Those who know me know that I am a collector. (And those who really know me know that the previous sentence is a vast understatement.)
I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgia, and therefore, souvenirs. Each souvenir represents a memory to me–it is fun to recall the trip from which each souvenir comes from. Each of my travel collections started a different way. I suppose some of my collections are valuable… but to me, each is equally priceless.
(Most numbers last updated 10/31/2023.)
Collection #1 – Refrigerator Magnets
Collection Started On: 9/2/2007
Number of Items Contained: 483 (and counting)
Estimated Cost: $2,445.84 (Assuming current exchange rates as of 10/31/2023)
Collection Background: In Summer 2007, I graduated college. Throughout his career, my father got to travel to many countries around the world. I always told him that I was very jealous of his travels. He told me that someday, I’d get to do the same with my career.
As my career was just beginning, I figured that it would be a good time to start a travel collection. My parents had traveled with me all over the country growing up (I had been to a majority of states–including every state east of the Mississippi), but I figured it would be good someday to reflect back on the experiences that I had throughout my life, someday. I figured the magnet collection would be a good way to do that.
Link: Click Here
Collection #2 – Starbucks Mugs
Collection Started On: Specific date unknown, but around 12/2013. (I retired this collection around 12/2017, about the time that Starbucks stopped making the “You Are Here” series.
Number of Items Contained: 97 Mugs (+2 bonus water bottles)
Estimated Cost: $1226.34 (Assuming current exchange rates as of 10/31/2023)
Collection Background: Back in 2013, I started working at a company, and my boss collected Starbucks mugs. I kind of thought the newly released series looked neat, so I figured I’d start collecting them. I don’t really care for the new collection that Starbucks released, so I stopped collecting them. (Starbucks also got too political for my tastes, but that’s a different story. I’m not a fan of ‘virtue signaling.’)
Collection #3 – Tiki Mugs
Collection Started On: 4/17/2014
Number of Items Contained: A little over 20.
Estimated Cost: $450-ish. (And counting…)
Collection Background: There’s a good story on this one–one cold, snowy night, after a long day of training in Shakopee, MN, a coworker and I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to unwind. After going through the museum, I was rather hungry. Another trip to the Mall of America just wasn’t going to cut it for me…
This was during the height of my Yelp Elite status tenure, so like a good, loyal Yelp user, I fired up the Yelp app and used my trademark method to find the best restaurants. (For the curious: the best way to find the most notable places to eat are to sort by number of reviews, and not by average rating. This has become somewhat less reliable over the years, but still has its merits.) I found a couple of places nearby–one of which was “Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lodge.”
With a name like that, my curiosity got the better of me. I mean–with a name like that, how COULD you pass it up?
We drove to Northeast Minneapolis (or, if you’re from the area–Nordeast Minneapolis, ya-hey) and ended up at this 70’s style older looking brick building. After navigating the icy / snowy parking lot, we found ourselves in the lobby of the establishment.
And thus my obsession with tiki bars was born. Now I’ve been to every tiki bar I could possibly get to–from Smuggler’s Run in San Francisco, to the Golden Tiki in Vegas, to Bali Hai in San Diego, to Trader Vic’s in London. I love everything about them–from the theming, to the art, to the drinks, to the campiness.
Collection #4 – Beach Sand
Collection Started On: 7/2000
Number of Items Contained: 41
Estimated Cost: Really, nothing! (Of course, travel costs and container costs not included.)
Collection Background: This collection was actually started by my wife in Australia. She runs it, but we’ve collected sand from beaches all over the world, and it deserves a mention here. It is very interesting to see how different the colors of sand are from different beaches around the world.
Collection #5 – Travel Exclusive Swatch Watches
Collection Started On: 1/14/2019
Number of Items Contained: 32 (31 unique watches, though I have a duplicate of the Caribbean one.)
Estimated Cost: $3,422 (and counting)
Collection Background: At approximately 3 AM on 1/9/2019–a Wednesday morning–I woke up. Being a natural early riser anyhow, I didn’t much feel like sleeping anymore. However, this was still a bit early for me.
And at 3 in the morning when I have time to think about stuff, I get bad ideas. Especially when I start thinking about potential adventures that I could take.
After about 20 minutes on my cell phone, my wife began to stir and woke up–sorta. She asked me what I was doing. I replied–“Hey–could I go somewhere solo this weekend?” Normally, we would do our adventures together, as a family. But, even she gets tired of traveling as much as I like doing so…
“Sure,” she said in a half-awake state.
“Do you care where I go?” I asked.
“Naah.” She said, as she rolled back over and went to sleep.
And that’s when I booked my flight to London for the following Friday. (i.e. – 2 days later.) And thus, the greatest non-rev weekend adventure I’ve taken to date began. Over the period of a 3-day weekend, I’d go to the London Science Museum, the Tate Modern, Carnaby & Regent Streets, Cambridge & Duxford (specifically, for the Imperial War Museum), and even to the OXO Wharf to go grab a watch at the famous Mr. Jones Watches store.
I collect watches anyhow–and I wanted to try on “The King XL” before I purchased it… of course, it was awesome and I totally got it. But on my way out at Heathrow, as I was waiting for my flight, I found myself looking through the duty free store and couldn’t help but notice the red, white, and blue London watch, visible towards the bottom of the picture above.
I bought it, and then went to the plane. En route, I got upgraded to first class and enjoyed a few Woodford Reserves while watching movies. It was awesome. A few trips later, I bought the New York watches, then the Vegas one while in Las Vegas for work, and so on and so forth…
Do you have any notable travel collections? Tell me about them in the comments! I’m always looking to add to my crazy collections…