One of the most fun aspects of going on a vacation for children is the ability to get souvenirs. Whether it’s a shell plucked from the sand of a beach, or a ticket stub from a favorite theme park, children like to collect souvenirs as a reminder of a favorite trip. If you’ve ever been to a gift shop while on vacation, you know prices can be steep, particularly in popular tourist destinations. However, you can get free and cheap souvenirs for your children (and maybe even yourself!) on your next house swap vacation. Read below to find out your best options!

Photo used under Creative Commons from Source

Photo used under Creative Commons from Source

Stamped Pennies

Many theme parks, such as Disney Parks, have stamped penny machines. These machines take a common penny, and for the typical price of $.50 to $1.25, will flatten, elongate, and stamp a penny with a random image. Did you know that you can find these machines all over the United States? Next time you decide to take a vacation with a home exchange, look for a penny stamping machine. Websites like will provide you with a list by state and country of penny machines, so you can visit one or several machines on your trip. Once home, you and your child can arrange the pennies in a frame, and maybe include a note about where you got each penny. If going overseas, having a few pieces of the local currency is always a good way to get a souvenir as well.

Pins and Buttons

I like to collect a pin from every place I travel, whether it be a theme park, zoo, museum, or just a new city. I display my pins on a lanyard on my walls, where they’re a patchwork of memories of fun vacations. Encouraging your children to opt for a small souvenir, such as a pin, saves room in your suitcase (and avoids you having to pay pesky overages!), and lets you stretch the souvenir budget. Most pins range between $3.99 to $8.99 in price, and some locations will have a variety of designs, so you can choose your favorite. Next time you visit a place on a house exchange, consider purchasing a pin so you can remember your trip to Dallas, Texas or Venice, Italy, or wherever you may end up! Once home, you can display them on a lanyard, or try putting them in a piece of cork board. If you frame the cork, you have an attractive display of souvenirs that are cheap, fun, and small, yet eyecatching! Your visitors will comment on the clever display and ask you questions about where you’ve been – it’s a perfect conversation piece for adults, and fun for kids.

Photo used under Creative Commons Source

Photo used under Creative Commons Source


Magnets are another option for a cheap souvenir while on a house swap. Some travelers love to cover their fridge’s surface with magnets for every place they’ve been, while others like to just buy a few as they travel. Whatever your “style,” you can rest assured you will find a magnet for any place you travel, if there’s a gift shop handy! For your kids, you can issue little challenges when collecting magnets, such as “for this trip, collect magnets that feature animal” or “choose a magnet for your favorite stop on the vacation.” You can also get a dry erase board with a magnetic surface, hang it up, and display all of your magnets there.

Brochures, Pamphlets, and Menus

Souvenirs don’t have to be expensive. Are you visiting a number of good local restaurants and attractions? Why not just collect the brochures and various other “ephemera” to bind up in a scrapbook? You can collect them for your child, and then when you get home, you can make a scrapbook together. Let them decorate the pages with stickers, photos, and drawings illustrating your vacation, and write about why they liked each place. It’s a personalized souvenir that didn’t cost you anything, except maybe the materials such as crayons, etc. Your next home exchange with The Vacation Exchange will probably provide plenty of options for this souvenir type!

Fill Up a DIY Passport

Why can’t kids have a “passport” of their own? There are multiple printable versions online for your child to use on your next home exchange. You can take the example of this crafty mother and make your own. Sit and browse with your child online, looking for things to do, places to visit, and restaurants to visit on your trip. Then fill in the journal with each “thing” and let your child illustrate the “passport” throughout. If you want, you can even purchase inexpensive stickers to give to your child for each destination. As you visit each place listed in the book, they get to collect a sticker. At the end of the trip, they’ve checked off the places, added their drawings, and have a sticker to commemorate the events. This version of a souvenir is a much more personal option than a gaudy gift shop stuffed animal or plastic toy, and also won’t take up room in the suitcase.


T-shirts are a favorite souvenir for adults, but what about children? You can buy cheap souvenir t-shirts on a home exchange, and then let your child wear them after the trip has concluded. While this seems like common sense, what you can do next with the t-shirt is the fun part. You can make a t-shirt quilt when your child has outgrown the shirts! It’s like a regular quilt, but made with the soft cotton of a t-shirt. Several stores online will make a t-shirt quilt, and the results is a patchwork of your vacation memories. They can even take it to college.


Adults love to collect mugs, so why not let your child choose a mug? Like pins, mugs are small, and don’t add much weight in the luggage. They’re also fairly cheap, and under $20.00 at most tourist destinations. While a child can’t use a mug for coffee, they can certainly drink chocolate milk or hot cocoa from it. They’ll be just like mom or dad when they do, and if they get bored of the mug, it makes a handy pencil cup on their desk.

Sticker Collections

Walk into nearly any gift shop on vacation, and you’ll find a sticker for the place. The same may be said of attractions, such as landmarks, theme parks, and museums. Your child can collect stickers from every stop, and then use them to decorate their binder, bookcase (with your permission!), and other items. You can also arrange them in a sticker book, most of which can be easily purchased at a craft store for a few dollars.


Books are your best contender to the “souvenir heap” that can accumulate after a few vacations. A book that relates to the place you’re visiting is a great souvenir, and many gift shops have books for sale. Consider getting a book for your child, and then reading it together after you’ve returned home from vacation. Children love to read their books over and over, and each time, they’ll remember the fun times they had, as will you. Think outside the box and look for books of local history and lore, or books about the city. If you ask a gift shop clerk about the books they have available, you will probably be amazed.

Picture Diaries

A growing trend online is to photograph beloved stuffed animals on vacation. Why not get in the fun with your child? Purchase a disposable film camera (yes, they still sell them) if you don’t trust them with a digital, and let them pose the stuffed animal in front of any landmark or place they want. Each snap is a memory, and most of all, it’s a memory that doesn’t take up space in your home, and won’t get lost in the shuffle of a cluttered bedroom! Come home and get the pictures developed, or transfer them from a digital camera to your computer, and make a scrapbook of the prints. No matter how old your child gets, they’ll love looking at the scrapbook every year.


How many places do you see that give away free maps of the area? You and your child can collect a series of maps from everywhere you visit, such as state park, or a city, then bring them home. Arrange your maps, and grab a pair of scissors, cutting the maps into a series of strips. From there, you can shape it into bookmarks, garlands, and even use it to decoupage.


If you’re ready find a place to make travel memories, consider a house exchange at one of our properties! We have homes in the United States and internationally, with plenty of options to satisfy your travel needs. Read more about us, and follow us on social networks!