A vacation can really break the budget when you add up the the cost of hotels, flight, car rentals, meals and entertainment.
And when you’ve spent that much money on travel, you can really feel the pressure to remember all the fun you had while you were there. Savvy gift shop owners all over the country are quick to make you believe that the only way to remember your vacation is to stock up on all of the overpriced souvenirs from your travel destination.
I admit it, I’ve been tempted by the touristy trinkets when I travel. It’s easy to get sucked into buying an outrageously priced t-shirt or to pick up a tacky refrigerator magnet (or 3).
Fortunately, I’ve found that some of the best ways to come home with souvenirs from your vacation don’t cost very much money at all.
Taking photographs is my favorite way to remember vacations we’ve taken. Take photos of the people, places and things you see. Enlarge your photos or create a photo collage and frame your photographs to hang on your wall. Create a scrapbook or photo book of your trip. Digital cameras can take thousands of photos. Just print the ones that conjure up the best memories to create a treasured keepsake.
Brochures, postcards and ticket stubs
I make sure to hang onto brochures and things like ticket stubs and wrist bands to remind me of places I’ve been. If you’re photography skills are a little lacking, pick up some postcards that remind you of your trip. All of these items can be used to create a travel scrapbook.
Pieces of nature
Fill a jar with a few pebbles you’ve gathered from a nature walk. Create a craft project with seashells you’ve gathered from your beach vacation. Keep an eye out for pieces of nature that could be used in home decor. Just be sure that you’re not causing any harm to the environment by taking the items, and that you’re not breaking any laws. (For example, in many states, it is illegal to pick wildflowers).
Keeping a travel journal is an excellent, low-cost way to document your experiences. On each of leg of your trip, write down the things you did, what you saw, what you smelled, touched, and tasted. Share your impressions, what you learned, and how you felt about the experience. The more detailed you are – the better! When my husband and I went on our vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota, I made sure to write down my thoughts each day while riding in the car. The travel journal was incredibly helpful in creating a special scrapbook of my trip, and when I read my notes from the journal, I’m instantly transported back to our vacation.
If you must buy souvenirs
If you simply must buy something to remember your vacation, consider buying one key item for your home instead of buying a lot of little junk. One friend of mine purchases a piece of art created by a local artist that reflects the area she’s visited. She then hangs the artwork in her home and is reminded of fond memories of her vacation. Another friend purchases a Christmas ornament that reminds her of her travels. My grandmother often purchased a piece of locally handcrafted jewelry to remember her travels. (Her turquoise from Arizona was a favorite!)
By purchasing one special piece to remember your trip, you won’t clutter up your home with stuff you don’t need. Instead, you’ll have a quality item that triggers fond memories of happy times.
One other tip for buying souvenirs on a budget: Don’t buy your souvenirs at gift shops. Instead, consider heading to a local discount department store. You’ll find that the postcards and t-shirts cost much less than they do at a tourist attraction.