Travel Keepsakes: My Love For The Starbucks Mug

One of the best parts about going on vacation is bringing back keepsakes from the places you’ve traveled. Airport kiosks and souvenir shops alike make their rent on this business, hawking everything from “I (heart) New York” T-shirts to magnets and branded hot sauces.

I, too, used to enjoy travel related tchotchkes – until I became a travel writer. Were I to pick up more than a postcard from every place, I’d be buried under a pile of crap, and broke to boot.

Hence, my guilty traveling pleasure: the Starbucks mug. It all started back in 2006, when I was visiting a friend in Honolulu. An orchid-adorned mug emblazoned with, what then was my farthest-flung travel destination seemed a great keepsake for my trip. At $10, it wasn’t exactly bank-breaking, either.

Funny enough, I’m not even a huge Starbucks fan. I’ll take a local latte or tea any day, but I’ll never miss the green and white sign in my travels.

For more than six years, I’ve been grabbing mugs in locations from around the world, creating a collection that not only spoke to my nomadic lifestyle, but a useful tool as well. I’m a nasty person before I’ve had coffee in the morning.

I could begin my day in Chicago, Geneva or even the Hamptons (my current favorite, due to its cheery blue interior). The mugs were affordable, large enough to fit nearly a Venti coffee, and fit easily in my cabinet. To make life easier, a Starbucks could be found in most any airport or city street – I didn’t have to go hunting or out of the way to get my memento.

I’ve now set rules for the collection. I have to have visited the destination (my cabinets are reaching capacity) and I prefer the colored collection mugs to those with just the blue and white cityscapes. Where possible, I’ll grab a mug bearing a city name (Toronto) versus just the larger country name (Canada).

Perhaps my collection is a bit ordinary, particularly for a writer interested in luxury travel (perhaps you’re not shocked, but diamond-studded mugs are hard to come by) but they’re a great way to keep the travel memories going at home.

What’s your favorite travel keepsake?

[Flickr via irmaloveslife]