Today I spent a few minutes discussing my upcoming trip to Israel with Baker from Man vs. Debt. Baker offered advice as to how I should spend money in regards to souvenirs. He also shared how he and his wife are handling similar situations with regards to photos and souvenirs while they are abroad.
1) What to do about photos. I currently do not own a camera other than the one on my iPhone. Should I go purchase a camera specifically for this trip, or maybe should I bum photos off of some of the others in the group I am going with?
First, we have both a video camera and a digital camera. My wife loves photography and is actively learning more and more when she can. She’s taken all the pictures from our travels (http://manvsdebt.com/category/travel) on her Canon Rebel Xti, which she loves.
Although we had this before leaving, I’m nearly positive we would have bought a camera if we hadn’t. That being said, I wouldn’t run out and buy something STRICTLY on the basis of your impending two-week trip. It would depend on your future travel plans, needs for a camera at home (children, family events, etc…) and of course your current state of finances.
We’d sacrifice a large amount of luxuries before giving up our camera. In our opinion, experiences are what makes life worth living. The more pictures we take the more we can relive these experiences later. Again, without splurging too much, I wouldn’t leave home without a decent camera.
2) What to do about souvenirs for friends and family. People keep asking me to bring them souvenirs from overseas. While its a nice gesture, it also affects me in two different ways. One, it costs money to buy them gifts. Two, I need to lug them around Israel for the rest of the trip. I don’t want to appear cheap, but I also don’t want to blow a ton of cash buying things for other people, especially when I am on a tight enough budget for myself.
Our trip is a little different, because we don’t have a set schedule on coming back. However, in general we have a NO SOUVENIRS policy. It’s impossible to please everyone and to be quite honest, it’s a slippery slope. Often you can’t bring home something for X, without also getting something for Y & Z.
That being said, If I had to bring something home, I’d make it either local clothing or currency.
We usually try to pack very, very light and have a “buy it there” policy if we need. Depending on your destination, you can often get locally made pieces of clothing from street shops/vendors for cheap. It’s cultural, serves a purpose, and can make a unique gift.
In addition, my brother serves in the Army and will often bring home currency from the different countries he’s been to. He will either frame a “dollar” or potentially a couple unique coins in a frame or similar set-up. Often times you can get stuck with coins anyway (most currency exchange only do notes) after a trip. This could be a good way to give a select view a genuine gift.
Stay away from the tourist shops (as I’m sure you know). If I see another $30 novelty boomerang, I’m going to puke…
3) What to do about souvenirs for myself. This trip is likely to be a once in a lifetime experience for me, I of course want to remember it. However, same as above, souvenirs take up space (on the road and again at home), so how do I budget for these? Should I not buy anything or maybe only buy one or two small items and keep digital photos as the souvenir (leading me back to question 1)?
We use the strategies above to handle this, as well. Nothing will ever mean as much as the photos you take. Be sure to take them as often as you can (even if you look like a tourist)! Occasionally we’ll bring local clothing and currency for ourselves, too. We also like to string together video or pictures and put it to some basic music. We save the slide show for ourselves and even give copies to family (another good “souvenir” idea). We’ve done this with most of our trips once we returned home!
I’d like to thank Baker for taking the time out to answer some of my questions. Be on the look out for more of his writing on his blog as well as his next submission on Get Rich Slowly next week!
If you have been following Baker over the past few months, you will know he is currently on an adventure in New Zealand living/traveling with his wife and daughter. At the moment, Baker is a candidate for the staff writer position over at Get Rich Slowly. He wrote an awesome article on couchsurfing earlier this week that I highly recommend everyone check out and comment on. I wish him luck as he is certainly a great asset to the personal finance blogging community.