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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

Are you one of those travellers who brings come everything plus the kitchen sink when you travel? You like to collect beer coasters, hotel key cards, pens and ticket stubs. To you they’re souvenirs but we prefer to call them “junk.” Here is a quick guide about what to take and what to leave on your next holiday.

You would not believe what some travellers class as “souvenirs.” Everything from ketchup packs from McDonald’s in Paris to shower caps from hotels in Tokyo, brochures, airline boarding passes, restaurant menus… you’d think that there was a kleptomaniac in the house! The moral of the story? Most of these “souvenirs” end up in the trash once you arrive home, so why take them in the first place?

If you just can’t help it, then try sticking to souvenirs that will be useful (and are legal to take). Some examples? Mugs, t-shirts, magnets, salt and pepper shakers, fans, shot glasses… you get it. Assuming though that you bring something different home every time. Think about it: 15 holidays, 15 magnets… it’s a little much, don’t you think?

What to take home

  • Boarding passes: While most end up in the trash or being used as bookmarks they can be invaluable travel documents and are worth filing for safe keeping. For example, some loyalty rewards programs require proof of boarding/travel in order to collect certain prizes or bonus points. It’s better to keep them, especially if you collect rewards miles.
  • Receipts: Make sure you keep all the receipts from your trip in a safe place. This includes major purchases, proof of hotel payment, restaurant bills, etc. In some countries you can actually claim a portion of what you spent back when leaving at the airport. This is good advice especially if you’ve made major purchases on items like electronics.
  • Digital photos: One of the joys of shooting digital is the space, or lack there of. Taking great photos is an indispensable skill and the end result are picture-perfect memories for scrapbooks, walls and to share on the via the web. By learning some simple photography skills, you can take better photos. Check out 5 more tips on taking better travel photographs.

What to leave behind

  • Completely useless objects: Where to start with the examples… the bark of a tree, sand, rocks, menus, travel brochures and the list goes on. Not only are these things unnecessary but they take up precious space. First they clutter up your suitcase, then they’ll clutter up your home. Think twice before taking something as a “souvenir.” Is it really useful?
  • All things kitsch: These funny trinkets are designed for impulsive buyers. Kitsch does what it’s made to do, and it does it well, capturing your attention right away. You want it, you need it, you can’t live without it. You want it because it’s sold in a souvenir shop. It’s likely no member of your family really needs a pair of wooden clogs from the Netherlands or a traditional Asian tea dress, now do they?
  • Duplicates: If you already own something similar at home, why buy a new one abroad? How many cups, t-shirts, baseball hats, jewellery boxes etc. do you already have in your room? Buy what’s necessary and what has value. Probably you can survive without another “I’ve been to Paris” t-shirt.

What kind of souvenirs do you like bringing home from abroad? Do you usually bring things home for friends and family?

Img: garryknight, Flickr cc.

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