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Tips for Finding the Perfect Travel Souvenir

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by Mihaela Schwartz (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and an avid traveler.
Published March 25th 2013
Shopping or Sightseeing?
When traveling, your main goal is to unwind, to disconnect from the daily routine, and to get to know as much as you can about the region you are visiting. However, the hunt for a nice souvenir to bring home to your friends and family can sometimes interfere with your objective. Not having an idea of what to buy can turn into a real nightmare, making you waste precious hours going through souvenirs shops instead of sightseeing, partying or getting accustomed with the local people.

Here are a few tips you should bear in mind when looking for travel souvenirs:

Avoid touristy souvenir shops

I find the souvenir shops rather pleasant, and I often spend time visiting them when traveling. However, I rarely shop for souvenirs there. Why? Because the items they put on sale are (most of the time) kitschy, stereotypical and pricey. So, my number one tip is to stay away from such places unless you are, of course, looking for postcards, magnets and stuff like this. In such a case, these are the most convenient shops. Although you might find cheaper postcards or magnets in a stationery store, the choice you get in souvenirs shops is rarely equaled by the local outlets.

souvenir shop

Think local

Travel souvenirs should be (in my opinion) about the country or region you are visiting. I appreciate, for example, when a friend coming back from a holiday spent in a country I did not have the chance to visit brings me a symbolic souvenir like some traditional necklace or home décor item. These gifts have an added value over the stereotypical printed shirts or the cosmetic products you grab in a duty free shop on your way back home. With this idea in mind, get informed on the local fairs as these are the best spots where you can find locally crafted products.

russian doll

Shop for your friend

When shopping for travel souvenirs to bring home, always keep the gift receiver in mind. Is the present for a friend or family member who likes cooking and experiencing new things in the kitchen? Maybe some local spices? When in Morocco, for instance, you may consider some local tagine pots. I know my friends loved them. This is one of the two most important aspects to consider when looking for travel souvenirs. After all, you want to bring home objects that will tell your friends something about your trip, but also objects they find useful or aesthetically pleasant.

Consider transportation and legal restrictions

Before deciding on a travel souvenir, think if you can take it home safely. A bottle of French wine would make a nice gift for the connoisseurs, but how would you carry it? The current airport rules forbid you from passing the security gate with liquids. Well, you can always wrap it among your clothes and put in your suitcase, hoping it won't break. However, if such an unpleasant thing happens, you will have no gift and all your clothes will be stained with red wine. Many countries do not allow travelers to bring inside their territories food related items. So, the best is to check the legal stipulations and to think about your gift choice carefully.

Do it yourself

I simply love the DIY travel souvenirs. They have a personal touch and carry much more local essences than a ready-made gift. If you have some artistic talent, you may consider the trips you take an opportunity to practice them. Think about a landscape painting or a graffiti sketch, a handmade jewelry inspired by the local culture, a pictures collage, etc. The range of gifts you can make yourself is rather varied. It all depends on your skills and imagination.
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Your Comment
Thanks Mihaela, for sharing these tips, this post helps me a lot in my next trip.
by johns (score: 0|2) 1860 days ago
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