Travel, Wants

Buyers Guide – Mementos with meaning

In most holiday destinations, you practically have to do hurdles to avoid tacky souvenir shops. Bintang tank tops in Bali, Snake infused Tequila in Cancun, imposter Yankee hats in Manhattan – we’ve all made regrettable souvenir choices at some point in our lives. Things that usually get forgotten, until you happen upon them when you’re packing for a move. In that moment, they might provide a quick moment of nostalgia and then promptly get placed in the “NO” pile.


I am fairly brutal these days when it comes to souvenir shopping. To all my family and friends and colleagues, the likelihood that I bring you back a token item from my trip is slim to none. Why? Because I have a really hard time believing that it will have any significance to you. I’d rather treat you to a coffee the next time we’re together and share a tale or two from the road.


I am not an impulse buyer, never have been, and probably never will be. I labour over purchase decisions, anywhere from weeks to months to years. I know, it’s exhausting. This lengthy consideration period is not practical for holiday shopping though. Snap decisions must be made. So how do I decide what is worthy? My criteria is simple these days: If it can be purchased anywhere else in the world, I’m probably already moving on. I want things that are unique to the exact place I’m in. And also, I’m a sucker for social enterprises. If I can spend my money and simultaneously feel like I’ve done something good, that is the ultimate travel win.

On our recent trip to Cambodia – I came back with two things I won’t soon forget nor regret.

The first was Kampot Peppercorns, some of the finest pepper in the world, purchased directly from the plantation we visited. This was a truly unique experience, travelling out to rural lands to see where this crop is grown. Plus, I know I will get great use of this product at home in my kitchen.

The second was a handmade knit rabbit toy by Cambodia Knits that was cute AF. It came with this note:

“An added bonus of choosing one of our little woolen wonders is that your purchase empowers women through sustainable employment. CK believes that employment opportunities provide women with a path out of poverty, especially when their work is fairly paid and helps to address the challenges they face.”

Now if the toy didn’t put a smile on your face, just from the pure sweetness of it – their mission is certainly something to marvel. I look forward to sharing the tale of this bunny with my hypothetical children one day…but until then, I will be sleeping with it.

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