Souvenirs– when to buy them, how much to spend on them, where to pack them in an already-full bag, even whether to get them at all– they’re one of those tricky aspects of travel that everyone does differently.
I’m the kind of traveller who has high hopes of buying something amazing for every single person I know yet is brought crashing down to earth when I realize that I’ve already spent all my money on my own adventures.
M. is the best at balancing me out in these times. On our last trip, he said to me, “No one expects you to bring them anything.”
He’s right! No one does expect anything, so there’s no point in trying to meet expectations of lavish gifts that no one actually has. Our friends and family know us– they know we travel fast, cheap, and light, and they know we often have to ship their presents across oceans once we do buy anything for them.
But when we really want to buy a little something for a close friend or family member– and we do, because exploring little markets and souvenir shops is part of the adventure for us– what kind of things can be bought that won’t break the bank or the backpack?
Guidebooks, along with cookbooks, are my chosen souvenir for every big trip I take. Even when the guidebook becomes out-of-date, I like to have a keepsake to remind me of the place and the time I went on each adventure.
M. reminds me that if we stick entirely to the guidebook we’ll just end up taking the same path as every other Lonely Planet-buying tourist, and he’s right. But when it comes to getting the lay of the land and finding some good spots, it’s helpful to have a guidebook along.