Planning - Budgets - Souvenirs

Souvenirs.... they seem so enticing when you're there and look so silly when you get home.  How many of us have come home with an awesome Corona poncho from Mexico only to discover it doesn't hold the same appeal when you wear it to your in-laws for dinner?  Or the beret that seemed dapper on the Champs-Elysees but causes sideways glances while strolling the aisles of WalMart?  We've all done it, and the task now is to decide how much money you're willing to spend on knick knacks and clothing that most likely will end up in the back of your closet.  Do you really need another snowglobe?

souvenirWe have a pretty clear plan for our kids regarding souvenirs.  We give them each a set amount of money (in the currency that the destination uses) and keep them in separate ziploc bags with their name on it.  They can spend it how they like - all on one item or on many small things.  We try and discourage buying things the first day because inevitably they see something later that they want more after the excitement of seeing new things for the first time wears off.  We used to have an entirely different approach which was that each child was allowed one souvenir from each destination.  (For instance, one year we went to Belgium, Holland, and France and they could have one souvenir from each place.)  This seemed like a good idea at the time, but the discrepancy between the cost of what each child chose started to make things complicated and we had to change tactics.  This new plan works much better for us and any souvenir money left over is theirs to keep, although generally they spend most of it on mini Eiffel Towers and Spanish fans with the occasional postcard thrown in for good measure.

It doesn't really matter what you choose to do but I would recommend figuring out a plan before you leave.  It's best to avoid the "I need this or I will die" discussion in the souvenir shop; many bad purchases have been made in those situations and I guarantee that you can live without the chess set of mini gladiators.


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