I don’t buy myself souvenirs when I travel, mostly because I’m cheap. I love clothes and lipstick, but otherwise I’m not a “thing” person. I am a food person, but most of what I want to bring home is liquid; local honey or you know, about twenty bottles of olive oil, which certainly would exceed the 3 ounce limit imposed by airport security.
Also, I just don’t have any extra room in my backpack.
Also, shopping is boring and takes valuable time from more important activities, such as picnicking in front of cathedrals.
Also, I’m cheap.
I do end up with souvenirs, though, such as these real estate agent business cards from Estonia. (I collect real estate agent cards—the kind with portraits—from around the world. Want to send me some?)
Travel tissue makes a good, accidental souvenir. When I was growing up there were a few wealthy kids who would go skiing in large resorts and wear their ski lift tags all stacked up on their jackets for months afterwards like pretentious twerps. I like to channel the twerps of my youth and ostentatiously pull a tissue packet from my pocket, as if to say “Oh dear, do I still have this old Kleenex from Taipei in my pocket? And my gawd can you believe how scratchy they make the hankies in Zagreb?”
Getting souvenirs for other people—especially those excellent people who take care of your cat or cover for you at your job while you’re out buying Albanian Kleenex—is just good manners.
When buying souvenirs for others I look for locally made crafts, such as this papier-mâché bird from a farm on the Estonian/Russia border or the shadow puppet from the Muslim market in X’ian.
HOB and I gave these painted eggs from Romania as a wedding gift to friends who married shortly after we returned from our trip.
Foreign junk food makes a funny souvenir, though I find that locally made chocolate is better received. (Don’t tell anyone but I often “accidentally” buy an extra chocolate bar to get out on the airplane when HOB’s being cranky.)
Best souvenir of all? Muddy shoes. I can rinse them, but that stained memory of a unique cultural experience will never wash out of my walking shoes. Call me cheesy (hell, I know I’m cheesy) but you can keep the souvenir spoon because I got to keep the trip.
Do you buy travel souvenirs? If so, what?