The vacation t-shirt is one of my top summer style picks. I, like many of us, have a drawer full of t-shirts. I love to slip on a t-shirt and reminisce about a fun weekend in Memphis, remember a cool restaurant on Maui or relive adventure filled days on Grand Cayman. I had my first Hawaii t-shirt long before I ever visited, courtesy of my mom. This got me to thinking about two things ...
I think souvenir shopping is one of the most fun parts of vacation. In theory (and by definition) a souvenir is a memento of a trip or occasion. For years and years, souvenir shopping for me meant bringing back someone for everyone I know to remember my vacation. Hours spent trudging through straw markets, tacky gift shops and beach emporiums deciding what size t-shirt my nephew wears, what style necklace my neighbor would like and which shell figure is the most whimsical. To remember MY vacation. The stress of counting and recounting to ensure that the gifts were equal in number and value. To be sure everyone is included. And there's the money spent on t-shirts, mugs, toys and candy. So others will remember MY vacation. I am having an OMG, slap myself on the side of the head, what was I thinking for all these years moment. Souvenirs should be mementos for ourselves to remember our vacations, not so everyone else can wear a t-shirt from a restaurant they will never even see. It's time to stop souvenir insanity! Sorry souvenir industry.
On the other hand, vacations are a wonderful opportunity to pick up a few unique or exclusive things for yourself. I love art from local artisans and jewelry with local stones. I love specialty food and liquor like coconut rum from the Virgin Islands or Rum Cake from Grand Cayman. I found amazing coconut soap and awesome lotions made in Hawaii. There are times when it is absolutely appropriate to bring back things for others. If someone has helped you plan, watched your house or pets, or helped with your kids, they deserve a nice gift. I just don't think an extra suitcase is necessary for souvenirs (yes- I actually had to purchase an extra suitcase on vacation, I get very carried away ...)
If you are planning a nice vacation this summer, grab a memento for yourself. And if you are bringing back a gift for a friend, choose wisely. Some of my favorite souvenirs from other people's vacations include a music CD from Hawaii, a brightly colored sarong, and miniature art from various Caribbean islands. And rum. Lots and lots of rum.