Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Suggestion for Non-Clutter-Creating Souvenirs

coffee mug, off-white
Photo: Heath Ceramics

As we travel, it's easy to get caught up in the moment, and buy something that's destined to live in the back of some closet. As Kim comments on Michelle Ule's blog:
When our girls were young, we made several trips to Disney World. We stayed on the property and immersed ourselves in all things Disney. By the end of the trip, we would manage to talk ourselves into buying something that made perfect sense in the moment that we’d never wear outside, in the real world: rhinestone mouse ears, a beautiful linen shirt with a life-size Goofy profile on the back, etc.
But souvenirs can also be wonderful, treasured possessions. Here's a story from Jessica Festa:
When I was in Bolivia, I purchased baby alpaca socks, one of the warmest varieties, for my dad to use when he goes hunting. He absolutely loved them, unlike the Loch Ness Monster figurine I bought him from a gift shop in Scotland – yes, bad move, not to mention he thought it was a dragon.
What makes a good souvenir? I've been reading some posts on The Kitchn this week, and they've been thought-provoking. Emily Ho likes to buy honey. Emma Christensen cherishes the single Heath Ceramics mug she bought in Sausalito.

Dana Veldon also has a treasured souvenir that gets a lot of use: a set of three café au lait bowls. She says:
Throughout the years I have used these bowls with much delight. They make excellent cereal, yogurt, and yes, café au lait bowls. They also make good soup bowls and excellent prep bowls. I use them several times a week and wash them carefully by hand. I get a lot of pleasure when I reach for them and when I do, I am always reminded of Paris and the beautiful, magical week I spent there.
And over on The Guardian, fashion designer Jimmy Choo shares his favorite souvenir: a tie.
Whenever I travel to Malaysia, my home country and the place where I spend my holidays, I buy batik. ... I love the batik tie I bought during my last trip. The fine quality of the batik and the elegant print make it a perfect tie to wear with a black suit and a white shirt.
As I read these stories, I see some common themes. Many of the best souvenirs are intensely personal, and they don't scream "souvenir." Instead, they are things that get used — with each use bringing back good memories.

Of course, other types of souvenirs appeal to people, too. Some collect refrigerator magnets, thimbles, Christmas ornaments, etc. Local artwork to decorate your home or office can also be wonderful; I've bought that type of item myself.

But I'm also still using a wallet I picked up in Florence back in 1997, and it still brings back fond memories — and it's still looking good. (I can't believe it's that old!) And I still get a kick out of the Guinness Stout drinking glass I got in Singapore in 1985 — and I use it all the time.

Let me close with Lauri Mueller's thoughts, on Travellerspoint:
I buy far fewer souvenirs than I used to and I'm much more likely to spend money on unique experiences that create memories than an object. Now when I decide to buy something it has to have significant meaning or [be] something unique I want to use in real life, like a piece of clothing or jewelry. ... I think that's the evolution of every traveller. You find out what things best remind you of your travels forever and what ends up in the garage sale.
Related posts:
Souvenirs: Select with Caution
Souvenir Advice from Susan Allen Toth
When Traveling, Do You Bring an Extra Bag for Souvenirs?


Anonymous said...

Hi Jeri, I really enjoyed your article about non-clutter souvenirs. These are fabulous tips that you shared. I sent it out on Twitter for others to benefit from. ~Thea

smartakus said...

I travel a lot and I can't resist buying a souvenir now and then. I finally figured out how to contain them. I only buy Christmas ornaments (if it can be hung by a hook on a tree, it qualifies!). This way we only see our souvenirs once a year, we enjoy remembering the places we've visited as we unpack the ornaments, and then in January they go back into the box. Minimum clutter, maximum enjoyment.

Get Organized Already said...

@smartakus That is a terrific idea!

I have a gorgeous jewelry box from Italy which I use 2-3 times a week. And a cocktail tray from our honeymoon gets used a lot.
It's so nice to have beautiful things to remind you of a beautiful place. The trick is to figure out how many things to have before it feels like too much!
We are all different in that regard. Aren't we?

Great ideas here.