I wonder, is it possible to have a true souvenir anymore?  Whenever I travel, I look through the shops, trying to find an authentic souvenir, but except in the rarest of cases, I feel it’s, well, not quite futile, but I suppose obsolete is the best term I can use.  Wherever you go, whatever you can purchase there, you can purchase from the comfort of your own home.  When I was in Jamaica and China and California, I don’t think I encountered any souvenirs I couldn’t buy online, had I been determined enough.  It’s certainly convenient, but I do feel it takes a little bit of the magic out of travel.  Has globalization made it impossible to get a true souvenir?  What separates the calavera bought in Mexico from one bought at a store in San Diego from one bought on Amazon?  A lot of times they come from the same place.  I can find a stuffed plush penguin I got from an aquarium in Chicago that’s identical to the one at the bulk candy store at the mall.  There’s no way to tell where it was found.

I feel that the best solution is to simply go further off the beaten path, and try to find things that are more unique and special and evocative of the places to which I travel.  I really want to find things that truly represent the locations and the cultures and the peoples I encounter.  It’s interesting, because as a child, I never cared much for souvenirs, but now I want to bring home at least one thing from the places I go.  I just need to be on the look out for keepsakes more authentic.

What do you think?  Can you still find unique souvenirs on your travels?


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3 Responses to Souvenirs

  1. charles says:

    To me, a souvenir is, as the word means, something that makes me remember the place. So if I bought it from home, it wouldn’t serve its purpose. For many things I’ve bought, I can remember the store I bought them in, and the food I ate that day. Looking at the item brings back memories of the place.
    I like to keep ordinary things, like shopping bags, or a Coke can, especially if they have the language of the place. Local maps are cool, too. Or, make your own map, and keep a journal. Would kill time on trains and buses.

    Love the skull! Where is that from?


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