Anyone who has travelled, or been away on vacation has probably been asked for souvenirs by their friends and family. To be fair, it’s not all that difficult to pick something up – there are hordes of vendors touting their wares almost anywhere you go. But after a while, you begin to see the same old trinkets everywhere.
It’s easy to lose heart in souvenirs, and to think of them only as cheap, tacky gimmicks. However, there are some things well worth taking back home from your travels. To travel is to explore not only the world we live in, but also your very being. What you bring back from your travels may not be what you had in mind when you first set off on your adventure.
It’s well worth remembering that in French, the word souvenir means to remember. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 5 souvenirs worth travelling for. And, don’t worry, these won’t break the bank!
Tastes of the region
Travelling is all about discovering new things and straying away from routine. On any adventure, trying the local food and drink is always an exciting experience. From the downright bizarre, to the absolutely delicious, the taste sensations you discover are bound to last with you.
In many cultures, eating and drinking are very social activities, offering glimpses into a new culture. From locally distilled spirits to sumptuous regional delicacies, there’s literally a whole world of flavour to discover.
For gift givers, exotic food or drink – especially locally produced alcohols – can make for a unique present for friends and family. Unlike yet another fridge magnet, food or drink is sure to be consumed – and probably enjoyed!
But more than simply trying new food and drink, you may even learn how to cook using traditional methods that are a new concept to you and your friends back home. Which leads us onto the next of our 5 souvenirs worth travelling for.
Knowledge and craft
By immersing yourself in a new culture you inevitably begin to learn numerous new skills. From languages to local crafts, staying in one place and living like a local is a life changing experience. Who needs to buy a generic keyring, when you can learn to carve your own using ancient techniques?
If you’re unable to stay in one place for too long, but would love to learn a new craft, there are workshops and volunteer projects around the globe that can help. From wool spinning, to pottery, bow making to working leather, there are even specialized holidays you can take to learn a whole host of traditional crafts.
These skills will last with you forever, and you’ll never be short of a gift again, since you can make your own. Learning about a culture; its language, myths and legends, will also give you an abundance of stories to tell, and an ever-flowing river of inspiration to draw from.
Faith in humanity
Modern life, full of people, but oh so lonely when no one cares to look away from their phone screen, can lead you to believe humanity really is losing touch. However, any traveller will tell you that humanity is still very much alive and kicking.
Things aren’t always easy on the road, and your carefully prepared plans can soon untangle, leaving you far away from home and in a bit of a pickle. THESE are the moments to look forward to! It’s at times when all hope seems lost, that you’ll discover the perpetual kindness of strangers.
On my travels, I’ve had strangers stop at the side of the road to help me repair a broken motorcycle with nothing more than a few basic tools. Despite a language barrier, I’ve often ended up as their guest, sharing dinner with their friends and families. And, of course, some of the best parties ever, sometimes with the entire village coming around for the occasion!
Discovering different cultures and meeting people who seem far away from you and your way of life is an eye opening and inspiring experience. Learning that there are good people all around the world who would go out of their way to help you, certainly helps restore your faith in humanity, a gift that cannot be taken away. Even better, you can learn from such people, and give the gift of kindness to those around you.
Travel is hard work. It takes guts and determination to tear yourself away from your comfort zone and throw yourself out into the wild world. But the rewards are fantastic. After some time on the road, you’ll find yourself doing things that you never dreamed yourself capable of before.
Be it driving through some of the largest, busiest cities in the world, to scaling some of the tallest mountains on earth, you’re bound to find yourself pushing the limits. Even the simple act of approaching a stranger and asking a question in a new language is a challenge. From these challenges comes a confidence in yourself.
You will prove to yourself that you’re capable of far more than you ever imagined. With a spring in your step, you’ll find that even when you’re back home, things that might have phased you in the past, can now be tackled with confidence.
That’s certainly something worth taking back with you, and a souvenir that leads to ever more opportunities.
Understanding and appreciation
Of all the souvenirs worth travelling for, it is perhaps this final one that really hits home. There really is no substitute for getting out into the world and immersing yourself in it. No matter how much you read, or look at photos, until you get out there and see things in the flesh, you can’t understand the vastness of it all.
Understanding how different we all are, yet, at the same time how remarkably similar we are, regardless of geographical location and upbringing, gives you an insight few others hold. You will start to think of home in a new light, and can appreciate all the things you never thought about before. This understanding makes you better able to show those around you the things in life that are to be cherished.
What have you brought back from your travels that money couldn’t buy? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!