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
November 16, 2014 -- Updated 2326 GMT (0726 HKT)
Take a trip to the Chinese town that has more relics than people.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
You know about reggae and Usain Bolt -- but you probably aren't aware of these other Jamaican superlatives.
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Artist creates brilliant tribute to Dutch impressionist painter -- a cycle route that glows in the dark
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 0633 GMT (1433 HKT)
European airlines beware: These 320kph trains are upping the travel game with roomy seats and onboard wi-fi.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0819 GMT (1619 HKT)
For such a relatively small collection of islands, the UK packs in an phenomenal range of beautiful scenery.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
Animals run behind the Rovos Rail train's observation balcony in Africa.
Rovos Rail's epic trips out of South Africa pamper passengers with fine dining, vintage comfort and even a bathtub.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT)
Nasir al-mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran
Self-taught Iranian photographer gains rare access to shoot religious buildings as they've never been seen.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
The subject of erotica has a way of making people uncomfortable.
November 7, 2014 -- Updated 0037 GMT (0837 HKT)
A
UK's Heathrow Airport pairs destinations with fragrances to evoke long distance travel. We do too.
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
Bumper cars, a freefall simulator and robot bartenders are just a few of the cool features on Royal Caribbean's new Quantum of the Seas.
November 2, 2014 -- Updated 2258 GMT (0658 HKT)
Up in the mountains and across deep chasms, these bridges are both spectacular and terrifying.
ADVERTISEMENT