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Why do souvenirs bring back happy travel memories?
Why travel means so little until we can’t do it
This blog is often about the hassles and problems of travel. But like so many other things, you don’t realize how much travel means to you until you can’t do it. So today I’m writing about travel memories. And “memories” in French is “souvenirs.”
In this era of decluttering, I know I’m an aberration in some ways. I love buying a souvenir at least from every trip. Sometimes edible and potable things like spices and candy and wine. They are great immediate reminders of trips past. Other times I buy souvenirs that last.
A memory, of course, exists without souvenirs
I’ve been home now for about two weeks. I still savor my travel memories. My favorite wine glass, purchased from Mala Tavern, sits on a shelf. It brings back memories of sitting by the water near Lahaina, Maui, at one of my favorite restaurants in the world. A simple glass brings me joy when I imagine being on the ship’s deck looking at the ocean. And, I love wearing inexpensive bracelets, several at a time, most of them purchased on some trip or other, each with its own memories attached.
For those of us who love to travel, the experience itself is one of the great pleasures of life. But, at times, so too can be planning a trip, and the anticipation. Then there is also the pleasure of remembering the journey afterward.
So, yeah, I shop when I travel, even getting most of my clothes at a foreign charity or consignment shops. I (mostly) can remember where everything came from. As I write I remember my top came from the Cancer Research shop on Marylebone High Street in London. (One of the world’s best charity shops, actually, in my opinion.) And my socks come from Dublin — okay, I bought them new.
Memories can come as themes
Even if you aren’t a big shopper, there’s the “one item a trip” option. Plus, you can purchase souvenirs with a consistent theme.
My husband and I were at a party for a local club I belong to over 20 years ago when we noticed that the host’s house was full of roosters. Not real roosters, but paintings of roosters, figurines of roosters, little ornaments of roosters, the list went on. She explained to me that both to limit shopping volume and to keep memories alive they decided that each trip she and her husband went on, they purchased some sort of rooster item.
Another friend of mine purchased a clock from every place he visited. Each clock went up in another friend’s delicatessen. They were mounted high on the wall next to the ceiling and numbered about 50-something by the time he passed away. It never failed that at least once a day a customer would ask a question about the clocks. They always got an answer about where the clock was purchased. The deli owner would demure about any other explanations except to say we were there together, usually evoking raucous laughter.
We took the same thematic idea. We chose cats. Now we have a LOT of cat things, each from somewhere different. And each, for the most part, with a nice travel memory attached. (A suggestion: If you try this system, a labeling method is not a bad idea. You will forget where some little cute thing came from, at least it’s happened to us.)
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Souvenirs can be timeless and priceless
Of course, no method of collecting memories works for everyone. However, in these tough travel times, we need all the smiles we can get, and travel memories revisited through souvenirs can be timeless and priceless.
Janice Hough is a California-based travel agent a travel blogger and a part-time comedy writer. A frequent flier herself, she’s been doing battle with airlines, hotels, and other travel companies for over three decades. Besides writing for Travelers United, Janice has a humor blog at Leftcoastsportsbabe.com (Warning, the politics and sports humor therein does not represent the views of anyone but herself.)