What to bring home when we travel and why should we?
If the word “souvenir” reminds you of that little Eiffel Tower you or your friend brought from a trip to Paris, then you’re not wrong. We all have brought at least one of these tiny representative objects home after a trip, from the small London Red Bus to the miniature Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, souvenirs can be a lot more than that. Bought, gotten or even found, many things can symbolise a personal on-the-go narrative. To define things correctly, “souvenir” is a French word, closest to the English words “memory” or “remembrance”. The word also sometimes refers to something like a memento, supposed to remind you of a specific thing when you look at it. Knowing these definitions shows how broad the set of what can be a souvenir is.
Why do travellers buy souvenirs?
Many people like to take something home that reminds them of their trip. It can be for different purposes. It can be for themselves, to have something they can use as a physical connection with the great experience they had during this trip. It can also be to show friends or family where they have been. Or it can even be for aesthetic purposes if you find a beautiful piece of decoration that ends being both a souvenir and a practical thing. Usually, the souvenirs that people get for themselves are those where the type doesn’t matter: it can be anything, as long as they see a symbol in it.
Some may also buy souvenirs as a gift for relatives or friends. This way, they can show that they thought of them while they have been away. This time, the gifts are more often from traditional souvenir shops.
Unless there is a particular meaning to it, it might be awkward if your friend gives you a stone he found on the floor while travelling to Malaysia. Some also like to come in gift shops and buy whatever they want just so they can build a collection, or for any other personal reason. Who never thought of buying a magnet or a sticker of the flag of each country you visited? Who never thought of buying all the sizes of the small Eiffel Tower just for the sake of displaying them in your house?
How to choose unique souvenirs from gift shops
Gift shops are full of stuff you can buy and bring home. Here is a small list of what you can find:
- Postcards. You can either purchase simple ones or print your own with the help of Gogoprint, a quality printing company that allows you to customise not only postcards but also stickers, posters and everything that you want to print out.
- Replicas. Of the historical monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and models of something very local and representative, such as the London Black Cab. It’s a way to visualise physically something you saw in during your trip and remember how it looked realistically.
- Magnets. Pictures, flags, anything local. You can make your fridge colourful, thus remember your experience every time you eat or have a natural conversation-starter when you invite someone into your kitchen.
- Flags. Sticker, tissue, etc.. If you feel like you have developed a bond with the country you’re visiting, this is an excellent way to keep it alive.
- Keyrings. Always with you when you’re outside, you will never forget them.
- Themed clothes. In the family of the “I love [city]” T-shirt. When you want something that you can wear or use for the practical life while remembering your trip, this is the way to go. It’s easy to find what you’re looking for in a gift shop if you already have an idea of what you want.
Unique things to the country you visit
It is something you probably notice when you travel: wherever you go, people think and do things differently. One of the reasons is that the place where they live forced their ancestors to adapt to a civilised lifestyle, and this is what gave birth to what became today unique artworks, food and local produce you’ll never find anywhere else than in those specific places.
Now, the question is: what should I bring that I don’t have at home when I visit a place. Here is a list of souvenirs ideas:
- Artisan products: Iconic local arts and crafts such as aboriginal arts and Australian made products, carpets in Morocco, hand-made bags in Portugal.
- Food: Local food that can survive on the way back home such as financiers in France, dried Mango in Thailand, local candies and cookies.
- Local produce: Local alcohols, local wines, beers, etc., locally produced comestible oils, local syrups, and many more locally made products.
Alternative ways of picking up local stuff
If you don’t like souvenir shops and still want to come back home with something in your hands, you can find natural alternatives. For instance, hotels are open to giving some of the material to its clients. We first have the obvious: consumable items such a soap, shampoo, stationery, etc. But some specific hotels are also flexible on other things: they sometimes consider bathrobes or slippers as promotional items. If you can fit them in your suitcase, they’ll make a great way to remember your stay. Of course, you shouldn’t steal anything that you’re not supposed to take.
Don’t forget the miscellaneous souvenirs you can find everywhere and bring home: a few coins or bills of the local currency, local travel books, maps, magazines, newspapers. All of these do a perfect job as a souvenir.
To sum it up, there are many ways of bringing home something that reminds you of your trip and many forms of finding each of them, and that’s what makes them so cool. After all, buying souvenirs is a part of the travel experience.
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