Collecting souvenirs is certainly nothing new. Almost everyone, from occasional vacationers to career travelers, like to bring home something tangible to remember a trip.
If you want to break out the dictionary, souvenirs are objects people acquire for the memories associated with them. They bring big business to the tourism industry by promoting local businesses and providing word-of-mouth marketing long after a trip is over.
However, what I find interesting is the type of souvenirs people choose and why. My childhood friend collects thimbles when she travels. My grandma collects bells. And my coworker collects scarves. When I think about these three women and consider why they’re collecting what they’re collecting, the answers are obvious. My childhood friend is crafty, my grandma used to be a teacher, and my coworker loves fashion.
What about me? For the past decade, my souvenir of choice has been the shot glass. I’ve picked up shot glasses from touristy spots like Niagara Falls and Vegas.
I’ve collected them from destinations I’ve fallen in love with on international trips, like Ireland and London.
I’ve also picked up my fair share of shot glasses from random cities I’ve found myself in from time to time, like Atlanta and San Diego.
If you know me at all, it isn’t surprising why rows of shot glasses line my window sill as evidence of my travels. Plain and simple, I like to drink. Bloody Mary’s, pumpkin beer, margaritas, vodka with anything…you name it and it’s probably on my mind at most times on most days. Not only are souvenir shot glasses easy to find in almost all locations, they also come in handy for hosting parties and for those occasional crappy days.
During the past year, however, I have found myself collecting a new type of souvenir….the topographical map bandana. Much less common than the shot glass, the topographical map bandana is most often found at national park visitor centers. Last Spring, I picked up a Wildflowers of Yosemite banana on my camping/hiking trip in California.
I was excited to find a bandana in Zion National Park while on a canyoneering trip in Utah last Summer.
Perhaps I’m being overly introspective today, but I can’t help but notice that the shift in my souvenir preferences seem to mirror the shift in my life preferences. For the past year, I have found much more happiness while outdoor adventuring than I do in incessant partying. I’m pushing thirty and my hangovers get worse every damn weekend. I’ve been to enough bars, talked to enough strangers, and spent more money on booze than I’d like to admit.
Don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoy my adult beverages. But these days, I am most satisfied, most at peace, and most like the version of myself I want to me when I’m in nature. That’s not a shameless pitch for my blog, it’s the truth.
With that being said, the key to life is balance. So these days, I buy shot glasses AND bandanas when I travel. I figure, why not satisfy both sides of myself if I can spare a few extra bucks?
So now the question is, what’s your souvenir of choice?