Picking Out Gifts While Abroad: A Traveller's Guide

When traveling abroad, whether you like it or not you’ll be expected to bring back presents for the family and friends. If, like me, you hate shopping, this can be quite a chore, especially if you don’t want to come home with the usual beer-stein-with-alpine-scene type gift. So, how do you find creative gifts while traveling abroad? It’s not as hard as you might think.

Getting Started
Make a List: The first thing you want to do is make a manageable list of people for whom you plan to buy gifts. The important word here is ‘manageable.’ It’s not necessary to include the postman or the guy who gave you extra sprinkles at Ben & Jerry’s. Don’t forget, too, when you return to the U.S. you have to go through U.S Customs and you’re only allowed a certain dollar value of purchases before they start making you pay hefty customs duties. For the latest on U.S. Customs regulations, check http://united-states.visahq.com/customs/.

Picking Out Gifts While Abroad: A Traveller's Guide
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Decide on Price Level: The nice thing about buying gifts from foreign locales is that the recipients often won’t have a clue as to what they’re actually worth. So, up front, decide what you plan to spend for each person on your list. Now, unless you’re some kind of scrooge, or you’re one of those ‘Five-dollar-a-day’ backpackers, you want to avoid buying the cheapest trinkets that merchants will try to foist off on you. Instead, you should consider something simple, but unique, that represents the place you’re visiting.

Never Take the First Offer: You’re apt to be besieged by trinket vendors as soon as you leave the airport in most countries you visit. In addition, even in the advanced countries where such peddling is discouraged, the souvenir shops in the airport are placed strategically to catch you coming and going. Ignore all this. Wait until you’ve at least checked into your hotel and unpacked.

Hotel People Know: In most countries the staff people at tourist hotels are wired into everything that goes on; from the best tour guides to where to shop. As long as you realize that they’re getting a commission in most cases for steering business to certain places, and you’ve let them know that your pockets are not lined with gold, they’re a good place to start in planning your shopping expedition.

Make it an Adventure: Another way to find creative, unique gifts is to hit the streets and look. Little back street shops that don’t normally cater to tourists – and, there are those even in cities that specialize in tourism – will often have that gift that you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. Book stores and small art galleries come to mind. A book about the local scene, written by a local for locals, makes a really unique gift for the bibliophile. In addition to finding the perfect gift, think of the interesting things you learn about a locale during your prowls.

After you’ve acquired all your gifts, had them appropriately wrapped and labeled, you’ll want to decide whether to mail them or lug them back. Here’s where having that manageable gift list comes in handy. International mail is expensive, delivery is unreliable from some places, items can be lost or damaged, and you have to complete a lot of complicated customs declarations when you mail from abroad. You also face the danger that your recipient will get hit with customs charges when he or she takes delivery; that kind of spoils the effect of the gift. Bottom line; it’s better to keep the gift load to portable proportions, and make sure your suitcase has room for what you buy.

Amber Day
About the Author:
Amber Day is a travel enthusiast and writing contributor to Kanetix. Kanetix is an insurance comparison company that specializes in delivering quick and easy quotes from top providers in the industry. Health insurance is extremely important, so next time your traveling outside of the counrty visit Kanetix to compare travel health quotes.

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