The Best (Inexpensive) Souvenirs
As a rule, we don’t buy souvenirs for their usefulness. A t-shirt from the Hard Rock Café or a shell sculpture from Hawaii isn’t going to increase your productivity — in fact, dusting it may just make your life that much harder. But souvenirs are good things to have: they’re meant to remind us of the amazing experiences we’ve had. Your souvenir doesn’t need to be useful or productive.
As you travel, there are many options for meaningful yet inexpensive souvenirs, which I like because that means I can save up and travel again that much faster. Personally, I also try to find souvenirs that I’ll have the opportunity to see in my day to day life, so that I have the benefit of my happy memories every time I put on a piece of clothing or walk by a pretty picture on my wall.
Use your camera. I take as many photos as I can when I travel. And, while I get plenty of shots of the local sites, I also make a point of taking photos of the people I travel with and the friends I make along the way. After I get home, I don’t let my photos languish in a scrapbook. Instead, I do things with them:
- print and hang photos on my wall
- use photos as wallpapers on my desktop
- make my photos into personalized cards, bookmarks and anything else I can think of
Buy local clothing. Instead of picking up yet another t-shirt emblazoned with a city name, try for something that you’d be excited to wear. I’ve found gorgeous embroidered tops in Morocco, beaded sandals in Israel and a fantastic rugby jersey in Ireland. And because I managed to find places that catered to a local clientele, I could, at the most expensive, pick up an outfit for the same price I would pay at home.
Find the local bookstores. I know plenty of people who like hitting up the local history section, but I prefer to find a couple of local authors who write fiction instead. My favorite find was a set of mystery novels set in Cardiff, written by a local man — I feel like I got a lot more local color than even a history of Cardiff could give me. And there’s nothing wrong with finding your local books at a used bookstore: local histories and such are notorious for rapidly going out of print, making a used bookstore a surprisingly good option.
There’s nothing wrong with a keychain or a coffee mug, but there are so many options beyond the hotel gift shop. If you have any time to just look around your destination, and find a small market, a used bookstore or any other opportunity for truly unique souvenirs, I highly recommend it.