Whenever you embark on a traveling adventure, one of the hardest things to cope with is what you’ve left behind. You may miss your cozy bed, familiar shower, or the home-cooked food you know and love. More likely, the things you miss most are the people you’ve left behind. Friends and loved ones who carry on with their lives while you travel the world, ready to hear your exciting stories and experiences when you return. For these special people, you want to bring a piece of your travels back, so they know that you thought of them even as you were having the time of your life. But where to begin?
Many travelers put off souvenir shopping until the end of their trip, not wanting to weigh down their suitcases with trinkets while there is still traveling left to do. Too often, though, we wait until the last minute and end up overspending on useless mass-produced items that mean little to your recipients other than that it has the name of your destination on it. If you want to give meaningful, thoughtful souvenirs to your loved ones, follow these tips.
1. Do your research.
When you have some downtime in your hotel, or even before you set off for your destination, do some poking around for great souvenir ideas. If you’re not already familiar with local specialties, try to find out what the region is known for producing. Going to a country with high quality weavers? Check out woven baskets. Hitting up an area known for its leather markets? Look for wallets, purses, or shoes for your loved ones. Finding regional specialties helps you to purchase items that may not be readily available back home, or at least find a high-quality item for a bargain price.
2. Go shopping with the locals.
If you want thoughtful souvenirs, avoid the traditional tourist shops. It’s important to realize that an item doesn’t have to announce the name of the place that you visited in order to have attached significance. Instead, scope out local markets and artisan shops to find something truly unique and special. A handcrafted item will be far more special than a mug or t-shirt spouting “I <3 ___” and your loved ones will still always remember where it came from.
3. Don’t rule out edibles.
You may not consider edible souvenirs very practical, since they can be hard to transport and aren’t as permanent as your other souvenir choices. Edible souvenirs, however, can be just as special in your loved ones’ eyes. Bringing back local delicacies is one of the easiest ways to bring a piece of the culture that you experienced home to share with those you care about. Even though it won’t last forever, they will enjoy the small taste of adventure they get from sampling something new and delicious. Of course, not everything can be brought home, especially if you’re flying. Choose candies, snacks, and other non-perishables.
4. Don’t wait until you get home.
Sometimes the best souvenir can be an unexpected greeting from your destination. Before you leave, collect the addresses of your loved ones so you can send postcards while on your travels. With new mobile applications, you can even use your own photographs to make postcards that are even more personal. If you see something on your travels that reminds you of a loved one, why not snap a shot of it and send them a little note to let them know you’re thinking of them?
About the Author:
Kayla Dunmar is a travel guru who has toured Europe on three separate occasions and has now set her sights on traveling the many wonders of the United States. Read more about her travel advice and experiences on her site, Twitter Travels.