Besides snapping a billion photos of my vacation, I also tend to go a little overboard when it comes to buying souvenirs to commemorate my trip. I’ve always had a more cluttered home than my family would like, but I also like bringing a piece of my getaway home with me.
I’ve gotten better at buying souvenirs over the years and knowing what’s worth getting and what’s worth saving my money for more food or a fun tour. If you’re like me and have some trouble saying no when it comes to buying souvenirs, I hope these souvenir buying tips come in handy!
Do you need it or did you budget for it?
OK, this is a great question to ask whenever you’re shopping for anything to reduce overbuying: Do I need it?
I’m not getting into the debate of the philosophical idea that we only need food, water, and shelter… But it’s still a great question to ask to stop impulse purchases. I think souvenirs are fantastic reminders of happy vacations, but do you need 15 souvenirs from a one-week getaway? Probably not.
Another way to frame the same question is by asking: Did I budget for this?
If you’ve already budgeted for some souvenirs and you have the funds for it, go for it! If you’re maxing out your budget to buy all your souvenirs, you probably don’t need it. Before you set off on your travels, set aside some cash or a spending limit for souvenirs to make sure you’re buying exactly what you want, instead of just what you happen to find.
Will you use it?
Great souvenirs are ones you can use every day! Get a colorful scarf, a genuine leather purse or belt, or clothing that you can use in your everyday life.
Not only are these practical purchases, but they can be great conversation starters when someone asks where you got your beautiful bag or shirt. It’s fun to buy traditional souvenirs from iconic destinations, but if it’s just going to end up in a box in the back of a closet, why spend the money on it in the first place? Magnets, art, and clothing and accessories are great, useful souvenirs.
Can I pack it easily?
Before you buy a fun souvenir, always make sure you have enough room in your suitcase to accommodate it, or if it’s too big, how much is it going to cost to ship back home? Is it more than the cost of the original item? Then, it might be time to walk away unless it’s something you’re going to be using every day – or it’s a nice case of wine 🙂
What’s its shelf life?
Buying food or drinks to take home? Make sure you understand how quickly they perish or will be good for before buying them. Things like coffee, chocolates, liquors, cured meats, pasta, jarred goods, and even some cheeses are great foodie treats that’ll survive the trip home.
I never set out with a master plan of becoming a collector, it just kind of happened. It started with a frosted, purple Navy Pier shot glass from Chicago. I bought it because it looked cool and then kept buying others as I traveled because they looked cool.
Soon, it turned into my thing and my family and friends were bringing back shot glasses from their travels to add to my collection. Now, I’m thankful I started doing it as it makes buying souvenirs super easy when I travel, no questions on what I’m getting, but just which one I’m getting.
Rick has taken up getting fridge magnets from wherever we go, which is a great souvenir to create a collection around as they’re small and cheap, meaning you won’t be breaking your travel budget and you can easily stuff them in your suitcase when it’s time to pack at the end of your trip.
Always save some of your souvenir budget for buying gifts for your friends and family back home – especially if they’re watching your pets or checking in on your home. I think food and drink souvenirs are always fun to share with friends and family as you tell them about your trip so they can have a little piece of the experience too.
What other tips do you have for buying souvenirs when you travel? Please share them in the comments below!