Why You Should Not Buy Travel Souvenir & Gifts
How many key chains, mugs, hats, t-shirts, fridge magnets, bottle openers, pen stands, ashtrays, figurines, masks, postcards, plates, bangles, scarves and other sundry souvenirs and gifts have you picked from your travels around the world? Lots I believe. And where would they be lying today? Probably somewhere in a cupboard or on a shelf collecting dust. Right?
While, most of us wouldn’t want to waste money, but we do throw it away when we are traveling. We buy these touristy gifts or souvenirs either for sentimental reasons or to remind us and others that we actually visited the place. Right? Let me tell you that I have stopped buying these touristy gifts.
Let me share why I don’t buy souvenirs and gifts and you shouldn’t too…
- It’s a stressful activity. Buying that perfect gift for your family and friends back home can be truly stressful when you are on a vacation to relax and enjoy.
- They are pointless. Sure, a flimsy wrap-around skirt looks good on a beach, but will you wear it ever again? How many ashtrays can you give to a smoker? It was exciting to buy Chupa, a dress worn by Tibetan women when we were in Leh, but guess what, it’s been lying in my cupboard since the last 9 years and I have not worn it even once. Also, these gifts are so common and meaningless that if you asked the recipients they wouldn’t even remember what you got for them and from where.
- Tourist Gifts are not even produced in the country they represent. Thanks to commodification and globalization, many gifts sold worldwide are made in China or Taiwan.
- Money used to buy overpriced souvenirs can be better utilized by having memorable experiences and creating some wonderful memories.
- They take valuable luggage space. And extra luggage weight costs money too.
Some of the best souvenirs are the travel experiences and memories that you share with your loved ones which help them to connect, learn, aspire and grow.
Next time, if you don’t bring these souvenir and gifts back from your trip for your family and friends, don’t feel guilty. Just know that investing in memories and exploring the world is more important than wasting money on something that cannot possibly convey how much you love them.
Do you buy touristy souvenirs and gifts from your travels? If yes, what are your reasons for buying them?
My theme for this year’s Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is Notes from the Road, which has my thoughts, views, experiences, tips, stories inspired by my years on the road.
April 7, 2018 12:39 am|
But I love fridge magnets. Just that 😛
April 7, 2018 11:40 am|
Fridge magnets are cute!! 😀
April 7, 2018 12:42 am|
i used to buy keychains now i buy magnets but sometimes i actually wait until i get home and buy cheaper online. i put them on my fridge to remember where ive been.
April 7, 2018 11:41 am|
Buying online is cool, Deena!
April 7, 2018 12:59 am|
Memories do make for some precious souvenirs, but i can’t live without tiny magnents and the like we bring back home 🙂
They are not lying anywhere else but adorn our fridge. Looking at 30+ of them brings collective happiness. Compared to what we spend on vacations, a small souvenir is almost nothing.
April 7, 2018 11:42 am|
30+ magnets of your travel trips!! That sounds awesome! Would love to see your collection!
April 7, 2018 1:07 am|
Too true Shilpa that many of the goods/gifts we buy are made in countries other than where we are when travelling. I always check. We’re off to Europe in June and already I’m wondering what small gifts to bring back in my very light travelling bag. I like giving scarves.
April 7, 2018 11:43 am|
Scarves are lovely and also they dont take much space and are useful too! Happy travel trip to Europe, Susan!
April 7, 2018 1:16 am|
Magnets… we do buy them, they look super cute on our fridge. And people who visit our home love them too. However I think spending money on other stuff really doesn’t make any sense, sometimes it does add to the clutter, until there is something that is specialty of that place. But love to think twice before indulging, I am little frugal in that sense. I also have DIYed some magnets, when we didn’t get any chance to buy them from the place we were in. 😀
April 7, 2018 11:49 am|
DIY magnets!! That sounds pretty awesome, would love to see your collection, Shesha!
I know what you mean. It’s easy to given in to the excitement and temptation at that moment, but we later realize that these impulsive buys are a waste!
April 7, 2018 1:24 am|
Agree with you 100%. Souvenir and gifts are waste of money. No one takes a second look after buying them or receiving them as gifts.
April 7, 2018 11:49 am|
True that! Better to use that money for some better purpose!
April 7, 2018 7:10 am|
I collect fridge magnets and by now have run out of space 😉 I couldnt agree with you more about buying souvenirs on travels- they are a waste of money and effort not to mention luggage space.
Guernsey Literary & Potato peel pie society #atozchallenge
April 7, 2018 1:41 pm|
Aha! Fridge magnets are hot with everyone here!!
Agree with you about money and time wastage!
April 7, 2018 11:56 am|
Completely agree with you. But I used to feel differently earlier. I’m still reminded of the “souvenir” I bought on our honeymoon from Kerala – a wooden chess! We have celebrated 10th Anniversary and I have never played it once. The day I decided to be a Minimalist, I was convinced that those souvenirs are just useless. I even dissuade others to get anything for me. Where would I keep them? In fact, I’ve even had enough of those magnets. They just make the fridge look cluttered and they are so cliched ha ha. Everyone buys magnets. Actually, it is almost expected that we would buy one. But I have put full stop to all these things. And as you also said, those tshirts and wrap-arounds which look so good in Goa, look funny everywhere else. I have only one rule to buying anything – do I need it? Now that can also spiral into another discussion of what are “needs”. But we don’t “need” fridge magnets or fancy hats or cheeky tshirts! [All this is personal opinion of course]
By the way, how prolific you are! Also, you read a lot too. Share the secret and keep writing 🙂
April 7, 2018 2:04 pm|
Love your minimalist approach, Reema! Agree with you, We need to ask “do I need it?” before buying anything. Most of the touristy things we buy are impulsive buys and we may like that item then, but back home, it doesnt look that appealing. So, seriously, there isnt any point in buying these souvenirs. Buying a thoughtful gift for someone makes much more sense.
So good to see you here, and thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and experience.
Prolific me?? Nah, just barely managing to read and write 😀
April 8, 2018 7:50 pm|
Thank you Shilpa. And I do notice that you write and read a lot, don’t you? It is always a pleasure to read your thoughtful and wise words. Keep them coming!
April 9, 2018 4:04 pm|
Thanks a lot, Reema. You are so very generous and your words have brightened up my day ♥
April 7, 2018 2:34 pm|
I always buy postcards. But I don’t keep them: I send them to my friends and family by snail mail. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like to find a colourful postcard in the mailbox!
April 9, 2018 2:28 pm|
Postcards is such a great idea, Eva. Yes, it’s something which everyone would love to get!!
April 7, 2018 2:43 pm|
Well, I agree with you and also tiny-miny disagree. I love those souveneirs..my house is full of them 😛 I love to have them on my refrigerator’s wall, inside my glass showcase, on my altar, on my entrance, I have collected windchimes from a lot of places and hang them in my balcony. We have bought tribal masks. And, I would love to “not gift” souveneirs but my extended family looks forward to them. And if they find that I have not brought Eiffel tower from them from Paris, it becomes an issue :-D. But I absolutely agree that these things are no longer even made in the origin country and should be avoided..but I guess this is some kind of OCD for me. But I have stopped buying dresses, or food items. As you said we never wear them.
Great post Shilpa, I am hooked to them.
April 9, 2018 2:28 pm|
LOL @ Eiffel Tower 😀 I can understand that, probably you have got your family hooked to your gifts and souvenirs 😀
April 7, 2018 2:45 pm|
I don’t buy souvenier style gifts when travelling, but I always bring back a bottle of local beer and a branded beer glass for my collection!
My Friend Rosey – G is for Grannie
April 9, 2018 2:29 pm|
Now that’s something which my husband loves too 🙂
April 7, 2018 2:56 pm|
You’re right, we need to check where it comes from but in the end, it supports local economy which I feel is a good thing.
April 9, 2018 2:29 pm|
Anything that supports the local artists and economy gets my vote too 🙂
April 7, 2018 3:29 pm|
This is so true and great advice. I used to buy so many souvenirs, I had to get a fridge magnet or a key ring or something for each place I visited. At some point I realised it was pointless and the photos and memories were far more valuable. Nice post.
April 9, 2018 2:31 pm|
True, investing in photos will give you more memories to cherish than a key chain!
April 7, 2018 4:07 pm|
Haha! I remember bringing back stuff from places we visited in the early years of our marriage. Slowly, we stopped doing that, but we do bring back local eatables for ourselves, which we relished. We do bring back a lot of beautiful memories, for sure!
April 9, 2018 2:32 pm|
I love eatables from different places too. In fact, I pick that up every single time, even if it is available in our own city! 😀
April 7, 2018 4:10 pm|
These are the very reasons I stopped buying stuff, except Fridge Magnets, when on a holiday. Glad you wrote this post, Shilpa.
April 9, 2018 2:33 pm|
Fridge magnets are everyone’s favorite 😀
April 7, 2018 5:15 pm|
You said the right thing Shilpa, I read the title and I knew I had to read this one. I wasted far too much money on souvenirs especially on my maiden trip abroad. The jade jewellery I bought in HK paying a bomb all lies untouched in fact much of it is lost. I love buyin*fridge magnets though for self
April 9, 2018 2:36 pm|
Thanks Akshata for dropping by and reading too. Glad this post resonates with you. Ah! I have bought junk jewelry and sea shells jewelry too and I have never ever worn them, in fact have given it to my house helps.
April 7, 2018 6:27 pm|
I am also not a fan of collecting travel souvenirs, but at times, fridge magnets attract me to buy them. 🙂
April 9, 2018 2:37 pm|
Yes, the fridge magnets truly have magnetic properties and they attract us to buy them 😀
April 7, 2018 7:35 pm|
Hahaha, absolutely right. Just like those McDonald Happy Meal toys. The minute they cross our threshold, they’re dust magnets. I’ve stopped shopping on trips. If at all I buy something, it is a miniature. Great advice Shilpa. I’ve begun to give away my souvenirs!
April 9, 2018 2:38 pm|
Ah! You said it. We have had crazy Happy Meals years!! Thank God it’s history now 😀
April 7, 2018 7:41 pm|
Oh I always want to buy souvenirs. Some of our biggest arguments – my husband’s and mine – have been because of this. He never wants to buy them and I cannot stop myself. You’re right though, they lie forgotten after a few days.
April 9, 2018 2:39 pm|
LOL 😀 it’s the opposite at our place, KG wants to buy and I deter him and then the argument begins… 😀
April 7, 2018 7:58 pm|
I don’t buy them. What I do is shop thrift and the special item I find is part of the memory of my travel.
As an example, I just visited Seattle and bought a framed vintage map of Cuba ($5). It was so special to me, I carried it on the airplane because I didn’t want to risk it being ruined in my luggage.
Pop by for a visit some time – following you now on Feedly.
April 9, 2018 2:40 pm|
Wow! A vintage map sounds so cool and precious. Agree with you about investing in such memories.
April 7, 2018 8:11 pm|
This is an interesting post! I can definitely see your point, and if you take photos they become the best souvenirs. I personally enjoy the experience of shopping for a few select souvenirs just because I love to shop and find little treasures. It’s just part of the whole vacation or cultural experience for me. I like bringing back flavored macadamia nuts from Hawaii (which we then share and eat) and when we lived in Peru, we bought authentic souvenirs that made unique gifts at Christmas, such as small Peruvian nativities and ties with llamas on them.
April 9, 2018 2:41 pm|
Love your shopping ideas. Yes, authentic and unique items from a place would be loved and cherished by all. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Camie.
April 7, 2018 8:53 pm|
There are exceptions–a Faberge egg from Russia I would love. Might keep. But the frig magnets–please don’t give me any!
April 9, 2018 2:42 pm|
Aha! I would love a Faberge egg too 😀
April 7, 2018 10:36 pm|
I buy souvenirs – but I try and buy handicrafts that have been made by the people of the place i’m visiting. Postcards are another thing I buy, write and post. It’s such fun.
April 9, 2018 2:43 pm|
Handicrafts are wonderful and they help support the local artists too. Postcards are great, we used to buy them as kids, but not any more. SIGH
April 8, 2018 7:54 am|
Even I have stopped buying souvenirs for the same reasons you have mentioned 🙂
April 9, 2018 2:44 pm|
Glad these thoughts resonate with you too, Dahlia 🙂
April 8, 2018 8:46 am|
I agree with most of your points. Still a gift is a gift. It makes people happy that you remembered them and brought something no matter how insignificant. Ofcourse, that would not stop them from criticising / commenting how cheap or low value the gift is. Still it brings smile to faces.
April 9, 2018 2:45 pm|
Yeah, I know, we indulge in such things all for a smile on the face of our loved ones 🙂
April 8, 2018 10:14 am|
Shilpa, you are reading my thoughts;) I’ve never been a key chain buyer but I used to get tempted to pick at least one thing to remember the place by (despite the family indulging in Olympic size eye rolling). So we’d spend a good 2-3 hours trying to look for a nice piece. This was all before google/search engine days. Now, I search for local artists/artisans in the area we’re planning to visit and try to visit their studios. You may be surprised to learn that the majority of the artists/artisans we’ve come across are NOT pushy salespeople. The entire family loves the experience. Buying becomes incidental. This had led us to meeting many amazing people on our travels.
G is for Golden Cap
April 9, 2018 2:53 pm|
LOL @ Olympic size eye rolling 😀
Local artists/artisans in the area… reminds me of our trip to Sonapani in Uttarakhand. On our return from the place, we found a small little outlet which sold stuff which is sold in Fab India. It was EXACTLY that. And it was available at such throw away prices. We picked up so much stuff but had to keep almost all of it back because they just accepted cash and we weren’t carrying much cash.
It makes sense to support such artists/craftsmen!
April 8, 2018 7:42 pm|
Yes they are overpriced, meaning less chore, and have no use whatsoever. Glad that someone voiced this.
April 9, 2018 2:54 pm|
Thanks Pratikshya, glad this piece resonates with you too 🙂
April 8, 2018 10:53 pm|
You said it, Shilpa! While we travel a lot, we do not spend much on souvenirs and gifts. Since we collect fridge magnets (that we proudly display on our fridge) from every city and country and visit, we just pick them up for us and our families. Nothing more.
We prefer to spend more on exploring the city better and on food!
April 9, 2018 2:56 pm|
Aha! Fridge magnets… I must look at them differently now, considering everyone loves them here 😀
Exploring the local food and sights is what we do too!
April 9, 2018 10:02 am|
i disagree a bit..I love fridge magnets and i have a nice colleciton of them adoring my fridge door..they adore my mother’s kitchen and my in laws kitchen. When I look at them, i feel the warmth i felt in that place i visited.
Tongue Twister for G
April 9, 2018 2:57 pm|
Wow! That’s nice. Would love to see your collection of Fridge Magnets Dee!
April 9, 2018 1:19 pm|
I was extremely happy to read your post as it corroborated my own attitude towards these flimsy items. Every point you have mentioned is so very true and the money saved can be better utilized during the trip!. However, I cant stop buying 2 items as souvenir whenever I am travelling in a foreign country: Fridge Magnets – they adorn the side wall of our refrigerator and often gives us happy memories (even in the kitchen!); and Caps – for my son, as he loves collecting caps from various places.. he’s already got a drawer full of them in his collection!
April 9, 2018 2:59 pm|
I think if you collect something then it makes sense to buy one from each and every place you visit. I remember, a friend used to collect matchboxes as a kid and would stop at each and every shop to see if they had a different brand 😀
April 9, 2018 8:51 pm|
Do agree with you, Shilpa. The best souvenirs are memories.
Physical items can be stolen, lost or may break…
But, there are some people who expect gifts!
If we buy & gift, some are not satisfied & complain why we bought that gift & why not something else… 🙂
April 11, 2018 5:24 pm|
Ah! The vagaries of human nature!!
Thanks for dropping by, Anita!