Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How to find cheap souvenirs

I don't do souvenir shops. When my husband and I took a drive across Florida, we might flip through a Goodwill's racks for interesting local objects. What we found were Opryland hats and Tennessee tees.

It was an "aha" moment: these were souvenirs Floridians took home. To find Florida stuff, we should look in Nashville. The most profitable parents do this pre-Disney, stocking up on collectible trading pins and refillable soda cups at Goodwill.

I'll spend a few moments combing through the t-shirt racks before Spring Break. I'm sure I'll find at least one Chattanooga momento for my son. It will be well worth 59 cents to bypass the Aquarium gift shop.

What do you think? Does this strategy take away the fun of choosing a souvenir, or is a travel surprise equally fun?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea! I'm planning to do this on our next trip to Florida since my 2yr is outgrowing shirts so quickly. I'll wrap it as a present. The joy of opening a gift should outway the joy of picking out something and takes the sting out of a parent's wallet. At 2 he won't care anyway but I'll start the practice now to start a pattern.
Emmy

Frugal Homemaker Plus said...

We don't buy souveniers at all, with the possible exception of a few postcards, which we mail off to somebody else. We do keep a travel journal, and put pictures in it. That lasts much longer than a cheap hat, no matter where you got it! I traveled a lot as a child, and my parents did not go for souveniers very often. I think if I had kids, I would try your method Meredith!

Anonymous said...

i think its a great idea and we use it too..plus for the aquarium any fish momento can count, when we went to the zoo, it was all generic animal things....


the last time we explained to dd who was 4, did she want souvenirs or rather a night in a hotel with a pool....because by the time you gift shop for both your kids...you're at about 40$, well the difference between a hotel with a pool and without is that amount or less....


she chose the pool....we use the same strategy now that she is almost 6.....those commercial she sees are made for her to pester us and for us to spend....she now yells at them...you arent getting OUR money...lol...now if only it will last...

we are going to charleston south carolina to visit my bil...(18 hr drive one way ) and i've already printed the lists off of the second hand shops.....i'd rather buy some neat vintage southern trinket and some plastic coaster that say south carolina...

Celina in Canada

good luck on your trip, we leave this thursday

it's a Mom thing said...

I'm all for being frugal, but sometimes it's ok to treat yourself. I know you agree. Maybe he could find something small and inexpensive during your trip, and if not you could have a back-up momento that you bought at the thrift store. :)

Milehimama said...

I think it's all in the presentation. If you say "T Shirts are too expensive. I'm buying yours at Goodwill, like it or lump it" it will be meaningless and disappointing.
If they get to Florida, and Mom puts the shirts, wrapped in Dolphin paper or something, on their pillows as a surprise gift, it would be very cool. Like a present for going on vacation.

If you throw a grocery bag of Florida coozies towards the backseat as you leave, vs. presenting it with their favorite beverage in it, maybe a little umbrella.

Another idea - buy a generic stuffed animal at the dollar store, and take pictures of it at the various places on your list. Kind of like that Flat Stanley thing going around the Net.

Mama Says

Gini Young said...

I would definitely say this is equally fun! And less painful to your pocketbook! Way to prepare and think ahead. Look on ebay too if you still have time. you never know what you can find and where.

Alison said...

I love the frugality of this idea so wouldn't be against it with my nearly three year old. And I love Mama Says suggestion with the stuffed animal & pictures--in a album from Dollartree or thrift store it would be a great souvenir. But I would probably also set a small amount (say $5 for the whole trip) for my son to pick something out during the trip, and use it as a teaching opportunity about money and budgeting. By the way, I've noticed that sometimes local drug stores (in the West often Long's) have local souvenirs more cheaply than the specialty gift shops if you do decide to shop at the destination.

Birdie said...

Great idea! Definitely one I hadn't thought of.

Anonymous said...

You know what? I would go for buying second hand and doing the wrapping it in neat paper as someone suggested above. And I think that in 10 or 11 years when your son is going off to college and you can afford a college that he wants BECAUSE you saved here and there, he will be thankful. I often tell my husband that you are going to be one of those people who are secretly a millionare because you are so smart with your money. Save, save, save I say. Don't let the trinkets get you!

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. My kids are required to spend their own money on souvenirs so they usually buy toy sort of things. I always wish they would buy a shirt or hat or something more useful.

If I impliment this "thrift store souvenir" idea, we can get wearable souvenirs as well as still let them spend some of their own money (but I bet some of them would rather save the $$$ if they saw they were getting a souvenir anyway from mom...mmm)

Anonymous said...

My daughter and son-in-law find a souvenir penny press machine, that embosses a pertinent design on a penny. The kids love collecting the pennies, and it is very inexpensive.
Also, when she took the little ones to the aquarium, they first made t-shirts at home, with fish on them. The "fish" were made by placing each child's hand in fabric paint, with the fingers close to each other, and placing the child's hand on a white t-shirt.

The finger part, looks like the tale of the fish, and the thumb a fin. She painted on an eye and mouth, and some bubbles. They were a huge hit! People kept commenting on how cute the shirts were. A bonus is that all of the kids were dressed alike, in case one got separtaed from the others.

Nancy

My Boaz's Ruth said...

When we were growing up, we spent our own money on souvenirs. Where did the money come from? We saved it up all summer (I always ended up with more than my sister, somehow)

If we didn't have the money, then we didn't get to buy the souvenir. But if we wanted to buy junk with our money -- that was our business too.

I still had some of that "junk" over 10 years later. A seaworld bottle with a penny inside. Opryland playing cards. Etc. So these things meant something to me because I was the one that saved for them, and I was the one that picked them out.

The Deprived Investor said...

personally I love souvenirs myself, if I go somewhere I loved....this is one area I'll spend money and let my 3-year-old daughter run free in the gift shop and pick a souvenir or two :)

I usually find something for myself too :D