The Souvenir Debate

After an offhand mention of souvenirs recently, several people commented on the topic, indluding Cyde Weys, who left this one:

And as for souvenirs while traveling, my solution is simple: I don’t buy them, period. Souvenirs are synonymous with schlock in my mind. I can return from a trip with the memory card in my digital camera full of pictures and have more than enough to remember the trip by. I don’t need a physical item to remind me of somewhere I’ve been; my memory is good enough.

I guess the question really is what value are souvenirs – or what are souvenirs – for the frugal traveler. For example, my idea of souvenir isn’t a snow globe or a t-shirt at all (although I do sometimes buy shot glasses for my father, who has an enormous collection). Typically, I don’t buy souvenirs for myself (I’m content with memories and pictures), but for others. Because of that, and because of my own lack of interest in the items, I don’t buy the usual souvenir junk.

I try to look for the following:

Distinctive postcards If I have time when traveling, I try to send a distinctive postcard to people I care about. It takes a few minutes and only a dollar or two, and it always raises a smile, as it’s a reminder that the human connection between the two of you is valuable. You were willing to stop on your trip and take the time to send them a quick note and a visual reminder.

Items that aren’t native to where I’m from The further I travel from home, the more unusual the fare becomes. Thus, I usually try to look for items that aren’t native to where I’m from, but aren’t tourist schlock, either. On one trip, I picked up some salmon that had been smoked overnight, flew home with it, and gave it to my father in the evening – he utterly loved it. That, to me, is a great souvenir, not some schlocky t-shirt.

An item the recipient will genuinely enjoy When I travel, I try as hard as I can to find a local chocolatier to get local chocolates for my wife. Sometimes I am successful – I found some incredible spicy chocolates on one trip – but other times, I end up with regional brands that aren’t particularly special but aren’t found in our local area either.

In short, I attempt to find things that have value outside of the context of the trip itself. I try to find things that would bring genuine enjoyment to the people that would receive it, like the simple and personal touch of a postcard or some distinctive chocolate for my wife. If it becomes an unwanted item, gathering dust or being only worn on weekends while cleaning the house, there’s no reason to bother.

In the end, souvenirs are in the same boat as any gift-giving situation: is it something that the recipient actually would enjoy and value? If you’re not sure of that answer, the souvenir should probably stay on the shelf.

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  1. Becky says:

    Besides taking pictures, postcards are usually my souvenir of choice. They cost about 50 cents and I use them when I make my scrapbook pages about the trip. I’ve found that making a page or two in my scrapbook about a trip is a WAY better souvenir than junk that would sit on a shelf :)

  2. Anitra says:

    This is the philosophy I bring to souvenirs, too. If I find something really neat, I will buy it (sometimes for me, sometimes for family) as a souvenir, regardless of how “authentic” it may be to that particular area. I had a nice hairband for years that made me think of Ireland – it wasn’t particularly Irish or Celtic, but I bought it on a trip to Ireland because it caught my eye.

    Postcards are especially good when they have quality pictures of something you can’t take a good picture of (certain nature scenes that would require a plane or boat, insides of cathedrals, etc.)

  3. rstlne says:

    I always look out for postcards of the local area when I travel. I’m on the Postcrossing international postcard exchange and any scene outside of the major cities would be new to overseas participants and would be well-received.

  4. Zulu says:

    I travel quite a bit, and I used to really enjoy finding unique souvenirs. However, the internet has changed things in that just about everything is available online. I used to stop by Lilywhites in London to get soccer jerseys for my family. Now it’s cheaper to get on the internet …

    I’ll pretty much only get something that I think is so unique that there’s no chance of ever getting it online, like my prized Jesus shotglass from Rio ;)

  5. clevelis says:

    I agree, pictures, memories, postcards and useful items are the way to go.

    Another factor for me is time. Unless it is one of those specialty shops that I may not get back to later in the trip, then I may buy a must-have if it passes the 10 second rule/debate. Otherwise, I will wait until the end of the trip to determine what, if any, gifts I will purchase. This helps me to keep perspective on spending and increases my take home $ta$h.

    Lastly, where possible, my favorite shopping experiences involve haggling. I love it and am quite good at it. :o)

  6. Mark says:

    I rarely buy souvenir’s as gifts for others but get them for either myself or my wife. I will get myself a t-shirt from time to time but only if I find it especially interesting and story worthy (Hey where’d you get that shirt…). My wife collects shot glasses so I usually pick one of those up even though they all seem to fall into the “schlocky” category for me.

    The other thing my wife and I do when we travel together is pick up a Christmas ornament from where we travel. They are usually cheap and when we are decorating our tree provide a chance to talk about the trip and the memories.

  7. sab says:

    Someone mentioned in the previous post that they like to give/receive floaty souvenir pens. I liked this idea…they’re inexpensive, useful, and a nice reminder of the trip everytime you use it.

    My personal preference though, is pictures…with email nowadays its free and easy to send off a picture of you by a monument or something showing where you’ve been. You can even do online scrapbooking.

  8. StaceyB says:

    I’m not a kitchy/souvenier type person either. I knit, so I’ll try to find some locally produced yarns when I travel, which I usually knit some type of scarf with. I also like interesting cookie cutters. During a trip to Scotland, I bought wooden hand carved shortbread molds (Scottish Thistle) that always remind me of my trip. I’ll also check out any local foods to try as well. I always try for something practical, useful, unique and pretty.

  9. Sairen says:

    I like finding attractive artwork from a place, particularly something done by a local artist. Usually that means wall art – a print or a painting – but sometimes an attractive piece of sculpture. It evokes the place for me whenever I look at it, and avoids the kitschy feel of a snowglobe or magnet or tshirts.

  10. elaine says:

    In recent years my parents have started doing more international travel – something they plan to do as long as they’re healthy enough to manage it. They take 1-2 trips each year, and generously bring back several cultural items as souvenirs/gifts for my children and my siblings and I. While I love my hand-dyed tablecloth from Tibet, I wish they didn’t feel the need to bring multiple things for everyone (or even something every time.) Some of their choices seem to say “we thought we should bring you something” or “these were REALLY cheap!” rather than “we thought you’d really love this.”
    Without sounding ungrateful, how can I let them know that seeing their pictures and hearing their stories is all I want or need from their travels?

  11. Katie B. says:

    I don’t buy t-shirts, mugs, things like that. What I do enjoy buying is postcards and then framing them and using them for wall decor. You can switch the postcards out to if you’d like to rotate them.

    The one thing I MUST buy on vacations is an ornament for the Christmas tree. It’s wonderful to pull out each one and remember the trip it represents. My favorite ornament is from a cruise we went on. They didn’t have any ornaments in the gift shop, so we bought a souvenir key chain, took the key ring off and tied a gold ribbon through it and ta-da- an inexpensive, yet memory creating ornament.

  12. db says:

    I also buy postcards that get put into my scrapbook, along with other tidbits that I save like any theater tickets, brochures or other goodies from the trip.

    In fact, my favorite thing is when I find those travel brochures from something I did on my trip, because they are free and very scrapbookable!

    As far as souvenirs, I don’t want anything branded with the name of the location. What I like best is some little piece of artwork that will remind me of the trip but fits with my decor.

    For example, when I went to Corning NY on a business trip, I took a tour of the glass museum there. I happen to LOVE stained glass, and so I ended up buying a small (7×15) of a Tiffany stained glass window. It’s now one of my favorite pieces of home decor.

    When I went to Toronto & Algonquin Park I found a set of coasters replicating some famous Canadian landscapes from the 19th c. in a style that fits one of my favorite periods of art. I bought the coasters and turned them into little wall hangings to remember my time in Canada.

  13. Kat says:

    I find things that are native to the area or are something that people would really like and use. Or I try and do a food or wine that is special to the area if I can bring it back into the States. I also make sure I purchase something special for myself. I used to not do so and while I have the memories, sketches and photos, it is nice to have something physcial. Sometimes it is even something small, like a piece of discarded granite from a famous building. I guess that is free though.
    I do buy one super touristy thing though. Every city I visit, I purchase a small replica of the major monument. So in Paris it was the Effiel Tower, Seattle the Space needle, London the Tower Bridge, etc. I don’t buy the cheapest ones either, it has to be nice and sturdy and I give them to my parents. They have a table of my travels around the world. And they enjoy it.

  14. Marta says:

    @Katie B. – Love the Christmas ornament idea!

    @Stacey B. – One of my favorite souvenirs also turned out to be a craft project: a cross-stitch kit of a Kiwi from NZ.

    I also like collecting free coasters or matchbooks from pubs or restaurants I visit – they also look great in a scrapbook.

  15. kathy says:

    When we travel, my daughter always gets a tee shirt, which we will use to make a tee shirt quilt of all the places she’s been. I always buy something that I can use as an ornament on our Christmas tree. Oh yeah, and photos- lots of photos, which I keep as a slideshow on my computer.

  16. Cash says:

    I also like to get items that I can’t find back home. We have relatives out in California. When we go out there it is nice to bring home real sourdough from San Francisco or California Wine, but you can’t take that on a airplane.

  17. Tai says:

    I think that if you have the money to travel and you are traveling to the poorer parts of the world then it is selfish to not spend some money and buy at least a few items from the local people. This is how a lot of people survive in many areas. If you choose to just stay and eat at international chain hotels and go to the foreign run tourist tours etc then you are the “schmucks”

  18. sara says:

    Favorite souvenirs that I’ve collected:
    1. Antique key from a flea market i happened upon in Florence that’s hung on a beautiful ribbon from an Italian fabric store
    2. Piece of a Hawaiian coconut shell that we made into a Christmas Ornament
    3. Little clay heart that a Kazak girl gave me
    4. Pressed Flowers, found objects and local Newspaper excerpts(that I usually can’t read) that I keep in my sketchbooks
    5. My all time favorite was going into a local school raffle and buying a 1- euro ticket for an instant win prize. I won a scarf, which is a great souvenir, but also a great memory.

    I like getting things from real local stores, and love that each one has a wonderful memory associated with acquiring it. They’re also far cheaper (or free!), since they are just every day things.

  19. Aryn says:

    I do the ornaments, too. I splurge a little and get nice ones, especially if it’s from a place I’m unlikely to get back to soon. I’ve got one from my Irish honeymoon and three from National Parks I visited with my husband.

    My husband likes key chains and kitchen magnets. He has a display rack for his key chains, and of course we have a fridge full of magnets.

    If I don’t see an ornament I like, I tend to buy art – small prints from good street vendors or an inexpensive gallery. It doesn’t have to be a “local scene,” but should have the spirit of the place and remind me of it.

    I also like to pick up the free brochures and save ticket stubs from museums and such. That way I can make a “scrapbook” of sorts by sprinkling those in among the photos.

  20. Randy Hunt says:

    I’m not only frugal, but I’m very anti-clutter. I don’t like useless junk. However, I do like to have some sort of souvenir from the places I visit.

    When I travel, I take home two things that take up almost no space:

    First, I find a postcard. They’re available everywhere, usually cost less than $1, and they don’t take up any room in my luggage or in my home.

    Second, I keep the key card from my hotel room. I’ve already paid for the room, so the card is a free souvenir.

  21. Andy says:

    Match books from places visited. Free, but harder to find these days.

    Photos.

    Something I need anyway. Food is always good.

    If I do buy a gift for someone, it will be for an up coming birthday or Christmas. Again, this is something that I would have bought anyway.

  22. Elaine says:

    I just don’t go into souvenir/gift shops. Period.

    Smoked salmon strikes me as one of THE cheesiest tourist-gift-shop items, it’s usually next to tiny maple-leaf shaped bottles of maple syrup or a teddy bear dressed as a mountie. They don’t exist at regular-people-stores in Vancouver. :P

    I tend to look for yarn too, though I hadn’t thought of it as souvenir shopping till now. I just always like looking at yarn. I can only think of two souvenirs that I like/use, both of them from Tanzania. One is a bracelet that a woman I met gave me; doesn’t quite fit but I do have the jewelry tools to fix it now. The other is a cloth tote bag that I use for groceries or to hold my towel & swimsuit when I go to the beach/pool.

  23. Gina says:

    I’ve been collecting souvenir Christmas ornaments for years and now have enough to completely decorate a good-sized tree. I love it because I get a tangible reminder of my trip that evokes memories that even pictures can’t and I’m guaranteed to think about it twice a year – once as I take it out to put on the tree and again as I put it away. When I can, I write the year on my ornament with permanent marker or paint pen.

  24. MB says:

    First of all, the Christmas Tree ornament idea is brillian (I wish I had thought of that when I began traveling).

    I tend to buy high-quality local items that I can use in my daily life and remember the trips. My favorites are my lace table-runner from Greece and my crystal wine glasses from the Czech Republic.

    One thing I’ve been thinking about doing is getting small flags from each country I’ve visited and having them made into a quilt. Something like a T-shirt quilt, but with the flags instead.

  25. I picked up a habit when I travel of buying a canvas bag from wherever I am. (Sometimes I can find them, sometimes I can’t. In Fiji I bought an old flour sack that the locals convert to a shopping bag for use at the local market. It was $0.10 and a great buy!) I use them to do the grocery shopping and just about every week when the bags come out I can look at them and remember the vacation. They sure get more use and more “views” than any other souvenir I’ve ever bought.

  26. Michael says:

    My gf and I always buy a picture frame from places we travel. Sometimes they are pretty or artistic, sometimes gaudy and touristy. But it gives us a nice frame to put our favorite vacation pic(s) in when we get back.

  27. Shan-Oh says:

    When I first started travelling I did not have a camera, so I sent postcards home to myself. I continued that tradition even after I got my first digital camera…and now fifteen years later I have a great collection of postcards from my travels.

    This Christmas my husband made me a postcard rack (it turns just like at the store) and I’ve put all my postcards up there. At our holiday party it was an endless conversation starter, folks were reading them constantly! Art, memories and fun, all in one!

    I especially like buying my postcards from the shops located at the actual tour site – revenue from these types of sales help fund maintenance and upkeep. Much better there than along the tourist miles!

  28. Mr. Nickle says:

    The perfect souvenir: postcards. I buy 1-3 of them for myself. You can keep your entire collection in a photo album or a shoe box. Small, cheap, and a good memory (usually a better photo than you could take, yourself).

    I also buy patches for each country or region I visit to sew on my travel pack.

  29. Kim says:

    I’m a Disney World nut. I don’t buy many souvenirs, the one thing I do like to do is keep my park ticket from my first trip in my checkbook. It’s a constant reminder of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life and a great reminder of one of the reasons I am trying hard not to use that checkbook. I’d rather go back to the happoest place on earth than have the latest fashions or a new TV.

  30. My wife loves to collect coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets. I can usually get one of each for less than $10.

    Best Wishes,
    D4L

  31. clevelis says:

    @kathy: I love the t-shirt idea. While in Africa I collected quite a bit of clothing I would not wear once back home in America. An awesome crew member cut the clothes into strips and knit them into messenger bag that is now my favorite & most useful travel accessory.

  32. sp says:

    Postcards are fantastic, because they feature photos taken from a good angle or in good weather, conditions that you often cannot achieve with your own camera on the day that you visit. And I am not great at photo composition, so I like to leave that to the experts and buy the good shots on postcards.

    I buy blank adhesive address labels and write out addresses of friends before I leave, then tuck them in my wallet along with postcard-rate stamps. That way, I don’t have to waste time looking up addresses or trying to find a post office, and I can spend more time writing the messages and enjoying the scenery!

  33. @Tai – I have traveled to dirt poor places all around the globe, and I would never buy something from somebody because they are “in need”. I don’t need to bring home more junk, so if they want my money they need to offer me something of value. I generally DO only stay at locally owned lodging, and eat at locally owned restaurants, and use locally owned transportation, not to help the local economy, but because it is cheaper and a better value. If you want to help out impoverished people, there are FAR better ways to do than spending your money on their handicrafts and junk that you don’t need. In a lot of cases the people selling stuff or asking for money (especially children) are not working for themselves and have to turn in all of the earnings at the end of the day.

  34. Maureen says:

    Years ago in Irerland I bought an old brass door knocker in a antique/junk store. It only cost a few pounds but it still hangs on my front door to this day, and it still reminds me of Irerland.
    Buy practical things that will last.
    Maureen

  35. Jean says:

    We buy refrigerator magnets.

    But only the tackiest one we can find. At any gift shop this could take serious time! And yes — our frig is usually FULL of magnets, bits of newspaper featuring crazy stories…

    It’s our version of art.

  36. I prefer to bring home memories, experiences, and consumables not available in the same quality at home. Every vacation to Russia I come back with vodka, caviar, and chocolate. No one can ever take away your memories and experiences and they are fun to share with friends around the consumables. :)

    The one exception that I will make to these rules is a nice Christmas tree ornament. They are small, inexpensive, and beautiful.

  37. Shana says:

    I think it’s interesting that some people are talking about souvenirs as gifts for other people. I tend to think of souvenirs as gifts for *me* (though in disclosure, I’ve travelled for up to a year before, and carrying gifts for other people just doesn’t happen because bag space is precious, and it can be remarkably expensive to mail things). I have a tendency to buy jewelry wherever I go. It’s not that I buy ethnic jewelry, or that other people will look at a ring and say “Oh! That must be from Paris!” — but that *I* know where it came from. I often use travelling as a time where I will allow myself treats like that, because I certainly don’t spend the kind of money on single pieces of jewelry as I have when travelling. I also (generally) buy quality jewelry, and I know that what I have now will be pieces I have many, many years from now.

    As a holdover from my college days, I still buy lots of museum postcards. Just place them in a cheap-o glass and clip frame, and you have instant art.

  38. Tyler K says:

    I’m also not one who buys lots of kitchy stuff when I go on trips. This summer a bunch of my friends and I went to Las Vegas. The best souvenir I brought back was a $2 chip from one of the hotels. I only won about $22, but my first unsuccessful attempt to exchange the coins was quite eventful. One friend kept the receipt from a strip club we visited. I won’t elaborate… Another friend has a collection of cards that were being handed out on the streets. All great souvenirs because they remind us of the stories behind them and the great time we had. They were also pretty cheap except for the receipt. lol

  39. Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances says:

    I absolutely hate those tourist shops that sell the same crap as the next. I’m not big into souvenirs, but when I went to London I tried to find a few things to take home that had some meaning to them.

    For my husband, I ended up getting a CD from Westminster Abbey with music by Handel. For myself I got a reproduction in book form of the info they gave American soldiers visiting Britain in WWII since my father was one of them and I love history. Then I bought some tea for us and family. That was pretty much it.

    In general, though, I take lots of pictures. If I buy something, it better be something I can eat, wear, or really use because I don’t need to store any more ‘collections’. And I definitely don’t make a habit of buying souvenirs for other people, unless I’m buying it for a special occasion anyway and it’s something nice that will be meaningful to them.

  40. Oleg K. says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I wish more people took the philosophy described in this post to heart.

    It’s nice that I was thought of during someone’s trip, but I don’t need anymore plastic keychains or magnets with the name of the locale; those things just aren’t as special if I was not there.

    Bringing back good stories is what I like. I’d rather listen to those than put up with another piece of clutter.

  41. Jeanne says:

    Since I was a child, I made travel journals on trips. Get an inexpensive notebook, bring along some paperclips (you can permanently attach the items when you get home). I write a brief summary of the day, names and addresses of restaurants and hotels. Save cards, postcards, matchbooks, museum ticket stubs. It’s inexpensive, and a great way to review your trip. Especially helpful a few years later when someone asks if you can recommend places to visit from your trip! Just check your journal.

  42. Kacie says:

    I buy refrigerator magnets that represent places I visit. I don’t spend more than $5 for them, usually.

    Every time I open my fridge, I can see a reminder of a fun place.

  43. Sarah says:

    Like other posters, I try to get something of meaning if I buy any souvenirs. My last major trip was a 3 week tour of Europe in high school. Throughout my time there, I tried to find something special for each member of my family. This was partially as a “thank you” since my parents and grandparents helped me cover about half of the cost of the trip. For some people, this meant spending money (I got my grnadmother a leather box in Florence), for others it was free (my mom collect seashells, so I collected a bunch from a beach near Venice). When I did spend money, it was often more than what the typical tourist-y stuff would cost, but it actually had value to the person receiving it. A win-win in my book.

  44. LisaB says:

    For me, the important thing is value. Not just for me, but for the recipient. I went home for the holidays and wanted to bring back some souvenirs for people in my department who had been such a help to me in my first semester at grad school. Being your typical *struggling* grad student I couldn’t afford much. I bought some postcards and gave them out, telling a story about the places as I handed them over. The recipients enjoyed them and I did too.

  45. Liz says:

    My hubby and I went on a two-week whirlwind trip to Ireland, Italy and England over a dozen years ago. We knew going in that we wouldn’t have a whole lot of extra money for souvenirs, so I – as the official photographer of the family – took tons of photos of the entire trip. Once I edited them, they were enough to fill five or six 100-page albums (in case anyone is wondering, this was a 35mm film camera – way before the digital era). I made it a point not to take typical vacation photos, i.e., my hubby standing in front of some typical tourist attraction, but rather photos of things generally not seen in the U.S. My hubby still thinks some of my photos were a bit quirky – a Royal Mail postal box in Dublin, a tiny three-wheeled car (two in front and one in back, maybe a Cooper) in London, and so on, but I think they’re more representative of the trip than not.

    The other thing we did was to save all our tickets and receipts, no matter how small, as well as church bulletins, a couple newspapers, and even labels from snacks we bought along the way, which I bound into a scrapbook of sorts as a reminder of the trip.

    Finally, we still talk about aspects of the trip now. We have a lot of great memories of the people and experiences we had along the way, and it still stands out in my mind as one of the best vacations ever.

  46. Sue M. says:

    I discovered on my last trip that taking digital photos of the souvenirs was adequate. I don’t need another t-shirt, cap, shot glass, paperweight, etc., and I frequently just lose the post cards. Taking photos of the stuff is sometimes better, since you can share the photos with more people. Since some of the stuff is hilarious, it invites more stories to be shared.

  47. elizabeth says:

    My husband and I collect Hard Rock t-shirts from the places we go. This limits the buying, but also has special significants since our first Hard Rock visit was on our Honeymoon. We eat dessert and then buy the album t-shirt from that city. We have three so far and we take pictures of us while we are there to go with the t-shirts (we hang them on the wall…still sealed). But we only get them if we are together and there is one…and so far we have limited ourselves to one a year.

  48. Jen says:

    Postcards–yes! I buy them for myself when an image strikes me, but I love receiving them too.

    Jewelry–yes, it’s portable and durable, but buy it only if it will be worn. My hair spike from the Renaissance fair was well worth the $15.00.

    Another personal favorite, though, is cheesy socks from the tourist trap shops. I have one pair with little pictures of Shakespeare on them from the RSC gift shop in Stratford-upon-Avon (theatre geek!). Another pair shows a map of the New York subway. They make me chuckle every time I put them on, which is often.

    For me the rule is, don’t buy a souvenir just to have a souvenir. If you see something that will really be enjoyed, go for it. When in Scotland I sent my mom a birthday/Christmas gift that had nothing to do with Scotland, but it perfect for her and I’d never seen a similar item for sale in the U.S.

  49. Michelle says:

    My husband and I always buy a Christmas ornament when we travel–but it has to be non-commercial, like something hand-painted. When we can’t find an actual ornament, we substitute other objects and “make” ornaments. This year, our trip to see the sequoias is marked by a hand-varnished pine cone hung with gold thread.

    It’s wonderful to spend the end of the year looking back at the memories of where we’ve been together, and since the items are seasonal in nature I can keep them packed away the rest of the year without guilt that they’re being wasted.

    As far as gifts for others, I’m a photography buff, so more often than not people request a framed print of one of my landscapes from traveling.

  50. turbogeek says:

    @Michelle — my wife and I do the Christmas Ornament thing as well. It’s something small, displayed during a time of year that you take stock of your blessings, and easily stored the rest of the year. We’ve been doing ornaments for 12 years now, and love them as frugal souvenirs.

    I also like to keep the ‘free’ stuff from trips. A ticket stub from a musical in London, a subway ticket from Rome, and the like are 1) free, 2) mount easily in a scrapbook, 3) genuinely take you back mentally to the memory of the trip, and 4) they are free. (Did I say ‘free’ twice?)

  51. Tonya says:

    we do all our Chrismtas shopping on our Vacation ,,,, in fact we look for stuff ,,, on our Vacation ,, well cause we just hate shopping ,,,,, but we dont mind doing that ,,,,

  52. Margaret says:

    Elaine — why don’t you just tell your parents that you appreciate their thoughtfulness, but you are running out of room? If they feel they MUST buy stuff, then ask that they only bring back consumables. I have inlaws who do the same thing — they go on a trip, and they bring back TONS of stuff. Some of it is junky, some not. But assuming they give their other relatives a similar amount of stuff that they give to us (mainly our kids), they have to be spending hundreds of dollars. Crazy, and mainly clutter. I would rather they had spent an extra day or two on their vacation.

  53. consumer_q says:

    As a young child my family took many roadtrips. During one such summer trip we went to Disney World, but before leaving each of us children received a hooded sweatshirt a size too large. While at Disney World we collected patches, which were quickly sewn onto our sweatshirts. During the next couple years of roadtripping we continued to find, collect, and have patches from various tourist traps and locations sewn onto our sweatshirts. Twenty-six years later it is one of my most prized possessions. Looking at that small red sweatshirt covered in patches (front-to-back) brings a flood of fun memories.

    To this day, every once in a while I will pick up a patch during my travels and stuff it into a sweatshirt pocket. Eventually I will sew them on. ;)

  54. Londres says:

    I love souvenirs especially when they are very authentic or unusual.

  55. Jade says:

    I have a digital camera to take lots of pictures with. It’s a lot cheaper than the film I used to use, and I always come home with lots of pictures.

    Aside from pictures, I usually pick up at least one keychain to add to my collection of keychains from places I’ve been.

    Other than pictures and keychains, I only buy stuff that I’ve been looking for and haven’t been able to find anywhere else. I have some interesting jewelry and a few zip up fleece jackets I picked up in Mendocino (I have family up there so I go at least once a year), and on my last trip I found a lovely little hair clip that actually holds a decent amount of my hair.

    And whenever I stay at a hotel I always keep the key card for my room. My uncle got me started on this the first time I went to Vegas. He asked which hotel we were staying at and then asked for a key card if I wasn’t going to keep it since he had never stayed there before. I wanted to keep mine, but my boyfriend didn’t want to keep his, so it worked out.

    As for what I get for other people, I’ll send postcards, my friends will get keychains or refrigerator magnets, I have one friend I will get socks for because she seems to like whatever character socks I manage to find, or anything else that I know someone who wants it but they haven’t been able to find it anywhere.

    Oh, and whenever I stop by a bar or casino in Vegas I grab some matchbooks for my mom ;-) She says that hotel matches will light more easily than the ones you can buy in the store.

  56. Rosa Rugosa says:

    I seldom buy souvenirs per se, but I have bought a lot of our belongings while on vacation. We live in New England and usually vacation in New England, and I tend to favor areas with nice shopping prospects (coincidence?) like Portland, ME, Newport, RI, and the Berkshires in MA. These items range from paintings to dishtowels, and do add value in one way or another to our everyday lives, along with a pleasant little jolt of memory from a nice vacation. I also keep a mental list of upcoming birthdays, etc. and often purchase gifts while away. I think the paintings are the best, although the most expensive. I now have a nice little collection of paintings that ranged in cost from $150. – $275. from artists in the places I have visited. In terms of value for money spent, I do actually think they qualify as frugal. But I also have things like the sand dollars I collected from Prout’s Neck in ME and those were free.

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