Souvenirs

I am disappointed with souvenirs. The purchasing of souvenirs started out as a great idea, a way to remember something you did with a physical object. Now, they’re just something you buy on a trip and forget about the minute you come home. The word souvenir originated in France, around 1775 from the word subvenire, “come to mind”, from sub- “up” and venire “to come”. And was used for something that was a token of remembrance. I think we’ve completely forgotten that.

Souvenirs are no longer location specific. Before, when we didn’t have boats shipping goods from one side of the world to the other, the souvenirs you’d buy were actually made in the area that you bought them. For example, a friend of mine received a beaver skin rug from her father when he returned from Northern Canada which is a totally location specific gift. At that time, there were still trappers working up there. It is banned now, along with other items like snakeskin, and ivory, which may be a reason why it’s harder to find location specific items, but you get my point. For more information on this subject, visit this article from the World Wildlife Foundation. Recently, when I went to buy a gift for my Japanese host family that I’m going to see in October, “Made in China” was written on the back. Materials and even ideas can be shipped all over the world. Items that were once made in local areas, are now made cheaper in factories somewhere else and shipped.

Another problem with souvenirs is that they are overpriced at most places. Some of the souvenir shops we looked at in Europe were way overpriced. I’d come home and find the exact same item for three quarters, and sometimes even half the price! Sure, you might think that since you’re on vacation its ok to spend more money then you usually do, and yeah, I think that’s totally okay, vacations are where you have fun, and sometimes spend more money than at home. I don’t think that it’s worth it though to buy souvenirs. If you’re really looking for something that you want to take home, you can probably find it on Amazon or eBay, and for a lot cheaper than the people in souvenir shops will try to sell it to you for.

Will I actually remember these souvenirs forever, or are they going to be clutter in my house? Do people think about what they’re going to do with souvenirs when they get home? It is a good idea to actually look ahead and think, “Hmm, am I actually going to use this or put it someplace where I will see it and remember the reason that I got it, or am I just going to throw it into the ‘junk’ box when I get home.” It’s a great idea to do that because you could save money by not buying things you’ll just throw away.

I rarely buy souvenirs when I am traveling, I would prefer to spend money on an experience that I’ll remember, rather than a memento I’ll forget. Additionally, if I am asked to buy something for someone on a trip, I might not get it for them either. It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that when I travel, we don’t have an excessive number of suitcases. I went on a trip to Europe for two months with my mum; we had one carry-on suitcase and two daypacks between the two of us. We couldn’t really fit anything else in that suitcase to bring home. I will confess to buying souvenirs a couple of times in my life, and they were great learning experiences. They taught me that buying souvenirs is not something that I will do on a regular basis. Why don’t we just remember what we did, and not need anything to remind us?

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