Be Souvenir Savvy: Expert Advice on What to Bring Home

May 31, 2019

On grey mornings in Toronto, I sometimes put on a little Italian sunshine: a simple summer dress I purchased on a hot, sunny day in Venice. Every time I wear it, I am reminded of my trip -- which is what a  souvenir (the French word for "remember") is all about.

What should you seek out on your next trip abroad? I asked the most well-travelled people I know – my fellow deal experts at Travelzoo – about what they buy in particular countries. Keep this list handy for your next trip, and remember, as one deal expert told me: “If you love something, buy it! You won’t find it elsewhere once you leave.”


  • Clay painted skulls – a specialty in Sayulita but found around the country
  • Aztec masks (our Deal Expert found hers in a handicraft market in Mexico City)
  • Mexican vanilla, dried peppers and hot sauce
  • Silver from Taxco, where locals have been extracting ore and making silverwork since the pre-Hispanic period
  • Handmade clay or wood bowls (look for one that’s been signed by the artist)

Fave find: “A molinillo (wooden whisk) and authentic cacao for Mexican hot chocolate from Mercado del San Juan.” - Brittney

Costa Rica

  • Arabica coffee beans – sip throughout your trip until you find your favourite cup, then buy the freshest beans you can on your final day
  • Chorreador de café, the simple Costa Rican coffee maker – it can double as a work of art
  • Organic yoga wear (the Nosara region is one of the five yoga “Blue Zones” in the world)
  • Wooden sculptures

Fave find: “I once spotted a handmade pot with an M.C. Escher-esque pattern on it. It's one of my favourite pieces in my home and I've never seen anything like it anywhere else.” – Mandy


  • Wine – if you can only one bottle into Canada, a vintage ruby Port is a classic choice (Worried about bringing it home intact? We’ve got advice.)
  • Cork products such as wallets, shoes and jewelry; Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork
  • Pottery or wood carvings  (the rooster design is a staple, but let your own taste be your guide)

Fave find: Hand-painted tiles. “My wife added soft pads to each corner and created a trivet.” -- Darren


  • Clothing and shoes – whatever your budget, you’ll get a level of style and comfort that’s hard to beat
  • Glass from Venice. “A small glass-beaded bracelet is inexpensive and will last forever – I still love mine almost 20 years later,” says one deal expert
  • Authentic cold-press olive oil, ideally in a gorgeous bottle you can display once the oil is gone.
  • Leather wallets and handbags; the leather market in Florence is particularly great. “I bought a leather tote bag there and was able to negotiate to get the price down to 30 euros. Amazing quality and I always get a ton of compliments!” says deal expert Lilia.

Fave find: “Italian flour -- their flour is the best in the world and hard to get back home!” – Candy


  • Claddagh rings, the traditional Irish ring that represents love, loyalty and friendship. Knock-offs are everywhere but it’s worth seeking out the official Claddagh store in Dublin or Galway
  • Wool socks, sweaters and throws; Irish sheep (and knitters) know how to keep you warm
  • Milk chocolate. Trust us, even familiar brands (hello, Dairy Milk!) taste way better when made with Irish milk

Fave find: “Reserve whiskey direct from Jameson, Bushmills or another Irish distillery. These can only be purchased on-site, so you know you're getting something unique.” – Greg


  • Beautiful stationery from Tokyo Kyukyodo, founded in 1663
  • Cheap, gorgeous, hand-painted Japanese ceramic kitchenware from Kappabashi Dogugai
  • High-end matcha from Ippodo in Kyoto or Tokyo
  • Chef knives from Aritsugu in Kyoto 

Fave find: “The charms I collected in all different places in Japan. Each city and attraction has its own design and it is an inexpensive way to commemorate your visit to all these places.” -- William


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