Skip to main content

15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

By Chuck Thompson, CNN
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
Travelers stick family and friends with untold zillions of worthless or gratuitous gifts each year, but almost nothing good ever gets done at the last minute. The first rule of souvenir shopping? No buying gifts at the airport. Ever. Travelers stick family and friends with untold zillions of worthless or gratuitous gifts each year, but almost nothing good ever gets done at the last minute. The first rule of souvenir shopping? No buying gifts at the airport. Ever.
HIDE CAPTION
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Don't guilt family and friends into hanging on to gifts you wouldn't want
  • Avoid shopping at the airport
  • Plush toys and designer sea salt are out
  • Are you really sure they want that scorpion alcohol?

Hong Kong (CNN) -- It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in.

Yet almost none of us are any good at it.

Souvenir buying -- instead of being an enjoyable part of the travel experience, it too often becomes an obligatory slog.

The global economy for ill-conceived souvenir purchases is staggering.

In 2013 alone, travelers spent a total of $2.3 billion on souvenirs that were subsequently ignored, unused, unappreciated, unworn, discarded, disliked, ridiculed and/or stuffed in bottom drawers and backs of closets never to be seen again.

Worse, travelers wasted 427 million aggregated hours fretting over the purchases of pointless doodads, knickknacks, tchotchkes, gewgaws and dust gatherers.

OK, we made all those figures up, but given all the "Singapore is a Fine City" T-shirts, Chairman Mao cigarette lighters, plush koalas and inflatable jumbo airplanes cluttering the CNN Travel office, we're pretty sure people spend a lot of money and time on desperation purchases that unfairly burden recipients with the obligation of hanging on to these dubious prizes for years to come.

The good news is that it's easy to improve your souvenir-buying savvy.

Avoid the common shopping mistakes above and your family, friends and coworkers might actually start looking forward to your return home for a change.

Got a favorite souvenir do or don't? Ever received a terrible souvenir? A great one? Share your souvenir experiences in the comments section.

Deliciously kitschy and 'Crap Souvenirs'

Story originally published in 2013.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
The guidebook asked staff, contributors and authors for well-known and lesser-known recommendations.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
An airport in Asia has stolen the crown from Manila's Ninoy Aquino, voted 'world's worst' three years in a row.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
It's time for a beef break, veal vacation, hog holiday or sinew sabbatical in a T-bone a-fide U.S. meatopolis.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many awesome new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 0107 GMT (0907 HKT)
Scientists are busy surveying Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle, home to 75 percent of all known coral species.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
Bounce Below in Wales
Bounce Below transforms an abandoned slate mine into a surreal, springy world of fear and fun,
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2316 GMT (0716 HKT)
With chopsticks or fingers? Wasabi or no? A double Michelin-starred Tokyo chef sets the record straight and shows us the sushi way.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2224 GMT (0624 HKT)
Markthal Rotterdam foodhall in the Netherlands.
It may look like a gateway across time and space crafted with alien technology, but in reality it's a fruit and vegetable market.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Based on the votes of over 330 industry experts, the 2014 winners include bars from 27 cities in 14 countries.
October 12, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Careening down an active volcano at 95 kph on a thin board? It happens only at Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.
ADVERTISEMENT