Tips from the Nest: Buying Souvenirs While Travelling
Buying souvenirs when travelling in Europe is a great way to remind you of the places you have visited on your travels. Souvenirs from your holiday to Europe can also be great gifts to bring home to family and friends. The trick is to know what to buy and where, plus how to get the best price for your travel mementos.
Best European Souvenirs
If you are travelling during the festive season in Europe, you will find many Christmas markets set up in town squares to purchase a special memento of your trip. Christmas tree decorations such as beautiful hand painted glass baubles are a popular choice, however be sure to ask for extra packaging such as bubble wrap or a box to ensure they arrive home with you in one piece! If you aren’t wanting to risk travelling with glass decorations there is a huge selection of delightful wooden carved Christmas ornaments as well as hand crafted metal decorations.
Fridge magnets are always great and easy to fit in your luggage. You can find some really quirky ones in the local tourist shops and markets.
Swarovski Crystal is a crystal lover’s dream! On offer are hundreds and hundreds of unique crystal figures, jewellery and watches. The great thing about Swarovski is they offer excellent packaging so you know that you can get your purchases home safely.
Clothing, scarves, leather goods and canvas paintings are great souvenir options. It’s great to purchase something from each country you visit as a great memory, a pair of shoes in Paris, a leather jacket and silk scarves in Italy or rugs and carpets in Turkey.
Wine, spirits and schnapps are a tasty reminder of your European holiday. If you have sampled a great schnapps in Austria or a beautiful red wine in Italy you can reminisce of your holiday memories at home enjoying your bottle of schnapps or wine with a lovely meal.
Postcards are a great classic souvenir. Although postcards are rarely sent these days they are very handy when creating a photo album or scrapbook of your holiday.
Tips When Purchasing Souvenirs in Europe
Tip 1 – Shop Around
Shop around; the prices can vary quite a bit and so can the quality. If you are buying souvenirs relating to a landmark nearby be careful as the vendors will often charge more the closer you are to the popular tourist attractions. And, if you are buying from a street market always ask for a cheaper price!
Tip 2 – Packaging is Important
Make sure your souvenirs are packaged well and can easily fit into your suitcase. There is nothing worse than returning home to find that your souvenirs have been damaged in transit.
Tip 3 – Claiming VAT
When buying souvenirs, Australian travellers are entitled to a refund on the European Union Value Added Tax (VAT). The VAT ranges from 15 to 25 percent per EU country. To claim the VAT your purchase must be above a certain amount ranging from approximately $30 to several hundred dollars, depending on the country. The keys steps to claim the VAT on your European holiday purchases are:
1. Present your passport at the time of purchase
2. Choose to shop at stores that offer the VAT refund scheme (make sure you ask before making any significant purchase if you wish to claim the VAT)
3. Ensure the store provides you with a filled out ‘tax free form’ and attach your receipt
4. Present your VAT documents to the export officer at customs at your point of departure from the European Union. The export officer will stamp your documents and may ask you to present your purchased goods, so make sure you visit customs before checking in your luggage.
5. The final step is to submit your stamped form to specialised refund service within the airport (please ask the export officer if this is available within the airport) or mail your VAT documents when you return home.
Tip 4 – Ask your Tour Manager for Advice
Don’t be afraid to ask your Tour Manager for advice as they have travelled extensively throughout Europe and will know of the best stores or markets where you may discover your next treasured souvenir.