Have you ever bought a trinket home from a trip that you forget about in a matter of days? It’s a common experience!
It’s easy to breeze through the duty-free shops on your way home and pick up a few chocolate bars or a bottle of liquor - and sometimes that is the right thing to do. I’ve certainly done it myself.
But if you love to dig around for souvenirs and gifts that have a personal meaning and that reflect what was most meaningful to you about your trip, here are some fresh ideas to use on your next vacation.
Keep an eye out for things that don’t cost you anything. If you are looking for something that will spark a pleasant memory, those objects often come in our everyday interactions on a trip. Complimentary items on planes such as the socks they give you on an overseas flight or the rest of the unused lotion in hotels. Ticket stubs, programs, interesting city maps — all these things can remind you of the adventures and beautiful days you had during the trip.
Look to nature. Of course, bearing in mind the specific laws regarding transporting some material across borders (such as plants), there are natural objects that can mean much more than anything purchased in a store. A leaf or flower pressed in a book, a beautiful unique pebble, a jar of spices that you loved or sea salt. These are simple things that can be incorporated into your décor or everyday life at home that will make you smile every time you see or use them.
Boost your learning. Consider a book on the culture, language, history, music, or food of where you’ve visited. Or of a special event you attended.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Laura Palmer Peach of Kaufman Mercantile reminds readers that it’s okay to inquire at restaurants, bars or coffee shops if you can add the price of a cup or a dish to your bill. So, if you’ve had a particularly wonderful experience, share that enthusiasm with the waiter and ask if they’d be okay with you buying something to take home. Imagine sipping your morning tea or coffee from the very same cup you sipped from in Paris.
Something old, something new. An amazing adventure can be to scour antique shops for quirky treasures. If you have a reader in your life, a gorgeous old book might bring immense joy. Vintage postcards or photos can be a collector’s dream. Jewelry, scarves, cuff links, bags for yourself — these all give a glimpse into the style and history of that culture and make a statement. They don’t need to be fancy or expensive. Plus, you’ll have a great story to tell with every compliment you receive.
If you’re going for something new, consider a practical item — something you can use in your everyday life that will bring happy memories. A new umbrella or a nice purse can be a great option. If you love to cook or bake, perhaps a cooking tool or recipe book would be perfect. Even a small musical instrument can be a great gift for kids — a small flute or shakers, for example.
Tell your own story. One cool thing about smart phones is that you have instant access to a world of creative sharing. Even if you don’t use your phone while you’re away, it can make a wonderful, portable, decent-quality camera and when you return, those photos can be easily turned into souvenir books for yourself.
Whatever your tastes, there are lots of ways to approach the idea of a souvenir that will have personal meaning for you and that will spark many wonderful memories months and years after you’ve returned. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate bars on your way out!