My parents didn’t get away much when I was young, however I remember a couple of occasions they traveled and upon their return, they were accompanied by a souvenir selected for each child. They didn’t go over the top, just a trinket or t-shirt signifying their destination (I do remember loving that Door County t-shirt), but as my husband and I entered into this stage, we opted for a different approach. Every time we travel (alone or with our children) we buy a children’s book for our family and here’s why: ONE FOR ALL
- Instead of buying individual gifts for each child, which are usually lackluster to begin with and undoubtedly break immediately, we buy one thing that represents our trip or the location that we can all enjoy together. When we were in New Orleans we came home with This Jazz Man and The Bourbon Street Band is Back; in Nashville we bought V is for Volunteer: A Tennessee Alphabet. They don’t “expect” to get something and no one compares whose is bigger or better!
- At this point we have four kids, if we bought a t-shirt or toy for each child anytime we went away it would add up (not only monetarily, but also in the way of clutter). We do also keep our eyes peeled for special treats or freebies. One time, our resort served individual glass honey jars at every place setting, at every meal! We brought a couple home and it was by far their favorite gift (you’d think they’d never had honey before). Another time, we toured a local candy shop…enough said!
- The books we’ve brought home, we’ve now read and enjoyed for years; and so far, no one has grown out of them! It is a joy to flip through our bookshelves and be served an unexpected memory of that particular vacation, what my kid’s ages were, when we were away, and precious details that I certainly wouldn’t have thought of in that moment without a trigger.
- We’ve discovered amazing books that I’d never heard of before and likely would have never encountered, let alone added to our home library. I’m so happy that some travel has added a little culture to our lives and continues to add it to our bookshelves.
Tips for Finding Children’s Book Treasures – If you’re headed to a popular tourist destination or small town with quaint little shops, these places usually offer ample (and unique) gift-buying opportunities. Checking out local bookstores is always at the top of my vacation to-do list; if that’s not you (or even if it is and you just can’t catch a kid lit break) here are some other options: THINK TOPICALLY.
- If you can’t find a book about a specific location, shift gears to what you’re doing. Were you at a beach? Does your destination have historical significance? Did you go on an excursion? Find a book that’s representative of the general idea, location, event, etc. Even if it doesn’t bear the exact name or location.
- Instead of buying books that are about your vacation destination, you could buy books by authors from there (which is also a fun way to read books while on vacation)! If you’re planning to make your way across the continental US, researching famous authors from each state or buying “STATE” books (like V is for Volunteer above) could be your thing!
- If you’re planning to spend a week at an all-inclusive resort and have zero intention of leaving that lounge chair until you head back to the airport, then might I suggest buying a book before you even leave and taking it with you (or leaving it in the car at the airport)? The kids will never know, you’ll have a fun gift that represents your trip without having to worry about tracking it down there, and it will probably be cheaper! I could not find a book for the life of me on one vacation, so I found a perfect book online and it was at my doorstep when we returned home!
- If you want to go this bookish souvenir route, but wish you’d started sooner, fear not! Hop online and look up books about or from those places and just grab them now. I assure you, they will still have the same memory-inducing effect when you see them in the future and it will be fun to have a complete collection of your travels!
Not everyone buys souvenirs for their children and some go way over the top! I found that this strikes the balance for our family between not doing anything and spending too much time, energy, or money trying to find the perfect items! Do you buy souvenirs for your children? What is your approach?