We returned about three weeks ago from our overseas adventure. We spent most of our two weeks in the South of England with a couple of days in North Yorkshire and one long weekend in France.
I have so many memories from the trip, but we didn't buy a lot of souvenirs. Having a good bit of foreign travel under our belts, Matt and I know from experience that we are not really souvenir people. Little knicknacks are not really our thing. We lose them or they get broken. They sit untouched in a dusty box, because we don't want to throw them out, but ... so they just sit there.
We made a few notable exceptions to this rule of course. We bought guidebooks almost everywhere we went. All of the English Heritage and National Trust sites have pretty extensive books about the sites. (Dover Castle had more than a few about different aspects of the site and its history... we bought two of them!) Matt skived three souvenir glasses for his man cave (a tradition carried over from Germany, and before that from my last trip to England). We bought the kids some little trinkets... a mini-teapot emblazoned with the Union Jack for Natalie. A toy double-decker bus for Jackson. British flags for both of them. Things like that. We bought some gifts for friends and family who had asked for things.
Most of our souvenirs are the memories we have, though. Like Natalie and Jack on the first beach they had ever seen... in Normandy. At the ruined medieval abbey complex we explored, it was drizzly all day (a passing native said, "How'dyou like our North Yorkshire drought?"). Natalie took the opportunity to splash in every puddle we crossed. At the tea room that day, Jack made a new friend - Charlie - and they "talked" to each other all through lunch. Natalie stuffed her pockets with rocks everywhere we went, so we saved quite the collection. Every passing bus, truck, taxi, or golf cart, Jackson was beside himself with glee (you can only imagine his wonder during our day in London). We took photos of everything. We have over 1,700 pictures that I'm still going through. I kept a journal that, okay, I'm still actually working on completing before I forget everything. Those are going to be my most precious souvenirs.
I did actually buy one souvenir that I carry with me everywhere. It's a trolley token on a keyring. (Pictured at left. Sure it's cliche by now, but I still like the message.) If you're not familiar with trolley tokens, think Aldi's grocery carts. They cost a quarter to pull one out and you only get your quarter back if you return the cart. Well, in England they cost a POUND. Bet you'll be returning that cart, eh?
I added another trolley token to it that I snagged in France. A local Frenchwoman took pity on me outside the supermarket and offered me an extra of hers. It's the size of a Euro... grocery carts are expensive to rent over there! It isn't nearly as cute, but feels more authentic.
And now, that is how I can now confidently rent grocery carts around the world. The end :)