When you travel you inevitably want to bring something back with your to commemorate your adventures. I like to purchase jewelry or some kind of apparel. It’s natural to want some kind of reminder of your trip and to have something to show that you were there. Since travel can be quite expensive depending on where you go and what you do while you are there, it might be hard to justify spending a load of cash on something impratical and frankly hard to squeeze into your luggage. Furthermore, in some places you just can’t or shouldn’t take something because it might harm the ecology or be disrespectful. Here are five suggestions for souvenirs that won’t shatter your budget or prove difficult to cram into the overhead compartment.
1) A map. You can pick up a paper map of wherever you are for cheap. It folds up nice and tiny, and when you get home you can do something fun like highlighting routes you traveled or places you stayed. If you want to be nice and fancy, hang it on your wall in a nice frame for all your friends and family to admire.
2) Take and empty jar, label it if you want, and fill it with pieces of paper that you write your adventures on. I don’t mean novels, here, just little things. Every traveler has memories that are like snapshots of a time, event, or place. Maybe it’s when you were sipping coffee at a bustling cafe in Amsetrdam and you just enjoyed taking in the scenery. It could be from a great night at the beach, enjoying a bonfire with fellow wanderers. It could be anything! Writing it down is a great way to remember those little moments, and however far down the road when you decide to reach into your jar, you can pull out one of those scraps of paper and relive the moment.
3) A soil or rock collection. Now, I am certainly not condoning stealing a rock from a sacred site, or ripping plants out of the ground and running around with them willy-nilly. Use your common sense. A friend of mine had a collection of little glass jars full of soil and each jar had a location written on it. I was so inspired that I started a little collection of my own. Often enough I forgot to collect a sample, so there are only a handful of jars in the collection right now, but I absolutely love looking at them. You can find little jars at most thrift shops, or you can purchase mason jars from grocery stores. Getting creative with the jar and the labeling is part of the fun, not to mention being able to show off more places that you have visited.
4) Make prints of your favorite photos. People don’t usually make physically photo albums anymore, and that seems like a real shame. Yes you can store hundreds of thousands of photos online for free or very in expensively, but there is something wonderful about cracking open and album on the coffee table and pouring over your favorite photos. Luckily you can send your digital picture from your camera to somewhere like Target or Walgreens and have them printed that same day. There are also a myriad of apps that will print your stuff and ship it to you, like Cheerz, which is a free app.
5) A tattoo. Now I know that this one isn’t for everyone, and honestly can be expensive, but it is also a lasting piece of art that you get to carry around with you and (hopefully) show off. Part of what I love about tattoos is the memory of actually receiving it. The excitement of finalizing the piece with the artist, the stencil on your skin, the buzz of the machine, and most importantly, the relationship with the artist. If you happen to be in an interesting local at the same time it makes for the best kind of souvenir. Be sure not to make a decision hastily though; think about possible tattoos before you go so that you aren’t just getting any old designed inked into your skin. I got a lovely bird from a young artist while I was in Botswana, and just recently went under the needle of a close friend while I was celebrating my birthday up in the mountains with her. It’s the Canis Major constellation. I love those two pieces because of how and where I received them. Plus, they take up zero luggage space.
T-shirts, pottery, jewelry, and expensive wines are all well and good to bring home. Bonus points if you bought some for your loved ones! I hope these suggestions might come in handy on your next adventure when you find yourself breathless with wonder, but a little short on cash or space.