Affordable Vacationing: Souvenir Hunting

The irrational consumer in us always comes along on vacation. It likes to tell us to spend money, as if we need to buy something to remember the trip. A T-shirt? A snow globe? Local crafts? Go ahead, you’re on vacation. You deserve to treat yourself, right?

As you may be well aware, a lot of souvenir shops are grossly overpriced. You aren’t getting a lot of value for your dollar and you might even be able to find something similar to it online. So, in the spirit of saving money to use on experiences over things, here are the rational reasons to keep from overspending on souvenirs:

Avoid Shops Dubbed “The Best” in Town
Unless it’s known for having great deals, these are usually tourist gimmicks to get you in the door. You’ll soon realize that the goods are quite pricey, perhaps even higher than usual. These shops don’t need to lower prices since they have the power of popularity, but you have the power to shop elsewhere. This can also apply to airport and amusement park gift shops.

Member Barabara W.'s finished product from traditional rock stacking in Kauai, HI.

Member Barbara W.’s finished product from traditional rock stacking in Kauai, HI.

Go All-Natural
You don’t have to spend money to bring a memento home with you. We’ve talked before about seashells and rocks, so nature can make for great gifts. You can have native plants or seed pods make great décor simply by putting them in a jar.


Thrift Shopping
Ever heard of the Shepherd University Rams? I hadn’t either. But after a visit to a college thrift store, I’m representing them and the state of West Virginia with something almost nobody owns. I paid $10 for the hoodie and it looks kind of cool. It’s not that hard to find location-based clothing at a reasonable price if you’re willing to look outside the commercialized stores.


The Amazon app’s product scanner in action.

Compare Prices on Amazon
Have your Amazon app handy whenever you walk into a store, because it has an amazing feature. You can use the app to scan barcodes, or even scan a photo of the product, and Amazon’s reasonably priced listing will pop right up for comparison. It’s a lot less glamorous to buy a gift online after you’ve been in the store, but saving money is always a justifiable reason to go that route. If you don’t want to use the app, just jot down what the product is or take a photo of it and research it at your convenience.

I tested the image scanner on the closest item I could find and it worked to perfection, as indicated on the screenshot above. I wish I knew about this feature before doing research for this post.

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask
When in doubt, just turn to your resorts front desk or a seasoned local for where you can find the best places to shop. I’ve seen some of the best deals in museum gift shops, at the resort itself and on a riverboat of all places. Everyone might have their own preferences depending on the type of merchandise or because of who they know, but they should know best.

The next time that voice in your head starts tempting you to buy that $20 coffee mug, take a step back and think of the alternatives: Where else can I get this? Can I find it cheaper? Do I need to have it? Just a couple simple questions can save you handfuls of money you can put towards your next vacation.

Do you have any tips on souvenir shopping? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.