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Preserving Travel Memories – A New Take on Souvenirs and Keepsakes



Preserving Travel Memories - Souvenirs and Keepsakes

Photo by Harper Sunday on Unsplash

Remember when you bought that quirky fridge magnet or that intricate wooden figurine from your trip abroad? And how, if you’re really thinking about it, they ended up forgotten, gathering dust on a shelf or hidden away in a box. Our travel mementos often seem to morph from treasured keepsakes into underappreciated clutter.

We’re living in an era where awareness of the environmental impacts of tourism is on the rise. Believe it or not, more and more travelers are adopting sustainable practices and are looking for non-tangible ways to remember their journeys.

Souvenirs in Today’s Travel World: A Roundtable Discussion

I recently came across an interesting podcast – the Skift Ideas Podcast. In one episode — The Value Of Souvenirs in the Modern Travel Economy — hosts Rafat Ali and Colin Nagy were joined by special guest Geetika Agrawal. She’s the founder and CEO of Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA), and, not many would think, she’s spearheading the revolution in travel souvenirs.

Rafat kicked off the discussion cheekily admitting to a LinkedIn post he made about how nine out of ten tourist souvenirs end up unused. Long story short, he raised the question of reinventing this industry to curtail waste, which likely adds up to billions of dollars.

Rethinking Souvenirs: Can We Make them Sustainable?

Here’s what’s surprising: the traditional souvenir market hasn’t adapted much to the modern, environment-conscious world. This sparked an interesting kerfuffle among the podcast hosts about the need to make the practice more sustainable. Who knew this could be such a heated topic?

The notion is simple: as we become increasingly aware of our carbon and environmental footprints, we also need to rethink what we bring back from our travels. Rafat and Colin raised serious questions about the sustainability of mass-produced trinkets that travelers usually bring home. Yes, they have to be reinvented. But here’s the catch.

Impacting Local Artisans: The Other Side of the Coin

If you really think about it, these tourist trinkets are often crafted by local artisans in the destinations we visit. What happens to their livelihoods if we stop buying these keepsakes – be it magnets, necklaces or something more extravagant like gold coins for sale. That’s the million-dollar question that isn’t easy to answer.

Geetika Agrawal brought to the table an interesting perspective on this — the emphasis on meaningful experiences and storytelling. Instead of buying a physical memento, why not support local artisans by engaging in cultural experiences? Become mini apprentices, learn a local art form, and bring back stories that last a lifetime.

In the end, the act of cherishing memories from our travels doesn’t have to leave a trace. Souvenirs and keepsakes can become sustainable, supporting the local communities rather than hurting the environment; we just need to be creative about it. After all, the best souvenirs are the memories we make, right?

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