How many times have you unpacked after trip abroad and realized that there’s no way in heck you’ll ever use half the stuff you bought? Decades of miniature Eiffel Tower statues, novelty tea towels, framed street art, and ceramic figurines have left us all jaded about souvenirs – 99% of the time you’ll stick them on a shelf, and resent the fact that you have to dust them.
However, that magical 1% of souvenirs are things that actually prove useful – beautiful functional objects that will give you a positive reminder of your trip whenever you use them. Here are a few suggestions for awesome useful souvenirs to buy on your next trip.
This isn’t a new idea, but bringing home food from your latest trip is something that’s deliciously nostalgic – plus, you can share it with friends and give them a sense of what your time abroad was like. Many touristy places have specific types of regional produce (think dried meat or cheese) that they want you to buy. Usually, it’s at the front of the shop shrink-wrapped and ready to go.
A better idea is to find a local grocery store and buy whatever the locals seem to be buying. You’ll have to wrap it yourself, but it’ll be worth it to get an authentic product.
Spices and Flavorings
Spices and flavorings, like salt or oil, are easy to bring home in your suitcase because they’re non-perishable. Focus on things that are unique to the area, like a high-quality fleur de sel from France, sweet paprika from Hungary, or za’atar from the Middle East. These pantry ingredients keep much longer than perishable items and will come in handy if you ever decide to make a dish from the region you just visited.
These spices are usually inexpensive and light, so they’re the perfect bulk gift if you have a few people to buy for.
Although the Internet has given us the world at our fingertips, nothing replaces a good cookbook. The combination of paging through the recipe text, beautiful pictures, and helpful tips is still an experience that the Internet can’t replicate.
The next time you’re away from home, pick up a cookbook to help you recreate some of the new dishes you’ll enjoy when traveling. Don’t be intimidated if it’s in a new language or uses a format you’ve never seen before. Most cookbooks, especially if they come with pictures, are easy to figure out.