Posted by: Waheeda Harris | February 4, 2013

Do souvenirs of the past encourage travel of the future?

Turkey - souvenir standFor this writer, the lure of souvenirs has certainly lost its luster. The more I travel, the less I buy. I’m not needing an object from each city I visit – sometimes a few photos make all the difference.

But I’ve realized that souvenirs may actually have another effects on me – when I see ones of the past.

As someone who regularly haunts secondhand bookstores, junk shops and charity outlets for the thrill of the find, I’ve seen many examples of other people’s vacations – figurines, spoons, tiles, plastic cups, water bottles and t-shirts, each proclaiming the thrill of having visited an amusement park, historical site or a beach.

But when I spend time, I realize I covet those vintage airline flight bags, I love the look of items from the 1970s for their historical style and when I see an old t-shirt from Disney or a historical site, I think it looks cool.

What I really love is looking at vintage travel guides and maps – sometimes even showing places that are named something else, the borders have changed and the tips are completely outdated.

I wonder if those people who went to that city or destination years ago would return, knowing that the places that draw them in decades previously don’t exist anymore – the motels replaced by hotels, the cafes that had been there now international chains or newer local restaurants.

So as I see these assorted flotsam and jetsam still found on the shelves, unearthed from basements and displayed on the lawn during a yard sale, I wonder if those places that initially would have never drawn me in are now shooting higher on my future travel list.

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