Most people love to get a souvenir of their trip and also usually bring back a gift or two for family and friends. However, this can really bite into your budget if you are not careful. The best thing to do is to avoid these traps when buying your souvenirs.
1. Don’t buy at the airport
This is where many people trying to get last-minute gifts for people they have forgotten about will try to find something. You will be paying top dollar here for bargain-basement quality goods like t-shirts and key rings.
2. Steer clear of touristy gift shops
Gift shops are crowded, overpriced and full of junk. Get away from the main strip and see what you can find at the local stores, or even supermarkets.
3. Don’t buy anything unwrapped if it is edible
In many cases, it will be confiscated by airport authorities concerned with terrorism and/or agricultural hazards. Either eat that salami from Italy before you land, or buy it vacuum-packed.
4. Beware of other food gifts
Watch out for jams, jellies, olives and so on, as the liquid may cause security personnel concern.
5. Watch out for breakables
Anything you buy should be transported easily without concern over it breaking.
6. Try thrift stores
If you see a local thrift store, head in to see what they might have with a local theme.
7. Shop in dollar stores
They often have locally-themed trinkets to keep the kids happy.
8. Avoid dust collectors
Don’t buy things just to be buying. Unless you are really going to use those shot glasses, spoons and fridge magnets, pass.
9. Buy ahead of time online
This may sound weird, but if your kids won’t be able to live without a t-shirt of the place they are going to, like Disney world, buy the shirt online for a fraction of the price you will have to pay in the theme park.
10. Beware of gift shops at each attraction
The more places you visit, the more temptations. Almost every museum, theme park, zoo and so on has their own gift shop, which you usually have to walk through in order to leave. It can be tough to say no to your children when they are dazzled by all the items on display.
Remind them that you have to carry everything that you buy home with you. Also check the list price by doing a quick search online. If they really feel they can’t live without it, buy it less expensively when you get home, as long as you don’t have to pay shipping and handling.
12. Only buy things that are real value
A hand-knit Aran sweater will cost around $25 USD in New Zealand or Ireland, but up to $1,000 in the USA depending on how complicated the pattern is and where the store is. They will also last a lifetime if you protect them from moths. This will be a far better value than $25 on t-shirts.
13. Only buy things you will actually use
Be practical. If you not only love what you see, but are sure that you (or the person you are giving it to) will actually use it, then it will be good value. If it is just going to get shoved to the back of the closet when you get home, it’s not worth the money or hassle to carry it.
14. Buy local items you can’t get anywhere else
If you go to Peru, you can get fantastic clothes made from Alpaca. If you go to the south-western United States, you can buy the most gorgeous turquoise and silver jewelry. Buy local items sourced from local, indigenous resources. Look for bargains at local markets.