You stopped once for fuel and now you’ve reached your first destination. Then you tour the birthplace. Or hike the preserve. Or explore the monument. You decide that it’s time to get back into your RV and keep rolling, but you stop one more place on your way out. The gift shop.
For some of you, this is the dreaded stop. You have to decide how you want to remember this particular place. Sure, you’ll have memories, but you think you should take something home with you. What keepsake will remind you of how you felt or what you saw during your visit? The decision is enough to start a small panic attack.
Others of you LOVE the gift shop; it might even have a higher place in your heart than the actual stop. You live to shop and after a tourist attraction, it seems justifiable to spend some money. You might have problems deciding which one thing to get, and then just decide to buy five items. Your wallet suffers after this stop.
The predicament is, especially when you’re traveling in your RV, you don’t really have room for big collectibles. And will you really wear four t-shirts from the same place? What happens when they shrink (or when you grow)? Do you have a place in your RV (or home) to display your treasures to share with friends and family?
Guaranteed you are making some of the most treasured times of your life while in your RV. So what can you do to recollect these cherished memories? The best way for you to do this is to find a consistent piece that reflects your personality and choose that item at each stop. Here are some practical suggestions for keeping the memories alive, without occupying precious space or spending a fortune.
Book Lovers, History Buffs and Amateur Photographers: Coffee Table Books
Buy what my dad used to call a “coffee table book.” Typically this is a book that has many beautiful pictures of the place of interest. You know, the kind of photos shot with expensive cameras at just the right angle and with the perfect lighting. Unless photography is your hobby, buying a book like this means you can enjoy the views in the moment, while having a keepsake of the best shots for later. These books normally have some kind of historical component as well. If you do take a selfie or two, print them out and stick them inside the front cover as proof of your visit.
Spoon, Bell & Shot Glass Souvenirs
Many souvenir shops have these items and not only do they take up very little space, they are often not too expensive. My personal collector’s items are spoons. I have them from all over the world and they are displayed in a beautifully handmade spoon rack. It’s so nice to walk into a shop, find the spoons and make my purchase. I love the display and the memories as I view them. My preference is the pewter spoons as they don’t tarnish, but sometimes stores don’t carry them. Consider these collectibles if you have a place at home for them, as they may not display or travel well in your RV.
Postcards are an easily accessible item that most gift shops carry and are probably the cheapest. They can easily be stored and displayed in a photo album that holds 4×6 pictures (though there are some oversized postcards). Most postcards display one or more beautiful photographs or an artist’s rendition of the site. To make this collection even more unique, pack postcard stamps ahead of time and mail the card from your destination to wherever you collect your mail. Now you have the postcard, a special postmark and maybe a sentence or two of a personal highlight. Stay tuned for a future post on the lost art of letter writing and how the postcards could be used and not just collected.
Earlier I suggested that t-shirts aren’t a great takeaway idea because they can shrink or you can outgrow them. Plus, they take up more space than some of the previously mentioned items. However, there really are some neat t-shirts and they just may be your thing. If they are your preference, then make your purchase and wear them proudly. After you’ve amassed a stockpile, consider making a t-shirt quilt or having someone make it for you. A simple online search will provide tutorials or companies willing to tackle the project if sewing isn’t your thing. This is a way to preserve those shirts and the memories that go with them, but keep them from being stuffed in the back of a drawer.
Though you won’t make this purchase inside a gift shop, scrapbooks are another special keepsake. Digital scrapbooking through websites like Shutterfly or Snapfish (and plenty of others) help you to print a soft or hard cover book with your personal photos. With a laptop, you could easily make the book on the road, thus creating your own coffee table book, complete with personalized photos and memories. These can be very customized or you can simply import the photos and let the website put them directly in a book for you. If you’re on a budget, watch for sales and other discount codes. Traditional scrapbooking with paper and stickers is not a thing of the past either, though it might be a little harder while traveling. If you’d rather work with paper and scissors, consider kits that offer coordinating paper and embellishments or use premade books. You may find that a gift shop has the perfect touch for your album with a postcard picture or other unique piece for the site.
Of course there are other options for your souvenirs — pencils or jewelry or framed photos — the list goes on and on! But, the point is to find what you enjoy and will actually use or display to keep your memories alive. Boxing up the memorabilia or putting the collectibles into storage defeats the purpose. Choose your memento again and again and make that souvenir gift shop purchase an uncomplicated one that is both functional and affordable and preserves your memories.
Be sure to check out our other RV Living Accessories, to make your RV trips more fun.