Vacation Souvenirs: Why Do We Buy Them?

I don’t buy souvenir’s when I travel because frankly, I don’t see the point. Do I really need some tacky fridge magnet shaped like a sombrero to remind me that I went to Mexico? Um, no. Thank you. And ditto with hula girl dashboard dolls from Hawaii, Nevada license plate hand bags from Las Vegas or kangaroo back scratchers from Australia.

I mean, what are you expected to do with that lava rock you pocketed from that volcano in Costa Rica? Store it in a keepsake box with your seashell collection from Bali? Frame and mount it on the wall? Do you buy “I love (insert random city)” t-shirts and keychains because it brings you a sense of vacation closure? Does it make you feel better about heading home to Jersey City now that you’ve taken a little piece of your vacation with you (even if it’s only in the form of an Elvis Presley Snowglobe from Graceland)?

Or is that postcard collection really just an adult version of an eight-year-old’s recess sing-song “Na na na nana! Na na na nana! I went to Aruba and yooooou didn’t!”?

Is souvenir shopping just a subconscious attempt at making ourselves feel superior over our friends and family?

I recently read an article about how jetsetters are being replaced by netsetters, which is a term coined to describe 20-somethings who travel mainly for the opportunity to brag about it on facebook, twitter or their travel blogs.

This quote from The Daily Mail describes it nicely,

“When you’re sat at your desk on a rainy Monday morning in Britain, there’s nothing quite like seeing social netsetters showing off their photos on their profiles, with smug grins on a sun-kissed beach or near an international beauty spot. It’s clear people just love showing off online.”

So I suppose before I congratulate myself on the fact that my bedroom is delightfully tacky-souvenir free, I should first consider this blog, which is perhaps…

the biggest vacation souvenir of all.

So what do you think? Do you collect souvenirs? Are you guilty of being an occasional netsetter? And where do you draw the line between well-intentioned travel blogging and self-absorbed navel-gazing?

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6 thoughts on “Vacation Souvenirs: Why Do We Buy Them?

  1. I always buy something from a country I visit.. But usually not from the tourist gift shops, as I think most of what is in them is junk..
    Usually jewellry or something I find interesting.

    w00 first comment ever 🙂

  2. I stopped buying tacky souvenirs like snow-globes, keychains, minature wooden mailboxes with Cape Cod painted on them, etc. when I was about 12. From about 12 to 20 I was all about taking TONS of pictures and buying postcards to decorate the walls of my room. For the past five years I've moved on to looking for nice, unique jewlery when I travel. Nothing tacky, nothing super expensive, preferably handcrafted and native to the country I'm buying it in. I also like buying cards from whichever country, state, city etc. that I'm visiting. Not postcards but regular cards, usually blank inside, that remind me of the place I'm visiting.

    In terms of traveling somewhere just to bragg about it..bragging ability isn't usually a factor in where I choose to vacation. However, the last time I went kayaking I saw a notice in the kayak rental shop for a "surf kayaking" expedition through the Greek Isles. The description went on to state that aside from kayaking through deserted beaches, along cliffs, and through the frothy waves of the Northen Mediterranean, there would also be a chance to snorkel, to explore ancient Greek villages and ruins, and to eat freshly caught fish in cozy inns overlooking the sea. Of course I fantasized about this trip for the next few hours, because I'd love to go to Greece, I love the ocean, and I love kayaking. I have to admit, I was also thinking of all the different ways to write that I was kayaking through Greece on my facebook status.

  3. oh lord am i the THIRD sarah in a row to comment??

    i AM an indiviual!!!!

    ahahaha yeah. おみやげ!! no country says `souvenir` quite like japan. dont ask me why i buy the stuff. i cant help it! its everywhere!!

  4. Yeah, I've definitely used my facebook status messages to brag about places I've visited…But you only have so many opportunities to write something cool like: "Surf kayaking through the Greek Islands". You wouldn't want to pass that up, right? Plus it sure beats the usual "Working late tonight and then watching Grey's Anatomy" or whatever. So I think we're justified there.

    But I certainly don't know anyone who's taken a vacation for the sole purpose of showing off online about it. But maybe I do and they've just never admitted it.

    I buy jewellery and art when I travel, but I don't really consider those souvenirs because I would buy them even if I was at home.

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