Marti Attoun: Urge to splurge on cheap souvenirs this summer

Kevin McClintock, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
·2 min read

Apr. 2—Now that we're on the brink of a return to normal life, there's no place like anywhere but home.

"Revenge travel" is what experts are calling the overwhelming national urge to escape and hit the road. We're fed up with sitting on our sofas watching travel videos. We want to sit on sandy beaches, mountain peaks and inside giant twirling teacups at Disneyland's Fantasyland. Whether it's Popeye's birthplace or the Hubcap Capital of the World, we hanker to see it.

With this urge to splurge after a year of lockdown, we're going to be bigger suckers than ever for buying souvenirs to commemorate our travels. After all, the next best thing to seeing Mount Rushmore in person is seeing those presidential bigwigs in a $4.99 plastic snow globe.

Before we embark on "revenge souvenir" shopping, however, it's a good idea to keep these guidelines in mind:

—When traveling in a compact car, remember to measure its hauling capacity before making any outsized purchases. That redwood burl coffee table with a gnarly tree stump base oozes charm in the California coastal gift shop. It's the ultimate conversation-piece souvenir. However, after several hundred miles riding with its overpriced roots tickling your spleen, you'll utter words that would make an Ozarks souvenir cuss bank blush.

—Souvenir T-shirts that showcase the region's claim to fame, whether it's the birthplace of Kool-Aid or the final resting spot of Trigger, are engineered to begin shrinking as soon as you return to your home ZIP code. After one washing, an XXL "Don't Mess with Texas" will be a perfect fit for the family hamster. Better to play it safe and shell out for the canned armadillo.

—When buying souvenirs for others, remember to match the gift with the recipient. New Jersey's saltwater taffy may be as refreshing as a gentle breeze to most folks, but it'll knock Aunt Fern's dentures out of alignment. And a practical keychain shaped like a giant Georgia peach isn't going to get much use by brother Stu until he finishes that stint of community service and gets right with the law again.

—Classic tacky souvenirs that are as old as Route 66 may be the best revenge souvenirs after a year in hibernation. Go ahead and splurge on the little outhouse salt and pepper shakers, giant tasseled pencils and plastic backscratchers. And there's no better way to scrub away last year's ugliness that with a souvenir soap on a rope — whether it's shaped like a Kentucky bourbon bottle or a Missouri jackass.

Marti Attoun's "Booth 186: My Secondhand Career in Vintage Corsets, Moose Heads and Other Moth-Eaten Antiques" is available as an e-book on Amazon.