Souvenirs… When traveling somewhere, you often think of bringing something home from the place you visit as a way to remember the experience on the trip or a way to share the experience with someone back home who didn’t go on the trip. Sometimes this aspect of traveling can become a stressful part of the trip in itself, especially if you already have something in mind to get for one or more people, and you have to set aside your precious traveling time to look for the souvenirs.
You can get the souvenirs at the earlier part of your trip to get this out of the way. But then you would have to lug the souvenirs around as part of your traveling baggage — not a good thing if you still have a long journey to go. If you get the souvenirs towards the end of the trip, you won’t have this problem, but then you’d be thinking about this all trip long, and perhaps the last stop of your trip may not be the best place to get the souvenirs. Other considerations to take account are who you will get the souvenirs for, what to get them, and how much you’re willing to spend on souvenirs. The worst possible thing to do is to get an expensive souvenir for someone who doesn’t care or appreciate the gift.
During our Southeast Asia trip, Kristi and I considered this aspect from the beginning. We were going on a two-week trip to four countries, and we had many family members and mutual friends to consider. So what to do?
First of all, Kristi made a smart move to purchase extra luggage weight allowance for the last leg of our trip on AirAsia. Apparently if you don’t do so, you may have to pay more expensive excess baggage fee at the airport given the fairly restrictive luggage weight allowance. Then we thought of who to get the souvenirs for, what to get, and where to get them. There were at least eight families in addition to her family and my family to consider. We decided to get the same thing for all of them (so there is no favoritism), and we thought of something that was unique to the place we visited and most in the family we knew would enjoy… Vietnamese coffee. This would work quite well as Vietnam was close to the end of our trip, and the total cost was quite reasonable.
When we were in Cambodia, we also got silk scarves for a couple of mutual friends in the US. That’s also a unique, local product to Cambodia, and they were quite lightweight and didn’t take much space during the travel. Kristi also purchased a pair of wooden sandals in Hanoi for her mom, as she specifically asked for those. I also got a little wooden statuette to take home for myself from Vietnam. All in all, I think we were able to get things to take home without stressing ourselves or our budget.
We bought the bulk of the souvenirs at the shops at the Hanoi Noi Bai Airport while we were waiting for our flight to Singapore. Not ideal and I’m sure we could’ve found better price outside the airport, but we didn’t have much time to spend to look for these while we were in town. As we perused the available souvenirs, we saw the item on the photo below, a wine bottle with a snake in it. It’s an extreme souvenir and for sure would be memorable, but I’m not sure how practical it would be to get this and carry it around during the trip.