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Tips for Shopping Abroad

Every traveler loves souvenirs—those meaningful tokens that will remind them of the wonderful experiences they enjoyed and the people they met.

Searching for, and purchasing, locally-made handicrafts and goods can be a delightful part of any travel adventure, but it's important to understand how (and where) to get authentic, well-priced items.

Some points to consider:

Take the time to learn what unique items are an authentic part of the history and culture of the area you are visiting. Find out their origin, how they evolved, where to see the best examples, and even better, where you can see them being made.

Also, talk with locals or experts who can help you find the best shops with authentic items at reasonable prices.

Learn how to distinguish authentic and well-made from counterfeit, or low-quality items.

Understand that some items may be expensive, but a locally-made example of a region's specialty supports both the area and the artist—so you are helping support the local economy and its local residents.

Your travel director, hotel staff, and bus or cab drivers may be a great source of local knowledge—let them know what you are looking for, and your budget, and they can usually point you in the right direction.

Shops situated off the main streets and away from heavily trafficked areas can usually offer better prices, and often better service.

The best source to purchase food or wine may be at the local grocery store—if the locals want it, that is where they shop.

If planning to bring home food or alcohol, know the duty-free limits or other restrictions that may apply when bring your purchases into the U.S.

If your item is fragile, purchase bubble-wrap or other packing material at a local post office to help get your items home intact.

Remember, many shops offer affordable international shipping, saving you hassles—and space in your suitcase!

If purchasing art or a handicraft made by a prominent artist, be sure to get a certificate of authenticity or details on how/when/where the item was made, for both commemorative and insurance purposes.