The most advantageous travel souvenir is not what you can buy with money, but the money itself, more importantly serving as emergency funds.
“Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The most ideal souvenirs are those that are relative and authentic to the city or country you get them in. So what better relevance than the national currency? They’re all unique from each other, culturally beautiful, a symbol to the country and damn functional as…
…cold cash money.
Collecting foreign currency while vagabonding will occur trying from the inevitable leftover cash you’ll have every time you leave a country for another.
The incidental souvenir and backup cash.
Cash conveniently takes up very little space and weight as part of your travel gear pack which will also naturally act as an emergency stash of money.
Imagine… You lose your wallet with credit cards, cash and what you have left is your backpack full of gear and traditional souvenirs. These things may be valuable to you but they can’t exactly be sold for much money to help you survive while you wait days for your new cards to be mailed to you from overseas.
If you’d save currency from each previous country you’ve traveled, you could exchange them for the local currency to help you live for a while.
Unless you bought luxury goods, artifacts or precious gems, not many other souvenirs can do that for you.
Foreign money is more than just money…
It’s logical that the best souvenir should be made in the same country your getting it for, which is actually quite rare in well developed countries like the US. Foreign currency is not made foreign but locally – that’s as authentic as it gets.
You can have the memento of your time in a place as well as monetery function in one compact package.
As my time in a country comes to an end, I typically set aside a couple of the larger denominations in a waterproof envelope within my pack along with many other notes. All remaining cash is then also added.
From now on, stop trying to spend every bit of the local cash you have on hand before leaving the country. Save a few bills and add them to your souvenir collection or emergency backup fund.
It’s a gift to yourself that can be kept as one, used to get another or keep as a mobile financial tool.