It’s vacation time, and chances are you’ll be traveling somewhere this summer. Most of us purchase souvenirs during our trips. Do you ever regret coming home with too many knick-knacks? OR do you regret passing up something amazing that you really wanted?
How Can you Avoid Souvenir Shopping Remorse?
I began to ponder this question when my husband and I recently spent several days in Estes Park and the Colorado Rockies, where the scenery is spectacular. It’s also a tourist shopping paradise.
We’ve all come home from a trip with magnets, t-shirts, and mugs from our travels. But where do they ultimately end up? Cluttering cupboards, collecting dust, or taking up prime space in our drawers?
Apparently there is an actual term for souvenir-overbuying. It’s called “Vacation Shopping Syndrome.”
After some thinking and researching of my own, I’ve come up with a few strategies to avoid this dreaded (and costly) syndrome.
Buy Practical Stuff.
No doubt we’ve probably all forgotten at least one item we meant to bring on our trip. Case in point, me, forgetting my hat, when I traveled to Colorado. I realized it right away, so I didn’t feel too guilty buying a new one on the first day of our trip, since I knew I’d use it again. Other practical items might include: salad tongs made of local wood, tea towels with interesting logos from the area, food from the region you’re visiting. (Okay, I guess you can count t-shirts from the city you’re visiting, just as long as you take into consideration the 45 others you have at home.)
If you think you MUST have it, take a photo first, then walk away and ponder…
I found some beautiful woven baskets at a farmer’s market in Estes Park, but I knew I already had a couple at home. I took a photo of the baskets. Then my husband and I left the market and walked a few blocks to have lunch. During lunch, I asked myself if I really could live without that basket.
I reasoned: it was a practical item I could use both during the trip and when I returned home. It was also not a novelty that would soon fade. It was both the classic style and neutral color I love. And my heart would really be sad if I went back and it wasn’t there. Did I go back and buy it? Look below to find the answer.
Is it something you can’t get at home?
An item takes on new meaning when it is crafted by a local artisan and can be considered “one of a kind.” (And even lovelier if you can support the economy of that locale.) And, your “bespoke souvenir” may just become a cherished and signature piece of jewelry or home décor. Just make sure you love it.
Food for Friends
If you are purchasing gifts for friends, unless you know your friend’s specific personal tastes, it’s risky to buy souvenirs that could become “dust catchers.” Just because you had an enjoyable time in the Bahamas, doesn’t mean your friends have any attachment to it. Food from the local area you’re visiting—honey, jams, cheeses, jerky, spices—might be better options.
Shop off Beaten Paths
It’s tempting to visit bigger stores in the area, but street markets and arts & crafts fairs also offer an interesting variety of artisans’ work. Small watercolors or pieces of art are my favorite things to bring home from a trip. It doesn’t have to be large–or even original–but it should be an item you adore and one that will remind you of your amazing adventure.
Do your research ahead of time. Don’t wait until you get home to discover that you’ve missed out on that special item that is singular to the region you’ve visited. And don’t go overboard purchasing “spur of the moment”–by spending money you wished you hadn’t–this will only lead to buyer’s remorse. Remember, most of the time you can’t return your item.
My friend, Janet, really does her homework before she travels. She looks online to discover what regional artisans can be found near the places she’ll be staying and what signature items that region is known for. Janet and her husband purchased a cuckoo clock in Germany, a hand-carved creche in Bellagio, Italy, Murano glass in Venice, and wooden Santone nativity figurines in France.
Don’t be afraid to pinpoint something you’ve always wanted. I have a cherished gold cross I bought during my trip to Assisi, Italy. And my husband always wanted original German lederhosen which he purchased in Munich when we visited. (He wears them every Halloween!)
Buy a New Accessory to wear on the trip–Then wear it afterward, when you get home
Small accessories like scarves, jewelry, and ties take up very little room in luggage. You can wear the item during your trip and then relive the trip all over again when you put it on at home.
Let Someone Else Help You Decide
When I went back to the farmer’s market to look for my basket, I saw a woman holding the same basket! (Well, the colors were different.) I asked her how she liked it. She said, “I love this basket! I bought it here two weeks ago and use it almost every day. I put my vegetables in it when I come here to the farmer’s market, and when I take it to the grocery store, I put my billfold down in the bottom and I only have to carry one bag…It’s
What’s Your Style When it Comes to Vacation Shopping? What is the best souvenir you’ve ever bought (and where did you buy it)? Please comment below and let us all know. We LOVE to hear your comments.
I can’t resist buying a pair of earrings on a trip that reflect where I was – like earrings from Canada (maple leaves), turquoise ones in NM, specialty ones in Alaska, diamonds in the Eastern Caribbean. I have a jewelry box full of wonderful memories I can wear and smile every time I put them on. Then there are the magnets — one side of my refrigerator has then telling us of all (or most) of the places we have been!