Souvenirs abound at the Khan Al Khalili Bazaar in Cairo

Somehow it is the last day of your two-week trip and you have yet to pick up any tangible souvenirs to remember your time in the country by. Souvenirs are a matter of taste. One person’s tacky trinket is another’s ideal reminder of the trip. There is no one universal souvenir that will appeal to everyone. You can, however, avoid unoriginal memorabilia; instead, follow these simple tips to get items that will be functional, practical and most importantly, fantastic reminders of your holiday.

Avoid tourist traps

Instead of opting for the flashy and mass-produced souvenirs, choose to support a local craftsperson instead. You will know that you are supporting a local company and not giving your money to a corporation. On top of that, you are more likely to have a cultural experience when you talk to and purchase a souvenir from someone who lives in the place you are visiting. Many of the tourist stores offer the same products, but they aren’t produced locally; instead, they’re manufactured elsewhere and shipped in. Opt for unique, opt for personal, and opt for local.

Go practical

If you are going to take up space in your luggage or backpack for something to bring home, it might as well serve a purpose when you get back. Instead of a trinket that will sit in a drawer, choose something functional like unique art, jewellery, a hand-sewn bag or scarf that you can use (and show off) continuously when you get home. Every time you reach for the necklace you bought in Malaysia, you will be rocketed back to memories of the holiday and fun you had while there.

Visualise luggage space

This one is especially important for backpackers or those who are responsible for carrying every ounce of weight throughout a trip. When contemplating different kinds of souvenirs, keep in mind how much weight it will add to your bag, and whether or not that fragile glass piece is worth the effort and risk of it breaking in transit. Size will come in to play too. While it may be nice to bring home a framed piece of art you love, see if there is an option to bring just the canvas home without the frame to save on space and cost.

One space-saving idea is to collect postcards as you travel. Lightweight and small, they are also inexpensive and often feature the places you have visited and/or funny and famous sayings. Plus, you get to pick the ones that speak to you, and no one else will have the same collection. Or save space entirely by mailing them home to yourself; you’ll get the postcard and the stamp and postmark from the country you visited.

Search for unique and meaningful gifts

As any frequent traveller will tell you, the best and most meaningful souvenirs won’t come from the airport or from a cookie-cutter souvenir shop. In fact, your favourite item probably won’t even be considered a traditional souvenir. Instead, it could be something small or found, like a coaster printed with a local beverage name or a book of matches from that charming hotel. If it offers up a strong memory or feeling or thought that you had while travelling, then pack it away and use that as your organic souvenir instead of something you have to pay for.

So, next time you are on holiday and find yourself in need of a souvenir, remember these tips and don’t let it get in the way. Protect your trip (and new souvenirs) with international travel insurance from Cover-More New Zealand.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Happy Fun Time