A lesson in “souvenir” purchasing

Growing up I was a proud collector of keychains, postcards, and anything with a locale name splashed all over it. I was 10, obsessed with Limited Too, and didn’t know better. I recently just found a shoebox full of postcards from all over the US, all blank and just sitting, collecting dust. Good purchases these were not. Seeing these postcards got me reminiscing about family RV trips across this great country of ours (another post entirely) and also got me thinking- do people really buy souvenirs anymore? I think yes but not in the same way my preteen self did. Instead of having a backpack jangling with keychains it’s now about having something that you can only purchase in the place you’re visiting. But even this is antiquated with online shopping and Amazon drones. Forgoing this approach, my souvenir shopping has turned into buying things out of pure necessity. Of course I still got a boomerang in Australia but only because a didgeridoo just wouldn’t fit in my luggage. And who knows when you’ll need a boomerang-it’s one of two self-defense tools on standby in my apartment should I ever encounter an intruder. A great umbrella with a puffin shaped handle from London is the other.

Boomerangs aside, I do try to be exchange rate savvy and often let this dictate if I’m going to really splurge on something outside the US. However, due to the modern marvel of online shopping, think my London-based colleagues are tiring of me sending all of my Kurt Geiger orders to the office.

Looking at my closet, I am a huge fan of purchasing shoes and scarves abroad. I don’t often plan to purchase these things but I am either cold or did not pack appropriately. I sometimes skimp on overpacking Lululemon and refuse to wear my still sweaty sportswear to my next spin class. It’s gross to smell before class. Case in point, I have come into possession of the douchiest of douche tank tops from a the Boston FlyWheel studio that proclaims “I’m so Fly”. Obviously I love it and have worn it to two classes already.

I think my favorite purchases abroad are those in drugstores or supermarkets. You just never really know what’s going on. Where do you line up? Are they charging for bags? Will my credit card work or will I be that person who holds up the line while I talk to the bank? Is soya milk actually soy milk or is that a typo?

Something I haven’t done but is on my list is go to a market and haggle. I mean I bargained with the little old lady Randolph Street Market in Chicago for a gorgeous fur coat but that doesn’t really count in my book. I want to get something like a camel or a goat and haggle for it. Now that would be a souvenir.

I do like jewelry and love the significance of certain pieces. I love looking at a ring or bracelet when I’m at my desk in chilly Chicago and remembering the hot and humid day in St. Barth when I purchased it. If I’m getting gifts for other people on my travels you can bet it will be a piece of unique jewelry. My sister wholeheartedly approves of this approach.

I am also always flush with shoe and laundry bags from hotels I stay in. These are actually the most useful thing I bring home with me. You never know when you’ll need an extra bag, goodness knows I have enough shoes to fill them all.


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