How to buy souvenirs on your travels that aren’t tacky!

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When I go on holiday I just LOVE to buy souvenirs, who doesn’t? It always seems like such a good idea at the time, I mean who doesn’t need a set of Peruvian panpipes in their daily life? I have certainly used mine a lot…… Or not – they sit in my cupboard collecting dust and getting in the way. When you are away it’s so easy to fall into the relaxed holiday vibe, where you can easily convince yourself to do crazy things…. Such as, “I’ll learn to play the panpipes in my spare time!” (Ha!) When we went to Peru, we bought so much that we needed an extra suitcase to bring back our souvenirs and two years later half of the things we bought are still in that bag. We just didn’t need so much! So, over the last few trips I’ve had a rethink about the things I buy when on my travels. In doing so I’ve written some top tips for buying less, but choosing meaningful items that are both useful and bring back memories of happy times on my travels. Here goes….

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In Lake Titicaca, the locals welcomed us into their homes where we watched them creating beautiful tapestries
  • Buy things in keeping with your style at home – Try and think exactly where it will go in your house when you get home. Does it fit in with your general aesthetic, colour scheme or the theme of your room? If you feel like it’ll look out of place, maybe it’s not quite right for you.
  • Find items that are useful – Does it serve a purpose, will it add value to your life when you get home? If you genuinely think you will use it then it’s a good call to buy it. My favourite thing to buy at the moment are little hand painted bowls, I have bowls from all around the world, they are brightly coloured and mismatched in design but that’s part of the charm. They are perfect for serving up nibbles at parties, sauces and dips – we use them all the time.
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Surely the most dangerous souvenir shopping ever? These locals set up their stall right on the edge of the mountain, like you do!
  • Get larger items shipped back to you Rather than buying lots of little items and squeezing them into your suitcase, there is always the option to buy a larger item, such as a hand-made piece of furniture or wooden sculpture and have it shipped back to you in the UK (or wherever you are based!) It’s cheaper than you think and you’ll have a completely unique piece that will take pride of place in your house. If you buy something bigger, it’s much more likely you’ll treasure it for longer than a smaller ‘knick knack’ type item.
  • Avoid logos, flags and plastic items –  They might be fun at the time, but you won’t really want a plastic Eiffel tower on your bookshelf in a years time. Avoid cheap, tacky souvenir shops like the plague, they are the ultimate tack!
  • Buy handmade, traditional items – Visit communities and buy handicrafts made by the locals to help boost their economy. There is no point visiting a beautiful country and buying a cheap, plastic product that was probably made in bulk in China. We went to a Peruvian village where they taught us how they spin their own llama wool, dye it with natural colourings and then use it to hand weave into jumpers and other products. It was amazing to see the whole process, we also bought some hand knitted jumpers and remember that little village every time we wear them.
Hand-weaving in the Peruvian village
  • Buy food items – It’s always fun to bring exotic foods home with you. This one is tricky as you need to check your countries importation laws, but we quite often bring local herbal teas and spices back with us, which are always easy and light to carry in the suitcase and are perfect for recreating memories with dishes from our travels!
  • Keep all your tickets and make something when you get home – This is the cheapest and easiest option if you are travelling light. Keep all your plane tickets, entrance tickets, maps and postcards as there are so many amazingly creative ideas to display your special moments and create a keepsake to treasure them forever.
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Hand-made llama hat in Peru, had to be done!

Are you guilty of buying tacky souvenirs? What are your top tips for buying stuff abroad?

This post does contain a collaborative link with TNT,
however all travel advice, tales of llama hats and clifftop poncho sellers are my own.

Pin for later: souvenirs-pin

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  • A great post! When I used to travel with my family I used to bring lots of tat back (or at least what I could afford with my pocket money!) but as an adult I hardly ever buy souvenirs, which sometimes I regret as I’ve visited people that display some lovely things in their homes to remind them of their travels. I tend to go with your last option and collect tickets, postcards, maps and so on. I keep the larger things in a box then I stick the postcards, pictures from leaflets and that into scrapbooks along with a written diary. Like you I do have some nice bowls, some which I’ve bought and some which have been bought for me, which I do like to keep on display.

  • I used to buy lots of things, but I stopped and now I’m happy I did. What’s the point of getting so many things that I don’t really need or want. I think the idea of getting food and drinks is amazing. xx

  • Ok I’m utterly in love with that adorable alpaca. I feel like I’d have taken it home with me 😀 I used to buy a lot of stuff while on vacation – now I try to only spend my money on experiences instead of buying random stuff^^

    Love, Kerstin | http://www.missgetaway.com/