Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Travel tip: Bring back food!

Okay, this is not actually a tip that is intended to make your vacation easier or facilitate your travel in any way. It's a tip to help you souvenir shop because I, for one, used to find that one of the most stressful parts of traveling. Of course it's not up there with delayed flights, communication barriers, or toddler melt downs in train stations. But when I first started traveling, I would walk around a new city trying to keep my eye out for things that would make interesting, thoughtful but relatively inexpensive gifts; it was like Christmas shopping in a foreign country-argh!

So a few years ago, I picked up a tip from my sister, an inveterate traveler herself: go to the supermarket for your souvenirs. Basically, this idea is rooted in the fact that many people love foods from different countries because they're a novelty and because these foods are either not available or prohibitively expensive in other countries. As a bonus for the traveler, these gifts will be cheaper than something you buy in a souvenir shop and it will be more convenient because chances are at some point during your trip, you will visit a supermarket.

Think about the possibilities! You could bring back a hard to find liquor, unusual desserts (like red bean cakes which I've received from China), or Lay's potato chips with jamón serrano flavoring (from Spain, of course!)

For my part, I have brought back homemade turrón (a typical Christmastime sweet here in Spain), bags of Juan Valdez coffee from Colombia, and recently from my trip to France, Bonne Maman jams in unique flavors like chestnut and rhubarb.

Of course, there are some limitations as to what you can bring back to your home country so make sure you check first (for American readers, here's a link to the TSA foods page). But this is so much better than the usual stuff people bring back from their travels (another refrigerator magnet? groan), at least in my opinion.

What do you guys think? Do you bring back food? If so, what from where?

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