I love to shop.

Online shopping is my vice and my closet in NYC is overflowing with things that I really don’t need (a topic for another time). But buying souvenirs while I’m traveling STRESSES ME OUT. I hate buying low quality mass produced souvenirs. I always want them to be authentic and personal and I hate carrying more than I need on my trips. Having all this criteria makes it very difficult for me to find souvenirs that I feel totally confident in buying.

After spending time in markets all over the world I have started to realize that because we are so global now, a little bit of their authenticity is gone. I was so excited to go a market in Johannesburg that was written up in every tour book but was disappointed when I got there and I could tell most of it was imported from China and every table was selling a little bit of the same thing. I left with nothing (except a satisfied stomach, food markets I’ve found are the exception).

Usually I pick up things I love and figure out who I’ll give them to later. If I see something small that’s great, I’ll buy it in bulk and I’ll try and buy a few “back up” items in case I forget anyone on my list. Occasionally I do find an amazing large and/or breakable item and sacrifice lugging it around my entire trip and it’s usually worth it in the end.

Right now I live in a small NYC apartment so I don’t have too much regret I didn’t buy more but maybe one day when I have a whole house to decorate I’ll wish I had some art to hang or display from my travels. But then again there’s one thing I’ll always have, my photos!

What about you? Are souvenirs for your friends, family or coworkers a must? Do you pick up whatever you see first and get it over with or spend time searching? Do you come home from trips and wish you had bought more or carried something around for yourself?