Souvenirs are an essential part of any holiday and while for the most part, holiday souvenirs are pure ‘tat’ and items almost produced with an immediate future in a dustbin somewhere, other pieces of holiday souvenirs can easily become treasured items that are reminders of the amazing time you had away.
Here are a few hints and tips to help you on your way when souvenir hunting…
1.) Avoid Nightmare Fuel
Needless to say, the last thing you want when you get back home is some evil-looking mask staring at your and frightening you when you go rummaging through the fridge for that midnight snack.
Unless, of course, if you’re always constipated and need a good scare to make you poop your pants. 🙂 Anything that effectively looks like something that would make you uneasy to have at home is probably best avoided.
2.) Don’t be afraid to be a stereotype
Souvenir shopping is definitely the time to look for something that’s a bit personal to you and less run-of-the-mill however don’t be so focused on looking for something so different that you forget why you’re getting the souvenir in the first place – to remember the place you are.
Get the Eiffel Tower souvenirs in Paris if it calls out to you. Get Big Ben ones in London – just make sure whatever you get makes you happy and connected with your holiday or travels.
Every time I’ve been to Portugal, I keep getting the Rooster of Barcelos; each one larger than the previous one and when I look at them now, they put a smile on my face.
Depending on where you are, don’t be afraid to haggle or to shop around for a good deal. If what you’re looking for is fairly unique then try a little haggling.
Even in places like London where people rarely ever haggle, you can still get away with a little haggling; saving yourself a few pennies for the mandatory fish and chips later on.
If what you’re looking for is fairly standard and available in a lot of places, then it’s worth shopping around till you find a reasonably priced one.
4.) Don’t forget about size and weight
You still need to get it home after all. I tend to almost consciously forget this though I think my subconscious reigns me in each time by making me purchase something that is truly a struggle to get home but technically feasible.
Those on Hand Luggage Only’s Instagram would have seen the hats we got in Hong Kong which you technically can’t pack into a bag and hence we went through 5 different airports and cities wearing those hats.
Then again, for the hassle, it did keep the sun out of our eyes and got us lots of compliments for the airline staff.
5.) Think outside the box
I know I said don’t be afraid to be a stereotype before but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative when buying souvenirs. Anyone who’s been to Thailand knows (or will tell you) that elephants are a good call when it comes to souvenirs.
However, when I was in Thailand, instead of picking a statue of an elephant, I saw a painting of an elephant (again, one that the amazing people on the Hand Luggage Only’s Instagram would have seen already) which captivated me immediately and soon after becoming my Thai souvenir.
It is still one of my favourite souvenirs out there and while I did the stereotypical elephant thing, I did it with my own twist on it. I did get a cute wooden elephant souvenir as well later on though.
6.) Get something unique
Where possible, try to buy something that you can only get in the place you’re visiting.
I know, I know with the internet and worldwide delivery, you can buy pretty much anything you want from the comfort of your own home but that’s beside the point.
Get something that you can’t just pop downstairs to a shop back at home and find on the shelves. The last thing you want is to get a souvenir and find that your local Tesco/Walmart/Coles/Carrefour has exactly the same thing.
7.) Check that it is legal
Don’t ruin your holiday by buying something that will get you in trouble back at home with customs (or even worse, the police).
There are fairly clear rules around this and most souvenir places in most countries won’t sell things you can’t take back home but if you’re a more adventurous traveller and like to explore more alternative holiday destinations then do take extra care to ensure you’re not importing something contraband.