. It’s another souvenir which is easy to obtain. In America, you don’t even have to look very hard. Budweiser now produces versions of its famous beer made with grapefruit, strawberries and raspberries, so ticking this souvenir off the list doesn’t necessarily require getting too far off the beaten track.
11. A rubber duck
Yes, that really is a rubber duck clutching a miniature replica of Cologne’s Dom cathedral and a stein of beer. Most of the world’s biggest tourist attractions sell rubber duck souvenirs these days. They’re fun for all ages, are less likely to smash than a glass replica of the Eiffel Tower, and considerably cheaper, too.
In the same way rubber ducks have become the ultimate souvenir, country-themed garden gnomes have become equally sought-after mementos of trips abroad. Whether it’s a miniature Donald Trump or a pointy-hatted Red Sox player, this is the souvenir nobody else will have.
Clogs, flamenco shoes or geta (traditional Japanese slippers): shoes are always a winner. It’s another example of a souvenir which will imbue the receiver with instant travel kudos, even if the furthest they’ve travelled is Skegness (which we hear is very nice in summer, just to be clear).
14. Christmas decorations
The rest of the world has finally cottoned on to the fact that Christmas is a multi-billion-dollar industry and it’s now possible to pick up weird and wonderful Christmas decorations from most countries in the world. Gherkin-shaped tree decorations are especially popular in Germany, while irony-loving friends will be thrilled with one of the Trump-adorned Christmas baubles which are popping up in souvenir shops all over the US.
15. Tribal music
Whether that recording of the Guajá tribe singing their ceremonial harvest song will ever get played isn’t the point. It’s simply a damn cool thing to have. This one’s best saved for the type of person who subscribes to National Geographic and has a (mostly unscratched) scratch map of the world on their wall.
So that’s the souvenirs sorted. How else can we make your trip of a lifetime a little easier? Read on….
The best options for jet-setting little ones.
To buy souvenirs you need money, and here’s how to get more of it by working out how to get the best exchange rates.
Serious travelers can save serious amounts of time by investing in one of these bad boys.