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Souvenirs - Sentimentality - A Slippery Slope

We smart carry-on-only travelers here in the forum boast about how we pack lighter every trip and we don't get attached to shopping and lugging souvenirs home that just end up gathering dust. But I've seen a lot of us proud to share our quirky collections of travel aids-to-memory, from jewelry to tree ornaments to hats, on and on.

I was struck by a comment in a recent topic about not holding on to material attachments, what the commenter called sentimentality - that it's perhaps a little tawdry to depend on mere things as evidence of your adventures when we have ubiquitous and cheap means for capturing our wanderings. In particular, we mentioned postcard apps as a way of getting beyond the rigmarole of dealing with the mails.

But this is striking a dissonant chord for me, moreso for it being in a travel enthusiasts forum -- if we now consider material souvenirs to be sentimental mush because we have the tech to evolve beyond the need for pebbles and coins in our pockets as we leave, isn't it a short slippery slide to questioning actually going to these places in person at all? I can get street-level video and color commentary galore for every one of my dream destinations, with experienced guides who have honed their patter and posted it on a youtube channel or a vlog, not to mention all the fancy professional travel shows. Do any of us doubt that the metaverse will be quick to offer us a stroll along the canals or a ride up the towers that will make the hotels of the Las Vegas Strip catch their venal breath?

Note here that the slippery slope I mean is not the one that leads to a house full of souvenirs, but one that is empty of them because it has a great data plan. If we don't keep anything that doesn't spark joy, why go to the trouble of searching for it in person?

[I'm being a little dramatic here for effect]

Posted by
2497 posts

I could add another 's' :


BTW, I'm also guilty of the light-packer sin of buying stuff, a little bit: I've mentioned before how I like to go to the bargain shelf in the museums and get an exhibition catalog from a past show that is now discounted, and then use it as the board in my folder packer on the way home. This way it serves as a souvenir of the museum, a pretty picture book on the shelf, and evidence of my thrift.

Posted by
7347 posts

I’m definitely a very light packer, and photos & experiences are my favorite souvenirs. (By experiences, I mean that I continue to cook meals at home that I learned to make at cooking classes.). The cooking will give it away that I travel - not a house of souvenirs.

My few souvenirs - a couple of pitchers from Italy displayed in the kitchen, an intricately painted pitcher from Spain, an amazing huge pastry brush from France, and a modern brightly painted oblong plate from an artist’s gallery in a small village - now on our coffee table are all sweet reminders of special places.

I can get street-level video and color commentary galore for every one of my dream destinations,…”
The Covid years surely taught us that these replacements for real travel were a frustrating substitute!

Posted by
302 posts

What an interesting and well- written post, thank you! I just wanted to share about the use of small rocks - I am an extreme minimalist in a tiny home but, in a treasured bowl my mother loved, store my collection, with the location in black marker.
Still not traveling the world again, yet, due to Covid concerns, but marvel at the visual reminder of where my feet have trod....and in the meantime have added some from meaningful moments with family.
Thanks again for the post!

Posted by
15283 posts

I am not a souvenir collector. I can't remember the last time I bought one. As stated, I just see them as dust collectors.

I savor experiences and memories. Photos work fine for me. I don't need something to remind me of a place. If someone wants to buy them, it's their choice.

The money I save not buying souvenirs goes toward future travel.

Posted by
4574 posts

I made a comment as to whether we were the last sentimental generation that buys stuff.
I am retired now and in the process of reducing my 'stuff' at home, and though I admit the old souvenirs are some of the hardest to part with, my kids don't want it and I don't need to burden them with getting rid of it when I die or need to leave my house. I also don't want to have to downsize, sell a house and buy new lodginigs all at once. I don't need that burden.
I never considered e-postcards, but I actually am using the web to 'visit' some places that I think are ecologically vulnerable enough to not need my travel footprint.....that were on a list to visit, but now crossed off.
I also determined over time that I can more readily retrieve moments in my mind and mind's eye than photos on a computer and that one item can represent a whole trip, so experiencing the country and trip doesn't mean I need to haul stuff home to solidify the experience.
It doesn't have to be all or nothing. There will always be physical travelers, but the metaverse can reduce wear and tear on fragile locations and allow us to 'travel' longer, if you will. Look at it as an opportunity for those financially or physically not able to travel in body, to do it by other means. Maybe it will be the direction that the TiKTok and 'influencer' followers go. I am definitely okay with that.

Posted by
380 posts

Can the internet, and media sharing like travel blogs, make actual travel redundant? Heck, no. There is nothing like seeing the sky. (Every place has its own sky, and every place's sky is different.) Nothing like smelling the air, infused with traces of the local foods and underpinned by the minerals of the earth below. Nothing like feeling the air on your cheeks (see my comments about sky, above). Nothing like hearing the rhythms of the language ebb and flow around you.

I'm not a big shopper. I live in NYC and honestly there's little I can't find right here at home, up to and including food specialties (except proper Brötchen, they just don't exist here.) I will sometimes buy a simple clothing item that I will use often: a bag, a scarf. I have a pair of fingerless gloves bought in Paris. I will buy linen dishtowels. (Again, NYC; no dishwasher in my apartment thus I get a lot of use out of them!) I am a decent photographer and have my own photographic style, so I take ample photos. One of my COVID-era projects was to get all my travel photos off the cloud and into albums, so I can relive my trips that way.

So--a mix? Light shopping, much experiencing.

Posted by
8525 posts

What's wrong with sentimentality? It's not a weakness or a vice, just a basic human emotion.

Posted by
4155 posts

My most treasured and sentimental travel memories come from my photos. More than once on this forum, contributors that have no no interest in taking photos have suggested that if they really want a memory, they'll buy a postcard. But for me, that wouldn't be the same. I will often look through postcards at the dreaded souvenir shop to get some ideas for photos, but it's the personal accomplishment of putting my own stamp on that photo which makes it special. I mentioned in another post that my main goal for visiting Notre Dame is to get a photo of the Eiffel Tower with a Gargoyle/Grotesques in the foreground. It's a famous photo, available on postcards and even simple to Google. But my photo will be my own.

I'm not much of a souvenir guy but I understand the desire to bring something home that gives you a reminder, and maybe a story to tell. I often grab a cheap fridge magnet to put on my beer fridge in the basement. It gives me more to smile about than just the beer.

Posted by
18 posts

My souvenirs are objects that are small, light, easy to carry home. They are things I use, and therefore see every day.
The small plate I brought home from Madrid gives me a rush of happy whenever I look at it. The mousepad of the Madrid Metro is in front of me as I type. And then there are the magnets...
I have a ton of photos, and I certainly view travel shows a lot, but those ceramics are an actual piece of the place.

Posted by
4931 posts

I completely agree with Stan. What is so wrong with sentimentality? Or souvenirs, if they bring you joy? If I didn't buy souvenirs on my trips, many of the walls in our home would be bare. We would often buy an unframed print or painting that we loved while away. And our Christmas tree wouldn't be half full of ornaments that we came across on our travels. I wouldn't have the pashminas or scarves that I often wear to this day. I don't HAVE to have them to remember a place. I've got thousands of photos and a dozen journals to remind me of all the details of our travels. But if looking at the painting over my mantel brings a smile to my face, what is wrong with that?

Posted by
1208 posts

What a thoughtful and thought provoking post! I cherish my photos, and sometimes pull an album from my bookshelf and flip through it, savoring each image. However, I also cherish a few lovely objects that I can feel and touch and see daily that bring me back in a visual and tactile way to a place and time that brings me joy. For example: I have a set of four small teaspoons that I purchased one afternoon years ago in Samartaine department store in Paris. The kind and enthusiastic saleslady who helped me choose them spent much time explaining (in French) why one set was so much nicer and more unique than the other set I was considering. We intently discussed the properties of one spoon vs. another, despite my struggles with her language. Finally, she joyfully wrapped my final purchase with much dignity. No photo could ever substitute for the delight I feel each time I stir my tea with one of those spoons. Likewise, I have a gorgeous red, pink and green ceramic spoon rest on my stove which I purchased one morning in Deruta while traveling with my SIL. We wandered in and out of old shops in "upper" older Deruta for much of a sunny spring day, and watched an artist alone in her studio for some time. She was kind and generous with her knowledge and patience with us. The sunlight poured through windows onto her work table, and we watched in deep admiration for her skill and persistence as she painted ceramics. Every day when I rest my wooden spoon (purchased in Assisi) on the spoon rest she painted, I am transported to that quiet - almost mystical - sunny morning in Deruta. So sure, I like my photos, but a few inanimate objects scattered throughout my home bring me a different and precious joy that spark complex and wonderful memories.

Posted by
1661 posts

What Allan said about photos. I love to take photos, and they have my own twist--often including quirky little things I notice, or cats I meet. But photos don't usually take up physical space these days, anyway.

I am a tree ornament person, though. It's something we started doing before we ever travelled to Europe, picking up ornaments from Canadian destinations like PEI, Qualicum Beach, and Ottawa. Since then, our collection has grown a lot, and we get a lot of joy from it: our little golden Buddha from Chian Lian nunnery in Kowloon; our ostrich shell bead bracelet bought from a San (once known as "bushman") woman in the Kalahari desert; our dove from the Nobel Peace Museum in Oslo; our Lego "us" that we made at the flagship Lego store in Copenhagen; our little Eiffel Tower from, bien sûr, Paris; our "You and Me Chair" fridge magnet from Merida--all turned into tree ornaments. These items are inexpensive and take up next to no room in our carryons. Also, our Christmas Tree is one place where I don't mind if things are kitchy and cheesy--that's part of the fun. Occasionally I'll pick up the odd other item, but more because I just like it, and not necessarily as a "souvenir."

I do look at images online, and I do watch travel shows, but these don't replace travel or my own memories. They merely serve as inspiration for my own travel to make my own memories.

Posted by
8732 posts

On the first trip abroad was young and thought i had to buy souvenirs for family. Tea towels, scarf, tin of cookies from Harrods, couple of Toberlone chocolate bars. Fit in the back pack. Ate the chocolate on the flight home. Mom loved the scarf.

Also in a fueled by beer spirit of the moment I absconded with a liter Hofbrau mug. Lugged it around for a month. Still have it. It’s used as a door stop and penny holder. Catholic guilt still felt but confessed ages ago and only got 3 Our Fathers, 3 Hail Marys and 1 Act of Contrition.

Subsequent trips were all about photography so I’d look for inexpensive picture frames to bring home. Then I’d put developed images in the frames to give as gifts.

Nowadays, no family. Photos snapped on iPhone.
Easy peasy.

Best item ever purchased in my travels, is my hand painted hand soap dish I bought in Paris in 1972. View of the Champs Eylsees and Arc de triomphe. Sits on the kitchen counter near the sink. Holds a bar of Dove soap.

I also treasure and still use a small Italian leather coin purse given to me by a friend who lived in Milan.

Sentimentality only arises when I think of my best friend who I’d known since age 5 and lost to cancer nearly 20 years ago. She was Italian and never made time to travel. I took some of her ashes to the Italian village where her grandmother was born. Discovered a path to a hilltop where locals had placed a bench. Scattered some of her ashes there. Told her she was truly home.

Posted by
350 posts

I used to buy lots of different souvenirs when I first started to travel like mugs, t-shirts, books, ...) I know purches an item for my Christmas tree. It does not have to be Christmas or winter themed (in place of a star I have a mask I purchased in Venice) Every December when I put up my tree it is a great memory.

While it takes up space if I can manage I purchase my sister a Starbucks country or city mug from different places.

Posted by
2497 posts

thanks everyone for sharing, and for speaking up for sentimentality --

do you think there's a goldilocks point for sentimentality, where it feels just right? Not too soft or too hard ...

Posted by
76 posts

Such a personal thing- memories, souvenirs, sentimentality. For myself, I love to get something for my travel Christmas tree from each country. Doesn’t have to be an ornament but something that will represent that country. And I have a cork wall in my study with postcards from each place I have been. Just for me, not to display to the world really.

But I have a daughter whose love language is gifts. So I always bring back something small for her so she knows I missed her and was thinking of her when I travel. I usually bring unusual or interesting bookmarks back for friends as well. But I don’t spend a lot of time or money on souvenirs, just a small token.

I do photo books on Snapfish and print them for each trip and love pulling them out and reminiscing about a trip.

To each their own, if you love buying a lot , have at it. If you don’t, that’s good too. Neither is right or wrong.

Posted by
4380 posts

Collecting souvenirs is fine until you reach the stage of life where you are downsizing your living quarters. Then a lot of that stuff becomes, of necessity, junk.

Posted by
755 posts

Well I once managed to bring home 13 plates in my carry-on but generally I look for something small to take home and remind me of a place. But sometimes I do want something that’s large, or I can’t find something that’s exactly what I want, so I will wait until I get home and look online. I loved the ceramic pitchers I saw in Spain but didn’t want to lug one home so I found one on eBay. In St. Petersburg, I saw a lot of Matryoshka dolls, which I had always wanted, but they were all the same. I wanted something unique, so I found just what I wanted on eBay. Sounds strange but it works for me.

Posted by
4893 posts

Avirosemail, thx for starting this thread, I'm enjoying it on - another- rainy day in CA.
Claudia, thx for sharing your bittersweet story.

The souvenirs I use daily are the pens, pencils, and notepads I picked up at the various hotels. I just finished doing March bills, using a pen from Hotel des Alpes. The ink in those pens last an amazingly long time.
I also get an ornament for the Xmas tree, and an addition to my reindeer collection - either a small one, or a soft one. I mark each one with the date and city, each year musing "it doesn't seem like that trip was SO long ago."

Some of my highlights are buying small oil or watercolor paintings done by the artists I watch painting along the streets and canals- 5x7 or 8x10 inches. I have a collage collection on my kitchen wall that I see multiple times a day.

The Chocolate I bring back never gets dusty. I brought Cadbury back for my adult daughter, and ate it before I saw her. Then I begged a friend to bring some more back to replace that ( for my daughter) and I ate that, also.

My friends and I exchange dish towels from each other's trips- another item that doesn't collect dust.

I do enjoy my photo books. On the last page I post photos of the various pet regulation signs- Europeans are quite graphic regarding what dogs aren't supposed to do and where. I also bring home poop bags from public dispensers, (empty , of course.) When once hiking outside Weggis, with a very strong smell of fresh cow manure, I was tickled by the presence of a dog poop bag dispenser, adjacent to the smelly cow pasture.

My daughter just gifted me a wi-fi photo frame, also in the kitchen, which I am enjoying that much more than I had expected. Loading vacation and pet pix is really easy, and I can be having a bad day and a pix of Santa at the Rothenburg Xmas markets pops up, and I smile.

From spring, 2022, my prize souvenir was a pair of white designer tennis shoes from one of my favorite German shoe companies. A pair that I first tried on here at home, and didn't want to pay $130 plus tax. I joked that I would look for them in Germany - and wow- I found the shoes, and they cost 64 euros, which included the vat! I wear them constantly.

Ps- and I do carry-on only luggage.

Thx again for rainy day entertainment!

Posted by
2194 posts

@ Pat - I'm still using hotel notepads that my mother picked up across the globe. She saved everything (!) but died in 2006. These are a sentimental reminder of her.

Posted by
247 posts

My Mom, who traveled with a cousin during retirement, said she noticed that the "souvenirs" aimed at tourists look the same no matter where you go.

Her conclusion: They are all probably made in China and labeled as a local product.

Look for something from a true local crafts-person. Know who you are buying from.

Don't get something just to have something from this trip. As mentioned above, get something that sparks JOY.

Posted by
7487 posts

lI have a friend who picks up a fridge magnet everywhere she goes. They’re pretty small and don’t take up much cargo space, and as long as you’ve got a place on the refrigerator door, there’s always space for more. Some seem kind-of tacky, but all are a regular reminder of where you’ve been, and maybe what you did there. She actually had me pick up a couple for places I’d been, and she hadn’t, so maybe it’s more about the magnet, and less about the remembrance.

I like to get items I can use in the kitchen - a functional souvenir. A little homemade ceramic bowl from Morocco, something I love to use for *mise en place *, just got a tiny chip on the rim. That’s bothersome, but it shows that it’s more than a dust-collector on the shelf. Maybe I need to go back again for another!

I sent 2 postcards from Italy last fall. Sadly, so many past recipients are no longer living, and there are fewer people for buying cards, postage, and writing a message. Glad the postal systems are still there, though, for something besides delivering online merchandise packages.

Posted by
247 posts

l have a friend who picks up a fridge magnet everywhere she goes.
They’re pretty small and don’t take up much cargo space, and as long
as you’ve got a place on the refrigerator door, there’s always space
for more.

I sent 2 postcards from Italy last fall. Sadly, so many past
recipients are no longer living, and there are fewer people for buying
cards, postage, and writing a message. Glad the postal systems are
still there, though, for something besides delivering online
merchandise packages.

A salesman I traveled with to Europe for work suggested fridge magnets to me as gifts or souvenirs. Good choice for the reasons you posted.

Also foreign coins or stamps.

I took some coins back for a friend's children. She was more interested in the coins than the kids were. And my sister is more interested in the foreign stamps. I get a X-mas card from a client in Japan every year and I always save the envelope for the stamp.

As far as postcards, not all locations have good regional postcards. I went to Key Biscayne several years ago. I was looking for a postcard of the historic lighthouse. Finally found one at a drugstore in Miami. Nothing of the Lighthouse at the Lighthouse gift shop. Everything they had was of Miami beach.

Posted by
1236 posts

I am all about the tea towels, scarves, and toblerones. I could live on those almond ones. My most cherished travel item that goes on each trip is a wine cork/stopper from Padua. I bought a bottle of red from a small store across from the Basilica of St. Anthony. The store owner was nice enough to open the bottle for me, but the cork was kaput. Her store of knicknacks happily offered up this little stopper that closed my wine bottle AND gives me a picture of the Basilica on the top. Love it.

Makes me happy to remember how delighted the storekeeper was to open the bottle, only to be dismayed that the cork was wrecked in opening. But this handy, cute stopper saved the day. Lots of smiles and giggles, neither one of us speaking each other's language at all well!

Posted by
1259 posts

My mom used to bring home those tiny spoons for all her friends till the day one of them delicately mentioned they had enough stuff. Mom was quite relieved. After going full contact KonMari on my collections of bicycle event T-shirts and similar junk, I stopped buying souvenirs decades ago. Shoot, I have nearly stopped taking photos, too.

However, I'm starting a tile project and I'd like to inlcude a bunch of Gaudi-inspired ceramic pieces. I'll be searching for those while I am visiting Barcelona and I'll have the shop ship them. Hang the expense.

Posted by
483 posts

I'm a One Bag fascist, but for return, I am often willing to check one bag, to bring in three bottles of wine on a trip to Piemonte, three bottles of Champagne from the trip to Paris (that included a day trip to Reince) or even a set of absurdly decorative, likely not food safe, skewers I got in Turkey. My haul from that trip to Piemonte was such that I took a picture of my filled bag ahead of departure. I should note, we rarely search for a souvenir, beyond the gift shop for a site, but if we see something that we like, we're not shy about bringing it home.

The metaverse may have prettier and younger people vlogging the same destinations that I hit. None of them will be as good to me as my wife's photography or my writing. None of them evoke the personal experience I get from the travel. And none of them trigger the full memories that are maybe summoned by small objects brought back, or maybe a garment or other useful item that returned with us. They may trigger some, maybe the longing to return, but not the full memory that is evoked when I read my older posts in various fora on my return or looking through my wife's photobooks and collection of digital photos that cover things that didn't make the books.

When we sold our condo in 2020, our realtor described us as minimalists. We feel very far from that description, and yet, when we visited our upstairs neighbor, we were amazed at the amount of stuff they had. But what if each one of their things evokes a memory, tied with a fondly remembered experience. Anything nondisposable I've brought back works that way for me, from my most recent acquisition (The Lewis Chessmen Queen, in resin, which evokes both the wonder of exploring the British Museum, and the drudgery of the previous two years in lockdown, which the trip to London was the informal total end of) to the oldest in our relationship (A two foot tall wooden cat carving, procured in Florence, and lugged from Florence to 5Terre, to Milan, Venice, Rome, DC and then Northern Virginia in my rolly bag, despite it being my wife's thing, which brings back our honeymoon, and all the feels from that trip).

There's a sweet spot to hit between naught but memories and buying every geegaw your see. I dunno that I have the right answer, but I feel good about where I am with it. Your mileage will vary. But I'm good with occasionally checking a bag because I want to bring something back (I have a separate suitcase for bringing a case of wine back, purpose built, but I also prefer to ship that quantity, rather than risk a case to bottle shock.

Posted by
157 posts

We all love to travel. The way we do it may vary in what we take; carry on only, check in; where we go and how we do it, group or solo; how we remember, photos, souvenirs. Whatever we do is right for us and makes us happy. No right way nor wrong way just our way. Fun to hear all experiences.

Posted by
7487 posts

It sounds like Max has found the perfect equilibrium between sentimental souvenirs and excess accumulation. But as far as the slippery slope - that slope where a rolling bag could get away, so be extra careful with a rolly when the going gets steep (and/or slippery)!

Posted by
4893 posts

Recently I've started buying CDs from musical performers on the streets, especially now that CDs are so easily self- made. I love driving around and listening them, brings back memories of being in the plazas and wandering.

Posted by
1661 posts

Oh, Pat. That's a lovely idea. A couple of times, we've bought small paintings from street artists, and those always bring back fond memories.

Posted by
2497 posts

I'm in the middle of a nasty jolt that has clutter/possession ramifications still happening -- my apartment flooded in the recent storms and I'm living in a hotel half an hour away -- for the first nights I had just the clothes on my back, and now I'm using a day bag. The water damaged my vacation journals and maps and souvenirs as well as my family correspondence and photos and so much more. The most optimistic estimate for my return home is the middle of next week, and between now and then I have to get everything out and either dumpstered or stored so that the repair people can get into the subfloor. This is very emotionally trying, and I'm not rising to the task very well so far, unfortunately. I've slipped down the slope and so far I can't get up!

Posted by
7487 posts

Wow, that’s rough about the flooding. Perhaps that’s an argument for sturdy mementos, or none at all.

Hope things dry out and you come through emotionally, and your most important possessions come through physically.

Posted by
2089 posts

avirosemail--Oh that is too bad! I hope you are able to salvage the sentimental items.

I pack very light and we do carryon only. That said, I do like to shop so that is partly why I keep extra room in my bag for coming home. If it is a new place to me, I alway buys a print. My husband likes magnets for the fridge in the garage. A Christmas ornament is nice if I find one that strikes me. I have a lot of dish towels from prior travels, but have more than enough now so skip buying those. After that it is just whatever hits me. I don't like things that are clutter and that I have to dust. They need to be a bit functional, unless it is a weird splurge item. My criteria is "do I really want to carry this thing around with me for the next x amount of days?".

We just had to empty our moms condo. We had one evening and a full day. Sorting was rough, but we held onto what was truly special to her. She loved plates, but had wayyy too many from her travels. So I took 4 so that I can make them into serving platters and give to the grandkids. This way they get something from grandma and they will get used. Mom wrote the date on the back of each plate and which trip it was. She also had moments from when her parents traveled around the world in 1970. The Limoge, etc I was more than happy to bring home and it will get used. I also brought a few things home for friends that I knew would adore certain things.

So I figure that whatever I buy our kids can decide what they want to keep and pass along the rest. In the meantime, I will continue my ways regarding travel and shopping. I am sure I will change my mind on things numerous times along the way:)

Posted by
3899 posts

So sorry about the flooding in your home. Hope it all gets sorted out asap.

Posted by
4683 posts

Oh avirosemail, I'm so sorry to hear that you got flooded in these storms. I hope the work goes quickly so that you can get back home.

Posted by
4009 posts

I was struck by a comment in a recent topic about not holding on to material attachments, what the commenter called sentimentality - that it's perhaps a little tawdry to depend on mere things as evidence of your adventures when we have ubiquitous and cheap means for capturing our wanderings…. if we now consider material souvenirs to be sentimental mush because we have the tech to evolve beyond the need for pebbles and coins in our pockets as we leave, isn't it a short slippery slide to questioning actually going to these places in person at all?

I ignore those whose only intellect is demonstrated by judging what somebody buys; they aren’t worth 1 second of your time.

Posted by
4196 posts

Ah, avi! I am sorry about what you are going through! Situations like that have gone through my head regarding physical things that hold memories of my children, more so than my travels. They are not happy thoughts. I am sorry you are having to go through this!

Posted by
700 posts

Avi, I'm so sorry to hear about the flooding! I hope things are improving at your apartment.

Posted by
291 posts

Avi, I’m so sorry to hear that your apartment got flooded! I hope that your apartment situation is improving now.

Posted by
2497 posts

This topic is very relevant for me now that I am moving back into my post-flood apt (finally!) and unpacking.

Tonight I opened a box labeled Bedroom - reading material memorabilia
and it has things in it like the printed guide to the Royal Chapel Real Capilla in Granada --
this is interesting stuff and brings back good memories, so I don't want to throw it out,
but I also don't want to clutter up my bedroom right off as I re-occupy it. What to do with this box's contents?

Also in the box: ticket stubs from the Oakland A's games in which Rickie Henderson tied and then broke the stolen bases records. It was great to see these bits of baseball history in person and have the stubs, but I am tossing them out. Someone somewhere is thinking "Sacrilege!" while I'm sure others are wondering why I kept them at all.

Posted by
4155 posts

You're right, throwing out old baseball tickets is sacrilege. Especially with such terrific memories. Personal sports memorbilia with special memories is the kind of thing that I wished I had kept.

Posted by
676 posts

Avi, I'll bet you could sell those ticket stubs, even if it's on ebay and you have to pay them a commission.

Posted by
2497 posts

I'm looking back at this thread and recalling how rich the discussion was in the first few days -- we're a thoughtful bunch here in the RS Forum.

Photos and other mementos change meaning over time because we have changed and our circumstances as well.
This past weekend someone shared photos with me of the conditions at the relocation camps where Japanese Americans here in CA were held during WWII, and some pics of the latrine reminded me of a story my dad would tell about his time in the USAF - his birthday would have been this past weekend as well. Those pics and my memory of that story never came into contact before now, and a new observation resulted.

This is something to keep in mind when leaning in a just-gathering-dust direction regarding souvenirs -- maybe those items can be repurposed or find new life.

Posted by
2089 posts

avirosemail-- "This is something to keep in mind when leaning in a just-gathering-dust direction regarding souvenirs -- maybe those items can be repurposed or find new life." I love this comment so much. When we emptied out moms condo, I took all of her photos home and sorted through them. It was so interesting and a lot of fun. Although the albums and boxes of photos took up so much room. I kept the nice albums that were embossed, but I sorted through every photo she had and then made a Mixbook album of her life. We will be giving her that for her birthday in a couple weeks.

Posted by
429 posts

This is a somewhat relevant topic for me right now - my mother died about six weeks ago and I will soon have to tackle clearing out her house. My mother's 'never, ever throw anything away' ethos extended to her travels as well. She bought loads of souvenirs, and saved every single receipt, napkin, flyer, ticket stub, museum map, you name it, that she collected along the way.
She also created scrapbooks of every trip she and my dad took and put in every single photo they took - not just a curated set, but EVERY photo.
There are probably forty volumes of travel scrapbooks. There are probably forty magnets on her refrigerator. There are probably four hundred shopping bags. There are tea tins, spoons, coasters, trivets, framed prints, souvenir books, t-shirts, postcards, figurines, pendants, tea towels. Most of her stuff came from museum shops or souvenir shops, not local artisans.
I'm not an especially sentimental person, and we live in a very small house, but the thought of dealing with the mountain of souvenirs my mother collected is so disheartening as to send me in the extreme opposite direction of sentimentality and collecting keepsakes - I'm never buying another souvenir again, unless it's consumable.
I don't know what I'm trying to express here, but I can't imagine how the sheer volume of my mother's 'things' enhanced her memories of her travels. I realize she is probably an extreme case of souvenir collecting, but it's made it clear to me that something would have to be a very special, lovely, interesting, meaningful item for me to bring it home from my travels. And I'm okay bringing nothing at all home but my memories.

Posted by
2089 posts

Kayla--I am so sorry. Losing her and needing to go through everything is a lot. I completely understand how much stuff you are talking about because as I read it, it describes my mom to a "T". What about arranging the ticket stubs together and taking a photo, and same with spoons etc. Then you could do an album that would be significantly condensed. Of course this is only good if you want to take a look at these things later, which you just never know. Regardless, I understand and feel for you. When we cleaned out moms place, we had one evening and one full day. I had packed up the china/crystal the day before that, but otherwise we only had that very limited amount of time to completely empty the place. With three of us, we somehow managed to get it done, but we did end up tossing things that we wished now we would have kept. It is tough no matter what, so be gentle with yourself as you go through the process.

Posted by
4893 posts

I actually did something different.
The first time I went to Murano, I lusted after the beautiful paperweights, which I collect. However, they were very expensive and heavy. Then it occurred to me how many folks have brought these back, and after a few decades, they or they families lost interest. So I searched on EBay and bought some gorgeous pieces, all with the Murano sticker, at a fraction of their original cost. I enjoy looking at these everyday. Do they represent my trip, no, but their beauty and workmanship live on, and I so appreciate them.
Safe travels.

Posted by
4155 posts

This is something to keep in mind when leaning in a
just-gathering-dust direction regarding souvenirs -- maybe those items
can be repurposed or find new life.

A timely comment. I was reminded of a repurposed souvenir after coming across this article yesterday. The Smithsonian's Museum of American History has a new exhibit about what Disney Parks tell us about ourselves. The 3rd photo in the article shows some old Disney maps. The middle one looks like the map I bought in 1979. My wife came across it about 20 years ago during our family 'Disney' years and repurposed it by having it framed and it hung in our house for years. It's now in a closet again, but I can't help but still smile about it and wonder if there is a place for it in the house again.

*will be in DC in September and the museum and the exhibition is on our list.

Posted by
38 posts

I'm in to practical souvenirs. I may buy a postcard of a location/building I'm interested in because I can't get the same quality on my cell phone camera.

During my first visit to Lisbon I bought an old fashioned brass key at a used book store and now it's on my keychain.
When I went back the next year I bought Portuguese made knitting yarn and fabric at a good quality store. Now I have a hand knit sweater and two shirts, that I made, from those purchases.

I've scoped out yarn and fabric shops for my upcoming trip.