Doug Lansky: Crap Souvenirs

The Ultimate Kitsch Collection.

Even though we may have a love-hate relationship with funky junk, somehow these ash trays, key chains and stuffed animals end up in our luggage. 

Doug Lansky believes most of us have a hidden urge to accumulate tacky trinkets while we travel. In the 14th and 15th Century, metal badges were highly sought after souvenirs for Pilgrims. When the postcard was invented, people were able to send impressions to their friends. Finally, the World Fairs of London, Philadelphia and Chicago let to a massive growth of the souvenir industry.

Due to our recent decluttering efforts, there were not that many souvenirs in our house, which is probably a good thing. There are simple ways to create the perfect Souvenir. Take an icon or architectural building and turn it into household items, like bottle openers, clocks, coffee mugs, salt and paper shakers or shot glasses. Use something already kitsch and put the name of a city or country on it. Think snow dome or artsy umbrellas. Most things will turn out kitschy, when you decorate them with sea shells or naked body parts. Some of those souvenirs are not incredibly pc. I doubt anyone will really need testicle key chains but as long as they are out there, there must be a demand for that. Apparently, you get fined in Pisa for selling obscene souvenirs.

According to Lansky, souvenirs boost the economy, are an inexpensive marketing tool and satisfy tourist needs. For an average of $ 2 – 25, they offer us a brief substitute from the everyday life. Lansky presents us a cornucopia of crap that is pure eye candy. It makes you wonder, why people throw all good taste overboard once they travel. These guilty pleasures are cheaply made and often useless and even though we are very aware of that, we still love this kitsch. They remind us of good times long gone.

His definition of souvenirs only includes bought items though. What about hand-made tokens from friends, pinched keepsakes or photo souvenirs?  Bath robes magically disappear from hotels and places like the Hofbräuhaus probably lose dozens of glasses every week. (Little One “collects” stones from kindy.) In the age of cell phone photography, most of us have hundreds and hundreds of random pictures on our phones. The millennial selfie might be an entirely new form of souvenir.

Crap Souvenirs Is Perfect for

All of you! Especially for kitsch collectors and souvenir hunters.

The Author: Doug Lansky is a mindful travel writer. His website signspotting is now offline.

Perigee Trade, 2012

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16 thoughts on “Doug Lansky: Crap Souvenirs

  1. I love crap souvenirs too Betkitschig….I have to regularly clear them out and give them to charity. Then I come back with ten more things from the charity shop hehe. Love your blog.. take care

  2. My husband is a sucker for souvenir mugs. I have banned him from buying any more, but every now and then he can’t resist. I’m more attracted to pottery and embroidery, but they’re usually too expensive to make me actually buy them. I definitely have a thing for jugs. However, I did spend a couple of hours in our local secondhand shop last week and took lots of photos of really kitschy stuff and souvenirs that I want to put on my blog. I thought of you. 😀

    1. 😉 I cannot wait to see them! I take photos instead of buying stuff, too… I feel for your poor husband though. You do get carried away with coffee mugs…

  3. The only souvenirs I bring home from trips are book marks and cooking spoons, and t-shirts for my kids. One can always use those in everyday life. Plus they are small and light in the suitcase! 🙂
    I do however, have a small “kitschy” shelf with an interesting assortment of knick knacks mostly given to me over the years.

    1. I like how your souvenirs have to be useful 😉 and I would really love to see a photo of THAT shelf… Have a great week!

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