Sunday, September 8, 2013

Travel Souvenirs & Loved Ones: A Controversial View

I'm going to tell you something and you're not going to like it. I do not buy souvenirs when I'm on vacation. At least, I don't buy them for other people. There it is. I said it. Before you judge me please hear me out:

 In my everyday life I am a gift giver. I am a "for-no-good-reason" gift giver. If I see something that I think would make a friend, lover, or relative happy, then I will buy it for them immediately I have been told I am very good at giving gifts-"you give the best gifts" has been said to me. These gifts come unexpectedly and without reason. Although, I do love birthdays and holidays so I give during those times too. I come up with ideas and themes and all kinds of hoopla to make it fun and exciting. This is who I am; except on vacation.

Souvenirs are supposed to signify travel memories. When you give souvenirs it feels like you're sharing the place you visited.  But, does it really? Here's a hard truth: Souvenir buying can be draining. Trying to remember everyone is a chore. Making sure not to buy too much because of the baggage check-in that can skyrocket in fees that  rival your monthly student loan payment is an exercise in hard math. Oh, and the thing you really don't want to accept is that the gifted people will probably lose the key chain you bought, and fade the t-shirt in the dryer.  True story: my wonderful mother figure, Karolyn purchased and sent a ton of postcards from a beautiful locale that didn't reach folks until long after she had come home.

I believe the point of a vacation is to vacate your life. Leave all the routine and predictable and be completely and utterly (self) absorbed in the life of carefree traveler. You are experiencing room service, non-stop dining, and simply walking around without any true purpose except to enjoy doing whatever you want.

It's glorious..liberating..empowering! So, why ruin it by standing in a suffocating shop with an array of over-priced cotton t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, key chains, and hats to buy for people that you are giving things to most of your life anyway?I don't do it. I am giving you permission not to do it. If you are going on vacation and you come back empty handed, then blame it on me. Instead, spend the extra time and money on some new experience. A walking tour, a great meal, or buy yourself something great that will always make you think of your trip. Souvenirs aren't necessary because experiences are forever, and the best gift you can give to another is to encourage or help them to go visit where you've been and experience it for themselves.

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