Simple souvenir

We live in a consumer society where shopping has become an activity that is kind of a mandatory for almost every life situation. For most people shopping is a part of a traveling, and a lot of travelers consider shopping as the main goal of their trips. Even though one of the reasons we travel is to reduce stress, somehow we managed to take that privilege from ourselves.  Worrying whether will someone hold a grudge against us for not receiving the perfect gift is not something we should lose sleep over it. Having the positive attitude toward shopping is our key here.

I used to stress so much about gifts when traveling but things have changed when I realized how important was to be present in the moment and enjoy the environment I am surrounded with.

People usually stress when buying souvenirs while travelling and that is wrong, one should not feel pressure to spend money and find a perfect souvenir for self, or gift for family and friends. The point is, buying souvenirs should not be considered as a priority but as something you should do if you have some time after sightseeing everything that was on your list.

My goal with this text is to take that stress away from you when deciding to go shopping for a souvenir or gift.

We tend to lose our head when thinking what should we bring home as a souvenir or a gift. Souvenirs became as something we must have no matter the price we have to pay, and I am not talking here about the financial price but about the spiritual one. Letting yourself be carefree from time to time should be the main goal.  Going somewhere on a journey is a gift for itself, and what everyone needs to understand is that the biggest gift is being a part of that journey.

I do not want to sound cliché, but every time you go somewhere think of how many people in the World would like to be there, but don’t have opportunity. Every now and then try to think of every opportunity you had and you will come to a conclusion that you are a very lucky human being who gets to see and experience something new for the first time. Most importantly, if you get to share your wisdom and new experience with people, you already have the best and most importantly, a unique gift. Material stuff may come and go, we might break them, lose them and forget them. What you get to see and experience is something that will never lose value. Great experiences and memories don’t fade away, the more time passes the more precious they are. Going home without material stuff is not at all a bad thing, as long as you come back with rich stories and adventures. At least, it would be easier to pack.

I never understood why people would get mad at each other for not receiving the perfect souvenir as if that was the point of a journey. It is important to understand that not everyone is being able to bring something pricey back home as a gift and that should not be a goal or a wish that friends and family so eagerly await. Sometimes a good story from an adventurous journey turns out to be the best gift a person can give you, it is an opportunity to grow with other person and that my friends has no price.

When I visited Rome recently I had a dilemma whether to buy a cute blouse in Zara for my friend or simply buy a refrigerator magnet that of course included the features of Rome. I ended up buying both gifts, which I regret very much, because I could have spent that money much better. However, as they say, always a lesson never a mistake. Even though my friend is a fashionista who will choose some outfit over small things any day, she still loves that magnet more than anything, and it still hangs on her refrigerator unlike blouse that’s not trendy anymore and it is probably lost in some pile of clothes. If you choose to spend your money on souvenirs let it be small and something that will evoke your memory from a chosen destination. Believe it or not, some souvenirs can be free as true friends will be happy even for a shell you have found on a beach rather than knowing that you spend fortune and nerves for searching the perfect gift. It always warms my heart when I think how happy my friend George was when I gave him a random receipt from a coffee shop in Napoli, it was a perfect gift for him. Always have in mind that it is the thought that matters, nothing else.

Souvenir magnetsI have so many examples of a good and bad shopping, however, it is always more interesting hearing the stories from others. My friend went to Jordan with his sister, and they visited Petra, including Monastery, one of the Petra’s main attractions. They were exhausted because there are about 800 steep steps to the Monastery, and heat was just a cherry on a top of a cake. However, somewhere in the middle of the road, in a shadow of a small cave one Bedouin woman call them over for a tea. My friends offered cookies to a woman and her daughter as a gratitude for the tea. Bedouin woman didn’t speak English but that contributed even more to the authentic experience of having a traditional cup of tea in the rocky hills of Petra. A tea offered by the member of the tribe who live their lives pretty much the same for centuries can give you a surreal feeling. By the end of the day, my friend bought a cheap necklace from the woman, a necklace which was not for sale whatsoever. Now when I think about the story I’m well aware that the story behind the necklace is far more precious than the necklace itself. Having a story behind the present is the gift by itself, and it can only increase the price to already bought the gift. This is a perfect example that good things can come out of nowhere, you cannot plan how things will evolve when going on a journey. Don’t pressure yourself that certain things must happen when you’re out on an adventure, sometimes life has a better plan for you.

The examples of a bad shopping can be numerous, I cannot think of how many bad gifts I have bought in my life (I know I’m not the only one). Story from others always seems to be more interesting so I will continue talking about my adventurous friend who never seizes to amaze me with his funny stories from traveling.  When he went to Sri Lanka for his honeymoon, he bought some unusual wooden fruit bowls with his wife. They spend a few days looking for a perfect souvenir, and they thought the bowl would be such an authentic detail from Sri Lanka. However, a few days from their return they have found the exactly the same bowls in their local shop at home imported from China, and like that was not enough, the price was exactly the same. I guess the message is: don’t try so hard to buy a gift, at the end of a day you don’t want to end up with a souvenir that you can buy in a local shop.

I remember the days when I would let shopping for myself and others determine my day and infect my mood. I can’t help but laugh when I think of those days, sad laugh but laugh nonetheless. Those days of negativity regarding shopping are long behind me and as the years pass by, I think of myself as of the last person who should spend money on material things when travelling. I have become a person who cherishes a receipt from a coffee shop, a heart shaped stones or even collecting sand colors from various beaches.

Don’t stress yourself because of the souvenirs, people that love you will already be happy that you had an opportunity to go on a trip and if you find something random, not expensive and cool for them, that is great and if you don’t find anything then simply take them out for a coffee and tell them all the amazing things that you have discovered and learned on your journey.  At the end, if we feel need to buy something on our trip we should be smart about it. The perfect souvenir should not be something expensive or shiny, quite contradictory, it should be meaningful and serve as a piece of an adventure that other person can feel as being part of the journey. Travelling is all about enjoying life and being present in the moment and if someone can’t share the joy with you, it is time to cut the negativity and enjoy the ride with people you love. Embrace the moment you’re in.