There are many schools of thought when it comes to souvenirs. Some ascribe to the “take only memories, leave only footprints” mentality, others don’t feel like a trip is complete without a major purchase.
Like most people, I fall around the middle of that spectrum. I won’t buy a trinket just to have it. In fact, I’ve come home from many trips without a single (tangible) souvenir — and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything.
Sometimes You Splurge
On our very first trip to Italy, Zeke and I were both on tight first-real-career-job budgets. Our round trip flight in and out of Venice was $420 per person (mainly due to our willingness to endure a 12-hour overnight layover in London, during which we had to change airports).
It was my first trip to Europe and the first I had traveled internationally without my parents, so some learning experiences were to be expected. For example, I started out paying cash for our hotel rooms — then quickly realized I wasn’t going to have enough cash to cover my other expenses. A quick call home to mom and dad replenished my AAA TravelMoney card (yes, I paid them back as soon as I got home), and I was back in business.
Thanks to that micro-loan from mom and dad, I was able to bring home my biggest splurge souvenir to date: a leather jacket from a tiny shop in Florence.
Sometimes You Save
Toward the other end of the spectrum, I was quite the saver on our second trip to Greece. Don’t get me wrong, I got exactly what I wanted.
Zeke has always loved Ruby’s, a fine jewelry store in Athens’ Plaka neighborhood. I didn’t get to go to Ruby’s on our first trip to Greece (although we traveled separately and Zeke did come home with a Greek key bracelet for me!), so on our second trip Zeke said he’d buy me anything I wanted there. Yes, he’s the best.
I walked in and looked at all of the gorgeous pieces of jewelry. There were diamonds, gemstones and pearls galore — all set in gold, silver and platinum. Each was beautiful, but nothing was really speaking to me. After a bit I suggested I take some time to think about my choices while we continued our shopping.
One of the next stores we happened upon had a blue felt-lined glass case full of rings and pendants. I was immediately drawn to a pudgy silver owl with tiny wings. The owl is the symbol of the goddess Athena and, as such, the city of Athens, so it felt like the perfect choice.
The price? €7. And I’m just as happy with this little owl as I would have been with the finery at Ruby’s. And, truth be told, I wear the necklace more than my leather jacket!
What’s your favorite travel souvenir? Was it a splurge or something more modest?