Shopping and Markets
All that being said, after over a decade of souvenir shopping experience in markets all around the world, I’ve figured out a few ways to get the best price. Haggling, bartering, bargaining, wondering-if-you-should-sell-your-first-born-for-that-carpet… I’ve done it all.
If you follow any major travel websites, blogs, or Pinterest boards, chances are you’ve heard something along the lines of “experiences, not possessions” or maybe you’ve read about people who never buy souvenirs, preferring to travel light or to save their money.
And while I appreciate all of those arguments – I’d much rather have plane tickets than a designer purse, for example – I am one of those people who ALWAYS buys souvenirs. In fact, I’ve bought souvenirs (sometimes multiple souvenirs) in every country I’ve been to, even if it’s something as small as a thimble or a postcard. I have lugged bags full of knick knacks all over the world, sent boxes full of treasures home, and budgeted souvenir shopping into every trip I’ve taken. Some may call that materialistic, but I just call it sentimental.
Because the fact is, I LOVE looking at the souvenirs I’ve brought home from around the world. I love walking around my flat and picking them up. I love remembering where I was when I bought it, or who I bought it with, or who I bought it from. I love surrounding myself with little memories of my travels. Of course, I have photos and journals, too, but there’s something about having a little piece of a place to yourself.
If you’ve read this blog long enough you know that I am not a light packer. I mean, I’ve learned a lot in the past few years as I consistently travel with carry-on only around Europe, but those trips are always only a few days, maximum one week. I just can’t help it – I’m love clothes and I love being prepared. While part of me envies those people who can travel around the world with one tiny backpack, the other part of me is quite happy to carry a few more kilograms if it means I get to have options. To each their own, I guess. I’ve also been very lucky (touch wood) that I’ve never lost a suitcase for good. I’ve had items delayed, but I’ve always had them returned to me within 24 hours.
On the flip side of all this, I’ve always wanted to try arriving somewhere with no luggage whatsoever, and then having to buy everything from local shops and markets. I’ve often talked about doing it somewhere in Southeast Asia – I think that Thailand (especially Bangkok or Chiang Mai) would be fairly easy and fun locations to test this out. Me? I chose to test it out in Italy.
Of the countries I’ve been to, I loved my Indian wardrobe the best. My biggest piece of advice, no matter where you go, is to shop locally. My dream is to one day arrive in a place like Thailand or India with a completely empty backpack and purchase all of my clothing there; not only is it usually much cheaper than clothes in Canada or the UK, but you’ll have a lot more fun with your fashion. Here are a few of the things I wore while in India.
Since leaving my hometown, I have had some odd Christmases. There was the hungover McDonald’s meal last year with my sister; a day on the beach in Borneo springs to mind, too, as does a barbecue on a warm Christmas in New Zealand. This year, I’ll be spending the holidays in Nicaragua with my family. It’s the first time my sister, brother, and mum have been together for a Christmas day in seven years, and I can’t wait.
The trip is obviously the most amazing gift I could ever ask for. But, if I was going to be completely greedy, here are a few things I would put on a Christmas list. Some of them I already am lucky enough to have, and so would love to give a friend or family member, but these are the things I think make perfect gifts for travellers.
I am a total packrat, and I shop too much. This is a terrible combination, especially as someone who travels a lot. If you have been following this blog long enough, you may remember a few posts I did on the house I own in Canada (here, here, and here) – I have never been one to hide the fact that I love buying things while I’m abroad. I’m always the one with the backpack that’s too heavy, but hey, I’m really good at haggling now. I’ve never met a market I didn’t love.
The thing is, I don’t really spend that much money on things I buy. I can only think of a handful of items that have ever cost me over $20 Canadian dollars (about £12). And while the little things can certainly add up, I always budget for souvenir shopping. There are so many cheap souvenirs to be had, however…