DO Find Out What Your Destination Is Known For
What better way to relive your journey than to literally bring back a piece of local culture? If it’s not readily apparent, ask around (or do a quick Google search) to find out what the city or region you’re visiting is known for. For example, if you’re in New Orleans, which is famous for its vibrant food culture, find a great locally-made hot sauce or chicory coffee. In Marseilles, France? Bring back tiny bottles of the region’s famous anise-flavored liqueur, Pastis, or Marseilles-milled soaps. Not only are these things you’ll actually use, but you’ll also have a great story to tell about how and why you chose them.
DON'T Buy Things You Can Get At Home
Clothes shopping can be dangerous when you’re traveling, especially if you’re in a big city. With so many new, inspired options to choose from, you may be tempted to buy every great piece you come across as a “memory” of your time in that place. But before you throw down your credit card, stop to ask: Is this piece truly unique to the place I’m visiting? You’ll never regret a pair of Greek sandals you got in Greece or a hand-woven bag from a Balinese street vendor, but you might want to rethink that cool H&M coat in London you can find online or a store at home.
DO Hit the Outlets
The one exception to the clothes shopping rule is designer outlets! The best ones in the U.S. and Europe are a little off the beaten path and require some planning to get to, but fashionistas will feel rewarded by the trek when they score high-end designer pieces at a fraction of retail prices. If you’re worried you won’t have enough space in your luggage to hold what you buy, it’s totally acceptable (and recommended!) to pack an extra duffle bag to carry back your finds.
DON'T Spend On Throwaways
While city-branded shot glasses might be the most popular tourist buy, a chic tote bag with a local image or graphic is something pretty much anyone will love – not to mention, it hardly takes up space in your luggage. Some other simple, easy-to-pack items you and your loved-ones will always love? Scarves that feature something specific to the region, like a color or print; locally-made candies or teas; and vintage postcards that can be framed or propped up on a desk.
DO Shop Thoughtfully
As with anything, don’t just buy something for the sake of bringing something home. If you approach shopping thoughtfully, you’ll find that even a $1 find can become a lifelong treasure – and that’s something everyone will hold onto.