Many of us have done it – got so caught up in the excitement of being in a different country or city that we buy souvenirs that eventually just end up gathering dust and taking up space in our homes. This ends up being both annoying and bad for the environment as more often than not you end up throwing it out once the novelty has worn off.

So, just what souvenirs are better to purchase and take home with you? Below are some ideas on things you can purchase that you will most likely regularly use once you return home.

Reusable bottles, mugs and bags
Who doesn’t love a good mug? Many coffee shops and outlets offer branded mugs these days. And you could probably find city-branded mugs and parefenalia at local markets, too. The same goes for water bottles. And, when you purchase a reusable water bottle, you are also doing good things for the planet if you use it and refill it on your travels instead of buying bottled water each time. Another way to save the planet and secure a cute souvenir is to purchase reusable shopping bags. Most retail stores have reusable options with stunning designs.

Snacks and treats
Every country and many cities have sweet and savory treats that are unique to the region. If you are looking to give loved ones a literal taste of the destination that you visited or you are keen to take some home with you, then consider shopping for delicious, edible treats. These can be bought from local markets or stores.

Consider sweet treats such as fudge or chocolate unique to the region. Also look into coffee and other drinks that you wouldn’t find back home. Of course, ensure that anything you buy is allowed to cross borders into another country.

Wearables
This is clothing, jewellery and accessories. Everyone loves a T-shirt, some funky socks and a cap or two to take home with them. However, be sure that when you purchase these you aren’t buying from fast-fashion outlets that import their clothing. Rather shop from stores that use local designers or from markets with local suppliers.

Relate Bracelets, for example, is an NGO that, through the sale of unique beaded bracelets, is able to make a difference and change lives. According to the website, “As a 100% not-for-profit social enterprise, the majority of Relate’s revenue is donated to credible causes and invested in social upliftment initiatives, with a focus on creating opportunities for all involved, at every stage of a project. Whenever you buy and wear Relate bracelets, you know that your contribution will reach the causes and people for whom it was meant, and ultimately change lives.”

Jewelry is also an excellent keepsake from trips and a lovely purchase for a loved one who wasn’t able to do the trip with you. Find out if there are any pieces unique to the region that you will be visiting. Jewelry company Shimanskly, for example, recently launched the Cape Town Ring. This ring is only available in Cape Town and can be worn to showcase a love of the Mother City, no matter where the wearer is in the world. This is a great buy for anyone, anywhere in the world who loves Cape Town and wants to show off that love every day.

Art
Imagine walking into your home every day and seeing something on your wall or on your shelf that reminds you of your favourite holiday memory. When you purchase art pieces, this is exactly what could happen.

Visit art markets and craft spaces to find unique pieces that suit your space back home. It could be a small print of a lion or a big unique tapestry to hang on your wall – anything that you know you will put on display the second you return home. Other items to consider include crafts and sculptures that you can put on your bookshelves. Think pottery, carvings, and even pretty fabrics.

Yes, collecting memories and not things is all the rage at the moment, but sometimes we want to take home little trinkets to remind us of a wonderful time. Use these ideas to make sure that what you spend your money on matters to you and that it’s something you won’t want to throw away soon after your return home.

Submitted by Irvine Partners