Travel

Swap pricey key chains and candles for cheap and unique souvenirs

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The journey back, however, usually leaves us feeling low as we return to the humdrum of our daily lives. Souvenir shops are only too aware of this and prey on these emotions at almost every tourist attraction around the world. These shops sell key chains, shot glasses, ashtrays, and all sorts of gimmicks that can remind us of a fabulous holiday.

There is a secret that the tourism industry is hiding: you can easily find other, less expensive ways of remembering a trip.

Painting on seashells: This option depends not only on whether there’s a beach at your destination, but also on the sustainability of the shells. Some shores have an abundance of seashells and taking a handful home won’t disrupt their ecosystem, while others may have a limited number in which case taking one can cause environmental issues. If painting isn’t your thing, you can always buy a rollerball pen to write or draw with.
Sand and rocks: While we’re on the topic of beaches and sustainability, sand and rocks also make for great inexpensive souvenirs. A simple clear jar will do for the collection and with a little imagination, you have a delightful personalized souvenir that also works great as a gift.
Unique hats: Buying clothes on vacation is a common practice but, I don’t exactly recall memories of my trip to Spain when I wear the pants I bought there. Hats, on the other hand, make for fun, lightweight souvenirs that you can wear on many occasions for years to come and remember exactly where you were when you purchased it.
Coasters or menus: Restaurants and food are generally an important part of almost every vacation. If you ask politely many will allow you to take a memento home. I have coasters and menus from dozens of restaurants around the world and glancing at them from time to time brings back the memories and deliciousness of each meal and the people I shared them with.
Something vintage: This can be tricky in a world filled with more and more cookie cutter shops. If time and patience does allow it, however, it’s well worth it. I once bought an antique book that goes nicely with my vintage clock-necklace and teacup.