The Worst Souvenirs

The Worst Souvenirs

Keep some souvenirs of your past, or how will you ever prove it wasn’t all a dream? ~Ashleigh Brilliant

Who doesn’t love looking at tacky souvenirs – especially in airports? What is it about us that makes us buy shot glasses, boxer shorts, tote bags, ashtrays and other inappropriate items to remind us where we have been? It always seems like a good idea at the time.

Snow globes. What is our fascination with snow globes? It isn’t even real snow –  it’s glitter. But there is something magical especially to kids about looking at a scene from the place you just visited in a snow globe. I love snow globes but remember you can’t carry them on the plane. I’ve seen airport security rip them out of a kid’s hand.

Tea towel.  Nothing says “couldn’t be bothered thinking of a proper present for you” like a souvenir tea towel. Every destination has them.  They are an easy to pack item for collectors of tea towels around the world, 

Refrigerator Magnets. They are like cats. You start with one. You end up with ten. Your refrigerator starts to look like a souvenir store. Then, you need to buy a bigger refrigerator.

Key Chains. All the other items usually come in a key chain as well. I did buy the Obama’s dog Beau key chain in Washington DC as a gift for my dog.. It was a great chewing toy.

T Shirts.  All I Got Was…. and I Heart ……. are still very popular in every souvenir store in every country.  I used to think an interesting local T-shirt was a good gift. They were cheap, light weight, easy to pack and a simple reminder of where I was in the world.  I soon realized that no one ever wore them.

National Clothes. It  seems like a great idea when you are there. I bought enough clothes from the different hill tribes in Thailand to actually join one.  It was the same with wool sweaters  and hats from Estonia and Peru. I  live in Southern California. It doesn’t get that cold.  I finally realized that I’m not really the ethnic, art teacher type dresser.  No one else I knew was either.

Baseball hats with logos. I do buy them from time to time as a gift but I usually end up keeping them. I have a lot of bad hair days.  At the moment I’m wearing the New Zealand All Blacks one. 

Miniature statues.  Every souvenir shop has tons of these. I always wonder who buys them. I’ve never seen anyone paying for one. Miniature Christ the Redeemer? Miniature Eiffel Tower? I guess it’s a good way of keeping track of the bucket list places that you have seen. Do you really want a plastic Leaning Tower of Pisa on your book shelf in ten years time?

Coffee Mugs are everywhere with everything you can possibly imagine on them. You can get them with Chairman Mao, Mickey Mouse,Vladimir Putin, Eva Peron  and everything in between. Since I collect Starbucks mugs from all over the world I don’t find this one as odd. I find it memorable.

Fly safe,


Top Ten Things Not To Bring On A Plane In Your Carry On Luggage

Top Ten Things Not To Bring On A Plane In Carry On Luggage

“Don’t let your luggage define your travels, each life unravels differently.” unknown

1. box cutters – ok I get this one.

2. Snow globes larger than a tennis ball. I think that they mean the large intricate ones that you buy in Christmas markets in Austria, Germany or Eastern Europe. I’m guessing it has more than 3 and half ounces of liquid. How do the TSA agents  feel taking Santa on a sleigh in the snow away from a kid in the airport at Christmas? I love snow globes.

3. Anything that looks like or can be used as a weapon – toy guns, baseball bats, hockey and lacrosse sticks ski poles, sabers, swords, knives of any kind and scissors that are not for nails.

4. Liquids over 3.4 oz. This limits my food shopping when I travel and my impulse food buys in the airport gift shops. This includes interesting sauces, weird nut butters, dips and spreads, jams, jellies, preserves, wine, liquors, salad dressings, olive oils, vinegars – things I am not comfortable with in my checked luggage. The TSA rule of thumb to remember is “If you can spill it, spread it, smear it, squeeze it, spray it, pump it, or pour it,” then travelers should check it. Why does the TSA being cute annoy me?

5.Guns, gun powder, bullets, explosive devices, spare parts of guns and fire arms, grenades, flares, gunlighters and ammunition. So where can you actually have this stuff? I would like to avoid those areas.

6.Tools over seven inches. This includes hatchets, axes and saws. I like this one. I often see people on planes who look crazy.

7.Anything flammable. I’m good with that. I have bad fire karma. My house burned down twice as a kid. The second time it was hit by lightning. This is probably not a good time to tell that story.

8.Illegal controlled substances. Does that mean drugs? Watch a few episodes of Locked Up Abroad (they are almost always picked up in the airport)  and you probably won’t want to be carrying that with you. These are not Martha Stewart prisons.

9.Disabling chemicals – bleach, fire extinguishers, chlorine, spray paint, tear gas, recreational oxygen (what is fun oxygen?) How did they make up this list? Did someone think of things that could be dangerous? Was it a committee? Are these things that were confiscated? I have to say I would also be suspicious of someone with a fire extinguisher, spray paint and tear gas in their carry on.

10. Anything they feel like taking. I’ve lost many lip glosses, lipsticks, tweezers, batteries and sewing kits. Sometimes I feel protected and other times I feel they are saving the world one confiscated item at a time.

Fly safe,