, , ,

When you travel to a new city, country or tourist attraction what kind of souvenirs do you buy?  When you come home is your suitcase packed full of souvenirs? Do you leave extra room in your suitcase when you are packing for a trip so you’ll have room for souvenirs?  I tend to overpack….so I don’t usually have a lot of extra space in my suitcase. But I don’t really need it because my favorite things to bring home don’t take up a lot of room or cost a lot of money.  I don’t want to have a house full of “stuff” that collects dust.  Or have to sit on my suitcase to close it.  I told you I went shopping in my previous post, but I didn’t tell you what I was looking for or what I bought.  So here is a list of what I brought home from this trip (and bring home from most every other trip I take):  Think FLAT and PAPER.

BROCHURES & TOUR FLYERS I bring home brochures from every place I go.  It’s the first thing I do when I go into any place I visit…museum, castle, church, historic sight, national park, you name it, I look for a brochure.IMG_2546If there is a brochure to be had, I’ve got it.  Best part is that brochures are free!IMG_2544Don’t throw it away or stuff it in your purse.  Brochures usually have either a floor plan or map of where you are visiting so it helps you find your way around.  But they also contain little tidbits of information too that you might not otherwise know (especially if there is no audio guide or tour.IMG_2499Tour brochures come in handy when you are writing a blog and might not remember every little detail of where you went.  (Yes, no surprise here, but I don’t have total recall.)  Also if you have friends that might want to visit places you’ve already been, it’s nice to lend them out for information.

MAPS. My husband is obsessed with maps.  When he is bored, he’ll get out a map and study it just for fun.  He is great to travel with because he will study maps of where we are going for weeks in advance of our trip and once we get there, he knows how to get to all the places I want to go.  So most of the time we buy maps for him.  But when I travel alone (like in Seoul) I buy one for myself.  Or if I can find a tourist information center, they are usually free.IMG_2568It’s good to have a real paper map so you won’t get lost while you are wandering a new city.IMG_2574 IMG_2575Phone map apps are great, but you can’t always rely on them to help you in a foreign country especially if you don’t have the right phone plan or have access to Wi-Fi.  WAZE is my favorite map app. It was great in Europe, but was useless in Seoul (always said there was no connection).  Google Maps would have been great….if I could read Korean (which I don’t), so that was pretty useless too.   So old school paper maps were the answer.  And the map doesn’t have to be of the city either…maps of the subway (or bus routes) are a must have when traveling.  Using public transportation is a great way to get around, especially if you’ve walked farther than you planned and your feet hurt.FullSizeRender

INFORMATION & GUIDE BOOKS The best place to find these (and maps like above) are at a tourist information center or kiosk.  That’s where I found this one.  IMG_2570Best thing is they are usually free!  Not only are they great for planning the places you already know you want to see, but you might find information on a place that you didn’t even know about and want to go to.  IMG_2542City guides contain not only maps, but also brief descriptions, admission costs and most importantly, the days and times that sights are open.  Nothing is more frustrating than to arrive at your destination to find out that they are closed on that particular day. I always visit the gift shops of any point of interest if there is one and buy small leaflets or mini-books about the place I am visiting that might have more information and or pictures.IMG_2543I don’t want to carry around a big book, or have to lug a bunch of books in my suitcase…because let’s face it, books are heavy and can put you over the airline luggage weight limit in a hurry.  But a little booklet or leaflet that describes places you’ve been is great.

SCRAPBOOKING “STUFF”. About 10 years ago I was introduced to scrapbooking, so I’m also on the lookout for anything I can put in a scrapbook….like these stickers.IMG_2502IMG_2503but also patches….IMG_2537and stampsIMG_2505….remember….anything FLAT and PAPER.IMG_2535 IMG_2538I might not use these as tattoos, but they make great embellishments for a scrapbook.IMG_2506I also save admission tickets and tour receipts.  They are a great reminder of how much you paid for something….as well as the date you visited.IMG_2536

NAPKINS AND COASTERS. I save napkins and coasters from restaurants.  Yes, I scrapbook these, but they are also a great reminder of the names of restaurants (especially if they are in a foreign language) that you only go to once.IMG_2495Or even maybe the name of a beer that you tried.  (or rather my daughter tried).  And once again you can tell friends all about that great restaurant you found that they should try too!

T-SHIRTS.  This is probably the one exception to the “paper” that I buy, although it does qualify for the “flat” rule.  You can pretty much stuff a t-shirt anywhere in your suitcase.  They don’t take up much room and don’t weigh much. My husband has a t-shirt from just about everyplace we have visited or lived.IMG_2566He likes to wear T-shirts.  He likes maps.  So a T-shirt with a map is the ultimate souvenir for him!

SMALL COSITAS. (that’s the word my mother-in-law used to describe all those “little nothings” that collect dust).  Yes, I have been known to buy some, but not often and only if they are small or something that actually fits into the décor of my house or are a useful reminder.  Christmas tree ornaments are great for this (but only if you can get them home without breaking them).IMG_2539These were perfect…paper and flat.  They are ornaments made out of paper!  IMG_2540 Oh and most important, I have to be able to get my “cositas” home without breaking them or paying to have them shipped.  These two little figurines fit that bill nicely. They are on a napkin, so you can see they aren’t very big…fit right inside my shoes in the suitcase.IMG_2548

CARDS  I buy cards, not necessarily to send, although I do use some of them as thank you cards for my friends or neighbors who might have looked after our house and mail while we are away.  But generally I keep them. And scrapbook them.  I look for ones that are unusual, like these 3-D cards.IMG_2524IMG_2525

IMG_2527 IMG_2526POSTCARDS.  I saved the best for last. My absolute favorite thing to bring home and what I am most always on the look-out for is….Postcards!  IMG_2496 IMG_2521Yes, postcards.  They are small, they are flat and they are priced just right.IMG_2501It’s not unusual when I’m walking around in a new place to hear me say…”I just want to go in here a sec and get a few postcards”.  Or maybe a whole pack of them! IMG_2533 IMG_2531Ever since I was little, I have collected postcards.  It’s a great visual reminder of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen.  Yes, I know that postcards are meant to be written on and sent to all your family and friends to let them know how much fun you are having on your vacation.  But I don’t write on them.  I save them.  For myself.

I take alot of pictures when I travel. LOTS and LOTS of pictures.  I’ve been known to drain not one, but two fully charged lithium camera batteries in less than a day from taking so many pictures.  My digital camera memory cards were always full.  Then I started using my iphone to take more and more pictures.  But I’ve also run out of storage space on that too and had to borrow my husband’s phone to take more pictures.  But even though I take tons of photos, I still want postcards.  Sometimes it’s because it’s a little extra insurance in case my pictures don’t come out. Although I did pretty good here.  This is the postcard. IMG_2534And this is my photograph.IMG_0615 Or it’s a place I wanted to visit, but didn’t have a chance, 0r perhaps it’s a night view or an arial shot.IMG_2516 Not all postcards are pictures….some are maps. (Those are for my husband too!)IMG_2514 IMG_2515Some are more artistic that I’d like to frame display.IMG_2511 IMG_2523

IMG_2513And sometimes it’s just fun to read the back of the postcard…not everything gets translated quite right.  Here is the front.IMG_2509This is the description on the back. (Not sure what happens when they die??)IMG_2510 Last year when I thought we were moving to Poland and was cleaning out closets and boxes in preparation for selling our house, I found out that both my daughters saved postcards too. Although they haven’t lived at home since they left for college (1998 and 2001) they left behind boxes of saved things…awards, letters, school papers, cards, souvenirs from places they had been and POSTCARDS!   My husband when he was on navy cruises that took him away for months and months at a time would buy postcards at every port the ship pulled into, and every country and place he visited.  He would write each of our girls about his trip and mark on the front the exact spots where he was, or where he stood.  The girls were always excited to get mail, but these postcards from their Dad were special.  I just never knew that they saved so many of them.  Guess some things run in the family.

So what kind of souvenirs do you buy when you are on vacation? And better yet….do you still have them or do you throw them away years later with the thought…”why did I buy this”?