There are a myriad of “pros” for a constant life of travel while living on a sailboat and very few “cons” in my mind. A major one is that we're limited in the number and type of souvenirs we can collect. There's just so much room on a boat or in your suitcase, so you've got to be selective in what you choose as your memento of the places you visit. Baskets and large carvings are wonderful, but they take up lots of space, so we're very discriminating when it comes to larger pieces. I guess you could have them shipped home, but if you're on a boat, that just doesn't make sense.
Here are some hints for what works for us...
1. Coins of the realm
I started early on collecting shiny, new coins and colorful bills from each country we visited. Not sure what I'll do with them, but I'm sure there's a collage in the future somewhere.
2. Collectible stamps
Shells are easy, free and won't take up too much room if you don't collect too many. I collect lots as I'm beach combing and then become very discriminating when I'm deciding which will make the “cut” and stay aboard. A couple of distinctive shells seems to be about the right number.
4. Sand samples
We don't collect “sand” per se, but we've done it for other people. We collect a small amount of sand in snack size ZipLoc bags from places like Antarctica, the Galapagos and the Kalahari Desert. We mark the collection location. One of our friends uses the sand to make interesting sand sculptures with notes of where the sand came from.
5. Christmas ornaments
I actually collect a Christmas ornament from each place we visit. I've found that if I buy an item marked “Christmas ornament”, it costs big bucks. If I buy a key chain with a symbolic koala or a kangaroo, the cost is minimal and there's always a good selection. At Christmastime, I wind a garland around the mast below deck and hang the ornaments with ribbon. Memories of all of the places we've visited come back vividly.
6. Useable stuff
If you buy something you can use, it's easier to justify the purchase. We buy mugs, tea towels, sometimes hats if they're cheap. Once again, we're selective. After all, we can only use so many t-shirts. David collected distinctive fishing hooks from different countries in the South Pacific which he turned into shadow box art.
Most countries have some particular fabric pattern that's unique. There was a neat kiwi pattern in New Zealand. The Kunas used a colorful fabric for their wraparound skirts. I found koala and kangaroo patterns in Australia and brightly colored flower patterns in Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia. I use the fabric to cover pillows, to give as gifts to crafty friends and hopefully to make a “worldly” quilt in the future.
8. Music CDs
This one's easy. Take a bit of native musical culture home with you on a music CD.
Depending on your idea of “lasting memories”, this souvenir takes up no room at all.
10. Digital Photos
This is my idea of great a souvenir. Digital photos take up no extra room at all. Be sure to bring extra memory cards and/or batteries with you so you can download frequently.