Home TRAVEL TIPS Budget-Friendly Souvenirs – Treasures vs. Trinkets vs. Take My Money

Budget-Friendly Souvenirs – Treasures vs. Trinkets vs. Take My Money

Photo by Nastya Dulhiier

Your vacation is an investment in rest, relaxation, and making memories. Integral to your memories are souvenirs from your trip. At the same time that you budget for your hotel, flights, and activities, you should consider how much money to spend on keepsakes. It is very easy to get lost in the moment and buy lots of souvenirs that might seem like a great idea at the time but really is not.

Spending money on souvenirs that provide a lifetime of memories can be an excellent investment of disposable income. At the same time, overspending or buying the wrong items can land you in a world of hurt. A noted Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney advises his clients to spend wisely if they insist on spending at all. Buying too many or the wrong type of souvenirs can make for unhappy surprises in costs, luggage challenges, and more.

Disposable Income

Disposable income is defined as monies remaining after paying their bills and other obligations that are available to be spent or saved as one wishes. Also known as spending money, it is the extra money that helps to make life more enjoyable. Depending on your circumstances, you may have more disposable income at some times and less at others. Responsibly managing your finances generally allows for more disposable income.

Need vs. Want

Asking yourself whether the item you are considering is something that you actually need or simply something you want is always a great exercise when buying any item. While there is nothing wrong with a few reasonable want items, confusing need and want can become an issue while on vacation.

For example, does anyone really need a life-size wooden monkey with a mosaic parrot on its shoulder? The answer is likely no; however, when operating on “vacation brain,” want may be mistaken for need.

Questions to ask yourself to help “vacation brain” focus include:

  • How much does this item cost?
  • Where will I put it at home?
  • Does it fit in my luggage (size and weight)?
  • Will it survive the trip home?
  • Why do I need this?

Remember Your Suitcase

Most people overpack for their vacation, forgetting where they may need to put the extra items they want to bring home. The quickest and easiest solution for most is to simply buy an extra bag. That is another cost item to your travel budget, and you may incur additional charges from the airline for the extra bag or charges for an “overweight” bag. Baggage charges can add up substantially and very quickly. If you do buy that life-size wooden monkey with the mosaic shoulder parrot, he might even need his own seat on the plane as well as a special TSA screening.

How you pack your souvenir to bring home is equally important as you want it to survive the journey. Before being put into your luggage, breakable items benefit from cushioning, such as bubble wrap, while paper and sturdier items may be placed easier. On value for money, it is wiser to buy less breakable souvenirs.

Is my Souvenir Legal to bring home?

One sure-fire way to lead to disappointment and a “take my money” situation, if not more,  is buying a souvenir that can not be legally transported home. This is one hundred percent a buyer beware situation. While honest mistakes are not uncommon, many tourists have found themselves in a position of paying fines for attempted transport of illegal items and having those items seized. While indeed the creation of a memory, that might not be what you intended.  US Customs and Border Patrol keeps a reasonably up-to-date list that is helpful to review before shopping.

The ability to carry your purchase with you may become an issue also. Knives, for example, are a very popular tourist souvenir but also very common to be left with the screening people at the airport as they can not be transported in the cabin of the aircraft. Pre-planning can help you save money and your souvenirs.

FREE is almost** always good

When traveling, most people now have their mobile phones with them that are equipped with fairly impressive cameras. One of the most cost-effective souvenirs is photos that you take. Generally costing little to nothing, your photos are wonderful memories that don’t take any space. If you want to enlarge photos or make a wall hanging or pillow from them once you get home, there are dozens of relatively inexpensive services that allow you to customize what you desire. Also, at home, “vacation brain” is far less likely to lead you to spend more than is affordable.

Hotels and attractions routinely give out branded items that can be very useful and provide a great memory. If you like a particular place, always ask about free promotional items. Participation in contests while on vacation and package deals on excursions can give an additional avenue to freebies.

**Free life-size wooden monkeys with mosaic parrots on its shoulder are excluded.