You may have realised by now that I like to shop. I mean, I’m the travel blogger that wrote a shopping guide to Luang Prabang rather than a guide to the beautiful temples you can visit.
So after a year of saving money for travelling and cutting back on my spending habits to be able to afford this trip of a lifetime, I lost my shit when I was allowed to finally spend money again. It’s hard not to when you’re in an exotic land surrounded by beautiful one-of-a-kind trinkets and treasures.
But the key is to really think about the souvenirs you’re buying.
On my first big trip, a tour around America one summer, I really went overboard on the souvenirs. I had decided beforehand that I wanted to choose an item I could buy in every location, like a collection. And I settled on snow globes. Don’t ask me why.
So off I went, picking up a snow globe from every location.
This is why it was a bad decision.
- They’re fragile. I had to take up valuable space in my backpack with not only the snow globes but the endless bubble wrap to protect them.
- They’re tacky. I now have these fellas on a shelf on the inside of my wardrobe, out of sight. I can’t throw them away because memories. I can’t put them on display because ugly. Catch 22.
If this was my only USA purchase, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But I also bought the following…
- Tacky photo frames from Hollywood and Vegas
- Foam finger from a baseball game in San Diego
- Playing cards from Vegas
- NYPD tee
- Teddy bear from Harvard University
- Teddy bear from Alcatraz
- Pens and keyrings all round
- ‘Drive In’ sign from Arizona
- 2 x artwork from Venice Beach
- Surfboard clock from Venice Beach
- A ton of postcards
I had a problem.
The only good souvenir choice I think I made in America is the badges I sewed onto my backpack. No space, no waste of money.
You’d think I would learn my lesson on my trip to Southeast Asia. I didn’t. I still bought a load of crap. Although my choices in souvenirs did improve. I decided to get things I could use in my house when I returned so it wouldn’t be useless snow globes…
- 2 x sequined elephant cushion covers from Luang Prabang
- 4 x silk cushion covers from Thailand
- Tablecloth from Cambodia
- Buddha ornament from Thailand
- Buddha ornament from Vietnam
- Elephant ornament from Thailand
- Paintings from Vietnam
- Coasters from Thailand
- Gold trinket from Vietnam
- Badges for my backpack
- A ton of postcards
Slightly improved right?! But still, I’ll never use those silk cushion covers. And i don’t know why I keep buying postcards? Surely I have my own photos to look at?
So what was the moral of this story?
- Don’t buy souvenirs that are just going to fill your house with shit.
- Buy souvenirs you are actually going to use.
- Don’t buy lots of artwork to frame if you don’t have that much space on your walls.
- Try to subdue the crazy woman that comes alive inside of you the moment you step into the gift shop.
A good tip that I’m going to try to follow on my travels going forwards is to buy something you will use at home like a kitchen utensil or hand painted casserole dish. You’ll be reminded of your trip everyday.
Another one I’ve attempted is to buy Christmas decorations from everywhere I go. Although I bought a nutcracker decoration from Bruges, Belgium, and then forgot about my plan in subsequent travels. I might take that one up again.
So wish me luck on my quest to stop being a souveniraholic, and good luck with your travel purchases!
What souvenirs do you buy on your travels? Leave a comment below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!