A traveller’s guide to buying souvenirs

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Bringing the odd souvenir back home with you can be a great way of remembering your trip. You might also want to bring back gifts for friends and family. But what sort of souvenirs are worth buying? Do souvenirs simply take up unnecessary space in your backpack?

It really depends on what sort of person you are. Some of us like having a few special objects to remind us of a particular place whereas others are happier with photos or a journal. Needless to say, you trip should be defined by the experiences you’ve had, not by how many souvenirs you can bring home. However, if a souvenir is meaningful, it may be something that you treasure forever.

For example, is that novelty sombrero you bought in the airport really going to become a lasting reminder of that special trip? A good souvenir is usually something which you have picked up along the way that you had no intention of buying. Perhaps it will be a friendship bracelet from a fellow traveller you had a great time with or an unusual object you picked up at a market. Maybe it will be local, handmade item that you can get nowhere else in the world. Buying local souvenirs also means you’re supporting the people who made them rather than the touristy commercial stores.

As well as taking into account the meaning behind your souvenir, you do need to take practical considerations into account. Are you really going to appreciate that authentic wooden statue when you’re lugging it around for weeks on end in your backpack? If you really want to bring a larger item back with you, buy it at the end of your trip. Otherwise, smaller items are generally easier. You also need to research what items you are allowed to take across borders. In some countries you may have difficulties with items such as food and seeds.

When it comes to buying gifts for other people, don’t go overboard. A small memento of your trip is fine, but spending all your money on gifts can be a drain on your funds. Consider sending postcards every few weeks to let people know that you are thinking of them.

Don’t neglect the value of photographs. Having lots of photos of your trip can be just as good, if not better, than bringing lots of souvenirs back with you. Get them framed and displayed around your house or make them into a scrapbook. Photos can be a much more visual way of reliving those special memories.

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Emma

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