Why toiletries make the best souvenir

When travelling, I usually buy tacky souvenirs for friends at home. (Sorry!) But for myself, there is only one type of souvenir–which unfortunately has multiple product categories–I need.

Regular cute souvenirs

My Achilles heel is not a killer pair of shoes nor a nice dress, but toiletries.

I dislike how the airlines limit how much liquids we can carry. But I’m secretly happy that this will give me an excuse to buy toiletries in a foreign land.

Here’s why you should buy toiletries as souvenirs (for your friends or yourself)

1. Local shopping experience


Local’s don’t go to the souvenir shop. By visiting local stores, I get to literally rub shoulders with the locals and spot cool stuff–I had the chance to see vacuum-packed chicken feet while in search of the best sunblock in China.

2. Shampoo 2 euros. Unforgettable scent? Priceless.

Honey and milk scented shampoo in Paris

My favorite toiletry to buy (and leave) is shampoo and soap. I love browsing at the shampoo and body soap lane, flicking open each bottle cap to smell the intoxicating liquid inside. Sometimes there’s just too many choices!

Buying shampoo/soap overseas isn’t as expensive as you think it would be. In other countries, I usually go for the house brand stuff–which I usually do not touch at home–and leave the heavy bottles when I leave.

Besides the price tag, using local products give me priceless experiences that no amount of money can buy.

Like in Paris, I fretted in Monoprix over whether to smell like a bed of lavender or coconut oil. In the end, I chose honey and milk because it promised “soft and silky” hair, perfect for my frizz.

Now whenever I smell synthetic scent of “honey and milk”, I’ll be reminded of my trip in Paris. Plus, my hair was really tame there–maybe it’s much less humid or that the shampoo really worked.

3. Boost the local economy

Shut up and take my money!

Rather than spend money on Starbucks, why not a shampoo to help the local economy? (I’m half joking.)

The best place for beauty care products? Japan. It has the most dizzying selection of toiletries. The shops stock so much of them that I usually hyperventilate trying to pick some to bring home.

4. Save money

Japan loot!

Buying to save money seems like an oxymoron. But some products are much cheaper in their original countries, such as the bag of moisturizing toner I picked up from Japan.

And those lipbalm, how much cheaper can you get?

5. Fashion forward

My current hair color

This hair dye was from Japan. The color’s not available in Singapore or Malaysia yet.

Buying this overseas also mean I am the first to rock “cream beige” hair. Though the older color seems to overpower it.

6. Useful souvenir

Shit I got from Taiwan

I admit that I have a miniature terracotta warrior glaring at me at work while gathering dust. That’s why I find toiletries more useful as souvenirs because I can actually use them. And I do feel happier after using them.

What’s your go-to souvenir?

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