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Making Your Trip a Kids' Treasure Hunt

    If you're like most families, when you travel you take lots of photos. That's one of the ways we keep memories of our trips – snapshots and videos. But there's more - tangible, tactile stuff that kids can enjoy and share years later. These collections, unique for each member of the family, are a wonderful reminder of places visited.
      On our first family trip abroad, our kids took along two stuffed animals (two small penguins, the "Pengo brothers"). On further trips, the Pengos acquired accessories – the Eiffel tower, mariachi hats in the Yucatan, llamas and ponchos in Peru, beach chairs on the Baltic Sea.

Kids also find things to collect typical of a country. In the United Kingdom, we discovered bath ducks are not just a bright yellow rubbery ducky. In the British Museum, after seeing the cool statues of the pharaohs, there was an ancient Egyptian ducky in the gift shop. Then Sherlock Holmes and black taxi rubber duckies. As we traveled around England and Scotland, more duckies came our way. Here's what we found:

Rubber Ducky Collection
Holiday ornaments – You may be traveling in summer, but look for holiday ornaments while shopping for souvenirs. At the gift shop in St. Paul's cathedral in London, we found embroidered cloth ornaments – a black London taxi, a red telephone booth, a golden Tower of London. In Ecuador, there's so many bread dough Christmas ornaments to choose from (just pack them carefully). Come December, when you decorate the tree, your ornaments from far places will shine brightly.
    City souvenirs – Exploring New York City, we kept noticing all the different Statue of Liberty souvenirs – Statue of Liberty teddy bear, chocolates, LEGOs, etc. In Paris, Eiffel Towers come in all shapes and sizes (we have a Christmas Eiffel Tower, another with sparkles), San Francisco has cable cars, Venice gondolas, etc. - it's fun to bring back a city collection.
Stuffed animals – When our boys were little, we took along the Pengo brothers as traveling mascots. And on our trips, we always collected more stuffed animal companions, llamas in Ecuador, moose in Finland, javelinas in Arizona, an echidna and kangaroo in Australia, desert tortoises in Joshua Tree, bears in Bern, mountain goats in Glacier National Park, etc.
    Key chains – Any country has a wonderful selection of goodies on key chains, so stock up. We have a whole collection of Mayan pyramids, Finnish moose, Dutch wooden shoes, English crowns, Guatemalan carved animals, Scottish Nessies, Russian eggs etc. What a fun way to remember your trip.
    Postcards – Everyone (especially grandparents) loves getting a colorful postcard in the mail, it's such a rarity!! Help your kids gather up the snail mail addresses of people special to them (school friends, soccer or Girl Scout buddies). Even if you don't send the postcards, collect them and years later, kids can spread them out, and remember their trip.
    Refrigerator magnets – If your house is like ours, refrigerator magnets decorate magnetic boards or fridge doors. Collect refrigerator magnets on your trip. Back home, the magnets become a collage of images and textures, each one a unique reminder for your child of something special from your vacation.
    Rock hound – Becoming a "rock hound" can be as simple as looking for a special pebble to collect on a beach, by a river, on a hike – or it can be more formal, searching for specific minerals and gems, and going to gem collector shops in towns and cities you visit. Almost all of these shops have local, polished stones that can be bought very inexpensively, some for under a dollar. (Bring along small plastic bags to label and organize your rocks.)
  If a child already has a collection of model horses, cars, dolls, tea cups, etc. you can continue the collection while traveling.
Christmas Ornaments from Around the World
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