Some people buy a key hanger as a souvenir, others get caught at customs trying to smuggle ivory. The concept of bringing a souvenir home, for yourself or for others, is very peculiar. It’s almost as if you want to bring a portable anchor from your experience with you, something that’ll remind you of the country, the culture or the time spent with your friends or your husband. Something to keep the past alive, perhaps.
My mom is 55 years old (although she looks 40 and I’m a dinosaur compared to her iPhone-knowledge) and she travels pretty often with her partner. They go to the most beautiful hotels and places in the world and bring back tons of pictures. With 4 children and 2 ‘stepchildren’ to please, she’s an ace in occasionally finding us little things that make us smile.
And although she did bring home a lot of books, some elephant statues and 2 nice Tibetan bowls from her earlier travels, I keep admiring her for not buying more souvenirs. How does she do it? How do you keep yourself from a souvenir fetish when you visit so many beautiful places? I would love to travel with an empty suitcase, just so I can fill it up!
And then, there it was, right in the cupboard. I was visiting on Mothers day, making coffee, looking for sugar. When I did not find the classic rectangular bits, there they were: hundreds of different little sugar sachets. All of them had names and logos of bars, hotels and places they had visited! I smiled at my treasure. My mother, so cheeky!
I later asked her about it and she admitted not only taking sugar sachets, but shampoos and shower gels from the hotels as well. But she protested: “Only if they have the logo or name of the hotel on it!” I guess when you stay in these nice hotels or go to fancy restaurants, these things are actually worth taking home. .. But she didn’t do it for the ‘quality’ or to show off where they had been, she really wanted the memory, so that in between her travels, she could sip a cup of coffee stirred with a scent of The Lake Palace Resort, or wash her hair, imagining herself in a Ritz-Carlton Spa.
I think it’s the cutest thing ever and although I’m not even abroad right now, I know my next travel I’ll struggle with every small sugar sachet I’ll meet. I’ll want to take it home, put it on the table when I have coffee drinking visitors, and if ever anyone would comment on it, I’d have a sweet story to tell. Like mother, like daughter.