In my early days of travelling I would always try to buy a souvenir in every foreign country or city that I visited. Two of my favourite things to collect were teddy bears and guide books (am I the lamest person ever? Probably). This was always problematic when it came time to return home - collecting books on long trips weighs down your bag a lot and those bears also took up plenty of space in my luggage.
When I did get home, only my favourite souvenirs would end up on display with the rest being stored away in boxes. Those boxes now reside at my parents’ house since I moved over to London. And of course being in London means I’m pretty spoiled for travel choices, its much less of a novelty now and I’ve long since given up buying souvenirs in every destination.
For all the souvenirs I’ve bought, there are a few that I still treasure even now and definitely don’t regret purchasing:
I don’t know what it is but I’ve always been a little obsessed with the Queen’s Guard. With those fuzzy hats and their red coats they are just so quintessentially London. It’s a little embarrassing just how many guard-related items I’ve purchased over the years (the bear pictured above is one of many) but at least I managed to refrain from buying a replica guard hat in the Buckingham Palace gift shop.
Being a tennis fan, attending Wimbledon had been a dream of mine long before I moved to London. One of my life goals is to attend all 4 tennis grand slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) and to collect a souvenir from each. My early memories of watching Wimbledon on TV always included rain delays so to me, Wimbledon and rain were synonymous to each other. I figured an umbrella was the perfect souvenir to remember my time there. It’s also the best quality umbrella I’ve ever purchased although I’m always hesitant to use it for fear of losing or damaging it.
When I travelled to Russia I had definitely outgrown that desire to purchase tacky souvenirs everywhere I went but there was one thing I wouldn’t be going home without and that was a pair of knee-high boots. I dragged my poor friend around to numerous shoe shops before I found the perfect pair. The lady working in the store barely spoke a word of English and my Russian was even worse, but she was incredibly sweet and helpful. There was a lot of pointing and miming going on and through that we managed to understand each other well enough. They’re lined with a fleecy material inside so they are perfect for European winter and I’ve worn them to death since I bought them.
If you’ve been to Venice then no doubt you’ll have seen the masks in loads of shop windows and market stalls. Many of the ones you’ll see are cheap, low-quality imitations so if you’re after a genuine, hand-crafted Venetian mask you need to make sure you are buying from a reputable seller and it should come with a certificate of authenticity. You’ll pay more for the real thing but its completely worth it. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the one I purchased as its back in Sydney but I love the design and its easily one of the most beautiful souvenirs I’ve collected.
Even though you can buy Swarovski pretty much anywhere in the world, I love that I purchased this little figurine at their flagship store in Innsbruck. I’ve loved dolphins since I was little which is why I chose this particular one. The store itself is worth visiting even if you have no intention of purchasing anything, the beautiful chandeliers and sparkly staircases are a sight to behold.
Over to you! Do you collect souvenirs from your travels? What are some of your favourites?