To buy or not to buy? Well…that depends. A few things to consider:
- How much farther are you traveling? Do you want to carry the item around with you that whole time?
- Do you have any weight/size/piece constraints for the trip back home?
- Is the item made of any materials that cannot be transported to your home country? Wood materials, for example, can have restrictions.
- Could the souvenir be impacted by weather? Trying to keep a poster dry in monsoon season could be challenging. Chocolate in extreme heat result in a big mess.
- Does your home lifestyle and space accommodate the souvenir?
- How much are you willing to spend (e.g., shipping, price of the item, etc.)?
- Buying for others? Do you know what they want (or more importantly, don’t want)?
I have been downsizing and decluttering lately so I now tend to choose very minimal souvenirs (if at all), since my preference is to just bring back memories and photos. Having been through a purge in order to fund my initial travel, I also have developed a “think before you buy” approach. I make a list in advance of friends and family who might want a souvenir and find out what interests they have so I know exactly what to select. I have one friend who loves when I bring back small bags of local coffee beans. Another prefers the chocolate bar. One prefers anything in miniature scale because she does not have much space to store.
Sometimes I leverage travel as an opportunity to purge my closet. If I have clothing that is culturally and regionally appropriate that I can bring with me when I travel, wear throughout my trip, launder inexpensively and then leave for a kind housekeeper or local friend I meet along the way, that helps me not to have to re-pack those items to bring home. It creates space in my bag in case I do want to bring home a souvenir, brightens someone’s day who might not otherwise be able to afford the items, and then I have an excuse to buy a shirt or scarf to promote the local economy too.
When I began traveling, it was common to see international flags stitched on backpacks, hanging from luggage tags or displayed on clothing. While that was not practical for me (I hate sewing), I still thought it would be fun to collect destination flags to commemorate my experiences around the world so I opted for those below. It helps me remember my country count and random flag trivia.