Shopping is an unavoidable part of the travel experience. Some seek it out, poking through every souvenir stand that crosses their path, while others begrudgingly slump to the cash register with whatever collectible their niece requested.
While we understand that shopping on your travels can be divisive—we get it, there’s so much sightseeing to do—we tend to fall on the side of “I’m not going home without something to remember this trip by!” To help us plan what our next buy abroad will be, Club Med tracked down the top-purchased souvenirs in each country, from the obvious (of course everyone leaves Canada with maple syrup) to the less than predictable. These are the most unexpected gift-shop buys from around the world.
Where: Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso National Football Team may not be as ubiquitous as Arsenal or home to players like Cristiano Ronaldo or Pele, but that doesn’t stop tourists from leaving this country with a football jersey to remember their trip by. Football is hugely popular in the country and their national team came close to qualifying for the 2006 World Cup and placed third in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. Go Stallions, go!
Those who have not been to the Philippines may not be familiar with the jeepney, but this bus-like vehicle is one of the most popular ways to get around the nation. While it’s not possible to take a jeepney home with you, unless, of course, you can afford to ship a bus across the world, it is possible to bring home the memory of it, which is why the toy jeepney is a traditional Philippines’ souvenir. These collectibles come in a variety of designs so, if you’re a frequent Philippines traveler, you might just try your hand at getting them all.
We wish you the best in your attempts to get this popular souvenir through customs. The jambiya is a belted dagger and, according to Penn Museum, it’s not uncommon to see many adults, sometimes even children, carrying this weapon on the right side of their hip. As such, it tends to be a pretty popular buy to take back home with you.
It might not be shocking to learn that the place that invented the Lego also happens to sell a great deal of them, but we were surprised to learn that of all souvenirs, the Lego, which can be purchased at just about any toy store, was the top-purchased item. But there’s just something different about buying the little toy block in its place of origin, where it also happens to be exponentially cheaper. Just make sure not to get the Denmark buy mixed in with your Target bought set, lest you want to forever question which red building-block holds sentimental value (or do, it’s a toy after all).
Where: United Kingdom
This most-popular souvenir seems more like a packing oversight. While the United Kingdom’s weather is notably dreary, remembering to bring an umbrella while also trying to plan a week’s worth of outfits isn’t as easy as it may seem. If you find yourself in this boat, join the rest of the under-packers and grab yourself an umbrella to remember the beautiful U.K. (and its not-so-beautiful weather) by. And if you want to go upscale, purchase a Fulton, it’s what the Queen carries.
This is the most pleasant souvenir you might ever come across, which could be why it’s Finland’s most-purchased. Mugs have always been a popular gift-shop buy, with the museum’s name smacked across the front or the city skyline there to remind you of your many travels. What’s unique about the Moomin Mug, though, is the complete lack of that traditional tourism aspect; no “I went to Finland and this is all I got.” Nowhere on the mug will you find any obvious remanence of the country; instead, you’ll be greeted by Moomin—incredibly cute comic characters created by Finish artist Tove Jansson. If you’re looking for a subtle travel collectible that’s also practical, this is it.
Where: Czech Republic
If you’re wanting something both personalized and haunting (sort of kidding) to take home, look no further than a handcrafted marionette. The Czech Republic’s practice of creating wooden puppets is rooted in Baroque traditions and is an art that can be viewed throughout the country. Because of its popularity—and perhaps the fact that it’s fairly unique to the country—marionettes are considered the most popular souvenir to take home for those visiting the European country. Grab a few and create your own puppet show, recreating the highs and lows of your European adventure (just one idea).
When surrounded by the blue oceans of Fiji you’re going to feel compelled to explore, which is why the Mako Mask, a popular piece of diving equipment, is the most purchased souvenir. While it might not be the most practical memorabilia to bring home, especially for the travelers that call a landlocked state home, it’s the perfect way to remember the wonders that await in the Oceanic country. Not to mention you’ll now be ready for your next dive.
The One Ring
Where: New Zealand
Do not nerd-shame, do not nerd-shame, do not nerd-shame. I’m sorry, but this is what we all buy when we go to one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world…a ring from a movie about elves. (Is now a good time to admit I’ve never seen Lord of the Rings?) New Zealand has become a beacon for fans of the franchise, with the movies filming in this magical land and the hobbit houses still open for exploration. When you’re not exploring the wide-ranging environment, with rainforests and beaches, you might as well embrace the fantasy-fan in you and explore (and take home) a part of the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.
This purchase isn’t necessarily surprising given that Brazilian hammocks have always been popular among those looking to find a spot to relax and unwind, but we didn’t realize so many tourists left the South American country with one. It seems I may be underestimating the size of everyone’s suitcase, because this hammock, known for being as colorful as it is durable, is the most purchased souvenir in Brazil. Maybe you get it at the beginning of your trip to post-up in mid-hike, or perhaps it’s a last-day buy to bring back to your apartment that could use some color. Either way, there’s no leaving this country without it.