I admit. I collect souvenirs.

In every known place they stand. The souvenir sellers. Pens, tablecloths, bowls and t-shirts. Everything can be rocked with an "In ❤️ [any location]" print. Or perhaps with a print with the city's name in childish neon colored font. There are as many tasteless souvenirs as there are tourists. Maybe that's why I've cultivated my interest in collecting. To support the local vendors in getting rid of their ugliest creations. Namely, I collect coffee mugs with souvenir prints. But not the nice hand-painted mugs, but those mass-produced mugs. In our family also called "dirty mugs".

My collection of dirty mugs started when I discovered at the airport in Tokyo that I had a few Yen left. What should I buy? It wasn't exactly easy to find anything, because everything was much more expensive than my coins. But finally I found something. It was on a shelf with a reduced price. The mug with pieces of sushi. Not very tasty. Not very pretty. But it had something. It became mine.

Sushi mug

Since then there have been a few mugs. In fact, so many that we will soon be allowed to buy an apartment with a bigger kitchen. We have a large wall shelf with five shelves that is filled with about 30 mugs. In one kitchen cupboard, two shelves are overflowing with 30+ mugs. Then there are always some dirty mugs in the dishwasher. Because I don't collect the mugs to put on a shelf. The mugs are used every day to drink breakfast coffee in. If the mugs don't pass the dishwasher test, I throw them away. It's a hard life to be an idiot in the Gyllenberg family.

I actually have a hard time highlighting any particular ful mug as a favorite, because all mugs bring with them special travel memories and the feeling of adventure and vacation. But it is clear that there are mugs that have a better balanced handle or that have just the right weight when you hold them. Mugs that have just the right material and a perfect thickness on the rim you drink from. I'm talking about my Queen Elisabeth II Jubilee mugs.

Queen Elisabeth

So white. So perfect. The ultimate dirty mugs. If any of these mugs were to break, I think I'm going to cry. If there is a mug that I don't like? Maybe it's those souvenir mugs with a hole for a spoon in the handle. It's really not comfortable to hold.

I have to admit that my collecting may take some time out of the holidays. Especially when we travel in countries where you don't drink coffee. For example, I've combed through scores of markets in Thailand, only to find that they don't have mugs. Then I feel a little empty. Without a mug, no travel memory for breakfast. In other countries, there are muggles in every small village. Then it can usually get a little out of control and result in a heavy hand luggage on the way home. Because I have to assume that half of the mugs will not survive the dishwasher test. Kind of like the expensive tulip mug I bought at Keukenhof in Holland that didn't survive the dishwasher test and I'm still a little bummed about.

Now that the cupboards and shelves are full, should I stop buying new mugs? Probably. Will I do it? Not a chance. Some people build empires. I collect dirty mugs.

How do you do? Do you also collect souvenirs when you travel? 

About the blogger

Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.


  • Ann-Louise
    November 14, 2018 at 21: 33

    I love your mugs! And have exactly the same problem here at home. I mainly collect Starbucks mugs from different cities/countries but have managed to collect a considerable amount of other mugs as well during my travels. And will soon have to start throwing away glasses, dinner plates, etc. to make room for the mugs in the cupboards. Alternatively, move to an apartment with many more kitchen cupboards. My poor roommate almost starts crying when we travel somewhere and I find a new mug. 🙂 I also tend to buy a magnet and often a key ring from every place I visit, but they don't take up quite as much space.

    • Eve on rucksack.see
      November 14, 2018 at 21: 40

      But so lovely! Another mug collector! ? We get to have coffee ropes in the lake and try out all our mugs! I hardly dare to admit it, but I collect Christmas tree ornaments from our travels too… ?

  • Helena - Oh darling, let's be adventurers
    November 14, 2018 at 21: 34

    I used to always buy fridge magnets when I was away on a trip, but got to a point where I thought it was ugly to have so many on the fridge. So now many of them are in a box in the attic and I don't buy any more. I can buy real souvenirs sometimes, but prefer to buy a different kind of souvenirs now, eg clothes. Which may not really be classed as a souvenir, but for me it will still be a memory from a trip regardless of what it is.

    It was fun reading about your ugly mugs, but I think it feels a bit harsh to throw away the mugs that don't pass the dishwasher test. You can actually wash the dishes by hand, or give them away.

    • Eve on rucksack.see
      November 14, 2018 at 21: 47

      Absolutely right Helena, I should start washing them by hand! But then there's a risk that I'll get comfortable and stop using them, so it's a trade-off. After all, I want them to be part of everyday life and provide wonderful travel memories during dark November mornings 🙂 However, I usually wear out the mugs until the pressure is gone or the mugs become edged. Willing to throw them away... I also buy some clothes when traveling, but they don't feel as much like souvenirs to me. If it's not clothes in the style of my knitted woolen socks with magistrates from Tallinn - they are perfect souvenirs :)

  • Reiselinda
    November 14, 2018 at 21: 37

    Haha, ugly mugs! Perfect memories. One or two mugs have been brought home to have at work, but they are used up. Paint peeling or other accidents. At home we have mugs from German Christmas markets that we have brought home in pairs. Otherwise, it is usually small figures for a shelf in the kitchen, fridge magnets or t-shirts that come home. We also have a pillow and a couple of caps for the roommate

    • Eve on rucksack.see
      November 14, 2018 at 21: 51

      Mugs from German Christmas markets - oh my collection is missing! 🙂 I like to use my souvenirs, they become so much more vivid memories then. Exciting with your little figures! Any special kind of characters? Then I also collect kitschy Christmas decorations for the tree that I buy when we travel. But that will probably be a separate post! ?

  • Eve/Live as Eve
    November 14, 2018 at 21: 58

    Haha…lovely! I myself collect postcards with pigs. 600 pcs. Best range in Corsica and in England, driven in Muslim countries. Not so space-consuming, but unfortunately the postcards are starting to lose ground, and I'll probably have to look for something else soon 🙂

    • Eve on rucksack.see
      November 14, 2018 at 22: 02

      But it was a really wonderful thing to collect!! Love it! And what a collection! I can't even remember ever seeing a postcard with a pig, but that could be because I have a knack for ONLY looking for coffee cups?

  • Sandra
    November 14, 2018 at 22: 34

    Oh I have two ugly mugs (tea though) from Palau that my husband wants to throw away. But every time I drink tea in them, I'm happy.

    • Eve on rucksack.see
      November 14, 2018 at 22: 42

      Full mugs from Palau are hard currency in the world of full mugs! Must not be thrown out! Drink tea and enjoy and dream yourself back to dreamy diving! 🙂

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