Tip #37 - Buy Edible Souvenirs. In earlier tips, we've talked about how to keep vacations cheap. One of the suggestions was to buy souvenirs in advance. If you travel to New England, maybe buying a book about that area. Or buying Disney stuff on sale at home before traveling to DisneyWorld. But another way to not spend a lot of money on souvenirs is to buy edible ones. Sure, everyone brings home a pineapple from Hawaii or oranges from Florida. And most people bring home salt water taffy from the beach, but you can be even more creative than that.
When you travel, check out the local supermarkets. Find things that they carry that your stores at home do not. In the south, you will find grits and corn fritter mixes. Up north you might find fresh maple syrup, maple cookies, or other variations of maple. Many places have local brands of food that you cannot find other places - such as a local brand of soda or cookies. In New Orleans, you can buy beignet mixes. Rural places may sell homemade jams or breads at local markets.
Going to a foreign country? Bringing home candy or cookies from the local supermarket is always fun - especially when there is writing on it in a foreign language. Go to the checkout aisle in any grocery store in Canada and you will see candy that is different than is sold in the US. *Please note that there are restrictions on what you can bring into a country. No fresh fruit and other products. Also, there are restrictions on what you can carry onto an airplane. *
Souvenir comes from the France word "To remember." But souvenirs do not have to last forever. We have pictures of our vacations for that. A week or month after you get home from a trip, it is fun to fry up some corn fritters for dinner and remember the special time you spent on a vacation in the south. These souvenirs are great for you, your children, the neighbors, friends, or coworkers. If bought at the supermarket, they are relatively cheap. And if it's for you, as food, it will take the place of something in your food budget anyway, so it actually does double duty.
In Real Life (IRL) - I love going to supermarkets. My husband does, too. When we travel we love to visit supermarkets to see different products that they sell in different regions of the country or outside the country. It was in these faraway supermarkets that we started buying some of our groceries to take home. In New England, where my husband grew up, we always buy a local brand of soda that they have that my husband loved in his childhood. In Richmond, Virginia too, there is a store brand of soda that we tried at a friend's house that we liked so now we buy that when we visit.
For our first anniversary we went to Quebec and Montreal. What fun! I studied French in high school and college. I loved to see all of the advertising in French. They sell a Nestle's version of M&Ms in Canada. They are not as good as M&M's but they were fun to bring home for souvenirs. The kids love them. And a little educational lesson can go along with them. When we went to Costa Rica on our honeymoon, we shopped in the local supermarket and bought boxes of cookies from there. When we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, we bought corn fritter mix. And when we went to the Smoky Mountains a few years ago, we bought ground wheat flour at a mill in the mountains. I still have some left in my fridge! Everytime I make muffins or cookies and throw a little wheat flour in the recipe, I think of the nice vacation we had in Tennessee. We have visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania - the home of a large Amish population. We brought back homemade apple butter. And when we visit Philadelphia - my hometown, we bring back soft pretzels. Always!
All of these food things make great gifts. We bring some of these edible presents home for our neighbor who watches our dog and for my husband's office. Our children love bringing home special candy that they cannot normally buy. People tend to get a kick out of seeing unusual food or food with foreign writing on it. And who doesn't like a gift you can eat?