To buy or not to buy souvenirs when you travel

When I first started travelling, I ended up buying souvenirs everywhere I went. In fact, I would devote time and money into this endeavor. I would buy everything that could possibly fit into my backpack, but once, I went too far and ended up buying an extra bag just for souvenirs.

Let me admit – at some point I did consider having a dedicated room in the house for these exciting things from across the world – that project never took off. I should say I am relieved that the enthusiasm died and thus cured me of my growing obsession to hoard travel-souvenirs.


For a short time, I was obsessed with masks – I collected masks with a passion and ended up with masks from Papua New Guinea, Africa, China…any place that sold masks and mounted them on the wall till it looked like a haunted house. Then came the statues, the shawls, the fridge magnets, local clothes, bowls and horns…

At one time I went overboard collecting antiques – probably started when in Turkey and as a result of that I spend hundreds of euros and many hours souring the ‘antique’ neighbourhood (around the Museum of Innocence area) and ended up with beaten in bowls, old keys, locks, coffee cups, tins, knives etc – to date I don’t know if they were real antiques or made to look like they were and if you asked me where those antiques are stored, I’d have no idea. Somewhere that cant be seen would be my guess.

Years went by and more things got added into the souvenir haul. Eventually I realized that not only was I investing time, energy and money into buying things that I never looked at ever again, but I was, by doing this, putting all my emotions and memories into those few objects and reliving memories based on these objects.

Someone once told me – what you can’t remember of a place without a picture or a thing, is not worth remembering.

Slowly, I realized that was true.

So I stopped buying stuff. Of course, I occasionally do buy the fridge magnet, postcards, coffee cup or a t-shirt, but that’s about it. Nothing more or heavier than that. That doesn’t mean I am not tempted to give in – for that imaginary “museum” I had hoped to build one day in the future, but I refrain.

Same with books. Thanks to internet, I don’t feel as though I am missing out much – so it’s a relief.

Today, I take pics – at least one nice pic of a landmark I’d want to remember.
I spend more time looking at things in details and not for things in a store to remind me of the place.
I usually never bring back anything – sometimes not even a box of chocolates from the airport for family and friends. I don’t know what it says of me, but that’s that.

souvenirs in pattaya

At the time, souvenirs like these would drive me crazy

I guess people will have different view on the subject and I understand your need to buy stuff for whatever reason, but fortunately that chapter in travel if finally shut. Today, I do more writing about the place I have been to, let my mind absorb more and eyes see more…its a though I have converted my mind into that museum I have long wanted!


One comment

  1. I had a fetish for buying audio cassettes.There were cassettes and cassettes.All Hindi music.Mostly Burman.And, with after 6 years or so, I have slowed down on this fetish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *