Researching the Roadside: travel & tourism in the Pacific Northwest
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Bringing It Home
A major part of traveling is to bring home some evidence of your trip—whether it is ticket stubs, bus tokens, postcards, handicrafts, or a shell from the beach, the souvenir serves to mark and authenticate the experience. One definition of a souvenir is "a remembrance, a memory, a slight trace of something."(1) The souvenir is a memory chip that helps to bring the experience back to the traveler and to prove that it really did happen. It is used to share the travel experience with others and to prolong the trip in the mind of the traveler.
There are many kinds of souvenirs—some are produced by the traveler, such as, photographs, home movies, and journals of the trip—these are the most intensely personal type of souvenir because their meaning is from within the traveler’s mind. Thus a blurred photograph of a parade can be quite important to the person who made the photograph but not to others who might view it. Souvenirs are "authentic" meaning that they come from the place the traveler visited. They may only have meaning to the traveler, such as a rock or shell from a beach, but they have meaning because they are actually from that place.
One common category of souvenir is the product that is meant specifically to market to the visitor or traveler—postcards, guidebooks, crafts, sculptures of local landmarks, etc. These products are the easiest for others to relate to and share the traveler’s experience but are not as intensely personal as the photograph or shell from the beach which has a very specific meaning for the individual. Regardless of the form of souvenir, bringing it home is an important part of the trip.
(1) Tina Butler, Souvenirs and the Museum Store: Icons of Culture and Status To Go