Whether you’re an avid traveler contemplating your next destination or a novice tourist in search of recommendations, the New York Times online travel section is among the best resources out there. Between the clever writing and the transportive photographs, it’s easy to lose hours to The Gray Lady on a slow workday, as certain long weekenders have been known to do. So imagine my thrill and surprise as I clicked through my favorite travel portal yesterday, only to be greeted by a photograph of my own.
Several months ago, the Times featured a story on the value of souvenirs, from Japanese teacups to embroidered Moroccan linens. For an accompanying feature titled “What I Brought Home,” the paper asked its readers to submit photos of their most meaningful souvenirs, as well as the stories that went with them. The best of the bunch—including one of my own photos—were published in the online travel section.
I am often lovingly teased for the souvenirs that I acquire on my adventures. A jar full of collected stones and seashells may not be at the top of every traveler’s list. And sure, it’s a bit abnormal that I bring home one glass Coca-Cola bottle to display in my kitchen from each foreign country I visit. But as I related to the Times, it’s often the simplest souvenirs that I find most meaningful.
I keep a Mason jar in my home full of the many different currencies I’ve used while traveling over the years. Of course, it would probably be wiser and more fiscally responsible to exchange these euros, pesos, soles, and kuna for American dollars. But I can’t help but be captivated by the thought of where these multicolored bills and coins have traveled—how many people have touched them, and what they’ve been used to buy. They’re a wonderful reminder of the places I’ve visited, the interactions I’ve had, the food I’ve eaten, and just how far from home I’ve often felt.
So here’s to an exciting year of travel ahead in 2013, one that adds dozens of new coins to the jar. Happy New Year!