‘Tis The Season: How To Buy Souvenir Gifts Abroad

When you feel that constant itch to buy the perfect holiday gifts for your family and friends.


The holidays are coming up and you’re abroad having the time of your life. As you travel, you feel that constant itch to buy the perfect holiday gifts for your family and friends. The trouble is, traveling requires nixing fragile items unless you want your sister to drink her tequila out of your soaked baggage. Buying a heavy gift won’t do you any better; you’ll be sobbing with sore biceps before you can say “Fed-Ex.” Instead, I have assembled a list of tips to help you find the perfect gift. Let’s go shopping.

1. While it is tempting to purchase gifts at large and convenient souvenir shops, turn around. Souvenir stores are expensive, generic, and painfully boring to shop in. You will rarely find a story to tell about wandering about in the airport gift shop. Instead, duck into small shops regularly. Not only will you increase your chances of finding a creative gift, but you’ll also meet local business owners, have a true cultural experience, and a great story to tell.

2. Find a local market. Flea market, flower market, vintage figurine market, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing more enriching then spending a few hours wandering through a market in a foreign city. The abundance of trinkets and antiques will have visions of gift ideas dancing around your head, and you’ll get them for a low cost. Don’t forget to take the time to negotiate prices!

3. Shop small and shop durable. Don’t purchase an item that you aren’t prepared to toss in a backpack and sling over your shoulder. You may believe that you’ll be able to get a vase from Bora Bora to New York, but causing yourself that anxiety and inconvenience isn’t worth it. Avoid anything glass, and if you buy anything wood, pack it carefully between clothes.

4. Remind yourself that it is the thought that counts. Don’t lose yourself in cliché souvenirs that cost a ton and mean nothing to the recipient. Instead, opt for items that represent something about who you are buying for or your relationship. If your mom loves to cook, buy her a packet of mixed herbs from a local shop. If you and your brother love playing chess together, scour markets for culturally significant puzzles and game sets to enjoy together.

Follow these tips and your loved ones will be tickled by your thoughtful purchases. Happy Holidays!

Lena Kazer

Lena is a Chicago native, her travel style consists of red cowboy boots that make her feel like she can take over the world. She adores Peru and can't travel without her journal to draw or write in.

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