I’m not a big souvenir guy — already have too much stuff in the luggage. For some of these items, however, I might have to make an exception…
For this post, I asked a number of travel bloggers to share the tackiest souvenir they’ve seen or purchased in their travels. Several responded, and I decided to make this a poll.
Vote on your favorite at the bottom!
Without further ado…
Lisa from the TheHotFlashPacker.writes:
Of the hundreds of Spam-branded gifts at the Spam Museum gift shop in Austin, Minnesota, none epitomize Spam as much as the multi-variety Spam pack. The $33 pack includes 12 worldly varieties of Spam, from the Original type we all know to Hot & Spicy, Japanese Teriyaki, Spanish Chorizo, and Filipino inspired Tocino Spam. Take the challenge and eat them all (not in one sitting of course – it’s over 4 kgs of Spam!)
Oh, f’in heck…
Shobha George writes at nylonliving.com:
I saw these keychains in a souvenir shop in Ireland. The word “Feck” is Irish slang which is a milder form than the usual F word. I don’t know how family-friendly it is though since everyone knows what it means! I thought having it in Irish green colors as a keychain was fairly tacky because you are swearing in front of the whole world. What if your keychain falls out of your pocket in church??
Look like a classic statue!
Ashley Smith is the writer & photographer behind My Wanderlusty Life, a travel blog dedicated to helping busy wanderlusters travel the world on a time-budget. She writes:
I bought the David apron with the intention of giving it to a friend as a kind of joke (but ending up keeping it for myself and I have no earthly idea why). I didn’t even buy it in Florence which would’ve been semi-appropriate; I bought it in Rome at a tacky souvenir shop outside Rome’s Termini Station. I only paid a few euros for it which was, admittedly, still way too much.
A good question…
Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World writes:
One of the tackiest souvenirs I have ever received has to be the miniature Spanish Tower of Sardinia. The island is scattered with Spanish watch towers, dating back to the time when the Spaniards ruled it and built them on crucial points along the coast to protect from pirates and invaders. I have yet to figure the use of this souvenir – provided there’s any, other than gathering dust. It’s cheap plastic, it looks ugly and quite importantly so, why would I, living in Sardinia already, ever want a reminder of it?
What about canned air?
Josie Kelsh – who has just returned from twelve months of spotting weird souvenirs – from Josie Wanders writes:
We came across this can of Budapest Air and had to have a giggle. The concept of canned air is silly enough, and while Budapest certainly doesn’t have the worst air in the world, it probably doesn’t match somewhere like New Zealand or Iceland, which could almost justify selling air in a can. The price? A cool €9.95.
Some interesting bottle openers…
Alexei Gaynanov from Travel Lexx – Exploring the world one active adventure at a time – writes:
Functional souvenirs are great because they serve a purpose beyond being a novelty. Take bottle openers for example – everyone needs a good bottle opener in their lives. Yet, bottle openers are like the Transformers of the souvenir world. They can take on almost any form, shape and size – I’ve seen it all on my travels! Or so I thought. Cue this interesting (yet, I guess, non-discriminatory) specimen in Ubud, Bali.
A hot priest?
Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten from TravelbyAsherrieaffair.com writes:
A beautiful day in Rome so we took a nice leisurely stroll to the lovely Piazza Navona. As we walked around we peaked at some of the little souvenir stands. I actually had to look twice and ask the owner of the stand about his main calendar on display. Yes, it’s what I thought, they had a calendar featuring “Hot Priest”. Apparently, the Priest on the cover is quite popular in Rome. Ladies…judge for yourself J
A little dictator, anyone?
Jo Cahill, from Over the Edge of the Wild, has travelled to more than 50 countries so far. She writes:
In the town of Khao Yai, Thailand, there is an Italian piazza, an immaculately manicured garden, and a shop that sells miniature figurines. Tucked in among the pouting Marilyn Monroes and the thrusting Elvis Presleys are some more nefarious characters. The one pictured is Adolf Hitler, but you can also pick up a tiny little Ho Chi Minh, Chairman Mao or Kim Jong Il to add to your collection.
Oh myy Malta…
Stephanie Craig from History Fangirl writes:
One thing that’s both a blessing and a curse about being a curvier traveler is that I constantly see terrible t-shirts that my heart wants, my head knows is a bad idea, and my boobs would never fit into in a million years thanks to European sizing. And that’s why I don’t physically own this tshirt, which I one-hundred percent wish I had bought to this day (seriously, it haunts me). But alas, it only came in sizes up to a large, and therefore I saved twenty Euros on what would surely never have ended up being worn in public. But still, I mourn for this t-shirt, which I spotted while visiting Gozo and Malta. It’s more than just a gaudy tank top, it’s also a life philosophy.
Pottery with big balls
Kavita Favelle is a greedy Londoner with a passion for food, travel and photography, and blogs at Kavey Eats. She writes:
At first glance, these characterful pottery animals don’t scream out “tacky” but look a little closer and you’ll see that they have giant testicles! Yes, that’s right, they are blessed with super-sized balls! The character is based on the Asian raccoon-dog family, is respectfully known as Tanuki-san and has been a part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. This mischievous character is known as a cheerful master-of-disguise with an absentminded nature and there’s even a little schoolyard ditty about him:
Tan-tan-tanuki no kintama wa / Kaze mo nai no ni / Bu-ra bura
Tan-tan-tanuki’s bollocks / Even without wind / They swiiing-swing
You will come across his form in pictures, statues and ornaments all over Japan. At this pottery we visited in Shigaraki, they had a huge range of Tanuki-san designs showing him as a musician, a singer and even a drunken sake-peddler!
Go ahead, get spicy
Somnath Roy from Travel Crusade writes:
One of the souvenirs that I remember in my travel life span is the red saffron that I brought from the valley of Kashmir.Kashmir is a wonderful valley in India and is known as “Heaven on Earth”.These saffrons are manufactured and sold in white plastic boxes in grams.They cost a minimum of 300 cents per 25 gms sold so it’s a bit expensive than the ones you get in the normal market.The advantage of getting it from Kashmir is that they are original and authentic and the best variety. The best way to check if they are authentic is to rub them on the palm of your hand and check if the dirt from your hand goes off. They are also taken with milk to get the best health benefits and feed pregnant ladies.
Did you say kangaroo scrotums?
Abhinav Singh is a travel blogger from India who runs A Soul Window. He writes:
When I was traveling in Australia, I was shocked to see souvenir shops selling Kangaroo scrotum preserved and turned into key rings and bottle openers. Even the claws of Kangaroos were not spared and they made key rings out of it too. Then there were Kangaroo fur mats. I was aghast to see them treating their national animal in such an insensitive manner. Not only was it disgusting but also unethical. I was wondering what kind of people buy and carry a mummified body part of an animal in their pocket? Of course, I didn’t buy it!
A little blood-sucking never hurt anyone…
Chris (me!) of One Weird Globe (here!) writes:
In case you couldn’t get it from the picture, that’s a ~20cm statue of Dracula sucking blood from a naked woman. Found in Sighisoara, Romania, this town is where Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration behind Dracula) was supposedly born. The Bran Castle area has some pretty tacky t-shirts as well.
Chris (me again!) from One Weird Globe (here again!) writes:
Seen near one of the main plazas in Florence, Italy, this window of neon-bright David’s competes with all the selfie-stick sellers for the attention of thousands of tourists. I guess it’ll stand out on any shelf, but I just can’t see a place where it would… y’know, fit in…
I’ve always wanted to open my beers with cleavage…
Chris (me again!) from One Weird Globe (here again!) writes:
Maybe these complement the other bottle openers from above. Maybe one just picks the genitalia you’d prefer to, erm, handle. Found in Budapest, Romania, in one of the Pest-city areas. Pick your color: bronze or silver?
Are fake skulls tacky?
Yep, me again.
Over in Hallstatt, Austria, there’s a pretty creepy berhaus / charnel house / ossuary where hundreds of hand-painted skulls are kept. The souvenir skulls are smaller and almost look alien…
Wait, they killed who?
Photo credit: Laura Kingdon (my wife), text by me.
At 850 Hungarian forint (about $3.20 USD), this isn’t the only tacky Communist poster available at Memento Park in Budapest, Hungary. (Most of the others she had pictures of were reproductions of old-school Communist posters.) This is one of the few that quite graphically shows Lenin’s death at the point of a hammer and sickle (oh, the irony)…
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