Cultural Keepsakes of the Caribbean and What They Mean


One of the best parts about traveling is experiencing new cultures.

Travel helps us learn more about the world and the people we share it with, and understanding and learning more about different cultures is a fun, helpful way to use travel as an experience, not just a destination.

When a trip is over, it’s nice to have souvenirs to bring home for yourself and your loved ones. Souvenirs help us remember our travels - the smell, sight, sound, taste, or feel of something from another place can make us imagine, for a moment, that we are still there. Keepsakes can also be great gifts for anyone who couldn’t go with you.

When visiting a Caribbean all-inclusive resort, souvenirs can be an easy and meaningful way to remember the experience and remind yourself of the culture you experienced during your trip.

It is also important to remember two things - buy locally-made products and buy sensitively.

Why buy things that look “authentic” but are really made elsewhere, when you can buy a local piece by a local artisan and boost the local economy and get a truly authentic souvenir?

Make sure to visit markets and local artisans, and always look for locally-made items. Also, avoid any purchasing any items that further cultural stereotypes. Buying local should assist with this, and can be a great way to meet local artisans and get tips about even more local souvenirs and experiences!

Here are 6 great cultural souvenirs to bring back from the Caribbean on your next trip:

Spices

The Caribbean is known for spices like nutmeg, allspice, garlic, and paprika. Pick some up to take home and recreate those amazing Caribbean dishes.
Spices are particularly important in the Caribbean, as food is an illustration of the various cultures that have influenced the region. Spice mixtures are also a great souvenir. Some authentic jerk seasoning, for example, would be a way to take the culture and tastes of the Caribbean home.

Art

Buying art in the Caribbean is a great way to support local artists, and it’s often easy to ship home.
A great piece of art - that also supports local artists and arts education - is a wonderful way to remember your trip. Also, the art of the Caribbean, like the food, shows a multitude of cultural influences that make the area what it is today.

Handmade hammocks and hats

Who says fun in the sun has to stop when you get home.
These items, made by local artisans, are part of the island culture of the Caribbean, and the techniques used are unique to the region.

Pepper Jelly

Spicy, sweet, and locally-made. Many pepper jellies in the Caribbean use Scotch bonnet peppers (the hot part of jerk) as well as local spices. Pepper jelly is a part of the diverse and unique culture, and can be a great way to remember the Caribbean when you’re home.
Buying these from local artisans at farmers markets can also be a way to meet and talk to locals, making for an even more fantastic experience. Souvenirs are always more meaningful when you meet the people who made them.

Coffee

Coffee has a long and storied history in the Caribbean, and not all of it is happy. But coffee from the Caribbean provides jobs for growers, local roasters, and local artists, and coffee culture is absolutely a part of the Caribbean culture.
Plus, jet lag anyone? Go home, make some Jamaican coffee, sit back, and pretend to be on a beach again - even if you’re in your office.

Rum

Rum, like coffee, has a long history in the Caribbean. The romantic story involves pirates and adventure, but the history of rum in the Caribbean is tied, inextricably, to slave plantations. However, by buying rum from local, preferably small-batch artisans, you can help support the local rum industry and the descendants of those brought to the Caribbean against their will.
Rum is complicated, both in history and in the making of it, but you can learn about rum in local distilleries to get a real feel for the culture and people who produce it.

Bring the Caribbean Home

The Caribbean is filled with cultural souvenirs to purchase before you return home. By avoiding cultural missteps - don’t buy things made outside the region, and don’t purchase anything that promotes cultural stereotypes - you can get some great souvenirs.

Taking souvenirs home can remind you of your visit, and can encourage anyone you gift them to, whether that be the cat sitter, your kids, your neighbors, even everyone at Christmas.

You can encourage others to visit and experience the amazing culture of the Caribbean for themselves.

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Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Lifestyle Writer. Foodie. Dog Mom. I love seeing new places, experiencing new things, and writing about all-inclusive resorts along the way.

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