The first ever souvenir I bought with my own money (allowance) was a little sandcastle from Catalina Island back in 1997 or 1998. It cost $5, a very princely sum for me back then. I still have it at my parents’ home, in remarkably good condition. As I’ve started traveling more, I realized that it’s good to get a little something to remind me of a place, but I also wanted something that I can use in my daily life. The truly kitschy items can be interesting, but they take up space and I probably will tire of them once I get them back home. Instead, I have decided to get items that I can make use of everyday, and that aren’t emblazoned with names of the city.
Here are a few of my favorite souvenirs from my travels
My 3 tips for picking up unique and memorable souvenirs:
1. Visit vintage shops, street markets or farmer’s markets. Many times these venues will offer unique items for cheaper than the big tourist stores. A souvenir purchased during a sunny afternoon browsing through the a store or a market will remind you of that wonderful experience, versus something picked up before you run to your flight.
2. Check out museum shops, especially on smaller, off-the-beaten track museums. Some of the coolest items I’ve seen are in museum shops, and you have the added pleasure of knowing you’ve contributed to the operations of a nonprofit cultural institution. (If you are in London, I highly recommend Victoria & Albert Museum Shop).
3. Pick up free or cheap prints or advertisement (or your own pictures) and frame them when you are home, voila! Easy to transport, instant artwork for your home, and they’d make for interesting conversation when you have guests over.