I‘ve been trying to downsize my life for years. I would love to be able to travel full-time someday and that means I have got to reduce my lifestyle. But what to do about souvenirs? I don’t want to come away from my travels with only pictures to remember them by. It all happened by chance that I discovered the best souvenirs for every country….
I buy and write myself a postcard for every city I travel to – sometimes I have multiple postcards for a single city if I’ve been there many times. Now, I do have a lot of postcards after traveling so much this past year. I currently have 34 postcards. And I’ll surely be getting lots more in my “Big Trip” that’s upcoming (Details coming soon!). But even so, this bundle of postcards really only amounts to the size of one medium souvenir. If I’d bought just one thing in each of the countries I visited this past year, I’d still have more.
Besides, postcards make the best souvenirs because they are so personal. I get to know exactly what I was thinking and feeling the day I wrote those postcards. The difference in my mood between the two Rome postcards I have (one written at the beginning of my Italy trip, and one written at the end) is so stark and funny. And I get a bit of art, which I like to collect, and generally I’m supporting a small business. I always try to buy from the local shops when I can.
But there are some problems…
Sometimes you just can’t find a postcard. Usually I can find a good substitute – any kind of card, or even a small painting will do. But in San Marino I met my match. I never did find anything, primarily because we were visiting in February and most everything was closed. As a result I had to write down my thoughts and feelings with the plan to make a corresponding postcard later. But it’s still a nice souvenir (there weren’t really any options for traditional souvenirs either) and memory.
Also, I frequently find myself buying multiple postcards to get the one I actually want. I couldn’t decided between two for Jeonju so I just wrote myself two postcards. I paid 800yen in Nara just to get the exact postcard I wanted out of a set of 12. Over the course of my stay in Rome I bought four separate postcards as each one was better than the last. But it still winds up being cheaper and less of a problem than any other souvenir!
How I Got Started
I got started with postcards because I found wooden ones in Edinburgh and they are super cool. I bought some for my family but I really wanted one for myself. So I decided to write myself a message and, a year later when I read the message, it brought my right back to where I was when I wrote it. Sitting in a hostel in Edinburgh with the window open and the trees waving. I realized I wanted to remember more places that way!
Sometimes they’re not exactly postcards
Let me take you through some of my more unusual, but very cool options 😀
First is my mini-painting from Capri, Italy. I loved the paintings that I was seeing in the shops and decided that I’d buy one of the small ones as my postcard.
On my most recent trip to Seoul I could not for the life of me find a postcard. I’m sure they were available in the giftshops but I wasn’t going to any of the main attractions in Seoul. I was getting pretty desperate on my last day. So I popped into the Kyobo bookstore and luckily they had a fun option! These scratch off things take a surprisingly long time, I wound up completing it over the course of a week!
My handmade postcard in Kyoto. I was super excited to visit Kyoto and learn about all the many traditional crafts. From wagashi (handcrafted sweets) to incense and papermaking, I decided that making my own postcard from scratch would be the most memorable. I highly recommend you go to the workshop if you’re in Kyoto, it was so much fun!
I hope this encourages you to write about your travels and to consider this method for souvenirs. This is my best souvenirs method! I hope it was interesting 😀
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