MS. BEHAVING’s elegant penthouse is adorned with many trinkets from her travels. Is there an etiquette for souvenirs? Read on.
A READER WRITES: Is it wrong to take all those little bottles of shampoo from hotels? What about ashtrays (which you still find many of in countries outside the US)?
MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: Speaking as a traveller who hasn’t bought a bar of soap for decades, Ms. Behaving nonetheless believes that certain lines should be drawn. She thinks it is quite fine to take the shampoo and conditioner (good for travel and ideal for a guest room bath!). As to ashtrays, she has indeed a stellar collection! But here’s the deal: each and every treasured one was either purchased from the hotel/restaurant, or given to her when she asked if she might purchase one. Ask and ye shall receive to be guilt-free on the road and after! If you’re wondering if something is larceny, it probably is.
A READER WRITES: A friend brought me a rather loud and unattractive framed watercolor from her Caribbean trip, which I really hate. This brings me to ask: any tips for bringing travel souvenirs to others?
MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: We all want to share our travels with loved ones, but Ms. Behaving believes you need to know your giftee … and is still waiting for the right person to gift that stuffed piranha she bought in the Amazon. If Aunt Tessie is an adventurous cook, she’ll love the exotic spices you bring back from Istanbul’s Spice Market. If your brother is into abstract art, resist that print of the wide-eyed beret boy in front of the Eiffel Tower; instead find an only-published-in-France art book on abstract painters (buying art for others is never a good idea, BTW). If your mom has never worn a scarf in her life, don’t bring her a silk one from Japan, but instead something to add to her fan/doll/handmade paper collection. You get the idea. The gifts we bring are not for us, they are for those we know and love.
Have questions about etiquette, local or global travel customs or awkward moments on the road? Fear not! Ms. Behaving is ready to answer. Send your queries (putting "Ms. Behaving" in the subject line) .
Photo above: Ms. Behaving at Royal Ascot.