Many people can remember receiving a cheesy t-shirt, cheap key chain, or cliché little architectural replica from family and friends arriving home after a vacation. Souvenirs are a much-loved part of the experience of travel; not only do vacationers want to take back a piece of their destination to remind them of happy memories, but many want to bring gifts back to those who couldn’t come with them. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to arrive home with useless, touristy junk that will never see the light of day after it’s stuffed into the backs of closets and drawers. Instead, with a bit of creativity and thought, you can easily find gifts and souvenirs that will be treasured for years to come.
It’s a good idea to avoid incredibly obvious things, like the ubiquitous miniature Eiffel Towers, Big Bens, and Statues of Liberty. Rushed travelers may want to simply pop into a tourist-focused shop and pick up a pile of printed t-shirts for everyone on the gift list, but these generic items will often go unused and unappreciated. Instead, search for meaningful items. The perfect souvenir is an item only available at the destination, not something that looks virtually identical to objects you can get back home.
It can be a good idea to focus on a few goals for your souvenirs. First, try to aim for small gifts; unless you plan on boxing things up and shipping them back home, you must fit all your purchases into your luggage. In addition, practical souvenirs can be excellent ideas; if the item is something you or the recipient will frequently use, it’s far more likely to continue to serve as a lovely reminder of the trip for years to come. You will also likely want to focus your attention on handcraft markets or local shops, as mass-produced trinkets can never approach the quality of gifts made with care by local artisans. Finally, be absolutely sure you’re avoiding anything illegal or unethical; replicas are fine, but actual archaeological or scientific artifacts, or objects made of illegal materials, should be avoided at any cost.