I no longer buy souvenirs when I travel. And sorry, I rarely bring back gifts for friends and family. I paused today to consider why. Many things that you might buy in a foreign country, beautiful things, interestingly unique things, fall into the category of decorative items or jewellery. The problem? These things rarely wear out. I have still have vases and ashtrays?! that I received as wedding gifts. Items designed for display are popular hostess gifts, housewarming gifts and even birthday gifts. They accumulate. I've come to prefer a more minimalist appearance, uncluttered and with clean lines. As I have read recommended for wardrobes, one accent piece is enough.
We got talking on one occasion to a jewellery store owner in Skagway, Alaska who wasn't shy about admitting that once the summer Alaska cruise ship season was over he moved himself and his merchandise to a small shop on a Caribbean island so as to take advantage of the winter cruise season there. Did his offerings from 'the land of the midnight sun' become 'treasures of the Caribbean'?
Over the years, I've tried themes in my purchases of remembrances from trips. For over a decade I stuck to thimbles. They were small--ideally suited to my carry-on method of travel-- and not not very expensive. Not to sew with but to display on a rack purchased just for the purpose. It hung on a wall for a number of years but dusting around thirty thimbles grew tedious so it was packed away. Where is it now? For a few years I bought posters or prints. Museums, especially, have lovely reproductions. I would have to have these framed when I returned home. I was very fond of a heritage print of the Jungfraubahn bought at a train station in Switzerland. Kind of an Art Nouveau style. I think it's hanging in the garage now. No one else liked it as well as I did.
One thing I've become cognizant of is how many tourist locations become shopping locations. Group tours assume that shopping is a major goal or retail therapy as they call it down under. There's no doubt some tour providers and guides receive kickbacks or a percentage of sales. But that's not what I travel for. It's for the experiences, so special that they don't need a physical reminder.