How to consistently buy inappropriate souvenirs

Sydney Harbour Bridge

I have a history of buying the most inappropriate souvenirs when travelling. Not rude or anything, just whole heartedly impossible to travel with. I think it all started when I was six and went on holiday to Sydney. I (being a six year old) purchased a teddy bear with my hard saved pocket money, not inappropriate so far right? Well, if only customs had thought the same. When going through the airport the customs official decided that I was smuggling something inside my bear and wanted to cut it open to investigate further. It is a formative moment in a young girl’s life when a bulky Australian man approaches your teddy with a large knife. My family still reminisce about my sister having to hold back a mini-Runawaykiwi from attacking the customs man, as my mum tried to convince him to unpick the stitching rather than opening a massive gash down its stomach. And no, for the record I was not smuggling drugs in a teddy bear.

Continuing on in this theme was the ‘suspected’ souvenirs from all my teenage travelling. Now it’s important to remember here that while the rest of the world is concerned with bombs, drugs and disease at airports, New Zealand is all about biosecurity. Forget bomb dogs, we have dogs roaming our airports who sniff out apples. Yeah, New Zealand is not exactly a hot spot for terrorism. The problem being for a teenage Runawaykiwi is that she travelled with her school backpack, a school backpack that had had years of rotting fruit from forgotten lunches at the bottom of it (don’t judge me). Almost every time I went through the airport I would get an outrageously cute dog sitting next to me and a customs official asking me to empty my bag. And of course being me (nothing has changed really) I would bring out an entire sweet shop full of candy mixed between accounting homework and drug filled teddy bears* – the look of ‘fuck sake, sort yourself out girl’ on a customs officials face is one that can’t be replicated.

Things went on to a rather…larger scale from there. We were on a month long trip starting in San Francisco, I on the second day decided to buy the largest poster available at MOMA. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking buying a 2m long Rauschenberg when travelling? Oh that Rauschenberg, it was a massive pain to take through 8 airports, across country and of course half way round the world. To be fair, my Dad did get a whole lot of entertainment from it as he stalked my Mum around the streets of San Francisco.

Massive poster in SanFran

Then I moved onto my twenties and nothing changed really. Again at the start of a month of travel (it was at the end of my university exchange, and I was going on an adventure on my way home) but this time in the spice markets of Turkey. A glass tea set caught my eye, because you know that’s what every university student needs… After bartering my heart out I got it; 6 glass tea cups, 6 glass saucers and a tea pot. Mental. It went in my suitcase, and I felt totally justified in buying 247 silk scarves to protect it while I travelled. Believe it or not it made it back to New Zealand in one piece, and of course I never used it and it was sold in a garage sale a few years later for $2.

Street market in Turkey

I really don’t think I am ever going to grow out of this, just last month when I was in Marrakesh the only thing I brought back was a MASSIVE gold Moroccan pouf.

Sigh, I think I need a bigger suitcase.

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21 Comments

  1. May 31, 2015 / 6:50 pm

    I’m sorry, but these are absolutely hilarious! I can’t believe they would ruin a 6 year old’s teddy bear. And your Dad is hilarious!!! haha, I love that picture!

    • runawaykiwi@gmail.com
      May 31, 2015 / 7:16 pm

      To be fair I did look like a six year old that was plotting world domination ..

  2. May 31, 2015 / 9:21 pm

    HA! That photo of your Dad is ACTUALLY brilliant! I try to just use my photos as souvenirs but I have been known to buy the odd magnet (TOTAL tat but at least you can actually use them). I really want to start buying art when I travel, and ship it back, but it always seems like such an effort!

  3. June 1, 2015 / 8:03 am

    haha, i can imagine how easy it was at MoMA to get swept up and buy something spectacular!
    And don’t worry about buying useless souvenirs, I decided on my first ever trip away (to the Gold Coast) that i would start collecting snow globes, and so i bought a really expensive one (well, for me at the time it seemed expensive for what it was $20 or so) only to have it taken off me at customs because it was over the 100ml limit for liquids… tbh, i think it saved me from a lifetime of hoarding snow globes.

  4. June 1, 2015 / 9:13 am

    Haha, the way you buy souvenirs sounds like the way I WANT to buy them but I always tell myself I won’t be able to take it all back. I envy people who have these huge things in their homes from times travelling and I think ‘how the hell did you get that home’?!
    I say good on you for the dedication ;).

  5. June 1, 2015 / 9:50 am

    I laughed so hard, mostly because I could hear this entire post read aloud in your voice. With your expressions. Blog post gold, right here.

  6. June 1, 2015 / 10:17 am

    Great post.
    I’ve had similar experiences – in particular trying to fit a large Moroccan plate into a small satchel and a large bag of Moroccan tea which I’m surprised I didn’t actually get stopped for as it definitely looked a bit marijuana like!

    Gem x
    amilliongingerisms.wordpress.com

  7. June 1, 2015 / 4:57 pm

    When I went to Hawaii instead of going on an all day kayak trip with my friends I stayed at the hotel, I got a bit bored though and ended up buying a tea set which I paid to have shipped and then not all of it showed up!

  8. June 1, 2015 / 6:53 pm

    I dream of having a house filled with eclectic decor all sourced from our travels around the world… But the reality is I hate carrying things. Never stops me buying them though. the other half and i once met a few friends whilst we were in Bangkok and because of some drunken bartering we ended up with twelve friendship bracelets, two hammocks and a glow in the dark clock.

    It was the weirdest shopping trip.

  9. June 2, 2015 / 6:10 pm

    These are great – if you are going to buy something on holiday then make damn sure it is memorable, either the buying or the after-experience!

  10. June 2, 2015 / 10:06 pm

    Brilliant!! I laughed so much at this post! Yeah, your souvenir shopping is awesome, no doubt about it. Keep it up 😉

  11. June 3, 2015 / 1:52 pm

    Your Dad seems like as much of a joker as mine. And I sympathise about the messy bag, I always seem to lose coat slips in mine!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  12. June 4, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    Great post! I enjoy the justification of scarves to protect the tea set. I would totally have done the same.

  13. June 5, 2015 / 6:05 pm

    This made me laugh so much – I can just imagine a little Kiwi getting feisty with the nasty man that was cutting her teddy open! Looks as though things haven’t changed much as the years have gone by…

    Polly xx

  14. June 6, 2015 / 9:42 am

    And they wonder why there are tensions between Australia and New Zealand! 😉

    Your parents are so much like mine; I have numerous photos like this as well. Mum has a tendency of buying the biggest things ever and no room left in her suitcase.

    xx

  15. June 7, 2015 / 11:06 am

    Wait, how did you get a big morrocan pouf back? Enquiring minds need to know, I want one!

  16. June 7, 2015 / 11:39 am

    Haha… “…an entire sweet shop full of candy mixed between accounting homework…”!
    And oh my goodness, that picture of your dad is priceless!
    Love the topic for the link-up this month; some really funny posts to read!

  17. October 2, 2015 / 4:10 pm

    OMG poor teddy! How awful! the tea set sounds nice:) I buy a lot of souvenirs too, I came back from Paris years ago with exactly 12 miniature Eiffel towers.of course it raised an alarm at the airport but it was fine in the end, however they wanted to chuck my hair brush for some reason (it’s a bit pointy so i guess it could be deemed as a sort of weapon, LOL)