Souvenirs: the fridge magnet thing that got way out of hand

Collecting fridge magnets from my travels started when I traveled for work. It was a way to embrace the kitschiness of travel and celebrate the randomness of some of the places I went. Then, family and friends started bringing fun magnets home from their travels. Then, when I started traveling more, I kept picking them up along the way for myself and my friends. Over time, it has gotten completely out of control.

Recently, I posted a picture of my temporary feline roommate, Stringer Bell, as he had not fully embraced the “get off of the refrigerator” policy in my house. One of my friends commented that I had a pretty epic fridge magnet collection, and after further consideration, I’m inclined to believe her.

Fridge magnet souvenirs

The more I looked at the picture, the happier it makes me. Not only because Stringer Bell was a lovely feline companion (with 26 toes!), but these magnets are my daily reminders of great adventures, fun discoveries, and the thoughtfulness of the people in my life.

Fridge magnet souvenirs

1. Paris, France: When I was in Paris in April 2012, I spent far too much time looking for a souvenir Eiffel Tower Christmas tree ornament that I remembered from my 2009 trip that was constructed of baguettes and croissants. I admitted defeat and bought the fridge magnet version.

2. Freixenet, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Spain: The Freixenet gift shop had all sorts of magnets to represent their delightful cavas. I bought the one representing the bottle I could least afford.

3. Granada, Spain: Everything in Granada has pomegranates on it, yet, this was the only magnet. Pretty much everything else is a flamenco dancer or Alhambra-related.

4. Seville, Spain: An improbable depiction of their lovely riverfront. I walked it many, many times while I was there and loved every minute of my time in the city.

5. Reims, France: There were many champagne bottle magnets at one of the many gift shops in Reims, this one bears the closest resemblance to Mumm, where I enjoyed a delightful champagne tour.

6. Seville, Spain: After the amount of jamón I consumed, a jamón magnet is a fitting tribute to my time in Spain.

7. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain: I was obsessed with the detail of the mosaic tiled toppers on the spires of the cathedral-in-progress. They look oddly shaped from the ground, but are obsessively and fancifully detailed up close.

8. Morocco: It had a camel on it and identified most of the cities I visited. Plus, it includes the Western Sahara region, which is a pretty controversial choice in- and outside of the country.

9. Manchester, United Kingdom: One of my work friends brought this back after a recent trip home. “It was the only thing with a Union Jack and without London on it.”

Fridge magnet souvenirs

10. Beijing, China: the friend who brought this home always finds a magnet that features a lushly-illustrated cliché about the destination.

11. Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States: I picked this up on a work trip in Plymouth years ago that included a side-trip to see the venerable rock. A local woman patrols the shoreline for rocks resembling the general shape of Plymouth Rock, then paints them to look like the real thing. Classic.

12. Lopburi, Thailand: One of my friends brought this home for me with this simple offering for its backstory,  “It has a monkey on it.” They’re rather well-known for their Monkey Festival there.

13. Guatemala: This was the only fridge magnet in Guatemala in 1998. I looked for 11 days in markets and shops and found nothing until coming across this one at the airport in Guatemala City on my way home.

14. CFS Alert, Nunavut, Canada: My friend in the Canadian Forces brought this home from his posting at the northernmost permanently-inhabited place in the world.

15. New York, NY, United States: The classic New York tourism logo confirmed my long-standing love affair with the city.

16. Versailles, France: I picked this up at the gift shop at the Petit Trianon at Versailles. I am a bit obsessed with Marie Antoinette’s style (thanks both to the Sofia Coppola film and a book I read drawing a correlation between her style and the onset of the French Revolution).

17. Como, Italy: One of my friends went there for a conference. Instead of Clooney, she brought me Buondì, a fridge magnet snack cake.

Fridge magnet souvenirs

18. Atlanta, GA, United States: I was on a deadline to get to the airport, but I managed to squeeze in a quick tour of the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. It ended with me chugging samples of 20 different sodas, getting all hopped up on caffeine, then passing out cold on the airplane from a sugar crash. Good times.

19. Morocco: This is a classic travel promotion poster for Morocco from the 1960s. The man I bought it from said I bargain like a Berber woman, which is probably a begrudging compliment.

20. Hawaii, United States: Hawaiian children paddling a canoe? Classic.

21. Savannah, GA, United States: My father picked this one out on one of my parents’ snowbird roadtrips back from Florida. It is a Southern Belle with metallic background. Amazing.

22. Detroit, MI, United States: I was only in Detroit for a few days, but it is utterly fascinating.

Fridge magnet souvenirs

23. New Orleans, LA, United States: Another one from my parents. Hearing about their wandering on Bourbon Street has only convinced me that I need to spend some time there as soon as possible.

24. Paris, France: I wasn’t thinking clearly from the altitude from the second floor of the Eiffel Tower and bought the office magnet for €7. Just go with it. I just really loved the design.

25. Rotorua, New Zealand: I hadn’t given much thought to traveling in New Zealand, but I heard such wonderful things about it through my friend’s adventures, that I’m pretty sure I need to see it. Plus, all of the Kiwis I’ve met are really nice people.

26. Ville de Québec, Quebec, Canada: This one gets bonus points for having a ferry that moves on it. Quebec City was my first trip to a “foreign land,” even though it is still in Canada. This one isn’t from that trip, one of my friends thought I’d like the moving ferry. She knows me well.

27. Gulf Coast, MS, United States: Another lavishly-illustrated magnet from the Deep South. This was given to me pre-Gulf Coast oil spill, but I am cautiously optimistic it has or will soon return to this state.

This is but a teeny, tiny sample of the full collection, there’s still the rest of the refrigerator, and my filing cabinet at work. The larger point, though, is that the funniest things can serve as souvenirs, and bring years of enjoyment long after the trip is over.

Do you have a souvenir collection that has gotten out of hand? 



  1. Postcards. I buy them at every place I go, but after I’ve sent them off, I don’t know what to do with them. I’ve got stacks of ’em and it’s kind of getting out of hand. Maybe I should start scrapbooking.

    • I used to do the same…but now I have art and not a whole lot of wall space left in the midst of it. (some post cards have been framed – there are a series of the Hoover Dam and a few from the V&A in amongst my royal collection).

  2. Wow! What a huge collection! That’s a great souvenir of your travels.

    I have a scrapbook of my travels, and I love printing out my photos and sticking them on my wall. Maybe someday I’ll buy real art instead, like you said above. 🙂

    • My walls are mostly covered in posters from my trips, my own photos, and small paintings I buy from street artists. Scrapbooks are a great idea – especially for all of the “things” you acquire along the way, like tickets and such.

    • Aw thanks, that’s very kind of you to say! This strange collection is a lot of fun because my friends and family always manage to surprise me with some amazing find from their travels. Since I’ve got the Far North covered, the only real gap is Antarctica – my fridge magnet white whale!

  3. Love this post! Not tacky at all – it’s awesome! A daily reminder of travels – the only thing better than that is actually travelling!!! Ps. Am I Hawaii and new Zealand? I have a bad memory..,

  4. I love these! I’m a big collector of just about everything — souvenir pennies, postcards, magnets, etc. I have the same gargoyle magnet that I see on your fridge. 🙂 It was fun to read through your magnet history. Guess you’re just drawn to them, huh? (Get it? Magnet… drawn to them… 🙂 )


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