Save. Spend. Splurge.

Every ordinary little thing looks better when you’re abroad

I am talking about the shopping.

Little trinkets, blankets, pillows, shoes… all this stuff that you would normally recoil from (as I would) for being too cheap to last (fast fashion nooooo!!), somehow looks so much better abroad.

I went in a shoe store here, and when I picked up a pair of rose gold sandals, I KNEW they were not leather but I tried them on anyway and almost bought them. Why? Because they were 15 euros only or about $23 CAD and I thought they would be a steal. Except they’re not.

See, faux leather doesn’t age as well as real leather, and with all the stitching all around the sole and the top, I knew they would scratch and grate on my feet after about 2 hours of walking.

And still, I wanted them. How insane is that?

I came to the conclusion that when you are abroad, you have something like travel shopping glasses on.

In a different environment, anything & everything banal looks exotic.

Every little crappy trinket looks fresh and new in a different environment. “Ooo look! Chinese paper lanterns!” .. never mind that you could MOST CERTAINLY buy this stuff in your local Chinatown (if you had one), and you wouldn’t need to tote it back across the ocean… to collect dust in your home.

It seems like when we’re abroad, everything goes out the window. All sense of logic, rationality, and it becomes: YOLO! … and you want to buy every little necklace and strange thing in sight from these differently-named stores because it is something you can’t (technically) find abroad.

But do you really want or need to find another generic turquoise necklace with silver accents? You can find that in any jewellery store in North America. Why would you buy it abroad?

For me, I have come to the conclusion that it is because of two things:

1. It is a souvenir of your travels

A wearable souvenir in my case.

But in that case, I’d want to buy something from a local artisan that is ACTUALLY from my travels and is more unique than some trinket in a differently-named store.

2. It is because you are abroad

Budgets be damned!

You are traveling, living the dream, abroad and far away from mundane, ordinary concerns about MONEY and SAVING, and you deserve to treat yourself on top of the treat you are already giving yourself.

That said, I didn’t resist on my last trip.

I bought this really nice white dress that is slightly see through (will have to wear a slip, I have acknowledged that), but when I wear it I feel like some Grecian lady of leisure, the way this maxi dress caftan flutters around my body, like a butterfly.

Will I wear it often? I hope so.

It is very pretty, but then again, who knows? It’s a wearable souvenir that is different from what I could have found where I lived, and it will remind me of the time and year I was abroad.

What about you? Ever feel the same way?


  • Get Rich Brothers

    I can definitely relate. The most poignant example being when I was in Istanbul and considering buying rugs and leather jackets. Neither of which I’ve ever owned or desired. Yet, all of a sudden when you’re in an exotic rug shop, you feel like $2,000 for a rug is actually quite reasonable and would look great at home. And a leather jacket you’ll probably never actually wear is worth the $800 price tag.
    Thankfully, I got out alive and with my pocketbook intact, but the allure of these things never one ensnared me anywhere else except Istanbul.
    As you mention. I think it’s just that combination of being away in a place you’re enjoying with “reality” momentarily suspended.

    Thanks for the enjoyable read.

    Take care,

  • Sarahn

    I definitely buy a few things when travelling but I honestly still have my critical eye on value and price!! And especially in Asia when you see the same souvenirs at so many stores, that I get souvenir glaze.

    My best trip for useful souvenirs was Morocco. I went with ideas of what my home lacked and would be matched to the usual things in Morocco. I ended up with a blue and white striped ceramic bowl for fruit, a blue glass for beside the bathroom sink and a small mirror that fitted at the small gap next the front door. I also have some great clothes bought in europe in 2006, 2008 etc that I STILL use and wear and love. Not all the things I bought then… but some quality pieces.

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