Clutter from any other country is still clutter! Buy these 6 souvenirs instead.
Next week I leave for a trip that’s been on my bucket list for more than 10 years: London and Paris with two of my nieces. We’ve been talking about it since the oldest was 6 and now it’s here!
With my sister-in-law and my fiancé and his two kids, we will be a group of seven, gallivanting around the cities and taking in the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes. I CANNOT WAIT!
Souvenir is French for “to remember,” and no doubt we (especially the kids) are going to want to bring some home so we can look back years from now and recall our magnificent trip. And the kids will want to bring back some “wish you were here” gifts for their friends. (Note: No adult wants a souvenir from a trip they didn’t go on... unless it’s edible!)
However, my sister-in-law and I are both clutter busters, and neither of us wants a bunch of cheap tchotchkes coming into the house. No snow globes or Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts for us, no siree. So I’ve compiled a list of non-cluttery souvenirs that we (and you) will actually enjoy.
If you are a wearer of bling, pick up a beautiful ring, earrings, or necklace. Many destinations have high-quality jewelry REALLY cheap, and even if it’s pricey, it’s a gift to yourself that will last a long time.
I still have a gold ring that I bought in Paris in 1989, and I have several pairs of silver earrings I bought in Thailand in 2010. I wear them at least once a week and the memories come back every single time.
Food & drink
Smells and tastes are closely linked with memory, so when you smell that truffle oil and taste that Sangiovese, you’ll be transported back to Tuscany in a heartbeat. Shop in a local grocery store rather than a gift shop for more authentic foods and a peek into the local culture.
Ask lots of questions while you’re there...shoppers and shopkeepers are always proud of their local cuisine!
Make sure you know the laws about what you can bring back into the U.S. I once watched a couple pounds of prosciutto go from my hands into a trash bin at Customs. I may or may not have cried.
Every country or city has its own unique art, whether it’s made by artists on the street or sold in a high-end gallery. It can come in many shapes and sizes: wooden folk art figurines, hanging mobiles, blown glass ornaments, clay sculptures, you name it.
When displayed in your home, a piece of art makes a great conversation starter, giving you a chance to retell stories from your trip.
My future mother-in-law is from Sweden and we all have lots of adorable Scandinavian Christmas decorations...little straw ornaments, a candelabra, spinning candle chimes. They make her feel at home, and they make us long to go back and visit family.
Bonus points if you travel during the holidays...your decorations will recall the smells and sounds of the season.
I’m not talking about “Don’t Mess with Texas” T-shirts here, I’m talking about clothing that reflects the style of your trip’s place and time.
Make sure to choose something you’ll actually wear when you get home. When it’s 100 degrees in Boston, you’ll love pulling out the gauzy dress you bought in Greece and kicking back with some olives and tzatziki.
This is a no-brainer! I used to take a big Nikon camera on every trip and spend too much time getting just the right shots, transferring them to a hard drive, and worrying about losing the files.
Now I have a Google Pixel 2 phone that takes photos as good as my Nikon did and uploads them to the cloud instantly.
When I get home I order prints of my favorites and make a photo board by pinning them onto a piece of foam insulation edged with white duct tape. Every day I walk by at least a hundred travel memories.
Just remember to put down the phone once in a while and enjoy the sites and sights through your own eyes.