Canceled Your Vacation? Buy Your Souvenirs, Anyway

When I was a kid, I dreamed about having a house full of items I’d collected from travels around the world. Influenced a bit by Indiana Jones and a bit by the short-lived Nickelodeon show called “The Wild Thornberrys,” I assumed my walls would be covered in ceremonial masks and every table surface would be covered in museum-quality artifacts from far-flung corners of the world.

However, online shopping became mainstream before I began my travel career, and it became far easier and cheaper to buy international products online and have them shipped to my house than it was to purchase them from small shops and carry them with me until I got home. In some ways, this was a disappointment, as souvenirs and art bought online have a bit less of an allure than trinkets and crafts sussed out from the back corners of cozy Czech bookstores or small shops in Moroccan medinas.

But in the era of COVID-19, the ability to buy international decor and souvenirs directly from international vendors has been a blessing. Buying products that directly benefit the artisans is a great way to support the local economies of your favorite destinations, even if their borders are closed. And even if you had to cancel your international travel this summer, you can still buy your favorite souvenirs online and recreate a bit of travel excitement at home.


If you cancelled your trip to Fiji, Shop at Rise Beyond the Reef

A trip to the South Pacific is likely high on many traveler’s bucket lists, so canceling a trip to the island paradise is sure to leave you feeling a bit down in the dumps. But thanks to Rise Beyond the Reef, your vacation spending money can still be put to good use. Fiji has a poverty rate higher than India, and a considerable percent of the population lives in rural areas, which can make it hard for them to access job training and educational programs. Rise Beyond the Reef’s goal is to show that protecting the environment and supporting traditional knowledge and skills can be economically profitable, and they do that by selling handmade products online. By shopping at Rise Beyond the Reef, you’re helping rural Fijians become income earners and have agency in the development of their communities. The site sells tote bags, home decor, jewelry, textiles and, appropriately, tropical-themed face masks, so you can feel a bit of island spirit while keeping your fellow citizens safe.


If you cancelled your trip to Morocco, Shop at Souk & Soul

If you missed your chance this year to browse the colorful and inviting markets of Marrakech or Fes, don’t worry – you can’t still pick up handwoven textiles made in Morocco at Souk and Soul. The free-trade, woman-owned company sources textiles from artisans in Morocco. They buy from family-run businesses and independently-run cooperatives who set their own wages. Their rugs run from $145 to $1,000 or more and a portion of all sales is donated back to community development programs in Morocco. Though textiles are Souk & Soul’s primary focus, the site also sells jewelry, art and wellness products made in the country.


If you cancelled your trip to Austria, shop at Zotter Chocolate

Is it possible to go to Austria and not bring home chocolate? The answer is no – the country’s chocolate scene is so famous that you’d truly be doing yourself a serious disservice if you didn’t spring for some gourmet cocoa while in the country. But if you’re tabling your trip until 2021, you can still order some of the most famous chocolate in the country from Zotter Chocolate, based in Austria’s Südoststeiermark District.

The brand’s founder, Josef Zotter, is the inventor of hand-scooped chocolate bars, which are put together layer-by-layer. You can opt to order a mainstream choice, like sea salt or buttered caramel, but if you’re feeling adventurous, add a few other flavors to your cart, like whiskey and bacon or currant and chili. The brand also makes drinking chocolate and vegan chocolate, as well as “discovery packs,” which include a few of the brand’s most popular picks. Order from the US site for quicker and cheaper shipping.


If you cancelled your trip to Japan, shop at Rikumo

If you love the simple and minimalist design style typical of Japan, shop at Rikumo. Though the store is based in Philadelphia, nearly all their products come from artisans and artisan collectives artisans in Japan. It’s design aesthetics spans both traditional Japanese styles and modern influences, so you’ll find something to suit your taste, whether you would have shopped the hip stores along Tokyo’s Omotesandō or the more traditional shops of Kyoto’s Higashiyama District. Most of Rikumo’s items include information about the artist and prices range from under $20 for small figurines to several thousand for one-of-a-kind woven furniture.


If you cancelled your trip to Norway, Sweden, Finland, or Denmark, shop at Stabo Scandinavian Imports

Though Stabo is located in North Dakota, all their products are imported from Scandanavian countries. So if you love the midcentury-esque look of Norwegian design or can’t get enough of Sweden’s cozy Merino wool socks, browse the extensive inventory available online. The store carries food and drink from the region, like hazelnut-filled Firklover bars from Norway and Saltverk flaky sea salt from Iceland, as well as home decor, linens, clothing, beauty and bath products and artisan jewelry.

But don’t worry – if your fascination with this part of the world has more to do with trolls and Vikings, Stabo also has you covered. They have a large selection of Viking-themed gifts, like runic necklaces (similar to amulets) and grog mugs, plus a few tiny troll statues guaranteed to liven up your work-from-home desk.

— to www.forbes.com

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