I think it’s fair to say I do a good bit of traveling. One of the dangers of traveling around a lot is not falling into the habit of buying a lot of souvenirs. It’s a slippery slope where you see one thing that’s so unique and of course you want something to remember the trip when you get home. Plus shouldn’t you buy your mom something? What about grandma? Or your friend who absolutely just love that necklace? And oh wow is that a handmade basket? You definitely cannot find that in the U.S.
Pretty soon you’re a bit poorer and your luggage is a lot heavier.
A few years ago I decided to really be aware of what I spend on souvenirs especially from places I’ve been to several times. This didn’t mean ruling out souvenirs entirely, but instead focusing on something that had meaning to me and I could really use. That item for me is jewelry. I try to buy one piece of jewelry from each country so that when I wear it, I can remember my time there. My price point is pretty low (under $50), and it doesn’t add much weight to my luggage. The bracelet above is from L’Accademia. One of my classmates here had one, and I thought it would make a very nice memento of both my time in Florence and of taking classes. It was 8 euros, so in addition to being pretty, the bracelet hardly breaks the bank.
If I’m buying something for someone else (like my mom), I try to make sure it’s something she can really use. A t-shirt might be a good bargain, but is that person going to wear something from a place they’ve never been? I’m a big fan of gifts for the kitchen, like food or the wine bottle stopper above. My mom loves wine, but bringing back a bottle of wine isn’t always practical (especially not when I’m traveling to Russia for several months on this trip first). This is small enough to fit in my suitcase without adding much weight, and isn’t a glaringly obvious souvenir.