Roughly three weeks left and I still have not begun souvenir shopping. When traveling, souvenirs are a given. Everyone who hears you’re going to a foreign country wants something back, which may not be stressful for some, but when you’re on a budget and as indecisive as I am, souvenir shopping is horrible. Not only do I have to find something for everyone that will make them happy, but I also have to manage to bring it all back with me. The whole process is way too stressful. Here’s some steps I’ve used to simplify the whole debacle a bit.
Designate a suitcase for souvenirs.
Before you even begin traveling, you should designate a suitcase for all your souvenirs. Usually, this is the suitcase filled with things that you will end up using in Japan and can throw away (e.g. lotion, soap, old shoes, etc.). By knowing how much space you have, you can know how small you should keep your souvenirs.
Write up a list.
Write down all the people you’re going to buy for. This act will make the process seem much simpler. You will have a clear idea of how much you have to buy. If there are people you have to buy souvenirs for, but you’re not really close to them, you should buy bulk gifts for them (stuff that comes in sets, so you can give each person one thing from each set).
Make things easier for yourself and ask people what they want. I’m a super indecisive shopper. I will spend hours walking down aisles, second-guessing what people want, until I finally put everything back and decide to try another store. The worst is when people say, “just get me whatever.” Just remember that these are people who love and care about you and that you can’t go too wrong in what you choose. Worst comes to worst, they’ll remember you’re a poor college student on a budget and that there was only so much you could buy.
Set up a budget.
Tell yourself how much money you are willing to spend. If you are on a tight budget like me, you will want to spend as little as possible. Overestimate how much you will spend (this way, when you go under budget, you’ll feel better about yourself).
Go to 100-yen shops.
This step is not a must in this list, but it’s helpful. Japan has 100-yen shops (you can look them up online) where you can buy souvenirs for cheap. They’re like the American dollar store. Meaning, not everything is actually 100 yen, but still cheap. In the end, most people want things that can only be found in Japan. Instead of spending money on ridiculously overpriced souvenirs at tourist destinations, you can buy something from a 100-yen shop that screams Japan but hurts your wallet less. I recommend small beauty products (less than 100 ml so that they can go in your carry on) or face masks. Cool mugs are my personal favorites (wrap them in plastic bags and carry them on your carry on, so that they don’t break). Tea and snacks if you really want to scream, “I was in Japan.” Cute charms and school supplies are a good go-to as well.
Don’t go overboard.
Pace yourself. After all, if you have trips outside of Tokyo, you’ll probably want to buy things for yourself. However, it’s not like you have unlimited space. Make sure you don’t buy too much and leave room for the souvenirs for other people.
Don’t let souvenir shopping get to you too much. Have fun checking out all the cute and useful things Japan has to offer.