What’s your most treasured travel souvenir?

A distinctive souvenir hat - just don't sniff it. Image by Anita Isalska / Lonely Planet

Sometimes it takes more than memories and photographs to capture the essence of a travel adventure. How about a bronze flamingo, Indian drum or a lucky dollar bill?

If you’ve ever gazed at your battered guide book or travel souvenirs and reminisced, you’ll know the power of objects to evoke a time and place. So we asked Lonely Planet staff about the treasured possessions they’ve brought back from the road, and the amazing experiences behind them.

For Australian and New Zealand readers, go to lonelyplanet.com/amazing-experiences and find out how you could win your next amazing experience with over $20,000 in travel prizes. Terms and conditions apply, see website for details.

Vintage military hat, China

A distinctive souvenir hat – just don’t sniff it. Image by Anita Isalska / Lonely Planet

“My fiance’s mum came to visit when I was living in Shanghai and we had a brilliant day out exploring the city’s old lanes and hidden backstreets in a vintage sidecar. It was December 2009 and the weather was bone-rattlingly cold, so the guy driving us gave us these old Chinese military hats to put on. They smelt absolutely terrible but kept us warm! I’ve washed this one many times. but it still smells too weird to wear…”

– Helen

Red gum spinning top, Australia

A spinning top is a reminder of home for this LP staffer. Image by Anita Isalska / Lonely Planet

“A few years back, in the state of Victoria, Australia, a bunch of friends chipped in to hire a rather gargantuan house boat on the Murray River. We boarded the boat in the country town of Echuca. Before setting off, I came across a small woodturner’s cottage just near the banks of the river. Everything in the shop was made of plum-coloured, local red gum. I wasn’t far from home (Melbourne) but I felt the pang of the traveller who’d stumbled upon something special. Wanting a little relic to take away – so as to not forget what was special about this place – I chose this little red gum spinning top. It now sits on my desk in west London, and reminds me of the muddy, rugged beauties of Australia’s bush landscape.”

– Seb

Business card, Thailand

A poignant reminder of a meeting in Thailand - LP staffer Ellie still has the treasured business card today. Image by Anita Isalska / Lonely Planet
Ellie still has the treasured business card today. Image by Anita Isalska / Lonely Planet

“I had the privilege of meeting Dennis Peacock, AKA ‘The Walking Man’, in a small guesthouse in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. This lean and leathered British expat had walked the whole length of Thailand in 1998 and was doing it again ten years later. He’d wanted to promote Thailand during their financial crisis and, in his own small and eccentric way, he did just that by touching everyone he met with his warmth. Dennis passed away a few months after I met him and I can’t quite …read more


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