A souvenir (from French, for memory), memento or keepsake is an object a traveler brings home for the memories associated with it. Souvenirs include clothing such as T-shirts or hats, and household items such as mugs and bowls, ashtrays, egg timers, spoons and notepads. They may be marked to indicate their origin: "A Souvenir from Clacton-on-Sea". Souvenirs frequently have a reputation for being tasteless.
In Japan, souvenirs are known as meibutsu (products associated with a particular region); and omiyage, candies or other edibles to be shared with co-workers. Omiyage sales are big business at Japanese tourist sites.
Travelers may buy souvenirs as gifts for those who did not make the trip. In Cameroon, the principle is that someone who can afford to travel can afford to bring something back (as a gift, or cadeau) for those who cannot. French bread is a popular cadeau.
Because of the number of omiyage often required following a vacation, travelers need to buy souvenirs in bulk (it is not unusual to bring one empty suitcase solely for the omiyage). Thoughtfulness is always an issue. It cannot look too cheap, and it is preferred it be something universally practical like towels, dinnerware, tasteful decorative items, broadly-popular foods and the like. It is not even necessary the choice of omiyage be particularly relevant to the place visited. Key chains and unfamiliar foods are not well received.
Places that cater to Japanese travelers will offer selections of suitable omiyage arranged by price, size and category. Several items of all-purpose omiyage are often kept by wise housewives to give on a moment's notice to avoid embarrassments. Due to the expense and effort involved in collecting and distributing omiyage, Japanese are often very close-lipped about their travel plans, hoping to minimize their omiyage responsibilities.
Coping; A Practical Guide to Souvenir Survival; It's Possible to Preserve Your Precious Vacation Memories and Your Pocketbook at the Same Time
Jul 05, 1993; They are the emotional touchstones, yet secret saboteurs of family vacations. I am referring, of course, to souvenirs. The...