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What’s your Favorite Travel Quirk? | Travel Tales |

Do you have a travel quirk? Ever thought about it? If you are puzzled as to what I mean by it, then let me simplify it a bit. Do you have a particular thing that you do when you travel that’s synonymous with every trip of yours? It could be a particular souvenir that you collect from every country or a food you look for? Maybe you are particular about staying in haunted houses? Or you love to get a tattoo to earmark every trip?

I love to mark my travel trips with specific buys that would go up in the house and be the best memory of that trip. I have bought wall clocks, sea shells, coral, postcards, art, etc but my favorite quirk is the Fridge Magnet. These map out my travels on the fridge and bring a smile to my face every time I glance at it. I ensure that I get something very authentic and peculiar while selecting the magnet.

fridge- magnets- travel- tales

My obsession for them has been encouraged by friends and family who now make it a point to get one for me from their travels too. So not only my trips but those of my inner circle too have a place of pride on the fridge. I think I now need to buy a bigger fridge or stop traveling!!! What do you say?

¶ Would you like to send me a unique fridge magnet from your travels? ¶

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Travel quirk- world- cuisine- shopping-magnets-diary-journals- books- solo- female

Well you get the drift now. Most people I know like to bring back something that is reminiscent of the place like an artifact or textile or art curio. But then there are some that bring back very eclectic stuff. I asked a few of my fellow travel addicts about their favorite quirk and they have certainly come up with fantastic ones.

Fiona from Travelling Thirties

christmas decorations- travel- Europe
Pic credit: Fiona from Travelling Thirties

Every traveler has their one travel quirk, that one souvenir they always buy or activity they always do.

For me, it is buying a Christmas decoration. I love buying Christmas decorations because when we put up the Christmas tree on December 1st, we can reminisce about our past travels and memories we have shared together.

Christmas decorations are a perfect thing to collect because they are often handmade and unique to the country or region and most importantly, they are small! As a traveler, you can’t afford to be buying souvenirs that take up a lot of space.

On our latest trip to Europe, we were lucky enough to be travelling during winter and in the Christmas market season. We visited 22 countries and over 50 cities, this meant plenty of time for shopping for Christmas decorations.

My favorite place to purchase Christmas decorations is Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. There are so many Christmas decoration stalls and shops, and many of the decorations are hand crafted. The only downside to Tivoli Gardens is that the decorations are quite expensive.

Christmas decorations often reflect the culture and uniqueness of a country. When visiting Brugge, which is famous for lace, we were able to buy gorgeous lace decorations. In Bratislava, they have souvenirs that are unique houses and of course, at Christmas time you can buy these houses as decorations.

Europe is also home to some adorable Snow Globes, ever since watching the Santa Clause I have wanted my very own Snow Globe. The mission of our four-month trip around Europe was to buy the most perfect Snow Globe. With three weeks left of the trip, I had not been able to find the perfect Snow Globe. We were walking down some side streets in Gdansk and came across this tiny shop, something was dragging us inside. On the shelf there was one perfect Snow Globe!

I cannot wait for Christmas, to get out all of our perfect Christmas decorations and talk about our travel memories as we put up our Christmas tree.

Ashley from Where in the world is ash

foods - local cuisine- pancake- dumpling- japanese- hot chocolate
Pic credit: Ashley from Where in the world is ash

I’m sure eating incredible local food isn’t something only I do, but I’m baffled when it’s not a priority for a fellow traveler! Cuisine is such an important part of travelling – it can open you up to a world of food and beverage possibilities that you could never have dreamed of. Plus, who doesn’t love to eat! My one MUST quirk when travelling to any new country is to dine like a local. At the very least, I have to try something unique if I can’t find anything typically traditional to a destination.

Have you ever tried pierogi in Poland? These dumplings rival anything you could find in Asia.

How about okonomiyaki in Japan? You could never look at a pancake the same! They’re unbelievably delicious!

I never would have thought these foods would become highlights of these destinations nor did I know they existed before I traveled. Now I get so excited whenever I see them on a menu at home!

One of my favorite food memories was eating a francesinha in Porto, Portugal. I first heard about the sandwich from a local when backpacking Europe and decided it sounded so decadent and over the top, I just had to try it! Think of a normal sandwich with two slices of bread… Now imagine it’s filled with five different kinds of meat and eight slices of cheese. (Topped with an egg and beery gravy of course!) It’s a heart attack on a plate, but SO tasty! I’ve never had a sandwich that topped it. To think, I may have never known about this delicacy had I not met a bus driver from Porto years before!

Another favorite – although it’s not typically local – the hot chocolates from Chin Chin Labs in London! You can find these commonly in the winter at the Christmas markets, or at their usual store in West London. Just look at that marshmallow!

Tina from I went anyways

Postcards- travel- post office- stamps
Pic Credit: Tina from I went anways

One of my must-do quirk whenever I travel somewhere is that I send myself a postcard. Looking for a shop that sells postcards, choosing what postcard to buy, composing the message, looking for the post office, and sending the postcard makes me super excited every time.

I started this practice three years ago. This idea was shared by a former roommate who also loves to travel. I think it’s a cool alternative to buying souvenirs, especially when you are traveling long term. It is hard moving from one place to the next with so many stuff on your backpack, so a postcard is a better alternative to key chains or ref magnets. With postcards, once you get home and get the card, you get to relive the experience you had while traveling.

When I backpacked through Indochina last year, I sent myself a postcard from every city and town that I visited. My original plan was to send just one postcard per country. But a month before that trip I met a guy who knew about my backpacking adventure. I told him I’m going to send him a postcard. When I was at my first stop, I visited the post office in that city because it’s a piece of living history. I decided to send him and myself a postcard. In the postcard I sent him, I wrote an update of what’s going on in my trip. That’s when I had the idea of sending him and myself a postcard with an update of my trip from every city and town that I visit during that trip. He loves the postcards I sent him, and informs me every time he receives one.

We both received all the postcards except the one from Kampot, Cambodia. It sucks because I had a hard time looking for the post office. I used Google maps to find it, unfortunately what was in the map was the wrong location. Good thing I took a photo of that postcard before sending it.

Rachael from A city girl outside

Travel quirk- world- cuisine- shopping-magnets-diary-journals- books- solo- female
Pic credit: Rachael from A city girl outside

I’ve always enjoyed collecting things, whether it be jewelery or books. One of the things I really enjoy about travel is that you can collect so many unique things. Over the years I have collected unique souvenirs such as hand-carved tikis in Hawaii or beer steins from Germany. As much as I really love to bring back one authentic souvenir to decorate my house with, eventually you run out of space!

Recently I started a new travel quirk, photos with flags! I’ve always had a passion for photography and when I visit an area I possibly will never return to, I think it’s really important to capture it. I really enjoy finding out what each country’s flag looks like and almost “collecting them”. So not only do I like to capture a city or landscape, I’ll take a shot of myself with that country’s particular flag.

This is a relatively new thing but it helps me save some physical space and is a souvenir in itself! In years to come I will never have to remember where that landmark was because the flag will remind me! It’s almost like a postcard to myself.

For years I would travel places and take absolutely no photos whatsoever. Now I really regret that as the chances of me returning are slim. Capturing a photo of myself with a particular flag not only captures that trip but gives me a souvenir I have space for!

Cosette from KarsTravels

On every vacation or trip I like to browse through a supermarket. We usually have to go for groceries and our first visit to a supermarket in a new country can turn into a venture of 1 to 2 hours. Because I like to stroll through every aisle.

I like to compare products. Are there a lot of products the same or different compared to The Netherlands? For instance in Tunisia most beer is non-alcoholic and you really have to search for beer with alcohol. In The Netherlands it’s the other way around. In the USA the bread aisle is really different than I’m used to. Lots of pastry, like donuts. Next to that lots of pre-packaged bread and buns. While in The Netherlands the focus is more on freshly baked bread and only a small part pastries.

supermarkets- olives- breads- Iceland- travel
Pic Credit: Cosette from Kars Travels

Finding new products like string cheese in the USA or different buns like Kleina in Iceland. Never saw such large onions as in the USA. New flavors in soda and candy is a fun one to try out. I love to browse through the baking aisle. We’ve had baking or cooking packages from Germany, France and Spain. Bringing different flavors of tea or large packages of olives or anchovy with us for friends back home. Finding local products and trying them out is part of the travel experience for us, so is visiting a supermarket and seeing what and how the locals shop.

What’s also fun is to find Dutch products or products with Dutch tekst on them in other countries. We had this in Iceland, where we found some familiar products.

A lot of countries have far larger supermarkets than we have here in The Netherlands. It was really new to me to visit these supermarkets in my twenties. A love for visiting supermarkets has stuck with me ever since.

Marika from Clumsy Girl Travels

Pic Credit: Marika (She was unable to send in a pic of the porcelain dolls)

On every trip I go on, I need to buy a Porcelain doll. This all started when I was ten years old and watched a girl about the same age on the Disney Channel talk about how she collects porcelain dolls from around the world, and I immediately fell in love with the idea. My family has always been avid travelers, so the first trip where I could collect my first few dolls came quickly.  I traveled to France, Greece, and Italy and came home with three different dolls. Since then, I have accumulated well over 20 dolls and continue to purchase porcelain dolls on my travels.

I try to collect dolls wearing traditional outfits of the countries I visit. I learn about the cultures that way, and it’s a nice reminder of the places I have been. The only tricky part is figuring out where to put all my dolls. I have my collection set up in a closet right now, but hopefully, I can change that once I move into a bigger place.  That won’t stop me from collecting dolls until I can hopefully one day have a doll from each country in the world.

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Well wasn’t that interesting to note? I wonder what is your favorite travel quirk? Would you mind sharing it with me in the comments below?

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A trained Interior designer who loves to travel, photograph and write, I have done some boutique stays in limited budgets and some in extravagant ones too. My forte is in using locally sourced/ made products which would provide support to the local community. I am also an advocate of using sustainable practices in housekeeping, laundry,etc which lessens the use of harmful chemicals. The water used for such chores is clean enough to be fed into the garden directly.

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⇐ Read all about the fun things to do on a trip to Paris, France ⇒

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28 thoughts on “What’s your Favorite Travel Quirk? | Travel Tales |

  1. This was a different and wonderful post, Shalini! You better buy another fridge, a bigger one this time, so that you don’t have to stop traveling. Of course, with covid going strong you can take your time to buy the biggest fridge. 🙂 Your magnets are awesome, Shalini. I liked the idea of sending a postcard to the self. Also, browsing through supermarkets – imagining how the locals walked into a store and carried on with their grocery shopping – giving me goosebumps and story ideas!
    Loved this post, Shalini!

    1. Oh you made my day with this feedback Vini – thank you so much. I dont think I am buying a bigger fridge anytime soon though the magnet buying is on a freeze even if I do start traveling again. Since last two years I have been focusing on carrying back local food grains and stuff that I have liked eating from that region.

      I am glad to hear you like the ideas and that probably I am going to see some inspired fiction now from your end incorporating something from here Vini!

  2. I don’t really have any quirks, unless you count eating local cuisine. I absolutely love trying the local cuisine of a place. I never go searching for Indian food. And this has led me to tasting some really interesting dishes.

    1. I think its the best travel quirk to have Sunita- one can learn so much about a culture and its people through the food. Plus one gets to savor amazing delicacies which taste alien at first but then leave a lingering memory on the taste buds for ever.

  3. I’m also a big fan of the food and supermarket shopping but love some of these unique travel quirks. I also have a fridge magnet obsession!

  4. Great to read and to contribute to. I think my favorite quirk is still collecting Christmas ornaments, we have things in our tree from Iceland to Germany to the USA and so on.

  5. Haha,we all start with fridge magnets! Mine is bursting literally 🙂 I always make it a point to eat local food & the famous dishes of the region …

  6. I love off-beat travel posts like this, such a great read. My travel quirk is trying out the definitive local dish of where I am visiting. Even better if it’s a hyper-local dish or food speciality. I love getting to know a place through food. x

    1. Thanks so much Elena- that feel so good to read as it comes from a fellow travel blogger. Would love to have a peep at your Christmas tree!!

  7. So interesting! I always get patches of the places I visit to sew them on a blanket. On my last trips I also got tattooed but I don’t always do it. Only if the place holds a special memory.

    1. Wow Nina that sounds amazing. What kind of patches do you pick up? Please do share a pic of that blanket – it must be a treasure by now!

    1. Thanks Sara and your travel pack must be one helluva pretty thing by now. I would love to have a look at it – please do share a pic!

  8. For as long as I can remember I’ve been collecting magnets from everywhere I go. It’s fun to read about other travelers’ “quirks”.

  9. I love bringing back unique souvenirs! I collect magnets but also love buying postcards. My favorite local places to visit are breweries and wineries.

  10. A lovely post about the dos for travel and quirks making it eventful in remembering the countries one visits. I love the idea of post cards and sending to the self. Magnets is one idea I would do when travelling. Beautifully written.

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