How many times have you gone on vacation and brought home the most hideous, outrageous souvenirs? These little gems were a great idea at the time, but once you unpacked your bag and rediscovered these items, you were horrified you spent money on something that will never be used again. These items will be relegated to a box to be shoved in the back of your closet, or worse, placed in storage only be forgotten.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not innocent. I have been a victim of some awful vacation souvenirs plenty of times. But when the temptation to buy kitschy trinkets is at its highest, I simply remind myself I don’t want any more junk in my home.
Here are some of my own personal “do’s” for purchasing souvenirs:
DO buy post cards. They’re inexpensive and a great reminder of the individual places you visited. My favorite thing to do is buy post cards (the more vintage, the better), recreate the image, and frame it just like the post card using my own camera. This is particularly fun if there are people in the post card.
One thing that’s kind of neat, is mailing post cards to yourself. Include a note to your future self detailing all the wonderful things you did that day. When you get home, these post cards are sure to bring a smile to your face, and will remind you of all the fun times you had, and places you visited.
DO buy something if you’re going to eat it, or plan on giving it to someone who will enjoy and appreciate it. Consider how practical it is to buy heavy items because you’ll have to tote them around for the duration of your trip. Or if you really want something, it might be worth it to use a mail service and ship it to your final destination.
DO buy something if you’re going to wear it a few times. This might be tricky if you’re buying for someone else, so be sure of the right sizes.
DO be creative. I usually save all my ticket stubs, brochures, and business cards and when I get home I create a scrap book. I try and take notes along the way so I can include funny memories in the scrap book or just a list of the places I visited daily. This is especially useful if you go on a whirlwind-type trip where you visit multiple places. If you decided to send post cards to yourself, include those in here as well.
DO buy something you like that is unique to the place you are visiting. I visited Florence, Italy, and bought a beautiful, hand-made leather wallet for myself. It is more than 10 years old and still looks beautiful. Every time I use my wallet, which is almost daily, I am reminded of my trip.
DO take lots of photos. Digital photography makes this so easy. I have never once returned from a trip and said I wish I didn’t take so many photos. It’s always the opposite. When you see a funny or silly item that you are tempted to buy, try taking a photo of you with the object. This is sometimes better than having the actual product itself.
Side note: Street vendors sometimes don’t appreciate folks grabbing their treasures for photo taking. Remember to be respectful and ask if you can take a quick photo, most often than not they are pleasantly agreeable.
Those are a few of my favorite souvenir buying tips. The bottom line is souvenirs are meant to serve as a remembrance of your travels. Enjoy your next trip fellow travelers, and rest easy knowing you are prepared to start shopping.
Or not, as the case may be.