If you’ve ever gone to any travel hotspot, you know the hubbub about souvenirs. Heavy plastic magnets with the name of the place and/or poorly drawn, inaccurate pictures of the skyline with a backing that’s sure to fall off within a few months, flags on everything, postcards with the most over-processed filters, and usually a little knick-knack known in the area. In Greece, everything has evil eyes. In Scotland, everything has tartan, or bagpipes, highland cows, Nessie, you name it!
Walking down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile you will see nothing but tourist shops that sell this kitsch. Does anyone really want to buy it anymore? Wouldn’t you rather buy something small that you’ll use again, that will remind you of your holiday? It can’t just be me! Here’s my guide on holiday shopping for sentimental souvenirs.
Frequent Thrift and Antique Shops
One of my favourite things I’ve bought on holiday over the past year was this ornate hair clip from an antique shop in Sweden. It can’t have been more than a few pounds, and it’s gorgeous! Where we were, in Haga, antique shops are really common. I think it’s easy enough to find an antique shop wherever you go, though. It takes minimal research, and you’re more likely to find something genuinely traditional there than in a gift shop. Plus, there’s always something for everyone in those shops.
Look for Jewellery
Jewellery is really special. It’s something that’s often sentimental, a result of jewellery that’s been passed down generation to generation. You don’t have to buy something you’ll wear every day, maybe keep it for special occasions or certain outfits. But whenever you put that piece of jewellery on, you’ll remember where you bought it, and it will bring a little joy!
Stop By Bookshops
Everyone loves a good book to read on holiday, myself included. But something I’ve started doing is waiting until I’m on holiday to buy the book. I also like to go for classics, or things I’ll read again and again. When I was in Shetland, for example, I picked up a short book by Greta Thunberg, a book of poetry by Robert Burns, and a book of poetry by Emily Dickinson. All of them are going to be books that I’ll enjoy reading then, and enjoy reading again! And I’ll always remember that I bought them in the little corner of the world that is Lerwick. I’m also guilty of buying books I won’t read but I want on my shelf. In Callander, I bought “The Big Book of Garden Hens” for the simple reason that it is adorable.
Look for Something You’ve Been Looking for
I don’t mean a trendy pair of Chelsea boots (though that would be good too), but something you’ve been meaning to get for around the house! I started embroidering right before I went to Bulgaria, so I picked up a touristy thimble when I was there because I’d been meaning to get one anyways. I love to buy special wool when I’m away so I can knit something with it, and it just feels extra special!
I’m still guilty of buying trendy clothes while I’m away, sending kitschy postcards, and mailing my mom a tourist spoon from every spot. I just think it’s nice to look for something special for yourself. As we get a bit older, we start to realise how much crap we’ve accumulated. I have boxes of broken tourist fans I bought in Venice at home. Seriously. But I still like to buy something from my holiday when I’m away, so this is how I’ve tried to marry the two!
Let me know if you have any tips for finding sentimental souvenirs, I’m always on the lookout for more.