As vacation season begins, the problem of acquiring little trinkets from your travels inevitably comes up. What should I buy? Oh, that little snow globe, figurine, (insert your idea here) is so cute – I have to get it! We have all been down that road.
Chances are, emotions win out and you find yourself clutching a small bag with the snow globe while exiting the shop. A month or two later, that cute little snow globe has dust on it, takes up space, and you are left wondering why you spent your hard-earned money on it.
What you eventually do with that snow globe is up to you, but I can provide a few suggestions when it comes to incorporating minimalism in your vacation goals without a few extra trinkets stowing away home in your luggage! Here are a few thoughts I use when it comes to souvenirs and acquiring items while traveling.
1. Write a list. Just like you should not grocery shop while you are hungry, it is best not to shop for souvenirs without a game plan. Rather than having a whole store to browse through, sticking to a list of potential purchases will help you navigate the aisles and save time and money.
2. Consider consumable items. If you must make a purchase, finding items that are usable/consumable brings value to the purchase and prevents the item from sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Mugs for coffee, stationery for letters, wearable accessories (like scarves), and foods (like hard candies) are all great items.
3. Sharing your experience. I always opt for taking pictures and finding things that I can share with friends and family. Whether that is buying an item that you can gift to someone or taking time to tell a story of your adventure, sharing experiences often bring depth and considerable reflection. I find it fun to send letters or postcards from the places I travel because they provide a glimpse into the culture, an activity, or interest I had while traveling. If you are not a letter writer, consider meeting for coffee or tea with any interested listeners. Bonus points if you share a tea/coffee/treat from the place you traveled to!
As a minimalist, I value my experiences and seek them out rather than accumulating things. While a carefully selected item may play a representative role in reminding you of a place or adventure, it is important to assess these things as to prevent falling into the “snow globe” trap. Finding items that enhance an experience are great!
When preparing for an adventure, ask yourself what you want to gain from it. Are you looking to grow in a particular category? What risks are you willing to take? How do you want to preserve the memory of the event, while maintaining a minimalist lifestyle? My examples work for me, and, chances are, you have even more ideas how to limit the purchasing and invest in experiences. Pass it on!