When you’re off on an exotic vacation, you can’t forget about your friends and family back home. Show them you care with a thoughtful souvenir that reflects both your traveling experience and the recipient’s personality.
1. DO SOME RESEARCH.
No one really wants a novelty shot glass or keychain, so you’ll have to put some thought into your gifts. Do research about the location and culture of the area you’re visiting. A little background knowledge can go a long way when looking for a gift that reflects where you’ve been.
2. CONSIDER THE RECIPIENT.
Try to imagine your friend, family, or coworker taking the same trip. What would interest them? What would they buy? If you can figure out what they like, you can use that to drive your search.
3. DON'T BY PERISHABLES.
It’s okay to buy certain foods to take home, but make sure your gift isn't going to spoil. You need treats that can survive various extremes of temperature—there’s no fridge on the airplane.
4. THINK SMALL.
Every inch of space is precious when you're traveling, so try to find presents that say a lot while taking up very little room.
5. STAY AWAY FROM TOURIST STORES.
Tourist traps often only sell gifts that can just as easily come from the airport. Your loved ones can get a mouse pad anywhere in the world; think outside the box and find a gift that shows you put in some effort.
6. SHOP WITH THE LOCALS.
Whether you’re traveling to Paris, France, or Paris, Texas, the natives of the area will know the best places to shop. Ask around for popular non-tourist locations and look out for smaller street fairs and flea markets. With a little digging, you can find something really authentic.
7. MORE EXPENSIVE GIFTS AREN'T NECESSARILY BETTER.
A high price tag doesn't guarantee a good souvenir. In fact, you might not have to spend any money at all. A trip to the beach can yield a good collection of sea shells or sea glass. And some people like to collect matchbooks, pens, hotel keys, coasters, and other knick-knacks from around the world.
8. MAKE SURE IT'S WORTH KEEPING.
Souvenirs are often easily stashed in a drawer and forgotten about. Find something meaningful but also tasteful so it can be displayed with pride in the house. Each purchase should be a wanted addition to the home and not extra clutter.
9. POSTCARDS ARE GREAT.
If you find yourself in a place where you can’t take photos, or your camera just isn’t doing the job, postcards will do the trick. The images are usually crisp, high quality, and often from a vantage point you might not have been able to get yourself.
10. MAKE SURE IT'S LEGAL.
Leave everything the way you found it and don’t take anything from monuments or historical places. Other contraband to reconsider includes certain produce, dairy, and products banned in your home country. These things could be confiscated and you could be hit with a pretty hefty fine. Counterfeit bags and accessories are also likely to be taken away, so be careful when buying luxury items that seem too cheap to be true.
11. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.
Sometimes when you see the right thing, you just know. Don’t resist the feeling that an item is absolutely perfect.