Rules of the fridge magnet fetish

Last updated 10:30 13/09/2012

I'm coming out of the closet about a secret shame. I collect fridge magnets.

It began during a trip to Tonga with Nathan's family a couple of years ago. We had a few hours to kill at the Nuku'alofa airport and I had a couple of dollars to get rid of.

I bought a wooden turtle magnet with Tonga written on its back, and so my slightly geeky obsession with collecting travel magnets began.

Like most travellers, I have limited money, and limited space in my bag (buying a Lilo hasn't helped), so magnets are a pretty good choice of purchase.

I don't get to buy the shoes, books, or that massive, giant wooden bust of Shakespeare I really wanted (it seemed like a good idea at the time), but being able to buy a magnet every few days gives me a little spending high and satisfies my shopping needs.

Among my favourites from this trip so far are a mini-cheeseboard from Paris, clogs from Amsterdam, a yellow taxi from New York, and these creepy dancing potatoes from Idaho.

Nathan was initially not into my game. In fact, "not into" is an understatement. When we were in LA I wanted to buy a $2.99 Hollywood star magnet and he was like "That's coming out of your budget." Cheap bastard...

However, then we met Rich from Perth. Rich is also collecting magnets and has rules for when you're allowed to buy them, such as only when you've stayed the night in a city.

Suddenly, Nathan has crossed the divide, and is now hitting up souvenir shops on every Croatian island we land on, discussing the qualities and failings of various magnets.

While this is good in one way - now they're coming out of both our budgets - I notice my collection is becoming less about the cute miniatures and more about bottle openers attached to women in bikinis.

Given the abundance of souvenir options in these shops, I assume there are many people out there with similarly shameful travel collections. 

I have a friend who used to collect shot glasses, though gave up after about five. I've also met people who collect T-shirts, pins, beer mugs and postcards. I even know one person who collects underwear from all the cities she stays in (bought new, I believe, not permanently borrowed from clothes lines). 

I don't appreciate travel spoons.

I am enforcing a not-looking-until-trip-is-over policy with our magnets because I want them to be more of a surprise when we open them at the end, but the number of little wrapped packages through my bag is growing rapidly. 

Sort of wondering how I'm going to fit them on a fridge. Also not looking forward to being stopped at customs and having to watch an officer unwrap each one.

Does anyone else want to admit to a travel collection? It feels good not to live a lie ... 

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38 comments
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JS   #1   10:40 am Sep 13 2012

My whole family collects magnets!!

mt   #2   11:31 am Sep 13 2012

Floaty pens! You know, those pens that have items that float up and down in them. They usually have a transportation item, eg a local cable car or tram moving up and down a local background. There are a few variations - I have one from Jerusalem where the bread and wine from the Last Supper moves up and down on Jesus's table. They are inexpensive, easy to carry and won't break!

LALA   #3   11:45 am Sep 13 2012

Magnets and postcards!!

Sarah   #4   12:12 pm Sep 13 2012

Yup: magnets, teaspoons, patches. My rules were basically one per country or major city we stayed in. For magnets they have to be smaller than a certain size (otherwise I'd have no room either in my bag or on my fridge), preferably not the flat plastic sort (the colours fade too easily), not the photo-in-perspex sort, not too strong a magnet (might damage the fridge trying to move/remove it). For teaspoons I inherited a collection from my grandmother (which came with a rack), plus my own which started when I was about 10, and I recently acquired a third rack to put the new ones on. Patches can't be found everywhere (especially in Europe). For me they have to be good quality (embroidery as opposed to motifs) and I quite like the ones with the country's flag incorporated in some way. I have a navy blue throw that I sew them onto so I try to avoid dark colour patches so they'll stand out on it. Oh and the other thing I've collected is visa stamps in my passport... but that goes without saying.

Stacey   #5   12:28 pm Sep 13 2012

I went through a stage of collecting Xmas tree decorations and charms for my charm bracelet, which I have never ever worn. Finding Xmas decorations was a bit difficult so I don't have many but I got some cool charms. But yes, I agree with the rule that you can't say you've been there until you've stayed there a night. Just passing through doesn't count.

MC (the other one)   #6   12:45 pm Sep 13 2012

I collected silver charms when I did my OE in 1990 - it wasn't strictly one-per-place, more one-per-major-experience - I ended up with 40 of them, and I hadn't been counting, but when I took them to the jewellers to have them put onto my bracelet, there were exactly 40 links available. I don't wear it much, all the sticky-out bits hurt, but I absolutely love looking through it and showing the kids, it brings back rushes of awesome memories.

Christy   #7   12:56 pm Sep 13 2012

So many things are hilarious about this post, not the least of which is Nathan's hair, which continues to cause me amusement. I love that you collect magnets, and even more love that you haven't opened them yet. I must say, that shows considerable restraint.

God, I forgot about those shot glasses. And if you're not talking about me, then I just fessed up to an equally (I would say more) embarrasing collection. I also, gave up after about 5. Still have them though I think. They've been through so many flat moves. Can't bear to throw out the Munich one. It's a tiny beer mug!!

Ansy   #8   01:14 pm Sep 13 2012

My family collects magnets as well. It started off with a my mum buying one on a family trip to the US when we were little and is still going 22 years later... The parents don't really travel overseas all that ofetn, but with four kids doing overseas trips every couple of years the parents' fridge is starting to look pretty chocka. The only rule is that it's one per country visited (thank goodness it's not every city, because that would be a hige committment!).

lani   #9   01:25 pm Sep 13 2012

when i travelled i saved all the costers from every beer i drank

SJ   #10   01:36 pm Sep 13 2012

LOVE this blog! So cute and funny. A friend collects magnets too. She has them all over her filing drawer at work.


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