5 reasons why some souvenirs are a waste of time

Did you know the word souvenir comes from the French verb which means to remember?

souvenirIt’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.


18 thoughts on “5 reasons why some souvenirs are a waste of time

  1. Interesting post and I have to say that I have been guilty of picking up knick-knacks that are totally useless. I am much better now usually taking things I will use – a tee shirt here, a pen there – but completely agree with you on the souvenirs that are not even produced locally. I’ve actually started making a note of that and if they aren’t local I avoid them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We usually check to see where souvenirs are made. Traveling with kids has changed how we see souvenirs. My 3yo enjoys picking out something to remember about the trip. We also tend to pick up postcards more than we did before and turn postcard writing into an activity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did know souvenir was French to remember, although my French is very bad. I agree a lot of souvenir are sourced from China and you can probably buy the same thing back home. I’ve made the same mistake of buying clothing such as a galabiya, then not work it when returning home.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My wife and I always bring back one souvenir from each trip and we have a special bookcase in our living room that we put them in. But, we also always make sure that it has some special significance to us and not just some mass manufactured piece of whatever. They are almost always hand made, and one of our favorites is from our trip to Big Bear, CA where we actually watched the artist carve the bear out of a log.


  5. I can agree to all of this. Getting lots of souvenirs is pointless. But getting something that’s meaningful is really nice. I always bring a magnet for myself from each destination.


  6. Absolutely love this post, collect memories not things! I have so many dust catchers at home, remembering me of amazing trips but indeed a waste of money. I hope you kept the ceramic kissing Dutch couple though, although I don’t even have a souvenir of my own country ;).


  7. I totally agree with you. I found souvenirs waste of time money and space too. And we gather a lot of junk. However I always buy a magnet from that place and ensure it is hand made by the locals. I have these magnets sitting on my fridge and it keeps reminding me my love for travel and inspires me to plan for next


  8. The amount of rubbish souvenirs I used to buy people make me cringe now. I don’t tend to buy anything now unless its a fridge magnet for my mum and I collect a postcard from every place I go to and write on what I did when I was there. I totally agree with you that most of the souvenirs are not even made in the place that you visit so what is even the point in buying them.

    Liked by 1 person

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