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15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

By Chuck Thompson, CNN
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Travelers stick family and friends with untold zillions of worthless or gratuitous gifts each year, but almost nothing good ever gets done at the last minute. The first rule of souvenir shopping? No buying gifts at the airport. Ever. Travelers stick family and friends with untold zillions of worthless or gratuitous gifts each year, but almost nothing good ever gets done at the last minute. The first rule of souvenir shopping? No buying gifts at the airport. Ever.
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15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Don't guilt family and friends into hanging on to gifts you wouldn't want
  • Avoid shopping at the airport
  • Plush toys and designer sea salt are out
  • Are you really sure they want that scorpion alcohol?

Hong Kong (CNN) -- It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in.

Yet almost none of us are any good at it.

Souvenir buying -- instead of being an enjoyable part of the travel experience, it too often becomes an obligatory slog.

The global economy for ill-conceived souvenir purchases is staggering.

In 2013 alone, travelers spent a total of $2.3 billion on souvenirs that were subsequently ignored, unused, unappreciated, unworn, discarded, disliked, ridiculed and/or stuffed in bottom drawers and backs of closets never to be seen again.

Worse, travelers wasted 427 million aggregated hours fretting over the purchases of pointless doodads, knickknacks, tchotchkes, gewgaws and dust gatherers.

OK, we made all those figures up, but given all the "Singapore is a Fine City" T-shirts, Chairman Mao cigarette lighters, plush koalas and inflatable jumbo airplanes cluttering the CNN Travel office, we're pretty sure people spend a lot of money and time on desperation purchases that unfairly burden recipients with the obligation of hanging on to these dubious prizes for years to come.

The good news is that it's easy to improve your souvenir-buying savvy.

Avoid the common shopping mistakes above and your family, friends and coworkers might actually start looking forward to your return home for a change.

Got a favorite souvenir do or don't? Ever received a terrible souvenir? A great one? Share your souvenir experiences in the comments section.

Deliciously kitschy and 'Crap Souvenirs'

Story originally published in 2013.

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