5 Tips for Shopping Local When You Travel

Have you ever gotten a perfectly iconic, meaningful souvenir from a trip, only to realize when you got home that there’s a “Made in China” sticker on it? Now, if you were actually in China when you bought it, that’s one thing. But if you got it anywhere else, that might be a bit of a let-down! 

In an effort to prevent that and to help support true local economies as they recover from the pandemic, I’ve pulled together some tips for shopping local in your upcoming travels. Take a look!

Skip the Brands You Can Get at Home

Unless your favorite brand is based in your destination, there’s very little chance that its products are actually made there. (And even then, international brands usually farm out manufacturing to low-wage entities in China or elsewhere.) 

Instead of shopping at Italy’s version of the Gap or Switzerland’s H&M, look for boutiques down a side street. That tiny shop you would have otherwise missed might just have a beautiful selection of scarves or jewelry you can’t find anywhere else in the world!

Find a boutique that’s as unique as you are!
More here: How to Savor Your Travels

Ask the Locals, Front Desk, or Concierge

If you want to shop local, shop where the locals shop! Ask the barista at that cute coffee shop where you can find locally-made jewelry. Ask the front desk attendant where you can find locally-made gifts for people back home. Ask the concierge where to find something unique or culturally significant to take home with you. They’ll know!

You’ll get all kinds of insider information from the locals!
Read next: Confessions of a Solo Female Traveler

Check for the “Made In” Information

Whatever you pick up, turn it over. Look at the tag in the clothing items you try on. Look for a sticker with the name of a country on it. There should be “Made In” information somewhere on whatever it is you’re considering buying. Take a look around!

Make sure that memorable souvenir is actually from the place you’re visiting!
Essential info: The Ultimate Guide to Travel and Your Money

Don’t Buy from Children

I know, this sounds cruel, but it’s not. Kids are great salespeople because they’re adorable, right? That’s exploitation. And often, parents are opting to send their children to sell things in the marketplaces or at tourist attractions instead of sending them to school—for free—because people are more likely to buy from their child than from an adult. 

And in increasing instances, those adorable children have been trafficked into working for free, and sometimes far worse. Next time you see a maimed child selling trinkets or gum on the street, remember not to fall for supporting the person or people who maimed them—because contrary to popular belief, you’re not helping the child. 

A good rule of thumb is to only buy from adults.
For more, check out my podcast episode with The Good Office Podcast all about traveling (and souvenir shopping) ethically.

Ask Yourself if You’re Sure You Can Get It Home

On a lighter note, remember to make sure you can bring it with you! Many food and drink souvenirs will have to be declared when you re-enter your home country. And remember you can’t take more than 3.4oz at a time through airport security in any country in the world! 

As for non-food items, remember that Swiss Army Knives from Switzerland must go home in your checked luggage, not your carry-on. The same goes for your Samurai sword from Japan, but will it fit? Can you carry it with you? Or is it too heavy? Think about traveling home before you hand over the cash for it or swipe your rewards credit card!

All monkeys must stay behind!
And will that purchase get your closer to your next trip?
What to Consider When Choosing a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Want more? Check out my Travel Tips Page!

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7 responses to “5 Tips for Shopping Local When You Travel”

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