Destinations Magazine

Why I Refuse to Buy Ornaments and Other Souvenir Suggestions

By Kellyabroad @kelly_abroad
What do I need this for? Chichen Itza, Mexico

What do I need this for? Chichen Itza, Mexico

I’m always inadvertently coming across random things from my backpacking trip. I have Peruvian currency in the glove-box of my car. A green tea sachet given to me by a friend in California which I have yet to drink and is unofficially  stored in my purse. A TAP card for the Los Angeles subway nestled among my credit cards. A dollar bill in my makeup case. A receipt for a chicken meal in Bolivia.

It’s these unintentional souvenirs that give me the greatest pleasure of all. An unusual, unexpected reminder of where I have been. Small items that represent big experiences that became so intertwined in my daily life that I barely knew they were there.

The truth is, aside from photos and memories, I have few tangible objects from my travels. I stopped buying typical souvenirs long ago. I thought they were a waste of money. Why does one need to buy a gaudy plastic snow globe or a ceramic pot, just for it to gather dust in a cupboard somewhere for the next twenty years until I throw it out in a Feng Shui attack? Instead I have an unofficial spending rule – it must be beautiful or it must be useful.

My favorite belongings

Portobello Road

Portobello Road

I have two pieces of jewelry I cherish.  A plain wrap-around silver ring which my brother calls my ‘pirate ring’. I purchased it on Portobello Road in London with my last twenty pounds on a cold October day last year. It was an extremely unusual thing for me to do because I rarely permit myself to buy beautiful pieces of jewelry because I always lose them. I have another ring with an aztec-type design from Marrakesh which I get a lot of comments about. It’s too loose for my fingers so it mostly sits on my pointer finger. I feel naked without it.

I have perfumes. They say scent is a huge memory trigger and I’ve become accustomed to picking up perfumes where I can so at a later date I can simply swab the scent on my neck and pretend I’m in France. My perfume history is the who’s who of city hopping. I have small tester bottles from boutique perfumeries in Berlin and Paris which I use irregularly or on special occasions. My favorite Michael Kors scent was purchased at duty free in Miami.  Chanel #5 is New York. Donna Karan’s fruity nose depicts the Pacific Islands. Armani was a Christmas gift from a friend in cold, snowy London.

My diary is my biggest go-to for travel memories. Mostly it is scrawled with twelve digit phone numbers, random addresses and names and the occasional reminder.  Lots of to do lists, oddly enough. Mail a postcard, call your mother, find Milka chocolate.

What do you like to collect on your travels?


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