Friday, June 02, 2006

Free Souvenirs (Another Frugal Vacation Idea!)

One thing I forgot in my last frugal vacations post is, of course, the free souvenir.  Maybe you typically get by without souvenirs (for either yourself or family/friends), but if you need/want them, there are a lot of free or cheap options.

My personal favorite is the ballpark souvenir cup.  We go to lots of baseball games, and almost every stadium sells sodas in souvenir cups.  Many of these cups are honestly very cool, and all of them are good mementos, but you'll never catch us shelling out the money for the sodas and cups.  Instead, we know that inevitably, many fans leave their cups behind at the end of the game.  It takes less than 5 minutes to scan the sections near you and get your hands on as many as you want.  (We typically grab enough for both ourselves and sports-fan family members.)  Just rinse them out quickly at the water fountain or the bathroom sinks, then give them a thorough washing when you get home.  I assume this would work at other sporting events (maybe even concerts, perhaps?), as well.

But that's not the only way to find free souvenirs-- it's just a matter of being creative.  Maybe it's a restaurant with a really neat placemat, or a tourist brochure that pulls out into a gorgeous skyline/scenic view.  Part of it is being in tune with what you find most memorable about your trip, as opposed to what the "typical" souvenir in the gift shop is-- maybe gathering and pressing some of the wildflowers that you saw and smelled everywhere will help capture the good experience better than a little ceramic box with the image of that flower on top.

By the way, my favorite non-free (but still cheap!) option is postcards.  For some reason I found myself sucked into the desire to start a "collection" of items from the different places I've visited, but I couldn't stomach buying dozens of shot glasses or little bells or those silly little spoons.  So, for a fraction of the price, I pick up a pretty postcard instead.  Many of them are currently on the fridge, and I keep thinking that someday I'll make a nice collage or two to hang on the wall.

What do you do for free or cheap souvenirs?


nicole said...

I like collecting magnets from places we've visited and stick them on the refrigerator to remind me of our adventures. They usually don't top $5 and they don't take up a lot of space either. For free souveniers, I've got my digital photos. :)

Anonymous said...

You can always collect travel brochures and flyers from places you've gone.

Before the uber-expensive scrapbooking craze (using specialty papers, pens, widgets, etc) took off, I scrapbooked my vacations in this manner-- using free maps, flyers, and brochures from places we travel.