How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

People love receiving gifts and when you’re traveling, it’s tempting to bring a piece of a faraway land back to others. Traveling abroad brings a host of concerns, including what to buy and how to carry it back, but this can be remedied with a little budgeting, planning, and taking the time to explore the country. You’ll have to take these factors into account, but when you do you’ll find the act of purchasing gifts to be an adventure that leaves a lasting memory.


Part 1 of 3: Preparing to Buy Gifts Download Article

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Make a list of everyone you’re going to buy a gift for. The reason for this is to have everyone in mind, which will prepare you to shop for gifts specific to each recipient as well as begin to plan out how much you’re going to spend. Write down each name, and if you have a specific gift in mind, include that as well.

  • Don’t forget yourself! Add yourself to the list and include everything you wish to get. Factor this into your budget.
  • A good idea is to ask others if there’s anything from the country you’re visiting that they want. This will give you ideas, help you research the item for authenticity and price range, and make shopping easier.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Set an amount you’re willing to spend. Set a limit for each person. When you’re out in another country browsing the shops, it’s very easy to go over budget. In addition, you have to factor in the costs of miscellany such as snacks and transportation, which also contribute to your overall budget and how much you can afford to spend on others.

  • Currency exchange is another sneaky charge that affects your budget, as is your ability to ship all these gifts home.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Research the items you want to buy. Before you go, figure out what a real, quality item looks like and what is an appropriate price for it. This way, when you’re in the midst of dazzling tourist shops and foreign prices, you’ll be much more likely to stay under budget without sacrificing quality.

  • If you want to buy a kimono in Japan, for instance, search online for what indicates a kimono as authentic as well as scams to watch out for.
  • You can also search online or through guidebooks for tips on where to purchase your items.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Consider the person’s tastes. The key to bringing home a good gift is to get at the heart of what a person wants. The best gifts show that you care about a person, and to show that you care, you must understand the person. Keep in mind the person’s likes and dislikes and match them appropriately with the amount of money you are willing to spend.

  • For instance, if a person doesn’t like brandy, bringing a bottle of brandy home from France, no matter how expensive, won’t work.
  • A successful gift will be one that makes a person think of you when they see it. This can be something worn such as jewelry, but it can also mean any other type of gift.
  • If you don’t know the person well enough or can’t find an ideal gift, try getting them something that makes them want to travel. Even a stereotypical trinket such as a magnet or snow globe can mean a lot to the right person.

Part 2 of 3: Shopping for Gifts Download Article

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Explore off the beaten path. It is easy to get dazzled by the flashy, tourist-attuned shops, but moving away from them has plenty of benefits. You’ll be able to delve into the true, local markets for goods that are often cheaper and better quality than the overpriced magnet you were considering. You’ll also gain a personal adventure to present when you give your gift.

  • Search for information as to where you can find trustworthy shops and the gift you want. Ask your hotel concierge, a visitor’s bureau, or search the Internet.
  • Be wary of tour guides. Many tours have predetermined stops, and the shops there may offer the guide a commission and inflate prices.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Consider the gift’s durability. It’s easy to fall in love with a local piece of artistry, but it’s a lot harder to get it home in one piece. Once you’ve found something you think makes for a good gift, stop and consider how you’re going to get it home.

  • Smaller gifts can be packed into a carry-on bag, but larger gifts are more at risk. Ask yourself if you have room in a suitcase, can risk it getting broken or stolen, or can ship by mail and how this impacts your budget.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Consider the gift’s size. Travel magnets may seem like a generic gift, but they have an advantage in ease of transportation as well as cost. You’ll have to bring the gift home, and if it isn’t something that can easily fit inside your luggage, it may not be worth the hassle.

  • Before you take the plunge on a purchase, consult shipping rates for delicate gifts, large objects, or anything you want to send directly to either yourself or someone else. The costs add up and quickly dominate your budget.
  • In addition to cost, consider the person who will receive this gift. A fancy or large gift may seem like a big gesture, but they’re going to have to incorporate it into their life and environment. A decoration for someone in an apartment may clash with the furniture, be unable to fit, or otherwise be met with less enthusiasm than expected.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Haggle. Most North American and European travelers won’t be accustomed to this. Getting over the awkwardness, though, will enable you to get better deals and therefore better gifts. Many cultures throughout the world still include haggling in their business transactions, so don’t feel bad about challenging the asking price.

  • Appropriate places include markets, bazaars, and small shops. You wouldn’t haggle in a department store in Japan or America.
  • Check in guidebooks or online for local haggling customs. Different cultures use different tones, for instance, and doing it the appropriate way helps your chances at success.
  • Once you have an approximate maximum price and amount you’re willing to spend, set aside your cash before you begin, as this establishes a budget limit for both you and the clerk.
  • Always maintain a positive and friendly tone. The goal isn’t to beat the seller, and getting angry won’t help.
  • Take your time, don’t show much interest, and don’t be afraid to walk out. Chances are that if you do this, a clerk who once resisted your price will suddenly chase you into the street to offer a more agreeable deal.

Part 3 of 3: Transporting Gifts Home Download Article

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Gauge the room in your carry-on bags. You’ll bring these bags with you onto the transportation you chose. These are small enough to store under a seat or in an overhead compartment, but the fact that you have them with you means they’re best for storing valuable or breakable gifts.

  • Check with your transportation to see how much you can carry. In 2017, for instance, many airlines allow you to have a carry-on bag sized 22x14x9 inches or 56x36x23x centimeters along with a personal item such as a laptop bag or purse.
  • For larger, sturdier gifts, bring a duffle bag. These can be stored under a seat or in a plane or bus compartment, but if they don’t fit they’ll be considered checked baggage by airlines and you will be charged accordingly.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Store gifts in luggage. Most likely you already have a bag that, if you are flying, you checked in at the airline’s kiosk for storage in the cargo hold of the plane. It is an obvious place to store gifts, but one that is not without risks and potential costs. Read up on the policies of your transporter before you go.

  • Consider bringing extra packing material such as towels and bubble wrap in which to cushion breakable gifts.
  • Some airlines allow for one or even two fee-free checked bags, but others charge even for the first one. As of 2017, United Airlines, for instance, charges $25 for the first checked bag.
  • You may also choose to bring a separate suitcase for gifts, but beware the costs. For example, As of 2017, United Airlines charges $35 for the second checked bag and possibly $200 for a third one on an international route.
  • The size and weight of the bag also affect costs. As of 2017, United Airlines charges start at $100 for a bag 51-70 pounds and another $100 if it is oversized. These charges also double on some international routes.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Ship by delivery service. This can be handled by the merchant, or you can choose to pack and ship the goods yourself. Big, heavy gifts often have to be shipped by such alternate means, but you may find shipping by mail to be a more direct and simpler method in general.

  • If the local merchant can take care of shipping, get shipping insurance, an itemized receipt, and pay with a credit card so you can track how and when the gift will be shipped.
  • For shipping by hand, seek out the office of a shipping service such as FedEx, UPS, or DSL, a local post office, or ask the hotel concierge for guidance.
  • Shipping services may have online calculators to help you get a glimpse into how expensive this route can be. A standard box shipped from Japan to Australia, for instance, costs about $50 AUD in airmail. Size, weight, and customs charges are all factors.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Ship by sea. Airline shipping for large items tends to be expensive, so shipping by sea freighter may be a better option. Sea freight is cheaper but slower and is best for spacious items such as furniture, as they take up more volume.

  • An object shipped from America to Asia takes over a month to arrive.
  • Anything shipped by freight still ends up costing several hundred dollars in transportation fees. Fees from customs may also play a part.

How to Buy Gifts and Souvenirs for Others When Traveling Abroad

Get through customs. This step depends upon the rules of your government, but they’re bound to have regulations on what you can bring into the country, how much you can bring, and how much it will cost you. As much as possible, prepare for this ahead of time and be aware of how duty charges impact your budget.

  • In the U.S., for example, gifts carried back on the plane must be declared and, in general, a combined value of less than $800 is duty-free.
  • In the U.S., mailed gifts have to be given clear labels such as “Personal Use Purchase,” “Unsolicited Gift” (gifts for others), and “Consolidated Gift Package.”
  • In the U.S., a gift shipped to others that costs more than $100 is charged duty. The exemption before duty charges rises to $200 on packages shipped to oneself.


  • Make sure that the gift you choose is legal to bring back into the country. Some items like drugs, firearms, furs, and parts of endangered species may be against the law. Thanks! Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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