Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Souvenirs

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom


The girls and I are still on vacation, having traveled 1500 miles (2414 kilometers) thus far from Austin, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana, and then to St. Louis, Missouri, by way of Memphis, Tennessee.  (Thank you Mom, for lending us your Prius.) Until today, besides postcards, which we purchased but also mailed, we had spent less than $10 on souvenirs. I bought a box of beignet mix at Cafe du Monde, and Clara purchased a pair of earrings, which she’s already worn several times. Today we went to one of our favorite places in the world, City Museum in St. Louis (boring name for an exciting place), and virtually broke the bank on souvenirs, spending almost $70. The only thing I can say in my defense is that every souvenir has a specific and well-thought-out purpose. Two pairs of earrings, made from recycled tin, will be under the Christmas tree for the girls. The post cards are for the scrapbook I will make when I get home. (I feel confident that I will make a book, because I have taken so few photos, and have culled while standing in  lines, that I feel confident that I won’t be overwhelmed with choices.) Last, I purchased a book of elaborate snow flake patterns. I know that sounds like the one that might sit fallow in the drawer, but Clara really likes that kind of precise work, so I think we will enjoy them over the winter holiday.

While I am not at all displeased with my purchases, I must point out that $70 would also buy admission for the three of us to nearly any museum or attraction we wanted to go to and would buy another two or even three meals on the road. In other words, souvenirs can also easily increase the cost of travels.

What didn’t I buy? Shot glasses with a local attraction on them. Beverages in big “souvenir” cups. Art that you purchase on impulse when you’re somewhere and then don’t know what to do with it when you get home. T-shirts (nice or junky) for myself or anyone else. Expensive “opportunity” photos that the folks at the St. Louis Arch or the ladies who work at the Aquarium are happy to take for you. Lastly, I didn’t buy a gift for anyone who is not on this trip with me.

I’ve never been a huge souvenir buyer, and neither are my parents, but I have been on the receiving end of a number of souvenirs, both junky and costly. What I’ve decided from that experience is that even if the item is nice, it immediately holds a lot less value to the recipient because he/she was not there to see 1) the cute little shop where it was sold, 2) the quaint village where this is the traditional handicraft, 3) the wonderful factory where the item was made, or 4) the whole darn country where the item came from.

So onward with our trip and may the souvenir “gimmes” stay away.

Like Colleen, I have little Internet access and will not be responding to comments. I hope everyone is having a great two weeks while I am away.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something from the bookcase again ~ I don’t just keep books in my bookcase so I have several item choices in this area. If that isn’t the case for you I am sure there is one of two books that could be culled.

Today’s Declutter Item

I haven’t used this item in years but I was still reluctant to declutter it. Why you may ask. Because I was afraid that if I did decide to try my hand at making rugs again I wouldn’t be able to buy such a gadget any more. I decided in the end I would take my chances because the item is for sure taking up space but the surety of it being used is next to nil.

Yarn Cutter for Latch Rugs

Eco Tip For The Day

If you can’t live without heating try turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees and put on warmer clothes. You would be surprised at how much better this is for the environment and on your energy bills.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. Congrats not buying too much. I’m not much of a souvenir buyer either, mostly because a) I travel as light as possible and b) I’m “cheap”. I do take tonnes of photos though and get immeasurable enjoyment looking at the travel pics scroll on my screen saver. That being said I have splurged on a few things… with rules attached. It can’t be something I can find at home, and it has to be made in the country I’m buying it from. For example, (while I was in Italy) I found some really interesting pasta that I’ve never seen in Canada so I got some for my foody-relative. And while in London I got a spoof magazine at the Tower of London about HenryVIII… printed in UK. Small, funny and interesting to read over and over again.

    That’s about it for my souvinir experience. I have like-minded cheap friends that travel and don’t bring anything home but photos as well… I’m lucky I guess.

  2. Great post today. It got me to thinking about the many souvenirs that I have purchased over the years. I was one of those people who definitely went for the glasses, cups or t-shirts as mementos when I traveled somewhere but over the years I have opted for smaller things. Many times I will purchase a small item (like a thimble or pen), but mostly I have opted for the postcards. They take up little room and, like you mentioned, are great along with photos to put into a scrapbook. I will opt for unique items if I find something that is not the “run of the mill”. Since starting my own decluttering mission, (and trying to be a better consumer), I find that I really question my purchases more, even when I travel, and try only to get those things that will be put to use. I have gotten rid of all of my souvenir glasses because I didn’t feel that they added much to my life, and I didn’t want to dust and clean them anymore either. I did not use them, so I also had no real purpose for them. Even today while I was running errands, I visited a shop and found a great item for $4, but I did not get it. In the past, I would have taken it home not thinking twice about it because it was not expensive. I asked myself what would I use it for and decided that if I got home and found something I truly could use it for then I may consider purchasing it. Taking a little time to think about what I am purchasing is helping me get closer to my decluttering goal. Have a great vacation!

  3. I travel a bit, and so I have honed my ‘buys’. I often buy the bulk of my wardrobe overseas (which is usually once annually). Part of it is the free time, another part is that I ‘save up’ for a holiday, so the money is allocated for the time away (and otherwise, at home I don’t have a ‘clothes’ budget). So other than raiding Banana Republic and Zara etc, I buy and send a stack of postcards (makes all the friends happy, but it’s relatively cheap and keeps them in the loop). I also like to get a silver charm for my (full!) charm bracelet. My parents started this habit, and I happily continue. Though I don’t go overboard, if I forget or don’t find any or I can’t think of something ‘typically’ of that place, I just pass. At least that ‘clutter’ is small!

  4. My favourite ‘souvenir’ is a fleecy vest that I bought in Alaska (Fairbanks actually) when we were there on holidays last year – it gets plenty of wear, especially at the moment in our cold weather, and it’s something that gives me pleasure whenever I do wear it as it reminds me of our holiday. I made a conscious decision on this trip to only buy very little and I did which was great. In comparison to my first trip overseas in 2004 when I bought so much stuff that ended up being donated as it was just ………… stuff, and brought no value to my life!

  5. Good post Cindy. I don’t travel much anymore but when I did I quickly learned that the best items to buy were postcards. Otherwise, I only buy for others if they ask me to hunt for something.

  6. I wish my parents would learn this one 😛 My mom went to Canada for the first time, and asked me what I wanted as a souvenir. I asked her to bring back some maple syrup for me, and that was ALL I wanted. Instead, I got a necklace and a t-shirt because the maple syrup was “too expensive.” The shirt is still at her house, and I’ve kept the necklace in my tiny jewelry case in my purse for fashion emergencies. (In a 4cm by 8cm pouch in my purse I have lip gloss, eye shadow, 2 hair ties, 2 bobby pins, and a tiny tin of 4 necklaces – it’s my “in case I need to be girly” purse)

    On a brilliant note, I’m helping my boyfriend build a capsule wardrobe. He just got his first office job, and *facepalm* tried to wear an oversized white t-shirt and plaid shorts to work (they said semi-casual attire). I then, in getting him properly dressed, found out he owned THIRTEEN pairs of jeans in SIX different sizes, as well as 2 dozen t-shirts he’d had in rotation for years. We massively pared down the assortment, and while we are getting some more tonight, it’s been cleaned up. He now has 8 pairs of jeans, 6 of which are work appropriate and fit nicely (3 of them still had tags), and two that are for painting and labor (one of those is going to his parents’ farm for when he visits). He’s still got way too many shirts, but the worst offenders are gone, and hopefully more will leave once we boost his work wardrobe. (With only one non-t-shirt in his wardrobe, there needs to be some work done – right now about 10 t-shirts are in his “work” wardrobe, simply because they are the only shirts that FIT him)

    I may not have a bookcase or attic or basement, but I think I found my task for the next few days. 😀 I’m glad it’s being done, and he’s infinitely thankful that I didn’t let him go to work in stuff that not only was inappropriate, but also didn’t fit.

    • Well done Amanda on your boyfriends wardrobe do-over. My hubby still has “issues” with me throwing out his 3 atrocious hawaiian print shirts 17 years ago.

      • Oh, he still has 2 hawaiian shirts, but he’s just turned 20 and is still a college student. I’m just happy that his clothes FIT now. We also got him two new work shirts and a new pair of casual slacks last night. It’s certainly progress.

  7. Hi Cindy – what an exciting trip! I sometimes feel a bit isolated travel-wise here in NZ when people talk about visiting places like New Orleans – maybe I should travel my country a bit more or get serious about saving for overseas travel.

    Enjoy the trip with your daughters, its a wonderful experience to be sharing with them.

  8. One of my favorite things to do on holiday is stop in at the gift shop in a National Park, picking up all the official souvenirs and noting where they’re made. Thoses geegaws have usually travelled farther than I have. If I actually want a ‘souvenir’ of a place I buy something typical of the life there and it’s usually food-related (either food itself or something to use on the table). The exception was our last trip to Mexico when we bought t-shirts — but that was due to a laundry disaster…

  9. We are on holiday at the moment and our only souvenir is a plant. I usually have something small to hang on the Christmas tree but haven’t found anything yet. I think I’ve managed to persuade the rest of the family that the photos are the souvenir!!

  10. Our children are involved in Guiding and Scouting, and so we’ve gotten in the habit of buying a patch for their camp blanket as a souvenir. They are relatively inexpensive and the blankets end up telling the story of their childhoods – where they’ve been and what they’ve done. In fact, they don’t even ask for anything else anymore!

  11. DH and I just got back from two weeks in Europe. I spent about $20 on a souvenir book about the Floriade, a horticultural exposition that occurs only once every ten years, and about $6 on a duck-shaped ocarina (I collect ocarinas and play them). DH will treasure the Drachenberg medal he made out of a 2-euro coin.

    Less than another $100 covered gifts for our children, grandchildren, and DIL. We were astounded when we totaled everything on our customs form, and delighted that getting through customs was a breeze.

    Oh… I also brought two six-sheet samples of toilet paper for a friend who collects European toilet paper. I’d hate to declutter her house!

  12. We, too, are on holiday right now (big blow out before school starts next week). We’re in the mountains. It is lovely. As far as souveniers, not a single one is needed or will be bought. We are enjoying the fresh mountain air, being outside, hiking, biking, and letting the kids have fun playing ‘exploring’ around the area. That’s perfectly enough. I will take some photos, which we enjoy seeing on our home computer screen saver as a slideshow presentation! 🙂

    Cindy, thanks for your post today! Enjoy the rest of your adventure (and we are also in a Prius!).

  13. On trips the past couple of years, I have limited myself to 2 or less souveniers on trips: 1) one of those square or rectangular magnets with a scene or cityscape on it from the place I visited and 2) a piece of jewelry I love. I do without #2 if I can’t find something I LOVE.

    I love the magnets on my fridge because they arrange in a grid and look very neat/tidy, but are a daily reminder of all the fun places I have been!

  14. I decided on postcards as my souvenir-of-choice as a teenager, but now I have a large stack of redundant postcards. I’m inspired to start mailing them to friends and family that I don’t see regularly.