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drrich2

Allure of the Seas Eastern Caribbean Trip Report 7-28 – 8-4-19

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Banging out a report concise enough to read but complete enough to inform for a diverse audience (e.g.: new to cruising, new to RCI, new to Oasis-class or seasoned RCi cruisers) borders on a fool’s errand, but that’s the task at hand. We are ‘older’ parents (I’m 50) of a 6-year old smart, moody, strong-willed, entitled fireball of a daughter who’s our ‘highlander child’ (there can only be one!). 10thCruise for wife & I (1 Celebrity, others RCI, Voyager, Freedom or Oasis Class) & daughter’s 6th(all RCI) – all Caribbean cruises. Been on Allure twice before so not new to us. So our family is very blessed with cruising.

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Like Royal for overall value/package product. One of the active ‘fun’ lines, along with Carnival and I presume NCL. When we got into cruising the reputation was a tad classier than Carnival and the photos of Carnival shop interiors back then looked like really gaudy Las Vegas material, and now we’ve got credit in the Crown & Anchor program, so tend to stick with Royal. I liked our one Celebrity cruise (11 days, February, maybe 2008), but performances were more by vocalists (& tailored to an older audience), whereas Royal’s features more athleticism – acrobatics, swinging around, diving, ice shows, etc…

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Like Voyager-class & up for the Deck 5 Royal Promenade; really adds to our diverse cruise experience. One can fell on land in a quaint urban setting if desired. Adventure and Explorer of the Seas gave us that and a good selection of ports; Liberty of the Seas (pre-slides) was basically Voyager-class on steroids. 

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Really like Central Park on Deck 8 as a serene outdoor setting pleasant to talk through to traverse the ship. Sounds like a gimmick but enhances the cruise in practice. 

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Really like the Boardwalk, Deck 6, aft – kid likes the carousel and play structures, wife & I like the ‘doghouse’ (hot dogs, etc…) and we all love the dive shows (Ocean Aria). Kid thinks the Zoltar forture-telling thing on the Boardwalk is creepy.

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Oasis-class has Central Park and the Boardwalk, Voyager and Freedom Class don’t. Haven’t been on Quantum class. Oasis-class don’t visit ports that require tendering, and have a much smaller range of accessible ports. Our daughter’s too young to care which islands we hit, and we adults have hit enough it’s not a big deal in the Caribbean. Oasis has a bunch of specialty restaurants; I like, wife’s fairly fond of, daughter tolerates if she’s got the iPad mini (e.g.: Kid’s You Tube videos) and head phones. On Oasis-class you pre-book shows and there’s a variety; on Voyager class, before or after dinner you can go see the show that’s playing (my over-simplification). But you can plan online well in advance of your cruise. If you don’t pre-book, you can show up and if there are left-over seats (there often are), you can get in. 

 

Hard to get time off approved well in advance, Caribbean needful for time constraints (one week off, wife prone to motion sickness so no northeastern departures) – thus didn’t hit Symphony or Harmony of the Seas (would’ve been nice for more elaborate water park areas – daughter’s about 45 inches tall, but I think she couldn’t done one of the smaller slides). 

 

Allure of the Seas no longer has the Dreamworks Experience – which our daughter loved and missed a bit, and made for some extra nice photos in the past. Not a deal breaker but I wish they had it back. They got other things; mini-golf, flow riders, various sports, rock climbing walls.

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Food situation in a nutshell – Windjammer buffet pretty good, wouldn’t survive as a stand-alone buffet restaurant on land but okay here, busy but we always found a table without too much trouble. MDR – went 2 nights, good service and food, the baked French onion soup appetizer was very good. Sorrentos – decent pizza with good taste – the cheese wasn’t like some tasteless dough (hello, Adventure of the Seas last year…). Did a 3 specialty restaurant package – really liked all 3 (dinner at 150 Central Park & Giovanni’s, lunch at Chop’s Grill). Finally tried Wipeout Café’ on Deck 15; pretty good, liked the fries, burger patties didn’t taste much like beef. 

 

Freestyle soda machine scene was a mess. Machines often told people they could fill their drink in, oh, 6 hours & 10 minutes or some other ridiculous time frame. Pretty random. Guest Services even swapped out my mug (we had the refreshment package with unlimited free soda). Worst offender was the right hand machine outside Sorrentos on the promenade. 

 

Photographers out most nights, a range of setups (generally decks 3, 4 & 5, plus wandering around or doing photos when we got off the ship at ports). About $350 for all digital copies & a print of each photo; excellent deal. We hit hard and got a stack of prints I’m guessing nearly an inch think. Still waiting for the e-mail with a link to download digital copies. 

 

Luggage Valet remains really sweet (put big bags outside room last night of cruise, don’t see again till collected at your home airport, $25 per person), an excellent value (didn’t have to bother collecting bags at terminal, tipping a porter to transport them to/through customs for us, waiting on them, etc…), but a nail-biter (no confirmation you’re successfully enrolled till last night of cruise, 6 to 9 p.m., at first they just had me accepted, & ended up sending double boarding passes for me, and luggage tags for 5 bags (if you don’t doubt 4 for me, which I was scared to use the extras) instead of 6, but no problem, it was still a wonderful thing I was praying to work, it did and make that last day much nicer. Do luggage valet when you can!

 

Arcade drama – they’ve got a kiddie arcade outside the kid’s club on Deck 14 forward, a little arcade on the Boardwalk Deck 6 rear, and a ‘big’ arcade on Deck 15 rear, so your kid can drive you nuts at 3 locations. Game prices vary but often run around $2 per game, and sometimes a game didn’t work. Bought our kiddo $200 (cost $160) arcade credit in advance. Learned a few things:

-----1.) It was on her card, not accessible to  all ours, so games on my card presumably cost extra. 

-----2.) To use what I put on her card, I had to have it activated, which also meant turning on charging privileges on her card.

-----3.) There’s nothing to stop her card from exceeding the $200 and racking up more charges. There was a default $50 charge/day limit on her account, though.

-----4.) The machine I saw for showing some info. About cards in the arcade wouldn’t tell us anything useful. In our room, looking at her account, I could see the balance ($0 most of week), but aside from a long list of costs (some negative, I’m guessing from the credits?) I didn’t see any indication of how much unused credit she had left. Late in week I asked a lady at Guest Services to check how much unused credit she had left; it appeared to be quite an ordeal to track that info. down. 

 

Saturday – flew to Ft. Lauderdale. Booked a night at Ramada Inn Ft. Lauderdale for close to $100; they send a shuttle to get us at the airport free, & shuttled us to the ship pier free the next day. Nice place; would use again. 

 

Sunday – scheduled 11:30 a.m. check-in, due to shuttle schedules got there maybe ½ hour early? Short wait, lady with a tablet took our photos & got us squared away fast. Onboard, there was a line to the Windjammer and they let people in when a table was ready; only time I saw that done all week. Got kid signed up at Adventure Ocean kids’ club (which she likes a lot – she went 3 times this week, just so much else to do). 4 p.m. Muster Drill entailed sitting in an air-conditioned area watching a somewhat amusing adventure video – huge improvement over years ago standing outdoors baking in the sun. 

 

Don’t think your cruise really starts the next, first ‘full’ day – with Royal Caribbean ‘the Wow starts Now.’ For our 3 specialty restaurant package they’d pre-booked us at 150 Central Park by default for meal one; we really liked it. I find the specialty restaurants to be a class act. Booked others later via t.v. control system in-room.

 

Caught the 8:15 Ocean Aria dive show – very good, kid loved it. The high dive performance into such a small, shallow pool at the end made me nervous. 

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Monday – At Sea day. Very good – let us settle in, no pressure to make excursions. Kadence roped us into one of those ‘build a pet’ (stuffed animal) shops on the Boardwalk; got a green dinosaur thing dressed in a captain’s uniform and named it Rex. We had dinner at Giovanni’s – I liked the grilled octopus appetizer and Manila clams linguini. It was a formal night, so dressed up for photos. In our Cruise Compass (schedule for daily offerings) was a luggage valet application; filled it out & turned it in that evening.

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Late afternoon ice show was good. Ocean Aria that evening had a few seats left – we’d seen it the prior night, but kid & I watched it again. Wife went to a headliner comedy show that night. I don’t care for so-called ‘adult’ comedy shows, but wife likes some of them.

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Tuesday – At Sea day. Good – more time to sleep late and settle in. 11:30 a.m. Royal Promenade parade ‘Anchors Aweigh’ was pretty good.

 

Tried the show ‘Mamma Mia’ – in pretty short order heard God’s name taken in vain 3 times, 1 ‘bastard and 1 ‘ass,’ had enough and left. 

 

There’s a cupcake shop with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and stuff on the Boardwalk; saw people in a cup cake making class. The food ain’t free – they even charge for sprinkles! $4.50 for a 16-oz chocolate shake was a bit steep, but credit where due, it was good.

 

Wish I’d known that I could’ve attended a 11 a.m. The Diamond & Gemstone Seminar at Comdey LIVE, Deck 4, Forward, to get a free cruise ship charm for all who attend. There was also an option to get a certificate validated for a free pair of tanzanite stud earrings to get at Tanzanite International. Since I missed getting that cruise ship charm for our kid (we collect the Diamonds International charm bracelet charms), I got online and ordered what I suspect is the same thing off eBay. 

 

Anybody know where I can pick up a Puerto Rico Diamonds Int. charm, the one with the coqui frog? After our excursion that day (Thursday) I wasn’t willing to walk 3 blocks, and the cab people I spoke with didn’t seem to have good English). 

 

Spent time on the pool deck with kid; fun. By the way, that ‘lazy river’ is a lazy donut in my opinion. Look at it and tell me I’m wrong…

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More to follow...

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Wednesday. Port Day in Sint Maarten. I’d booked the ship excursion for a Sint Maarten Beach Rendezvous at Kim Sha beach along Simpson Bay. Rained much of the morning – got rather wet waiting for our excursion to get underway. Cleared late morning, transiting to brutal Caribbean sun (yeah, you just can’t please some people).  

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Had a good time. Kid drove us nuts fussing wanting to play on these toy-like little boats with slides out aways; those were to be rented for added cost, that wasn’t obvious, and one fellow got quite irate with a Dutchman over the matter (from what wife told me). Part of the beach had sea weed washed ashore; overall we had a good time. Lounge chairs provided – were told it’s $4 to avoid them removing the umbrella (and lemma tell ya, you want that umbrella!!!). Provided lunch included a choice between bang bang shrimp and grouper – that bang bang shrimp sandwich was quite good! Natives trying to sell knick-knacks and massages got annoying. 

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Kid caught a couple of snails, one pretty big. 

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Thursday. Port Day in San Juan, Puerto Rico. More like a port ‘half-day.’ I’d been itching to visit El Yunque Rainforest since our honeymoon in ’06, and finally got to do so this trip. About an hour’s drive there & back (did a ship excursion). Stopped at a large stream with boulders, then a small tower with 90 something steps to the top for photos, then a road-side waterfall. Just a bus tour, and we stopped on the way at a market with souvenirs. Pretty nice. There was another excursion with a rainforest hike, I think, but with our kid, the bus was the way to go. El Yunque is beautiful. Had to get up early for excursion meeting time and we were escorted off-ship shortly after it docked, too early to get any professional ‘port photos’ by staff. 

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Our 2ndformal night. Headline Showtime starring Ronn (with 2 L’s) Lucas, a great ventriloquist who’s performed for the Reagans, the Clintons and Queen Elizabeth. He used Broncho Billy, made a puppet with socks and rubber bands while we watched, one from a guy from the audience and told a moving story about his grandfather (a farmer) and honored God in his story. Very good!

 

Friday. Port Day in Labadee, Haiti. I’ve come to think Labadee is underrated. Yes, it’s not big on lots of authentic local culture (but have you read much about Haiti? Not sure more exposure to miserable squalor is desirable), but if offers a lot of activities. Those native vendors with the ‘me, too, please buy something’ shops at the Artisans’ Village are pleasant in their vigorous ‘all but crawl on you’ desperate efforts to make a sell, but this island desperately needs a wealth influx, so please buy something. There’s still the larger ‘store’ (Artisans’ Market?) before that which is far more laid back. 

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During the provided lunch, native performers put on quite a show. Picture somebody holding up a ring, another guy jumping through it from the concrete floor (much higher than I could), and landing in a forward roll on that same concrete floor then rolling right up to stand again. Wow. Hurts just looking at it, but he made it look easy. 

 

Thought our kid might like those water park inflatables I’ve seen so booked the Arawak Aqua Park excursion. Cheap, but just an hour, and you get about 50 minutes till time to swim back to the pier? Turns out that’s a decent amount of time (I’m 50 and chunky, let me alone!). Clambering around on some of that is harder than it looks. And it’s at Columbus Cove, which we had to walk through the Artisans’ Village to reach. Afterward we could enjoy the shallows by the beach.

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Casual night photos. We really enjoyed the production show Blue Planet. 

 

Saturday. At Sea day. Good for sleeping late, wrapping up loose ends, packing, collecting print photos, using up the arcade credits left (and oh, yes, running over!). Enjoyed lunch at Chops Grill in Central Park. Spent time in the pool area (e.g.: various pools, hot tubs, the lazy ‘donut’). On a hot day that deck can get brutally hot – made mistake of kid and I going barefoot – it made her cry and burned me, too. Wow. There’re 2 soft serve fro-yo machines on the pool deck – always popular. 

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Kid with car on Royal Promenade.

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Kid likes the knockers outside Silk dining room, but ours was American Icon Grill.

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I think we got 3 towel animals that week.

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Specialty restaurants were a pleasure.

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Guess that's it!

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I loved Harmony last month and I am going on Allure next week, thanks for sharing your trip!😊

I LOVE the Oasis class ships, I am afraid I will never want to another type of vessel.

 

We have a very short time in San Juan and I am going on a snorkel trip and my friend is staying on board and getting a massage.

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Thanks for your review, will be sailing on the Allure next month.

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17 hours ago, drrich2 said:

I find the specialty restaurants to be a class act. Booked others later via t.v. control system in-room.

 

 

Was there a lot of availability when booking via TV in-room? What times did you get?  Thank you!

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Booking Giovanni's early in the cruise was pretty easy. Late in the cruise, the options I was interested in (150 Central Park, Giovanni's and Chops) were pretty booked up. That's what I picked lunch for Chops late in the cruise; I think I booked 12:15, but it later showed at as 'at your leisure,' for lunch. I didn't think we 'lost' anything by eating lunch instead of dinner there.

 

Oh, one thing I didn't mention was we stayed in an interior stateroom, Deck 7, room 7452. That was very near the forward elevators, close enough to drop down easily to the Royal Promenade, or up one to Central Park, and via the elevators could reach Adventure Ocean kids' club (Deck 14, forward) quickly. If we wanted the Boardwalk, drop down to RP, cross the ship, up one. 

 

I've stayed in a Junior Suite (honeymoon, nice for size, balcony, bathtub & double crown & anchor points, but costs 2 cruises and I'm not paying that!), balcony (on Celebrity; nice, but not paying several hundred extra bucks when I can look the ocean for free from the pool deck) and a room with a window (Royal Promenade view) when it was only a tad more expensive - again, not interested in paying a few to several hundred or so (?) to have a window for 7 days. 

 

I see so many reviews talking about Grand Suites, Star whatevers, etc... Hey, more power to you, and glad some can enjoy that. But a bang up good time can also be had out of an interior stateroom. 

 

Richard.

 

P.S.: As a chunky glutton, a word of advice to others like me...those forward and aft elevators on the ship? Try to forget those exist. Stairs and walking places are your friend. You don't have to gain weight on a cruise...if you also lose it while you're there. Those stair flights are also the place to see a lot of varied artwork. I was glad to expose our daughter to some of it. 

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Couple of follow up points occurred. There was a pool that looked by be mainly used to adults, at least at one point it had a volley ball net across it, we didn't get in that. There was a similar pool with a max. depth of 4 feet 9 inches, I think, and my 6-year old daughter (who's been swimming over a year) liked to mill around that like a polar bear cub (I was with her). There was a shallower pool that should could stand in with her head and upper chest sticking out of the water (she's about 45 inches tall), so for younger elementary kids there's a nice pool.

 

But the pools get crowded. Don't plan on swimming laps much. Wish more could be done about that, but how much can you cram into even a ship this size? 

 

Wish Royal's free was fuller featured; I didn't see a way using in on my iPhone to check account balances. That would've been handy monitoring the kid in the arcade. Also would've liked the sort of personal calendar I could get on the room t.v. to be on the ap. The ap. would tell me 'You've got plans,' but around the time the event started. I think 30 minutes advance notice would be more useful. 

 

There's plenty of the ship we didn't get into. Didn't mess with the casino or Blaze nightclub. I don't drink; wife might've had 2 drinks on the cruise? I didn't spend much time on the sports deck other than watching our daughter play through mini-golf. She liked the kids' club (Adventure Ocean); only went 3 times because of the other options for fun competing with it. They offer some late hours (I think 11 p.m. onward there's a fee). Central Park Cafe' was closed the one time we tried it this cruise, and we didn't hit Sabor or Samba Grill this time. Or the Solarium. 

 

Tip for getting your young child to comply with getting lots of photos. Offer the prospect of some time afterward at an arcade if you're happy with the photos experience that evening. It'll cost you, but you should get some nice shots. 

 

Those shoe holder organizers people on this forum recommend to hang on your door (we used the bathroom door)? Very nice, thanks whoever taught me that. 

 

Richard.

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Thanks for sharing. We'll be on Allure in 16 days! Do you recall what movies they were showing onboard, either poolside or in the theater? TIA!

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I didn't go to them, but I remember reading of AquaMan being one. Haven't seen it and would've liked to, but had too much else going on. I didn't see anything played pool side, but we were generally in the pool area up in the day. 

 

Our little girl was a big focus on this cruise. On our last few cruises, we've hardly hit any shows or been to the MDR. This cruise she's developmentally far enough along to enjoy shows, and sufficiently captivated by the iPad mini with headphones to endure more formal meals, so we got to do more.

 

Richard.

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On 8/9/2019 at 2:03 PM, 5thgirl said:

Do you recall what movies they were showing onboard, either poolside or in the theater?

 

At home for the moment and dug out some Cruise Compasses. From Day 5, Thursday 8-1-19,

12:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Family Matinee: Finding Nemo, Adventure Ocean Theater. 

3:00 p.m. - 5:22 p.m. Family Movie: Aquaman (PG-13) Adventure Ocean Theater. 

5:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. (which can't be right; says 112 minutes!) Outdoor Movie: Dumbo (PG). AquaTheater.

7:30 p.m. - 8:59 p.m. Outdoor Movie: Nacy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (PG). AquaTheater.

10:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. Outdoor Movie: Creed 2 (PG-13). AquaTheater.

 

Day 2, Monday, 7-29-19.

Noon - 2:15 p.m. Family Matinee: Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Gindelwald (PG 13). Adventure Ocean Theater. 

3 p.m. - 4 p.m. Family Movie: Sherlock Gnomes Adventure Ocean Theater.

7 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. The House with a Clock in its Walls. Adventure Ocean Theater.

 

Day 1, Sunday 7-28-19.

7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Ralph Breaks The Internet. Adventure Ocean Theater.

 

Day 4, Wednesday 7-31-19.

Noon - 2:30 p.m. Wonder Woman (PG 13). Adventure Ocean Theater. 

3 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Finding Nemo. Adventure Ocean Theater. 

10 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. Outdoor Movie: Mary Poppins Returns.

10 p.m. - 11:49 p.m. 3D Movie: Aqua Man (Amber Theater). 

 

If you get a Cruise Compass, look it over thoroughly; the same day had different things on Daily Planner vs. Evening Planner. 

 

There may be more, though not every day has the same amount. Skimming through I saw at least one more showing of Aqua Man.

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Posted (edited)

Not really. There was a parade called Anchors Aweigh, basically some story about fighting groups, which had different costumes, etc... No 'name brand' characters, but it was still fun, and our kid grabbed a wad of confetti from the ground afterward.

 

 

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Edited by drrich2

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Thank you for your review! We just got off Harmony with my 7 yr old grandson and truer words have never been spoken than your description of a good dinner consisting of an iPad and headphones !!!

 

mac_tlc

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I’m so bummed Dreamworks is no longer a part of the cruise. I loved seeing Alex and the gang I’m Madagascar. Yes I’m 40 lol but so what?!? They’re cute! 

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I don’t know a lot about the charms, but I’ll be in San Juan in Jan and I might be able to grab one for you. How do they work?

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There's a port talk or some such on board the ship where you can get a free golden-looking charm bracelet. Each port where there's a Diamonds International, you walk in, show the bracelet and can receive a free charm that's specific to that port (e.g.: often an island). 

 

Since I got home, I turned to eBay. From separate vendors, I bought the ship charm (and it came with raffle tickets and a port shopping flyer thing, so I'm pretty sure it's the one I would've gotten if I'd attended that talk onboard), and one for Puerto Rico (the little coqui frog). So our kid is not charm-deficient. 

 

It's a marketing gimmick, of course, but a way to collect distinctive mementos. Speaking of which, having a kid, we try to get some in each distant trip we take. My grandmother collected thimbles, and I took that on and collect them, but thimbles aren't universally available and while metal ones are durable, porcelain ones aren't. I also buy destination-specific magnets.

 

And I've started buying destination keychains. They're small, usually available in a variety and prices are tolerable, they're durable, easy to carry and can be useful if you're so inclined.

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