On Saturday morning I got back from my honeymoon in Cuba. It was wonderful, completely relaxing, and a ton of fun. It was so great to spend seven days without work, the blog, or Facebook clouding my thoughts.
During the last few days of our stay, my husband started wondering about what kind of souvenirs we might want to bring back with us, to commemorate our trip.
This surprised me, since it wasn’t something that had even crossed my mind. As a minimalist, the idea is to live with less, not more. Due to this, I had completely planned on not bringing home anything at all. My husband, however, comes from a family of travellers, all of whom have a household full of souvenirs. Bringing home items from travels is part of their family culture. He wanted to find at least one thing to remind us of our trip.
I respect his opinion. Minimalism is an evolving path for us, and we both fall of different parts of the minimalist spectrum in various areas of our lives. With this in mind, we set out to find a few, small souvenirs that would allow us to commemorate our trip without cluttering our lifestyle.
Set a Framework
When it comes to shopping for souvenirs as a minimalist, a great way to do so is to come up with a set of guidelines to narrow the search. I’m a big fan of the following quote:
Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. – William Morris
This is a great starting place for buying a souvenir. Myself, I prefer to find something that is both beautiful and useful, when possible. If I can find something that actually fills a need I have, and is also beautiful, even better.
Cost Per Use
The worst souvenirs are the ones we bring home, display for a short time, and then pack away in a box. Then we spend the rest of our lives lugging the thing around with us, only looking at it once a year or so, when we happen to dig it out of it’s box while searching for something else. These items are waste of space, time, effort and money. They don’t give you that much enjoyment, and aren’t serving their initial purpose anyway, which is to remind you of a fun trip you went on.
Due to this, if I’m going to buy a souvenir that has no use, I’ll at least try and buy some sort of wall art, so that I can hang it, and glance at it often. I’ll see it many times over the course of it’s life, and be fondly reminded of my time in that place.
Photos are Souvenirs Too
I’m a big fan of electronic storage. Because of this, I took a ton of photos of Cuba. I’ll be able to revisit these photos whenever I want, I could even create a physical album of them if I wanted to. Pictures convey more about a trip then a souvenir probably ever will, and they take up much less space. In fact, I had planned on not purchasing a single souvenir of my trip to Cuba, because I had such beautiful pictures to take home with me.
In the end, my husband bought a small chess set. He loves chess but we haven’t had a set since the last time we moved (it got the axe because it was too bulky). This set is a beautiful varnished wooden board that folds up into a small carrying case for the pieces. When it’s all folded up, it’s about the size of a small book. Perfectly minimalist, if you ask me. Of course, I grilled him before he bought it, about whether or not he’ll actually use the chess set very much, and he assured me that if he doesn’t, we’d find it a new home.
Even though I wasn’t planning on getting any souvenirs, in the airport, a cuban licence plate caught my eye. It said VA2013 on it (for Varadero, 2013). It was small, cheap, and took up almost no space in my luggage, so it came home with me. I’ve found a place for it in our main room, and I’ve already glanced at it at least a half dozen times since settling down to write. It’s made me smile almost every time.
Souvenirs are probably bought much too frequently by most people. They buy something, because that’s what you do. Then they forget it, or end up putting it away in storage, where it’s just another unloved relic of their past. I have no desire to fill my life with things like this, but I’m not against adding the occasional beautiful or useful item to my home.
Do you buy souvenirs? What did you buy on your last trip?