I think the word souvenir gets a bad rap. The word makes you think of all of the cheesy tchotchke shops you see with t-shirts and trinkets that are conveniently placed in the most touristy places. They all have the same shit, it’s all over-priced, and a lot of it is crap. I ran into a lot of this in Spain, and a little in Tangier, but I steer clear of any shops I see people with travel-branded fanny packs walking into.
The word souvenir means something that is kept as a reminder of a place you have visited or an event you have been to, so it’s the perfect word to describe what I’m talking about, but yet we can’t separate it in our minds from cheesy tchotchkes. So I’m going with a more sentimental word for this post — memento. Which technically means something that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or thing. And yes it’s memento, not momento — look it up.
So essentially they mean the same thing, but the word souvenir has that extra specificity of possibly a place you have visited. I’m doing my journalism-school word nerd out thing but I like to know the specific meanings of words if I’m going to choose to use them.
In general when I travel I try to buy smaller things that are easier to pack and bring home. Since I’m typically an over-packer and there usually isn’t an inch of room to spare in my suitcase this is important or else I end up having to buy another bag on my trip. This has happened to me several times…
I like to look for things in each place I visit that are special to that place. One thing I always tend to look for is jewelry. It’s small so it’s easy to take home, and I know I’ll wear it. I also like to find things that I can display around my home and reflect on happy memories when I look at them, like the numerous baskets I brought home from Rwanda (planning on hanging them on the wall, but haven’t gotten to that yet).
When I was in Spain I really wanted to buy a black hat. The traditional Spanish hats — the ones with the flat top and a wide brim — are called Cordobés hats. I wanted a straw one as opposed to any other material so I could wear it this summer. Unfortunately I only found a straw version of the Spanish hats in a natural color and I really want it in black because I already have this Panama hat in natural. So I didn’t get one (but will have to get either this one or this one).
I only ended up buying one thing in Spain, which are a pair of shoes I’ll share with you later (or you might have seen them on my snapchat). But I did end up buying a few things in Tangier, Morocco — two rings and a pair of traditional babouche slippers.
This is one of the rings I bought in Morocco. There were a lot of similar rings, one-stone rings that I felt like weren’t unique enough of a design for me. Sure, they were made by artisans in Morocco, but I wanted something that also looked different than anything I’ve seen before.
When I saw this ring I actually thought it would go on horizontally, but when I got it out of the case and tried it on, it was vertical, and I was like yessssss. It’s even cooler than I thought it was. I didn’t see any others like it. I’ll show you the traditional Babouche slippers and the other ring I bought in a later post.
Honestly, I wish I had done a little more shopping and bought a few more mementos and gifts for others in Spain — home decor and more traditional clothing or artisan-made items, but shopping just wasn’t high on our list of to-do and that’s totally fine.
Are there any specific mementos you look for when you are traveling?
Side note — I am SO obsessed with this jungle print tank. I’ve already worn it like 10 times in 6 weeks (wore this exact outfit in Morocco). It has a side split so you can tuck the front in and leave the back out. You can easily wear a bra with it, and I just love the print. It’s selling out fast, FYI.
SHOP THE LOOK
Olive Linen Pants
The olive and blue are on sale, and now they come in black & blush too!
Photos by Laura Metzler