Did you know the word souvenir comes from the French verb which means to remember?
It’s something that helps us remember a person, place, or event. It reminds us that we’ve been there, done that. It’s usually something we can immediately see, smell, touch, taste, or hear. But after the novelty wears off, what do we do with all these souvenirs?
In Japan, souvenirs or omiyage are big business. Usually, if a person goes on holiday or on a business trip, even in the country, he or she is socially obliged to buy some omiyage for family, friends, and work colleagues. As a teacher in Japan, almost every week, I received some kind of omiyage from my co-workers: cookies from Okinawa, sweet potato crisps from Hokkaido, sweets from Hiroshima, citrus from Tokushima. Of course, I accepted these omiyage graciously. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right? However, when are some souvenirs not such a great idea? Here are 5 reasons why they’re a waste of time.
1. Some souvenirs are pointless.
Don’t buy an ashtray for a non-smoker or ornaments for folks who have nowhere to put them.
2. Some souvenirs are not even produced in the country they represent.
This is the ultimate commodification of the travel experience: creating something to be consumed before, during, or after the trip. For example, many souvenirs sold worldwide are actually made in China.
3. Some souvenirs become dust magnets.
As a child, I remember spending several Saturday mornings wiping a ceramic kissing Dutch couple, ashtrays from Toronto (even though no one in my family smoked), and rearranging magnets from New York on a refrigerator already cluttered with plastic fruit and tiny teddy bears.
4. You don’t wear them.
When I visited Egypt, I bought this white, embroidered cotton top called a galabiya that seemed perfect to wear in the desert heat. However, when I returned to my equally sweltering homeland, I never wore it. I ended up giving it away. Money wasted.
5. Shopping for souvenirs takes up too much time and space.
Hot Foot Trini does not travel to shop therefore shopping for souvenirs is always tiresome for me. It wastes a lot of precious travel time and some souvenirs take up valuable luggage space. Extra weight also cost a pretty penny if you fly on budget airlines.
Save your money. Some of the best souvenirs are intangible. They are the experiences you can’t immediately see, smell, touch, taste, or hear. They’re the ones you access from your memories and they’re the ones that remain the sweetest overtime.