When we’re travelling we can get caught up in buying all the little trinkets and souvenirs that we spot in the tourist hot-spots like markets and gift shops. But sometimes we get home with a whole bunch of stuffed toys and porcelain things that need dusting (and don’t go with anything we own) and we wonder what on earth we were thinking!! Only me?! Over the years I’ve learnt to hone my skills and buy things that will not only remind me of a place and time, but are also useful and loved. Here are my tips on how you can too.
For me, the best travel souvenirs are the ones that have a practical use too. They don’t just sit on the shelf (or worse in a plastic tub at the bottom of a closet) being forgotten about. Sometimes a trinket or two is nice, but other times they just end up taking up space and making us feel guilty that we can’t let go because of where we got them. I’m not judging here, I totally kept a spongebob squarepants toy that I own at Knotts Berry Farm for way longer than I needed to.
When I think about what to buy on my trip I like give myself an idea before I’ve left home. I think about what I don’t have that might add to my home if I found the perfect one. I like to have a range of things that might work, just in case they don’t have anything like what I was thinking of and I like to keep my options open. I love homewares, so I might buy a bowl made from a local producer or some really fun salt and pepper shakers that are in the shape of the guards at Buckingham Palace. If I really want something for my walls I like to look at both the tea towel designs (as they can be framed) and also the posters.
You can think clothing too, and not just the tacky “Lifeguard San Diego” style ones (Yes, I owned that too). You could get a leather jacket from your trip to Italy (like a friend of mine did) because you will wear that at home too. You could also look in the clothing stores and buy something that really suits you that you can’t get at home. When it comes to buying clothes though, you need to remember your usual style. Sometimes when holidaying in some destinations you can be very tempted to buy all the sarongs, even though they just don’t suit your climate back home.
If you’re struggling with ideas of where to start, think about what part of your home you love and would want something that reminds you of your trip. Mugs are a favourite in our home because you never know when one is going to break and they can be a bit touristy without sticking out like a sore thumb. My last 3 handbags were bought overseas (Dubai, Las Vegas and Kansas City) and I love the reminder that they give me when I use them. I think the key is to know what you like before you head off and try to keep that in mind for the trip.
As one last tip also have a think about what you can get easily in the destination you’re heading to that might not be so easy to find at home. I bought my snow boots and my winter puffer coat in the USA and they not only had more options but it was much better cost-wise too. Australia doesn’t do winter clothes very well and they are almost always on the very expensive side. Don’t buy them just for the sake of it, but if you will need them, it can be great on the wallet to get them somewhere they offer a range.
Most important to all of these tips is that you buy what you love. If you love it, it will make your home feel like a happier place to be and you will feel happier in it. And that’s what most of us are aiming for.
Do you buy practical travel souvenirs? Or are you more of the impulse purchase kind? (There’s no wrong answer, I promise!)