Going off for a vacation spurs that inevitable urge to buy interesting souvenirs to bring home that will remind you of the wonderful time that you are having now once you return to your “everyday” life. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to become fascinated with trinkets while we are on vacation that turn out to be not so interesting when we get home.
Here are a few basic rules to keep in mind as you wander through the many offerings displayed for tourists who want to capture a little bit of the enchantment of the journey…
Before you fall in love with that beautiful ram’s head fossil or authentic Civil War cannonball, consider that they will definitely weigh down your luggage and wear down your fascination with them in no time. Ideally, you’ll want to focus on “lightweight” souvenirs that don’t turn into a drag. Keep your eye out for the little things that say a lot — like key chains, patches, scarves and such.
It is oh so tempting to want to bring home those beautiful, delicate items like crystal goblets and fine bone china that you know would look spectacular in your collection, but you need to let your good sense prevail and think hard before you decide you just have to have it. It’s pretty disappointing to unwrap your precious purchase just to find that it has been damaged — or shattered — during transit. If you simply must have something that is fragile, it is probably best to ask the store to ship it directly to your home since they will — most likely — have experience in packaging it correctly and it won’t have to bump around in your luggage, which we all know gets handled pretty roughly when you’re not looking.
The freedom of being on holiday sometimes sends us to that “happy place” that releases our silly side — which is why we all love a vacation – but sometimes we get home and have a real “What was I thinking?” moment. Just because a plastic bobblehead doll of Ronald Reagan makes you laugh after a couple of margaritas under the palm trees, chances are you’re not going to find it so amusing — and potentially embarrassing — in just a few short weeks and it will probably wind up in the trash the very first time you move or have a good spring cleaning. Instead, keep a cool head, leave it on the shelf and opt for something practical that will remind you on a regular basis of the great time you had — like cooking mitts, hand towels, serving spoons or candlesticks.
You have to face the fact that when you’re traveling, your luggage, purses and pockets — and sometimes even accommodations — can be the target of thieves who prey on dazzled, carefree tourists. Therefore, purchasing something of great value that will have to travel along with you is often a recipe for disaster. Local craft jewelry featuring semi-precious stones and ores native to the region usually are relatively inexpensive and can become true treasures. Besides, they give you a chance to reminisce about your journey every time you wear them and someone asks, “Oh, that’s a interesting piece, wherever it did you get it?”
Keep in mind that not every souvenir that becomes a treasured favorite comes out of the store. Many freebies can hold great sentimental value, especially if you collect them as you go along. Giveaway items like luggage stickers, matchbooks, coasters and ticket stubs –well they aren’t actually free but you know what I mean – can be stashed away each night in little zip lock bags that poses no strain on your luggage. Also, most hotels have those fun little toiletry items that come in handy after you get home and run out of shampoo on some dark rainy night, and will bring a smile to your face when you remember you have them. Keep an eye out for items that you can put into your scrapbook as well, like flyers for local bands, coming events and civic celebrations that will remind you of that time in your history for years to come.
And last, but certainly not least, we come to the age-old favorite souvenir, the humble postcard. Postcards are, of course, a wonderful way to let people back home know you are having a great time. It’s always a good idea to grab a couple of extras to take home with you — or even better — write yourself a quick note about the wonderful time you’re having, put a local stamp on it and send it to yourself so you can reminisce once you are finally home and collect your mail.