Souvenirs are a wonderful way to remember past vacations and also the fun you had finding that souvenir. Sometimes finding that perfect memento becomes part of your vacation adventure and sometimes you might just happen upon the perfect thing accidentally. I have noticed there tends to be a few different types of souvenir shoppers. Which one are you?
#1 - The collector. If you have a specific item you like to bring back from every vacation then you are a collector. Your shopping is a little easier because you know what you are looking already. Although I guess sometimes being a collector can get tricky if you just cannot seem to find the item you collect at your destination. Collections can be a good way to easily look back at all the many places you have traveled but does it become more about the collection than the memories of the places you went?
#2 - The tacky tourist. Sorry to say it but if you love those cheap souvenir shops where everything sold in that store is plastered with the name of the city or country everywhere then you are tacky. Sure the cheap junk makes it easy to bring back lots of stuff but does any of that really have meaning and will it make you remember anything from your vacation? Will the people you bring it back for even keep it for long? All that being said I will admit I still go on those stores too.
#3 - The it has to be authentic shopper. If you only want to bring back authentic, locally made, responsibly sourced items you are this type. You do your research before your trip to find out what your destination is most known for and you plan to track that down. While I do think these type of souvenirs have the most meaning they do also take a bit more work to find and they will cost you more. I do try to be this type of shopper but I am not set on only buying this type of stuff.
When in Camargue, France last year I loved that the Camargue Cross was very similar to my logo. While we were shopping that day we came across a shop selling porcelain art, including some in the shape of the Camargue Cross. The shop owner explained the meaning of the symbol - the anchor means hope, the heart means charity, and the cross means faith. She also explained that a local artist makes all the porcelain right in town and mentioned a little on the history of French porcelain. I hadn't sought out to buy something porcelain in France because it is authentic to the region but was glad I ended up with something very local. It is hanging in my office and it a great reminder of a really fun trip.
#4 - The I will know it when I see it shopper. If you tend to just happen upon something while traveling that you just think oh that is it, then you are this type. Your souvenirs might seem totally random to anyone else but to you they have meaning. I tend to be this type of shopper and sometimes it stinks when you just don't find anything that really speaks to you. I really want to find something I love and will remind me of the vacation even if it might not totally be something that has any connection to the area.
I have this keychain I bought on my first visit to Holland. We were shopping in a little local shop and they had one of those displays with keychains that have names. All the names were Dutch so it wasn't like I was looking for one but for some reason one just popped out at me. It seemed kind of silly to buy a keychain with a girl's name that wasn't mine or even in my language but it spoke to me so I bought it. After we came out of that store a group of school age girls came up to us asking if we spoke English. When we said yes they asked if we could help them with a school assignment to practice English. We of course were happy to take part. 5 years later I still have that keychain on my keys and it always reminds me of the group of girls we helped with their English.
No matter which type of shopper you are it is just nice to have some reminders of your past vacations around especially right now.
If you think you might be all of the above and just really love shopping of any kind let me know and I might be able to suggest some shopping tours for your next vacation.
Souvenir shopping is a part of traveling but you might not always know what to to buy. Part of what you buy while on vacation may depend on different things. If you are traveling without your kids you might be on the look out for something the kids will like. If you travel frequently you might not really want to bring much back at all but are looking to find that one special item that will remind you of just this trip. You might have a collection and there is that one particular thing you like to buy from everywhere you go.
#1 Collections - if you collect something in particular from each place you visit that can make your shopping a little easier since you already know what you are looking for. If you haven't started a collection yet but you want some ideas my suggestion would be to choose something small. Magnets from each city can be a good one since they are not too expensive and do not take up much space. Other things people tend to collect are mugs, pins, shot glasses, decals, snowglobes, ornaments, and key chains. These tend to be cheap souvenirs which can help if you don't want to spend much but on the other hand cheap also could be bad since usually it also means it most likely wasn't made in the place you visited.
#2 Authentic souvenirs - if you want to buy something that has more meaning to it you will want to find something that is made in the place you are visiting and maybe is something that area is really known for. If you do a quick google search you can find out what authentic souvenir to shop for wherever you visit. For example, when we visit the Netherlands we always bring back some cheese that is fresh off the farm. Wooden shoes might also be a fun authentic souvenir from Holland but if you are really looking for authentic it is best to find a shop where you can watch them being made, or at least just double check them to make sure they don't have a made in china sticker. Visiting a fair or outdoor market in the town square is usually a good place to find local items.
Alaska has set up the Made in Alaska program which makes it easy for you to know you are buying an item that is authentic and made right in Alaska.
#3 Clothing - My husband loves to buy a tee-shirt and hat for almost everywhere we visit. These can be a nice reminder of places you have been and is also more useful than some of the other things you might find in the tourist shops. You might also want to shop for clothing specific to that area, for example a wool sweater from Norway or kilt in Scotland. Clothing might also end up being a souvenir out of necessity like when you forget to pack something or when the weather isn't what you were expecting and you need something like a jacket.
#4 - Food and Drink items - this one kind of goes along with the authentic souvenirs since if you are buying food items they are most likely food that is associated with where you are visiting. I like to try chocolate just about anywhere we go even if that city or country might not be known for chocolate. Food can be a fun souvenir to share with friends and family when you return but just remember it is not exactly the longest lasting souvenir. Also it is important to make sure that any food or drink item you might be choosing to bring back it allowed back into your country as some things might be banned.
#5 - Photos/Postcards - photos are a great reminder of where you went and what you saw. If you are not the best photographer or you are visiting somewhere that is hard to really capture then postcards are great alternative to taking the photos yourself. Since I travel a lot I don't usually bring anything back for anyone but I do always try to send at least one postcard back to family. My dad collects stamps so the postcard is like 2 souvenirs in one for him.
No matter what type souvenir you choose it will be a nice reminder from your trip.
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