What's with the flamingo?

Rodrigo Flamingo - travel mascot in Caribbean

What is a Travel Mascot?

A travel mascot is an inanimate object, usually a toy, that is supposed to bring good luck on one's travels or to represent a person, brand or idea while travelling. It can also act as a single souvenir that represents all the travelling a person or group does. 

They originally took the form of garden gnomes. The prank known as 'gnoming' began in the 1980s in Australia. This is where garden gnomes are stolen from gardens, photographed around the world and then returned to their original owner with pictures of their adventures. The prank became more well-known when it was included in the movie Amelie and eventually, became the basis of Travelocity's 'Roaming Gnome' campaign. Effigies of friends or family members (whose travel plans have sometimes failed) are also commonly used as mascots. But these days, travel mascots take many other forms too

Travelling flamingo in St. Petersburg


Once upon a time early in the 20th century, there lived a girl in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg who longed for something tacky to adorn her lawn. If she journeyed into the East Rand, garden gnomes were in abundance. If she went to the West, there were wagon wheel fences. And, in both, one could find letterboxes made to look like wooden barrels. Throughout her city, though, lawn flamingos remained rare and elusive.
 (Yes, this was long before they became commonly available at the Crazy Store.)

Travelling flamingo toy in Jungfraujoch

One day, she journeyed to North America to sail one of the seven seas. While swimming off the quiet Island of Cozumel, Mexico, she met a scuba-diving instructor with crazy blue eyes named Rodrigo, who gave her some snorkelling advice. He also tried to convince her that his future happiness was based on the hope that she would one day return to the island and allow him to drive her into the sunset on his scooter. Terrified that she had stepped into a bad bad romance novel, the girl fled the quiet seaside bar never to return again (on that contract), unaware of the fact that she was leaving her beloved SPF 50 (and the secret to her non-tan) behind.

Lawn flamingo in London

Upon her return to her ship's American home port, the girl set off to replace her much needed sunscreen and there, in the discount section of Target, she found the Lawn Flamingo she had always wanted. She named him after the very forward Mexican guy, and the pair set off across the sea to the Bahamas and inland through the USA, in search of adventure and the two-storey Barbie house at the Toys R Us in Times Square (which they found).

Lawn flamingo travel mascot in New York

They then travelled throughout Europe, held up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, watched the sunset from the Eiffel Tower, crossed the London Bridge, visited the Vatican and befriended obscene gnomes in Germany. Their tamer adventures in South Africa consisted mostly of surviving a particularly wild house cat. 
After visiting six of the seven continents (bypassing Antarctica, it's cold, no one needs to go there), Sharon intends to take Rodrigo to Cozumel, to find that scuba-diving instructor who inspired the shopping trip that resulted in his purchase, allow him to drive them around the island on his scooter and see if he remembers her after all.

Travel mascot at leaning tower of Pisa

Countries and Territories this Travel Toy has Visited so Far:


  2. The Bahamas 
  3. The Turks and Caicos 
  4. South Africa
  5. England
  6. France
  7. Switzerland
  8. Austria
  9. Germany
  10. Italy
  11. The Vatican City
  12. Greece
  13. Slovakia
  14. Slovenia
  15. Czech Republic
  16. Belgium
  17. The Netherlands
  18. Mozambique
  19. St. Maarten (The Netherlands / France)
  20. U.S Virgin Islands (USA)
  21. Anguilla (Britain)
  22. Mexico
  23. Jamaica

  25. Belize

  27. Costa Rica

  28. The Azores (Portugal)

  29. Denmark

  30. Estonia

  31. Russia

  32. Finland

  33. Sweden 

  34. Norway 

  36. Northern Ireland 

  37. Scotland 

  38. The British Virgin Islands

  39. Zimbabwe

  40. Bermuda

  41. Canada

  42. Antigua & Barbuda

  43. St. Lucia

  44. Martinique (France)
Puerto Rico (USA)

  47. St. Kitts & Nevis

  48. Aruba

  51. Grenada

  53. Cuba
  54. India 
  55. Namibia

Plastic lawn flamingo and giraffe


Be sure to look for Rodrigo near well-known international landmarks. Even if you don't spot him, if you find yourself in a place he has visited before, you may discover one of these: 

Wynwood, Miami

(The QR code on them will direct you to this page.)

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