When Traveling, Remember the Moscow Rule

While traveling in Paris many years ago, my American friends introduced me to the Moscow Rule. Not to be confused with the Moscow Rules, this rule has to do with shopping and souvenirs and is fairly simple. If you see something, buy it, because you may never see it again.

My friends told me that this rule originates from people standing in line in Moscow. If you lived in Moscow under Communist rule and saw people standing in line, you joined them, because whatever they were waiting for you most likely needed or would need and you may not have the opportunity to buy it another time.

Although I try to remember this rule when I travel, the times I forget are the times I regret. Like the time I didn’t buy the metal toy truck in Cape Town because I knew we’d see several more during our trip (we didn’t).


Or when I didn’t buy a drum and then had to resort to the airport gift shop. Or when I passed up a pretty necklace at a price I saw quadrupled in future stores.


Sometimes it’s easy to remember, like buying Lindt chocolates in Zurich, wool scarves with the family clan in Edinburgh, or maple syrup in Vermont. I find it more difficult to remember when I see something different. Is it something I truly want? Is the price a good one? Will I see it again?

Maple Syrup

To prevent those post traveling blues, remember the Moscow Rule: if you see something unique, something you’re unlikely to find online or anywhere else, snatch it up, because you may never see it again. Most likely, you won’t regret the purchase, and the memories it holds will bring smiles for a lifetime.


Exploring Colleges: College of William and Mary

Whether or not you like American history, but especially if you do, check out the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, just 2 1/2 hours south of Washington, D.C.

William and Mary

With its 18th century brick buildings, this second oldest U.S. college (chartered in 1693) blends in next to nearby Colonial Williamsburg where George Washington and other historical figures are a constant presence. The college itself is known as a “public ivy,” a college with a private ivy league education at a public school price.

William and Mary

During a recent tour and information session, we learned the school has a student body of about 6,100 undergrads, the student teacher ratio is 12:1, and 50 percent of the student body studies abroad. There are over 50 majors and minors at William and Mary and at least 30 percent of its students double major.

Bridge over pond

When you’re not studying, you can participate in one or more of the over 400 clubs doing college-like activities such as singing a cappella or playing ultimate Frisbee.

Playing soccer at W&M

If you go, be sure to check out Colonial Williamsburg, just a block away from campus, and Yorktown and Jamestown, both less than 30 minutes away. You might want to plan on doing a little shopping as well. Not only are there many colonial-related gift stores, but plenty of outlets are also located less than 4 miles up the road from campus.

Trip taken April 2013.