Thrifty Traveling Presents: How to Spend Less Moolah on Souvenirs While Studying Abroad

While studying abroad in Europe, many students find themselves pining after the most expensive, decadent souvenirs, most likely because they were originally made in the city these students are studying in. After spending a ton of money to get yourself all the way to Europe, you might not have much cash left over for other things, like souvenirs.  There’s good news for people who want to buy these souvenirs but may not have the financial means to swing it after all they spent in order to travel to Europe. Rick Steves from Rick Steves’ Europe blog advises people in this situation to “do your shopping mostly in the cheaper countries where gifts are more interesting and your dollar stretches the farthest.” He gives an interesting example, ” for the cost of a pewter Viking ship in Oslo, you can buy an actual boat in Turkey.”

I say take the boat!

Everyone wants to take home a miniature Eiffel Tower from Paris, like the one in the picture below, only smaller. For a little under five bucks, most people can buy that while abroad.

Me and my step-grandmother in front of the Parisian Eiffel Tower, Summer 2012 (original photo)
Me and my step-grandmother in front of the Parisian Eiffel Tower, Summer 2012 (original photo)

Or similarly, a miniature version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris Summer 2012 (original photo)
Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Summer 2012 (original photo)

You only run into trouble when you stumble upon the block-long Louis Vuitton store on Champs-Élysées and MUST have their Parisian inspired LV Duffle 55 for nearly $3,000. Your checkbook will be cringing when you step inside the Chanel boutique and your eyes befall the new fall long strap shoulder purse with the widely adored double crossing C’s embroidered on the front. The only thing that will be falling is your bank statement at the end of the month.

Easy solution to your money flushing habit: find a local, lesser known shop and see what you like. Who knows? You might just find something you love even more.

Maison Laduree’s famous macarons, anyone? A much more memorable purchase, albeit, a short-lived one. These macarons won’t break the bank while satisfying that sweet tooth of yours.

From a different perspective, The Wherever Writer posted five reasons why buying souvenirs is a waste of money. The WW said: 1. Buying souvenirs is stressful. 2. There’s limited space in luggage 3. Knickknacks are useless. 4. The money could have been spent on memories instead of refrigerator magnets.  5. Since it’s a vacation, it shouldn’t be spent rummaging trough bins trying to find a baseball cap or snow globe that doesn’t even show thoughtfulness for the recipient.

Perhaps, The WW is right. Why spend your money on souvenirs at all? Maybe the trip is what you should remember, but not by a stuffed animal with an Urbino, Italy t-shirt on.


In the end, it’s up to the traveler. Do you want to spend your money on material items that show where you’ve been or do you want to have as many meaningful memories and experiences as your trip allows you to make?

Maybe if you’re lucky, you can snag the Chanel bag on sale and a picture with the Eiffel Tower, too.


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