I’m a big fan of local souvenirs. Of course you have to be picky; you can end up with crap!!
Why bring souvenirs? Why not!! Souvenirs are original, you are helping the local people (see it as charity), it brings back memories when you use or see the object that you bought. Buying it in the original country is often cheaper than buying it back home (or made in China…). The objects have a real story behind it!!
Jewelry is a favorite of mine, not always the silver pieces but local colorful bracelets (great for give away too). I bought rings with gems out of Sri Lanka, silver rings out of the silver mines out of Bolivia, copper bracelets out of Chili, but also necklets from small beads out of South America I all still wear.
I love to take clothing out of the original countries; it depends of course what, what the print and material is. The hats/caps, scarfs, plaids from Alpaca or other wool from Peru are so beautiful and warm. I bought several ponchos on my travel through South America (Ecuador & Peru). Bags are also a good item to take with you; the leather bags and belts from Marrakesh, Morocco are stunning. This summer a lot of people were jealous at my colorful Colombian bags.
When I return from my holidays and start wearing them here, everybody is saying how nice!! You are definitely original and show that you travelled the world.
Home decoration is ideal for bringing back as souvenirs. Pottery out of Portugal and Israel, be careful putting it in suitcase in the plane, I normally put the breakable items in my hand luggage. I love shells! But of course you have to be careful with that, check if you have special pieces and what you can and cannot take. For me strolling along the beach and looking for shells or other natural object is an activity a really like. I bought an amazing dreamcatcher in Colombia, all made of naturel pieces, like feathers, stones and wood.
I’m not too keen on buying art; I prefer to have my own pictures on my wall in my home. Although the best home piece I brought when travelling through Australia: a Peter Lik “art picture” of the Great Barrier Reef. I met the artist couple of days later, which made it more special looking at my wall back home.
Bali and Marrakesh are shopping heavens for buying souvenirs for your home and not even home jewelry and clothing too!!! So bring a big suitcase when travelling to both places.