Travel Tips

Budget Ideas When Shopping For A Souvenir

Budget Ideas when shopping for souvenirs

There are very few tourist attractions that I have visited that do not have somewhere to buy a souvenir. Just what you can expect will vary between attractions. But there is not doubt that they are a way that many attractions make money.

In some cases, I do not see a whole lot wrong with some attractions trying to make a little money from souvenirs. Especially when it comes to heritage sites looking to create revenue to help with maintenance or restoration. However, for some other attractions, there is no doubt that souvenirs are big business. With souvenirs contributing significantly to their bottom line.

However, for some other attractions, there is no doubt that souvenirs are big business. With souvenirs contributing significantly to their bottom line. While it might not be all that bad, sometimes it just takes a little restraint. Today I have some ideas for you on getting a memory, without breaking the bank to do so.

Consider What You Are Buying

When it comes to buying souvenirs what is it that you are buying? Are you buying something that truly represents the place you are visiting? Maybe you are buying some gimmick that has been created just to capture your attention. There are something that you may want to consider before buying something, thinking that you are doing the locals a favour.

1. Is it made locally?

Many souvenirs are not all that authentic when you think about it. There are many items that are sold as souvenirs that look identical except for the picture all over the world. Often they are made in another country and have no true local importance.

2. What will you do with it?

If you buy this souvenir are you going to display it somewhere? Use it in some way? Or is it just going to get put away in a box to look at maybe every couple of years?

3. Is it a gift?

Many people love the idea of buying souvenirs for people back home, for family, friends and coworkers. While the thought is nice it is something they are going to cherish? Or is it something that may just get stuffed in the back of a cupboard that they will not even recall where it came from.

Why Buy The Souvenir?

When you think about what you are buying and these few questions you need to think hard. Because often there are pressures involved that lead you to purchases you might later regret.

Think about the time you are travelling for. Often you feel that there is a limited time and that if you don’t buy it now you will miss out. While this might work out ok for small items like a postcard or keyring, larger items come with other challenges.

I remember when I visited Venice as part of a cruise. The attraction of buying glassware in Venice was too much for a couple of passengers. It was only later when they returned to the ship they questioned their choice to buy these. They were large and somewhat heavy, but their next challenge was how to get them home in one piece. It might have been an appropriate souvenir to buy locally, but an impulse purchase they end up regretting.

If you fail to think about all the factors when buying a souvenir you may end up in not the best situation. So even if you have to take an extra five minutes to think about the purchase it can be time well spent. If you do not even have five minutes to make the decision, it might be an idea to walk away. Especially if it is something large, expensive or awkward.

My Souvenir Collection


When you read the above, you may get the impression that I am looking to encourage you to not buy souvenirs. There could be nothing further from the truth. What I am trying to do is offer you some advice to be a little more cautious when buying.

I have been known to buy my fair share of souvenirs from time to time. However, for the most part, my collection is made up of small easy to transport souvenirs. However, my souvenir collecting habits have somewhat changed over the time that I have travelled as well.

My First Trip To Melbourne

In early 2010 I visited Melbourne for a week and well I might have over done the souvenirs a little bit. By the end of the week, I had collected some dozen souvenirs plus a range of postcards.

The theory I had approached the trip with was to buy a small souvenir and a couple of postcards at each attraction. After three days I realised this was going to be an expensive and impractical approach. The first stop seemed reasonable a keyring and two postcards for $5.00. I had to reconsider my idea when I found a keyring and two postcards at another place would cost over $10.00.

My Last Trip

On my 2012 Europe trip I there was no way I could have kept up with buying keyrings and postcards at every stop. On this trip, I visited almost 30 different cities and a countless number of individual attractions. I would have been bankrupt by the time I got home buying something at every single place. Not to mention potentially needing a second suitcase.

I took the approach of buying one or two postcards at each stop and occasionally a keyring. I would estimate in total I spent less than $100 which barely averages $3 per stop. But I have plenty to look back on as memories.

The Best Souvenirs

Souvenir Postcards

I feel that the best souvenirs are not even the ones you purchase, but the ones you can capture for nothing. I discussed this topic previously in a post titled “The Best Souvenirs Cost Nothing.” I still very much believe this to be true.

Capturing a moment or a place in a photograph for free and have more of a memory than spending money on a token item. I have over 20,000 memories on my computer from all of my trips. While I have one small box not much bigger than a shoebox with the souvenirs I have purchased.

Both photos and souvenirs can lead to great memories of a trip. However, I find that the photos have much more value to me. Because I have personally captured something that I saw, it triggers a memory for me. The individual souvenirs and postcards tend to do this to a lesser degree. Because I can remember a place I visited but in a more abstract manner.

Work Souvenirs

One other thought on the concept of buying souvenirs comes to mind if you are travelling for work. You can easily show you care especially for family members with a simple postcard. In many areas, it is easy to buy a postcard and stamp. All you have to do is find a few minutes to write a brief message and address. Even if it takes longer to get home than you do, it still is a memory for the family to know you were thinking of them.

Enjoy The Memories

Whether it is photos, postcards, keyrings or something a little more just think of the memories that those souvenirs give you. Because at the end of the day the best souvenirs are the memories that we get when we travel.

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  • Therie
    June 1, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Buying souvenirs is totally stressful specifically buying gifts for people at home!

    • Joel
      June 5, 2017 at 8:52 am

      I have found myself not buying gifts for people at home usually. Sometimes a little something for the close family, but more so avoiding the idea of having to try and find dozens of things for every person I know. So if I don’t set a precedent of buying for one friend none expect it.

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