“What? No souvenirs! Borrrring” were the exact words spoken from my coworkers when I returned to work Monday morning from an amazing trip to Cape Town, South Africa with LeAnn. Yes, we went all the way across the world to the southern most tip of Africa and decided not to buy any souvenirs to take home for memories or gifts for others. To put it into perspective, we flew 20,404 miles roundtrip, touched down on 3 different continents throughout our journey from our cozy little apartment in Atlanta, Georgia and returned home with the same amount of belongings we had in our suitcase as when we started on our journey.
Ok, well technically we brought back some free mini bottles of South African wine from one of our flights, 4 packs of tea and two bracelets I purchased from a street vendor. These were mostly small consumables though and the bracelets were to be worn with a planned outfit. However, we passed up on buying some really nice original South African paintings, sculptures, elaborate jewelry, key chains, and can’t forget about the classic shot glasses stamped by the country.
Cape Town was absolutely stunning, with a breathtaking combination view of mountainous terrain and beautiful beaches in every direction. Not to mention the exhilarating safari, hike up Table Mountain, and the walks along the Camps Bay beach, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans collide at sunset. Our trip to South Africa was topped off with a very fancy destination wedding with college friends. This was truly an unforgettable trip. Not purchasing souvenirs had nothing to do with the destination itself. In fact, not buying the unique souvenirs related to this cultural region of the world was even more difficult than any of the other countries we have previously visited.
So how could we travel so far to such an amazing place and not bring back souvenirs? And why would we do this?
We have moved quite a bit in our 5 years of marriage and during one of the moves, LeAnn found herself throwing multiple dusty shot glasses and random items into a box and labeling the box "travel." It was in this moment, we realized all the souvenirs really didn't mean much to us at all. It was the memories and pictures that were truly lasting. We began to reminisce on the not so tasty candy we brought back for our co-workers from Dubai, the jam from a market in London that sat in LeAnn's parent's fridge for months untouched, and the t-shirts that are now used as cloths to dust and clean the house. It was hilarious, until we realized how much money was wasted on souvenirs. We decided to create the "no souvenirs policy."
It can be tough but it was an intentional decision we made that fits perfectly into our lifestyle of minimalism. Minimalism is one of two pivotal lifestyles we leveraged to become debt free and what better way to exercise this way of life than forgoing the purchase of “well-deserved” South African souvenirs. We collectively agreed that we would not give into the inclination to spend money on tangible items and gifts when we travel. And that’s exactly what we did.
We don’t deprive ourselves and friends and family from cool souvenirs to just make a case for minimalism. We know that ultimately, the very thoughtful gift, in this case, way from South Africa, would soon become just another meaningless item hanging on a refrigerator, coffee table or jewelry box. Instead, we opt to spend time with family and friends sharing stories and pictures of our amazing trips. And of course we enjoy saving money as well :).