Getting the right souvenir for your trip can be a tricky thing and the constant barrage of souvenir stands and ‘speciality goods’ does not help. There are a couple of different ways to approach the souvenir purchase – because, let’s face it, as much as people say memories are the best souvenirs, that’s not always true. Also, while having good photos to jog those memories and share share share – coming back with something from your trip is super satisfying. Who doesn’t love responding to a compliment by saying “Thanks, I got it in Paris.”
Here are a couple of things I’ve learned about getting the best souvenir for your trip. Tune in every Sunday as I share souvenir triumphs and mistakes from different locations: the good, the bad and the brilliant.
COLLECTIBLES: Pick one thing to buy and buy it on every trip. Like a mug, a key chain or a magnet. I don’t do this myself, but I know people who do and I get why: it’s fun to have a collection of things from around the world. It’s also fun to have a shopping mission, especially a cheap one. If this approach appeals to you, I would suggest picking something that is easy to find and has the destination of your trip on it. Also, try to buy one at each location – don’t just get a magnet that says France, get one that says Pairs, one that says Aix-en-Provence, one that says Chartres… you get the idea.
BIG PURCHASE: Decide on one special “big” thing. I like this strategy for locations that have a speciality associated with them and lots of options for shopping. Instead of coming back from Morocco with a bunch of little things, buy one fabulous rug. Set your price limit and stick to it. I recently employed this strategy on a trip to Paris. I bought a Celine bag. It was a pricey purchase, but I had planned for it. As soon as I bought my bag, I completely satisfied my shopping for the trip and was really able to focus on the art and food. Plus, every time I use it I remember Paris. Yes – I could have gotten it at the local Neiman’s, but then it wouldn’t seem as special to me. *know your price and don’t budge. If you are buying from a market, just remember to walk away. Another item will come buy that you like as much or the seller will often come after you and give you your price. Be firm.
VARIETY: I’ll take one of everything. Or the big variety. This is a strategy (or not really a strategy) I’ve used in the past. Particularly in India where you can find a lot of great textiles and craftsmanship for very low cost. This strategy can be tricky if you don’t keep track of yourself. In India I came back with about 20 scarfs…. 20! Most of which I have almost never worn in the years since. Remember to stick to a budget and to analyze the variety you want to take back. For instance, in India, I bought: handmade leather house shoes, scarfs, table linen and jewelry. I went there knowing I wanted jewelry and scarfs, but then discovered the leather shoes and linen. I did some reconnaissance shopping trips and then decided what and how much to buy… I did lose a little control with the scarfs. Shopping tip: if you are buying quite a bit, you will become a target in poorer countries. Remember to haggle and to make deals with shop keepers, especially if you are buying more than one item from them.
Hope this helps on your next trip – let me know what your strategy for souvenir shopping is below!