After travelling around the world via every method from backpacking to luxury travel, I’ve noticed a common pattern. Souvenirs suck.
Allow me to explain…
It is rare that I find myself back in Canada, surrounded by the comforts of home, that I pull out a pair of Aladdin-like pants from Turkey and think ‘I can’t wait to wear those again!’ Or how about those itchy mittens from Peru? Or those wooden earrings from Antigua? See, you’re starting to notice a pattern here…despite spending my hard-earned money on such ‘must-haves’ overseas and lugging them around in my already over-packed bag, I NEVER ever end up using them. And don’t even get me started on people who bring home T-shirts as a ‘gift.’
I’m a strong believer in passing along things like liquor, chocolate or a Cuban cigar—not a cheesy T-shirt from a place your giftee has likely never even been to.
That’s not to say I don’t buy souvenirs anymore. In fact, I have a prized collection of shot glasses from every single country I have ever visited. (Side note: shot glasses are hard to track down in Muslim countries!). I also pick up a Starbucks mug for my mom from different countries to add to her impressive stash—though those are not nearly as easy to carry around. And I’m always sure to bring home a bottle of booze, whether it’s Absinthe from the Czech Republic, Sake from Japan or Ouzo from Greece.
Oh wait, another pattern has emerged—my ridiculous urge to cart around breakable items.
There was that one time I was starting off a seven-week trip through Europe, when three days in I visited the Champagne region in France. Not content to simply pick up a bottle of bubbly, my friend and I BOTH decided we needed to buy six champagne flutes. Let me tell you, that is about the worst thing you can truck around while backpacking. Incredibly, they all made it home in one piece!
I have a friend who is much smarter than me, who buys a little flag from every country she visits, which obviously have much less of a chance of shattering all over your luggage. A quick Twitter poll also revealed that some festive folks collect Christmas tree decorations, while others grab refrigerator magnets. I think these are great examples of picking up something that’s actually meaningful to you, versus crap you will never have any use for.
My new thing is to skip the shopping once I’ve picked up that treasured shot glass, and spend my time actually enjoying the destination. I can always go to the mall on a rainy afternoon back home.
Is there a souvenir you always make sure to pick up on vacation? Comment below, or tweet me.
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