So often we stress over the perfect souvenir. Is this t-shirt really worth $40? Will my mom like this gift, or should I go with this one over here? Is this bracelet actually authentic? So many questions surround us as we try to shop for memorabilia that will allow us to bring a little piece of our trip back home. Because, after all, that’s what a souvenir should be – something that allows us to bring a piece of our trip back home.

Here at LeadAbroad, we advocate traveling and living with intention and purpose. Souvenirs are no exception to this motto! We want you to pick the best representations of your trip to take home with you to cherish yourself or give as a meaningful gift.

Community Leader Amie Varano, a junior sports management major at Sacred Heart University, has written up the tips and tricks you need to selecting the perfect souvenir on your trip abroad! Amie joined us on LEAD Greece 2015 and included some awesome tidbits of location-specific information for you Greece peeps, too.

Read below: your complete guide to souvenir shopping, as told in the eyes of LeadAbroad!


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When it comes to traveling we all want something to return home with from our trip. This something could be seen as a treasure in the eyes of the buyer or just something they thought would look great in their bedroom. Although, when it comes to shopping in another country, there can be times where amounts of shops and vendors can be overwhelming. But don’t worry! This is a guide to help you pick out something that will help you remember a special moment on your trip or just the trip as a whole!

1. Buy an item because you really want it, not just because the group you are with is all buying it. When I was in Greece, everyone had to have this evil eye necklace. It was a symbol in the country, was beautiful, and all my new friends on the trip made it a priority to purchase. So, I did as well. To be completely honest, I don’t really wear it that much, even though it reminds me of the beautiful culture of Greece.

2. Buy something that will help you remember the trip as the adventure it really was. I have a Greek flag hanging in my room at school and every time I look at it, I go back to climbing up to the Acropolis and seeing the Greek flag wave around in the wind.

3. Don’t allow vendors of stores to lure you in. While walking the streets of Athens, it was difficult to avoid any store vendors that tried to get our group in to purchase something out of the store. Do not feel obligated to go inside because you made eye contact or said hello to them. It can be difficult to get out of their store once you are in there.

4. Do some research or ask a program director or the front desk of the hotel you’re staying at about a local shop that is famous for their souvenirs. A shop in Athens was home to man who was called the “poet shoe maker.” His shoes are known around the world, and some famous people, such as Sarah Jessica Parker, wear his shoes. That was one of the stops that everyone in the group wanted to check out.

5. Make sure to always have cash on you. Certain stores and vendors do not accept any form of credit card and prefer to receive cash for the purchase.

6. Shop local. In many countries, there are the typical stores that we are used to seeing here at home. Do not drift towards these stores, considering the fact they are probably at your local mall at home, and if you shop local, you are helping the economy of that country. With the Greek economy doing so poorly, shop owners and vendors that were local and ran their own shops appreciated it when we decided to shop at their stores, rather than the H&M across the street.

7. Sometimes it’s okay to not purchase a t-shirt or a shot glass. Many countries have a great deal of history behind their culture, and many souvenir shops offer items that are a part of that culture. Although, it is advised to not try to bring home olive oil (I learned that from experience).

8. Don’t go for the insanely huge souvenirs just because you think all your friends and family at home will think it’s the greatest purchase in the world. Airport security might not think it’s the greatest travel item in the world.

9. If you find an item that creates a huge smile on your face and will help you remember your trip the most, go for it. If it the items brings you happiness, you should purchase it.

10. Don’t fret if you can’t find the specific item you are looking for the second you get off the plane. You will most definitely find it, and since it’s been on your mind since you booked the trip, its more than likely going to available at a local store.

11. Don’t focus too much on purchasing the right souvenir. The mental picture that you took with your mind can go a lot further than something you purchase in a store.

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Shop for gifts with meaning! If you’re in Greece, purchase a NO Project shirt to support a struggle in their community. If you’re in Cape Town, purchase Amy Biehl bracelets for your friends back home to teach them about some South African history and support a local cause. If you’re in Rome, bring home a bottle of your favorite wine from a special vineyard tour or a rosary from the Vatican. Whatever is special and meaningful to you — it is the right choice.

Happy Shopping!

-The LeadAbroad Team

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