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Souvenir Shopping: 3 Easy Tips

- Justine

Italian magnet

One of the most important rules about traveling is that you never come home empty-handed. A souvenir (which means “to remember” in French) is a nice way to tell a friend or family member you were thinking about them while on vacation. But getting people the right souvenirs without spending too much time shopping around for them is a skill. Here are some quick tips for the novices among us:

1. Don’t get someone something he or she could easily find at home, like a cutesy t-shirt or a personalized mug. Souvenirs should be special to the particular region you’re visiting, whether you be 600 or 6,000 miles from home. When I was in France, I picked up an old French tin advertisement for chicken broth that I gave to some relatives. While obviously more decorative than practical, the vintage sign was a big hit, because it was like a piece of France I brought back to share with them.

2. If you’re souvenir-shopping for multiple age groups, buy gifts for the youngest ones first. Odds are that they’re more interested in whatever cool gift you brought them than how your trip went. On the opposite end of the spectrum, grandparents and elder folk generally don’t have the need for more stuff. Usually, I write my grandparents postcards, and tell them a lot about the trip when I get home. That sort of thing means more to them.

3. When in doubt, get food. Everybody eats, so if it’s the last day of vacation and you still haven’t gotten something for your great-aunt Georgia, get her a local favorite, like German chocolate, Brazilian coffee, or packaged pain-au-chocolat (one of the best things you can find in a French supermarket).

Obviously, buying souvenirs should not be the highlight of your trip, or even a prominent feature. But if you want your friends to bring you back cool presents from faraway places, I’d highly recommend hitting the local shops whenever you take a trip.

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