I recently returned from a holiday to Barbados. I've been many times before, but this visit was a little more sentimental to me. It was the first time I'd been back in a while, and I have so many special childhood memories there. I'd been missing the island a lot so it really meant so much to be there this time around.
It was also the first time that I'd been with my cousin as an adult, which meant we got to experience a whole new side of the island, like nightlife, together. All in all, I knew I wanted it to be a trip to remember, which made me put a lot of thought into the souvenirs I bought back.
Normally I'd just grab a few fridge magnets - maybe a t-shirt or some flip flops too - but this time, I really wanted to return with things that would instantly take me back to a moment I had on the holiday and make me feel like I was still there.
I also didn't want to buy a bunch of generic things to give out at the office. I wanted to bring back experiences for my family and friends.
So here's what I ended up going for:
One of my favourite things about being in Barbados is the food! I wish I could bring it all back with me. Unfortunately, when it comes to food products, there's not a lot you can get through the airport. But once I found out I could bring back a huge tub of Bajan seasoning without any issues, it was straight in my suitcase! When you can't bring back food, seasonings and spices native to the country you're visiting give you a great way to recreate those flavours you enjoyed so much on holiday - and let's face it, if you're a little lazy when it comes to cooking like I am, it's a good motivation to pass up the takeaway pizza and get in the kitchen instead.
Seafood is a big deal in Barbados and my aunt had a friend who locally made and sold tubs of batter, which you could then fry to make your own fishcakes. She made some for me and I was in absolute heaven. She told me that as long as the batter was frozen, I could take it home with me, so I did not hesitate. Now I can whip up a local favourite for my family and friends in minutes. I also managed to get away with a loaf of banana bread that I bought from one of the local supermarkets and fell in love with! I wasn't as keen on sharing that.
I'm not a big drinker, but Barbados is famous for its rum - so much so, that some of the rum distilleries are tourist attractions. If there was one way I could really share a taste of the island with my friends and family, it was through a few bottles of smooth Bajan rum. You'll find miniature bottle packs in almost every souvenir shop on the island, so I got those to give out at work and kept the big bottles for guests at home.
We visited a flower cave on the island and there were some stalls selling lovely bracelets, anklets and necklaces that the owners handmade in front of you using materials such as beads and string. They all had a special detail that connected it to the island - some of them used the colours of the Bajan flag. The particular bracelet pictured has a turtle, which is a much-loved and protected reptile in Barbados. We all got one for ourselves to commemorate the holiday.
OK, so photos aren't exactly a traditional souvenir, but it's the digital age and the quickest way to share your experiences and give your family and friends a feel of the place you're visiting is through photography. I made a huge point of capturing as many pictures of the scenery as I could. It turns out the iPhone makes a pretty great camera and I plan on getting some of the pictures I took, like the one below, enlarged and framed.
All in all, it was a great holiday and I definitely achieved my goal of bringing back souvenirs that would allow myself, and my friends and family, to truly experience some of the amazing things Barbados has to offer. Now, all I need is a sip of rum punch to take me back to the white sand and sun in seconds!