A trip. A journey. A venture to a foreign land. When we travel to new places, to wander through unknown streets, to watch uncharted landscapes pass, to sit in unfamiliar cafés, we become transformed, transfixed, transported. How do we bring something back which preserves this experience?
Our souvenirs tell us about ourselves, reminding us of who we have become because of the places we’ve been. But choosing items that are appropriate tokens of remembrance of a time in a place can be difficult. What does an I <3 NY shirt actually have to do with one’s experience of the towering buildings, the frenetic energy, the man-made wonder that is Manhattan? What does an acrylic-floral lei have actually have to do with one’s experience of the shell-strewn beaches, the sun-streaked mornings, the vast emptiness of the ocean that is Hawaii?
Selecting a souvenir is an intimate and important part of every journey. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when you take your next trip:
Some of the best momentos come from nature. Pick up a smooth rock from the beach, or press a vibrant leaf between the pages of a notebook. When you return home, you can add this little piece of the land to your shelf.
Poke about the local antique or vintage stores with an eye out for historical souvenirs, such as a commemorative plate from the year that city hosted the world’s fair, or turn of the century postcards.
Buy a hardcover edition of a book written by someone who lived in the area. Not only will it look splendid on the shelf, but you’ll also be able to experience the landscape through new eyes.
If you had a particularly delicious meal or drink that was served on an aesthetically pleasing plate or in an interesting vessel, ask the waitstaff if it is possible to add the cost of the dish to your meal. Although not all establishments allow this, with luck, you’ll be able to snack or sip and be transported back to your moment abroad.
Functional souvenirs that can be used in daily life are also great ways to satisfy both practical and emotional needs. Bring an umbrella back from a jaunt to Seattle or a Fair Isle sweater from an excursion to Scotland.
The most important thing to remember is that your souvenir is there to hold your memories. Once the memory of a place has been made, the right object will find its way to you. And don’t forget to leave some extra space in your suitcase, too.
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