Written by: Julie Wilkerson
It seemed so important to get a little bit of your vacation spot to take home with you, but a few years later, the item means nothing but another surface to collect dust. CNN reports travelers wasted $3.2 billion on unused souvenirs in 2012. Read on for four Do’s and one Don’t to keep in mind as you create long-lasting memories of your vacations.
Our parents and grandparents were great vacation shutterbugs, snapping away with their Instamatics on every vacation occasion. Digital cameras give you the option of taking hundreds of photos that take up only computer storage space. Want to remember the great people you met at dinner in Santa Fe? Need to have a record of a fabulous tile design in that monastery? Take digital snapshots, and save them somewhere online. Services such as Snapfish and Shutterfly allow you to store thousands of photos online for free, giving you the option of creating online albums for easier access. The added advantage of cloud storage of your photos is they are safe from fire, moisture and other damage.
Photo by Bernie via Wikimedia Commons
For people who visit Walt Disney World or go to a lot of concerts, autograph books are a natural part of their vacation paraphernalia. Turn this interesting hobby into a fun activity for the kids during your trip. Give each child a blank autograph book, and encourage them to get signatures from interesting people along the road. Ask the friendly waitress who gave extra cherries on the sundae. Get the signature of the front desk guy who was full of jokes. Most people will be flattered to be asked, and you could end up giving someone a smile as a souvenir of their day at work.
Photo by chedderfish via Flickr
There are ambient sounds all around you everywhere you go, but you have to be quiet and listen to hear them. Grab a small digital recorder, or download an app for your smartphone, and record the sounds of your vacation. Grab the sounds of morning crickets, the whoosh of the plane taking off, or the awful sounds of dad snoring in the next bed. Transfer the sounds to your computer when you get home, and turn them into a vacation CD for the kids. Make a game of guessing the sounds.
Photo by James Cridland via Flickr
AllThingsBedBugs.org reports that 80 percent of pest control professionals have treated hotels and motels for bed bugs. Bed bugs are not the type of memorable souvenir your family wants to bring into its home. Put dirty laundry in air-tight bags. Wash and dry laundry on the hottest temperature possible before or as soon as you bring it into your house. Inspect each item for small, brown, oval-shaped insects.
Photo by http://phil.cdc.gov/phil via Wikimedia Commons
New friends from around the world can be the most important souvenir you find on your vacations. Take the time to smile and chat with locals. If you hit it off, exchange email addresses, Facebook pages or phone numbers. You may end up with a collection of friends you can visit from around the world.
Photo by Carl Loven via Flickr
Julie is a travel and music writer from Detroit.