For cheap travel, avoid souvenirs

A truly special souvenir doesn’t need to cost very much, and the best ones are rarely found in an overpriced souvenir shop, Hamm writes.

Romeo Ranoco/Reuters/File
A child touches rabbit-shaped souvenir items for sale during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown, Binondo in metro Manila in this February 2011 file photo.

For me, the best souvenirs are the memories. I don’t really need physical things to recall my vacations, as I’ll just look at the digital pictures and my mind fills in the blanks.

Of course, many people like to bring home physical items to remember their vacations by. Sarah takes this route with her souvenirs. She likes to have a physical object to remind her of where she once traveled.

It would be easy for Sarah to find a souvenir in a shop somewhere, but let’s be honest – most of those souvenirs are drastically overpriced and often not very useful. Who wants to pay $20 for an ordinary t-shirt or something silly like that?

Instead, when she looks for a souvenir, she looks for something atypical, either something free or something without markup. 

One approach she often takes is to seek out elements of the environment.

For example, on our trip to Oklahoma and northern Texas, we wandered about in the Arbuckle Mountains (an ancient and largely eroded away mountain range in Oklahoma) and found a wonderful red rock that currently sits in our garden.

On our trip to Seattle, she memorialized our trips to the ocean by saving many of the seashells we found while wandering around.

Another approach is to bring home a consumable item from a non-tourist location. She’ll buy a local bottle of wine or some local beer and bring them home with her, saving it for a while before enjoying it.

Often, she’ll buy two of these things, consuming one while we’re traveling and then enjoying the other later on, as it creates a pretty direct connection of the senses to the trip.

Because she purposely avoids souvenir shops, she generally finds such items at a much more reasonable price at non-touristy locations.

A final tactic that works for frugal souvenirs is to mail yourself postcards from the trip. Simply spend a quarter buying a postcard, write what you’re doing that day on it, then mail it to yourself. When you get home and check the mail, you’ll find that postcard (and a few more will arrive in the following days), filled with your thoughts directly from the trip. It’s like a little reminder of your trip that arrives out of the blue.

A truly special souvenir doesn’t need to cost very much, and the best ones are rarely found in an overpriced souvenir shop.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to For cheap travel, avoid souvenirs
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Simple-Dollar/2012/1219/For-cheap-travel-avoid-souvenirs
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe