When you’re living a nomadic lifestyle or taking an extended round-the-world trip, you want to keep your baggage to a minimum. It can be tempting to load up on tacky souvenirs on your way around the world, but don’t! There are better ways to spend your travel dollars than buying trinkets that you won’t use or see and will end up stuffed in a box at your Mum’s place for years.
“You like my sweater? It’s Alpaca – I picked up this up at an amazing market in Peru.” Isn’t it better to have clothing with a story? You need clothing on a RTW trip for sure and if you’re travelling through multiple climates, grabbing unique items of clothing along the way can be a wonderful alternative to souvenirs.
If you were inspired following a visit to a gallery or museum, you can pick up prints at gift stores at galleries along the way. Better yet, order them online after you return home. You can buy prints from the Saatchi Gallery online at their website Saatchiart.com. This will save you luggage space and allow you to decorate your space when you return to set up a home after your trip.
If you’re a photographer yourself, create some prints of your own photos from your journey. Turn your home into a mini-gallery to remind yourself of your travels. Simple black frames, white mats and black & white prints will make your travel photos artistic and inspiring. If you’re not the best photographer or particularly arty, get a friend who has creative genes to help you sort, edit and arrange your images.
Memories are the best souvenirs. Take the money you would have spend on souvenirs and spend it on those big ticket items on the road. The most memorable experiences don’t necessarily cost a lot of money but some of the things you really want to do on your trip end up costing an arm and a leg. Sky diving, bungy jumping or white water rafting are expensive but worth it for the memories.
If you’ve been particularly touched by a country or people in the developing world, consider making a donation to support similar people. A site like Kiva allows you to make microfinance loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. You can help a motorcycle taxi driver in Cambodia get a new bike or buy supplies for a sewing collective in Tajikistan. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!