Think twice: will you wear this once you get home? Credit:Ana Yacobi
Throughout the years, I have bought, and received, a lot of souvenirs. Little things, or not so little things, that I have picked up on travels to remind me of where I have been, and what I did there. Traveling relatives and friends have also picked up gifts here and there. Most of these things have been thrown out or packed away- not because I didn't appreciate the thought, but because I didn't have any use for them and they took up too much space.
Traditional souvenirs have the name of the location prominently displayed. They are usually impractical and cheaply made. Most are marketing tools that we, as tourists, pay for, so that we can bring our treasured memento home and advertise for the company in the comfort of our own living rooms. Whoever thought this idea up was a genius. While they are great show-and-tell pieces when telling others about our travels, they usually don't have a long term place in our lives. Eventually, they will be packed away and forgotten about to make room for something else.
I am definitely not saying that souvenirs are bad. I love them- the cheesy t-shirts, the stuffed animals, the magnets¦ I just think that there is a better way to preserve our memories. And, really, how many of us make the I Heart Atlanta t-shirt one of our fashion staples? Aren't there better things to spend $25 on?
Souvenirs should be something special and personal that remind you of the great time you had on your vacation. Did you visit the beach? Pick up a few shells. How about the ticket stubs for that fantastic show you went to see? How about the work of a local painter or photographer? Purchasing the work of local artists not only gives you a souvenir you can proudly display for years to come, but also helps the local economy of the area you're visiting. Postcards are cheap, and make great mementos. Not to mention, the pictures are probably better than most of us would take on our own. Souvenir cups or mugs are great because they're useful both during the trip and at home. They are definitely a better alternative to using the foam coffee cups that come in most budget hotel rooms.
What do you collect? I love buffalos. So if I can find a buffalo anything at the place I'm visiting, it's coming home with me. Cheesy or not. I know a lot of people who collect those tiny spoons, wind chimes, or even business cards. These things always make great souvenirs, because they are special to you.
There are some great souvenirs out there, available at almost every vacation spot in the world. That doesn't mean you have to buy them. Find mementos that suit your personal tastes and style. One small, but special, souvenir is worth more than all of the shirt-wearing teddy bears or plastic snow globes in the world.
Want some more great souvenir ideas? Check out this post at The Simple Dollar. They've listed some wonderful tips for finding meaningful mementos.
What are some souvenirs that you've brought home? Which ones were the most special?