For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a serial souvenir hunter when it comes to holidays. Where most people wander past a store full of holiday bric-a- brac and wonder who in their right mind would spend money on a garish tea-towel with ‘I ❤️ Gooberville’ on it, I stop in my tracks, drop everything, and run inside to buy one before they’re sold out (which my husband always assures me won’t be happening).
I’d like to believe my taste in touristy treasures has become more sophisticated with time, but occasionally I revert to the 11-year old child counting out coins from her holiday-money to buy rock- candy with the words ‘Cape Town’ emblazoned into the candy – all the way through!
My first memory of souvenir shopping was on a family weekend away to a coastal town a few hours away from home. I had some holiday pocket money and spent it on a giant pencil with pictures of boats and anchors, and of course, the name of our holiday destination (the mark of a genuine souvenir). Subsequent family holidays had me handing over hard earned savings for postcards, stickers, soft toys, t-shirts, and the absolute last word in souvenirs – plastic replicas of the main attractions – from teeny skylines to miniature double decker London buses that double as piggy banks… tacky, yet irresistible. Now, in my midlife, I prefer the subtler purchases – scented candles, pretty plates or tea cups, local art work, pottery and coffee-table photo-books.
Added to my purchases, were the holiday freebies or keepsakes – brochures, pamphlets, maps, coasters and napkins with the restaurant’s logo, bus and train tickets, shells and pebbles off the beach, and the obligatory shampoo/conditioner/body lotion set from fancy hotels.
Sadly, many of my earlier treasures haven’t survived the numerous home moves I’ve made, but the few that remain have been rounded up and put together in a shoebox in my office. Just like paging through an old photo album or reading old diaries, a browse through my souvenirs brings back memories of some wonderful times. I’ve learnt that the real value in the souvenir is not about what they cost, or whether I could make a couple of dollars selling them on e-Bay. Rather, it’s the value of the memories they bring back – the adventures, the new experiences, the quality of time spent with loved ones. Priceless.
What have you brought back from a holiday that helps you remember the best moments of the trip?
Written by Jodie Beard, co-founder of MyMeander