Travel Souvenirs: What Do You Collect?
Caught in an experience, I forget to take pictures—so no one can possibly expect me to remember to purchase a vacation souvenir. Sure, I spend money while traveling, but on food and adventures, not on tchotchkes.
I rarely even notice the tchotchkes.
I might collect a t-shirt, but only rarely, and only if it has a modicum of style and evokes a particular experience from the trip—not if it just has the location name on a plain field. But even if it meets both requirements, I probably won’t buy a t-shirt. I don’t have much occasion to wear branded t-shirts, even featuring things I really love.
However, when I do think to collect something by which to remember an experience—and, usually, a display has to prompt me—I buy a mug. In fact, without consciously considering it, I’ve accumulated quite a few mugs from my adventures over the years. Some of my mugs don’t even have vacation or travel connections: I have a mug from a half-marathon I ran with a friend, for example. Another couple mugs have my alma mater’s logo and seal stamped on them.
After all, I drink a lot of tea. I use mugs daily. And these memento mugs pack a lot of memories. When I select them from the cabinet and sip from them throughout the morning or afternoon, I remember what brought them into my life.
I have a travel mug that reminds me of a trip to Glacier National Park after a really difficult spring. It reminds me of my emotions at that time in my life, the hikes and animals and snow and hippie outposts on the trip, and the vacation’s travel dynamic between a long-time travel buddy and me.
Another mug reminds me of a Route 66 road trip taken with the same travel buddy; we stopped at Lucille’s along the way—a gas station and convenience store from the road’s heyday—when Lucille still lived. She invited us in, chatted with us a bit, and signed our souvenir mugs. Her signature didn’t last, but the mug did. It prompts nostalgia for a time when I experienced the vestiges of a disappearing America with a truly good friend at pivotal times in our lives.
Yet another mug, on which the printing has mostly worn away, marks my trip to Indianapolis to bury my mother’s mother. I didn’t know when I’d return—yet I knew that when I did come back, I’d no longer visit as a granddaughter in a family home. Instead, I’d return as a tourist. To mark the transition, I bought this mug in the airport, waiting for my flight back to Houston.
What mug will I acquire next?
What do you collect when you travel?