OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was recently asked how a one bag traveler handles purchases made while traveling.

After all, if all we bring is one carry-on bag, where are we supposed to put all those souvenirs we buy?

That’s easy….don’t buy them. Do you really need something that collects dust to remind you of your travels?

Of course you do. Who am I kidding? When I first started leading tours, I thought everyone was like me–interested in seeing the sights but not so interested in shopping. So, I left no time for shopping.

I was nearly lynched.

People LOVE to shop.

At the end of each tour, we’d hold a contest to see who could guess, to the closest mile, how many we traveled. The prize was always some tacky kitchen magnet I picked up along the way. I thought it was tacky but my passengers loved them.

Is it possible, then, to be a onebagger and still shop? Of course. There are two easy ways to accomplish this.

The first, is to bring along a packable bag. Something like the Eagle Creek 2-in-1 backpack/duffel or the Eagle Creek Packable Duffel if you want a more basic, less expensive option. (I did a review of the 2-in-1 duffel last fall. ) The theory is you keep the packable bag folded up in its pouch until needed. Then, when you fill it up, your original carry-on gets checked for the flight home, and your packable bag, full of souvenirs, goes on the plane with you.

The second option, and the one I prefer, is to just ship things home. Sure, it can get expensive especially if shipping overseas. However, if you’re on a multi-stop trip, do you really want to carry your purchases with you the entire time?

I’ll admit, while I am not a shopper, I do buy postcards. I don’t send them home but keep them as a reminder of where I’ve been.

As many of you realize, I’m not a good photographer. Instead, I’ll buy a local picture postcard where I am and write on the back a short synopsis of what was going on or what I was experiencing.

They take up very little room and help to bring back the memories I want to cherish.


Disclaimer: One Bag, One World is an Amazon affiliate.

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7 Responses to Souvenirs

  1. Linda says:

    Great idea with the postcards, especially writing your thoughts on the back. I used to ourchase t-shirts, but how many can one person have???!!!! So, I purged and kept only a few (mainly for when I am gardening). I now bypass the touristry stores and enjoy the views instead…..keeping my souvenirs in my memory!

  2. Neil says:

    I do the postcard trick and shipping options also. I got the boys hooked on stamps and coins, so I buy stamps and keep the leftover coins for them and the girls get trinkets/jewelry; all of which are easy and next to nothing to pack. Wifey and I never buy souvenirs for ourselves.

  3. Christine says:

    Good insight. I used to beat myself up because I bought so much stuff when I traveled, but then I realized that that was one of the ways I experienced someplace when I traveled. Now, instead of being annoyed with myself, I just consider it another expense so long as I don’t get into a crazed “I must buy this country and bring it home with me” attitude…which has happened from time to time when I visit someplace very different from home. I have been good about reigning it in over the years compared to when I was younger (and didn’t realize how much one can accumulate over the years), but I still don’t feel like I have to get a trinket or two. I don’t like spending my whole trip shopping, but I love meandering and going to little shops and markets and while mostly looking, also buying from time to time. This may sound consumeristic, but I also feel like I have some very treasured little things around my home that I love seeing and they do evoke great memories. Even my stupid touristy little “Souvenir de Paris” magnet. 🙂

  4. Jen says:

    I usually buy refrigerator magnets, the quirkier the better. Flat, light, and easy to display when I get home and it’s awesome to see them every day to remind me of all the cool places hubby & I have visited.

  5. Anna says:

    I also do the postcard trick. I can never get the perfect shot of the place I visit so the postcard does it for me. I do take pictures and the necessary “selfie” at the sites. If I do purchase any other souvenirs, they are usually small and light and mostly flat and nothing fragile (magnet, keychain). Or I usually save any ticket stubs or passes as souvenirs. I also pick up a local map (usually the free ones) and mark my stops and take notes on it and it’s a good way of keeping a log. And if somehow I accumulate “extra” things during my travels I do Frank’s second option of shipping. And if I do any shopping I tend to do it at my last destination airport stores. Usually have the same trinkets but at a very higher price but it forces me to very careful on what to purchase.

  6. stevenshytle says:

    We use the third option. Leave space in the onebag.

    We are a magnet family. Look on the fridge if you want to know where we have been.

  7. Ralph says:

    I have mailed items back home as well. And mailed items to my destination (if staying for a certain amount of time).
    But I also think that “souvenirs” is a broad term.
    I have purchased ‘large’ items for decoration in my house (or more importantly sometimes, unique gifts for my kids/family). Granted many stores will arange mailing themselves (as will most large ‘souvenir’ stores), but you may want to control and consolidate the mailing yourself. And granted that you can buy many things on the internet without actually traveling there. Sometimes its just buying clothes, which in some cases you don’t typically find locally and want to try on first; for example buying high end clothes in NYC when you live in small town.