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.
SORRY, NOT SORRY
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.
HOW TO MAKE THE CUT
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.