So, when we travel, I am the cheese in the family. I love to get those cheesy trinkets for all of the kids at the souvenir shop that break in five minutes. However, having four children on a trip PLUS two adults makes souvenir shopping quite expensive.
On our last vacation, we went to Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Instead of getting a souvenir for each child (which we usually do at each stop when we drive...like I said I am THAT kind of cheesy), we used the money to upgrade our hotel room, which gave us this BEAUTIFUL ocean view! The kids loved it! Every morning we would get up and head down to the beach and hunt for seashells. We collected so many of them! It was a great bonding time for all of us. It was the first time my husband and step daughters had ever been to the beach (Serina was 17 yrs old and Alex was 14 yrs old), so it was a very special time. I am such a lover of the beach, it was so much fun to share that with them, and see the ocean through their eyes!
When we got home from the trip, I grabbed some old ball jars from my basement and each child sat around the table and went through the shells and rocks and put them in the jar. As they did, they talked about their favorite parts of our vacation. We spent time laughing about the things we did. So much better than buying a T-shirt for $20 that says, "I HEART CAROLINA BEACH, NC." That shirt? It would be in the back of their closets today... The jar of shells sits on a shelf in each of their rooms. Whenever I see it, I smile, my heart melts, and I fall in love with my kids all over again.
Total cost of the souvenir? Nothing but love. We already had the jars and the seashells were free. Memories created? Many.
I am a big saver of "stuff" from trips. I save ticket stubs, cab receipts, menus, etc. These are great "free" items that can be used later to create a memory with your family. Grab a ball jar, put the "stuff" collected in it. Regardless of whether the jar contains a bunch of seashells or ticket stubs or rocks or money- Anything can work... anything that you can see on the shelf that makes you smile, remembering how much fun you had with your family. Creating memories that last a lifetime.