Over the years I transformed from a cheesy “I heart X” collector to a picky traveller. Partially caused by the fact I started moving around a lot and the dust-attracting trinkets just didn’t pass the “I cannot live without” test, partially because I realised it makes more sense to have unique, meaningful souvenirs rather than a bunch of random stuff. Buying souvenirs is a whole science and here is my reasoning to finding the one.
Food. My first rule of souvenir shopping is: Go for what is produced or collected locally. Even if you are not a full-on foodie, it is still one of the best souvenirs you can get. A cute jam jar, some exotic spices or a bottle of local lager will bring back a relaxing memory of your recent trip to lighten up the post-holiday blues.
Clothes. Travelling is the perfect excuse to refresh your wardrobe. My second souvenir shopping rule is: Go practical. Clothes are essential, you can’t go around naked. Just stay away from the shops you can find back home—fabrics, patterns and trends vary across countries, and a trip to local markets can be incredibly inspiring. A dress I got in Mexico a couple of years back is still one of my favourite summer outfits and I haven’t seen a similar thing anywhere in Europe.
Evidence of good times. Rule number three: It’s got to be meaningful. If you like to keep clutter such as train tickets, theatre programmes, cool business cards from shops and restaurants, they can make meaningful souvenirs when used as bookmarks, combined into a collage, pinned on a board. And if you decide you don’t want them anymore, you can just recycle them.
Random stuff, my favourite. After all, you are on holiday and rules don’t apply. Quite often the best souvenirs are the bizarre ones, the souvenirs that don’t make sense to anyone else, that are a sort of an inside joke between you and your travel destination. A limited-edition coke bottle from France. Coasters from pubs in Dublin. A mini wine bottle filled up with colourful pebbles.
Cheesy and tacky souvenirs won’t hurt; they’ll still bring a smile on your face. It’s just good to remember a souvenir can be so much more than an Eiffel Tower keyring made in China.
Monika is from Southampton, a town in southern England known for sending Titanic off on its maiden voyage. She is a languages geek and suffers from an incurable travel bug; her dream destination right now is Argentina. She loves bacon, owns too many pairs of boots and is rubbish at cooking. She runs a little travel blog: mktravelling.wordpress.com