Here’s the scene. You went on a beach vacation on a remote island. You enjoyed learning about the local island culture, got a beautiful tan, and enjoyed tropical cuisine. As you return home and present an artisan souvenir to your recipient, you’re greeted with “Oh! It’s… a…. thing!” followed by a polite smile. They thank you and you’re left with a sense of awkwardness.
Here’s what happened. You probably walked by a local artisan trinket store. It’s filled to the brim with key chains, wooden bowls, and stickers with topical humor. Sure, you could find something there, but here’s the problem: the recipient has no emotional attachment to the souvenir. By that, I mean…a painted frog from a remote village doesn’t mean anything to them because they weren’t there to experience what you experienced.
With that in mind, here are my suggestions for souvenirs that are appropriate, fits any budget, and are easy to pack.
1. Snacks. Every tourist spot in the world is going to have regional specialty food items. Whether it’s candy, chips, or instant ramen…this is great to bring back. Snacks can be cheap or expensive, and small enough to pack in a carry on. Your recipient is going to love being able to experience the foods you tasted, and they will feel like they traveled with you.
2. Beauty and Bath Products. Locally made soaps, a fragrant body lotion, regional skin care products, these make great gifts for women and affordable in any budget. If you ever travel to South Korea, they are known for their skincare products.
3. Local Ingredients/Goods. You know what’s amazingly cheap from Mexico? Vanilla extract. You could buy 10 for the price of 1 anywhere else in the world. There are some items that just impossible to get back home, or really expensive. If you come across an item that’s hard to get, this makes for an amazing gift.
4. Wearable Crafts. Does your recipient love earrings? Get them locally made earrings. Do they have a growing enamel pin collection? Get them a few small pins. Think about what type of wearable accessories they would like. Avoid items like T-shirts, hats, and dresses (you don’t want to make the mistake of getting them the wrong size).
5. Specialty Alcohols. If your recipient drinks, this is fantastic to give. Every region has a liquor, beer, or wine that they are know for. Double check with customs to make sure you can bring it back with you.
What souvenirs have you enjoyed receiving in the past? Some of my favorite items were rose-scented soap, salt water taffy, and a tomato soup instant ramen.