By Paris Permenter

Every vacationer wants to return home with memories of the experience that
will help him relive the trip time after time. Adults rely on cameras to capture
these memories, but children all too often fall prey to overpriced souvenirs as a
poor substitute.

There is a way to help your child bring back vacation memories — without
breaking your trip budget. No matter where you travel, free (or low cost)
souvenirs are yours for the asking. Your children can collect everything ranging
from postcards to placemats. They are available in restaurants, resorts, and
attractions, potentially every place your family might stop.

By showing your child the fun of searching for (not just buying) souvenirs, you
can involve him in the excitement of seeking out free souvenirs and keep him
away from the trinket stands which plague so many tourist attractions.

Your first step begins before the vacation at your neighborhood discount store. Buy each child aninexpensive photo album with adhesive pages. These pages allow small fingers to stick memorabilia in the book, and they will survive several rearrangements before you have to resort to glue or scrapbooking supplies.

Keep an eye out for these souvenirs:

Restaurants : You’ll find special children’s placemats in many family restaurants, often with pictures or a map of local attractions. Free children’s menus, containing a game or a puzzle, are available in many restaurants. And don’t overlook tiny sugar packets with the restaurant’s name or picture on it. These can act as miniature postcards, ready to assume a place in your child’s scrapbook.

Postcards : You can carry home a professional photo of almost any attraction in
the world for a little more than the cost of a postage stamp. And if you’ve heard your child complain “I never get any mail,” encourage him to send a postcard home! They’ll act as miniature vacation diaries when you return home, and give returning vacationers a little something to look forward to as well.

Foreign Money: A sample of foreign currency can be a good souvenir and a great way to learn about a country. Foreign coins can be fun to collect and could even interest your child in an entirely new hobby.

Stamps : Similarly, foreign stamps are also an excellent and inexpensive way to bring home souvenirs. Your child will learn about the government, national heroes, and often the national bird and flower through stamps.

This ‘n That: Theme park ticket stubs, museum maps, brochures, and other freebies make fun and colorful additions to your child’s scrapbook.

Nature’s Souvenirs: Uniquely shaped leaves (or ones from trees unlike those
you have at home) make great additions to your child’s scrapbook. Also look
for small pebbles, bird feathers, small shells, and even a few grains of sand to
help bring home those vacation memories.**

Travel writers and husband-wife team Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the publishers of Caribbean Family Tripper, an online guide to Caribbean family travel at http://www.caribbeanfamilytripper.com, Texas Tripper, an online guide to Texas travel at http://www.texastripper.com, and Gatlinburg Tripper, an online resource about family travel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee at http://www.gatlinburgtripper.com.

** TravelTripVacation.com’s favorite Souvenir!