The Lapel Pins On My Wall

When I went on a solo road trip along the US West Coast ages ago I needed something to remember the trip by in addition to pictures. I was looking for something that’s ‘travel-sized’, relatively cheap, and durable.

And more importantly, it needs to be something that stays off the floor or shelves. I’m not a particularly avid duster, neither is Jack, and the least thing we want is to have a collection of dust covered figurines or snow globes cluttering our dusty shelves.

Lilo lapel pin
The first lapel pin I bought -- Jack and Jill Collection

I never really thought of lapel pins until I found myself in Disneyland surrounded by hundreds of irresistible, shiny, uber cute pins of Lilo and Stitch, my favorite Disney characters at the time. Well, lapel pins turned out to be a great souvenir to collect and I’ve been a very happy bee looking for lapel pins wherever we happen to be traveling to.

You can tell from the pictures there isn’t any method to the madness. Sometimes I get one for a particular site/attraction, sometimes I get one for a city, but lately due to logistic and weight, I’ve been getting one from each country instead.

I’m of course hoping that I can keep growing my collection during our RTW trip. But I honestly can’t tell how common they are outside of the western world. I know I haven’t been able to find any in Indonesia (but that’s ok, we made up for it by purchasing large quantities of wall hangings — off the floor, see?).

Jack prefers to collect patches but those are even less common. So I don’t know… if all else fail, there are always the pictures (note to self: figure out hardrive backup solution).

travel lapel pin collecion

But I do love having those lapel pins on my wall. They add colors to the room and they take up such little space.

They remind me of the memorable times we’ve both had as couple, while the empty wall stands as a reminder that there’s so much more out there that we have yet to discover.

What kind of souvenirs do you collect from your travels, if any?

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44 Replies to “The Lapel Pins On My Wall”

  1. It is very interesting to see lapel pins from around the world. I can tell you have an extensive collection. You are right they do make a perfect souvenir. Baseball trading pins are even more interesting because they have blinkers, sliders, danglers and other accessories. If you travel again, look for "trading pins" and tell me if you see any wild trading pins like we find here in the U.S.

  2. When I travel internationally, I love to seek out pens & little notebooks from whatever stores kids use to buy their school supplies. Often these things are quite different from the same stuff at home. Nothing pricey. Just little things…a composition book from Thailand, a fountain pen from Germany, etc. It's not a collection though, because I use everything. Love it!

    Also, like Kim, the occasional small rock.

  3. What we're planning to get for my folks while we're on the road is postcards. We'll just mail it to them and forget about it 🙂 I'd love to see your Nan's fridge magnet collection. It must be quite sight!

  4. I collect shot glasses. Not the most practical, dust-free or easy to find option but it's kind of a habit now…

    I always get a fridge magnet for my Nan from every country. She gets them from everyone and has over 150 filling up the fridge and boiler!

  5. Pins are great and so cheap as far as souvenirs go. Shot glasses are fun too! But it's really nice to sometimes get something kind of unique to the country. When I was in Greece I loaded up on olive oil soap as souvenirs for myself and my friends and family and they were only a euro a bar so that was awesome!

    1. Olive soap! What a great idea — and in a pinch you can always use them yourself to clean up after a long, dusty day of walking 🙂

    1. Fridge magnets I guess fit the similar bills as lapel pins: small, lightweight, and do not take up floor space. Not as shiny though 🙂

  6. Fridge magnes are another good thing to collect because they're everywhere and small enough to cram in your backpack.

  7. I collect pins too, I try to get one for every country and city I visit. Unfortunately, I don't get to travel much anymore but I still love my pins and keep them on a couple of scarves on my family room wall.

  8. So cool! 🙂 I love souvenirs. I buy stupid things and fridge magnet is one of them. It's a thing between me and my friend as well.

  9. I don't think I have a particular thing I get from each country, but I had to get rid of so much stuff when I cleaned out my apartment to move to Thailand that I kind of resolved to NOT buy stuff. It worked up until pretty recently, and now I'm gathering things again. Pins and magnets seem like they'd be good, though–small enough to stash away pretty easily!

  10. A great travel will be incomplete without bringing a souvenir with you! I always have that different feeling that just by looking on my souvenir item brings back all the wonderful memories of my travel.

    1. We (especially I) tend to be forgetful of things, so souvenirs definitely help us remember certain things about our travel that we might've forgotten otherwise.

  11. I collect antique books. If I can't find a title that really epitomizes the locale, I go for an antique dictionary. It makes for quite the bookcase!

  12. Personally, I collect shot glasses from random locations around the world. I've got quite a few now… though they can be a pain to carry around. But I'm a bit sentimental in general so I collect lots of random things as I travel around

  13. We're aiming for the flag patches of each country we visit. I have some from my trip to Europe, so we'll see how it goes once we begin our journey. I like your idea, too! Maybe if we can't find a patch we'll search for a pin. The ultimate goal would be leaving with a small token from each destination!

  14. I'm collecting money. I love the different colors and designs from each country. My favorite so far was when I found an old man on a street corner selling out-of-print notes from the Nicaraguan Revolution.

    Some of them are stamped by the government with new denominations, when inflation went out of control. So a $2000 Cordoba note became $200,000!

    1. I've got a massive wad of banknotes and jar of coins as well… My favourite is probably the wads of notes I ended up with from Uzbekistan. The largest note is worth about a dollar!

    1. They're sorta grouped by timeline — a corner is from our backpacking trip to Alaska, another corner is from our summer in Europe. It's not really a formal grouping of any sort, it just kinda happened that way.

  15. I solved the dilemma of souvenirs years ago, by using a "printer's tray" – the bitty compartmentalized drawers that printers used years ago to organize their letters. Though somewhat rare nowadays, you can often find them in antique shops for $25 or so.

    You can see my printer's tray here:

    The great thing about them is that they hang on the wall and can hold ANYTHING bitty, so it's easy to find little trinkets from each place I travel. I have several amulets from Thailand, along with a silk cocoon still containing a dried silkworm(!), wee button-sized containers filled with sand from the Sahara, Giza in Egypt, Cape Town, etc. plus pottery shards from an Anasazi Indian dig I worked on years ago in Arizona, matchbooks from Belize and China, coins and subway tokens, bits of sea glass, a chunk of lava from a volcano I climbed in Costa Rica, and even a snail shell from the delicious escargot I slurped from a street stand in Chefchaouen, Morocco.

    So I never have to spend time seeking out that elusive single type of souvenir "collection". I can always find small, lightweight trinkets to toss in my backpack to remember special times and places.

    1. Dyanne, that's a great idea! I love it. It's off the floor and it opens up the possibility to all sorts of trinkets. With our dusting schedule (or lack thereof) I'm afraid it will collect a lot of dust though — but maybe it'll add to the charm. We have to figure out a way to make it work somehow because I'm in love with the idea (and your collection).

  16. I like it! I pick up rocks. I know it's so weird, but it's natural and beautiful and I feel like I'm taking a bit of the place with me without any kind of big environmental impact.

    1. Rocks are pretty neat to collect (we have a very small collection). I think it's cool how varied rocks can be from one area to another. It's something you wouldn' t notice until you start paying attention to them.

    1. Fridge magnets are great! They're light and they are very common along major backpackers/tourist trails — more common than lapel pins at least. They help make a plain fridge look more interesting as well 🙂

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