Over the weekend, I shopped at the Cleveland Flea Market where I found vintage clothing and house ware, artisan jewelry and gifts, local food trucks, and great toys made from recycled materials for my nieces (can’t spoil the birthday gifts just yet :)! I also strolled through the local shops in Tremont (a neighborhood of Cleveland) and came across the sign below, which reminded me of the importance of shopping locally.
By going to local stores, we are supporting the local economy and sustainable business by reducing distribution and transportation costs. Shopping locally and supporting the local economy is one of the many ways I justify my purchases and leave stores feeling “guilt-free.” Mirroring habits of my generation (Millennials), I also aim to support causes with my purchases, such as shoes from TOMS, an inspiring company that donates a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes you purchase.
Thinking more about it, as I have traveled over the past several years, I have found ways to purchase souvenirs without feeling guilty. I have to admit that growing up, I wanted to purchase every trinket in sight. Now that I have moved every year for the past six years, I am realizing the hassle of collecting trinkets everywhere I go. I’m only in my 20s, and as a travel enthusiast, it’s scary to think how much I could collect in a lifetime if I purchase trinkets every new place I visit. Recently, I have gotten into the habit of buying souvenirs that are in the following “guilt-free” categories:
- Artwork: Paintings, drawings, etc. are a great way to decorate your home while remembering your adventures. Over the past couple years, I’ve purchased several small paintings/plaques/drawings that I have now turned into collages in my new apartment. Art is a good souvenir, as long as you are selective (i.e., only purchase items that will fit will in your home) and there is a general theme (i.e., I’ve noticed that many of my pieces have a red tone, which has been convenient for decorating).
- Jewelry: Unlike souvenir t-shirts or even most clothing items, jewelry can be timeless. It is wearable, and therefore useful, so that it doesn’t just collect dust on your shelf. I’ve now purchased jewelry (casual jewelry…it doesn’t have to be diamonds!) in almost every place I’ve visited, especially if it is native to the location. For example, I purchased butterfly wing earrings and a necklace from the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica as a memory of my cloud forest hikes and to support butterfly conversation efforts.
- Photos: What better way to capture all of your experiences? More than saying a thousand words, pictures tell a story and trigger thoughts, emotions, and memories of your best and worst experiences while traveling. Now with smart phones, social media, and the cloud, you can share, organize, and store photos instantly!
I came across the following quote that perfectly summarizes guilt-free souvenir shopping (if only I came up with a quote for my categories before William Morris :))!
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris
And better yet, I came across The Top 5 Most Valuable Souvenirs and I absolutely agree with each one. If you want to purchase something tangible during your travels, my guilt-free recommendations are above. But, as Sarah Vedomske highlights, the most valuable souvenirs are intangible and will inspire you to live with an inspirNational mindset.