Back in my early travel days, I made it a priority to buy a souvenir at every destination I visited. Over the years, I amassed an impressive collection of keychains, shot glasses, small pieces of artwork, and other various knick-knacks such as a little stone elephant from Thailand. These were my physical connections to all the places I had seen.
Several years back I stopped doing this. During my decluttering phase in my early 30s, the items I had already collected got mostly donated or given away. (I’m sure someone somewhere is enjoying the Mexican shot glass with the drunk Mariachi guy’s ass hanging out of his pants.)
I had acquired so many of these random souvenirs that they eventually lost their meaning. Many of them lived in a box at the back of the closet because I ran out of places to display them. Some stuff I would look at and have no clue where I even bought them from – which kinda defeats the entire purpose of having a souvenir in the first place.
As I travel today, the only souvenirs I collect are my photos. Those take up no physical space outside of my computer and are a far better method of recollecting happy memories of all the cool places I’ve been lucky enough to visit. I also no longer buy souvenir gifts for other people when I travel, and the people close to me know and accept this. It’s been difficult in the past for me to buy a gift for only one person without offending several others, and carrying all that garbage back on the plane was a pain in the ass that I’m happy not to endure anymore.
One other huge benefit of avoiding souvenirs is that it’s one less thing on my to-do list when I travel. It frees up a good amount of time to do other stuff, which is always a good thing in my eyes.