I’ve wanted to go backpacking through Europe for years. The idea just seems amazing—traveling from country to country, exploring new cultures, sampling new foods, and enjoying the rain and clouds, which are such a rarity here in hot, humid Egypt. Unfortunately, cost has always been an issue. Since my mechanic job doesn’t pay much, I was forced to put world travel on hold.
That’s why I was thrilled to come across ShopTrav.
For those of you who don’t know about this amazing app, it’s basically an online shopping platform that lets you travel and earn while delivering peoples ‘wishes’. You’re probably thinking that this choice of words is linked to way too much television, but it’s not! The app actually allows people to upload wishlists of all the things they desire, from ANYWHERE in the world, and then get the stuff delivered through travelers headed their way. The best part is, you avoid having to pay exorbitant international courier charges, which is one of my main concerns with sites like eBay.
I loved the idea immediately. An app that lets me embark on world travel and make money along the way? Yes, please!
So I spent an entire night working out a rough budget—how much I needed for a fun vacation in Europe and what I could afford to spend on ‘wishes’. In the end, deciding I could just wing it, I set up an account and accepted wishes from England, France, Germany and Austria. A lot of them involved Papyrus, a native Egyptian plant used to make paper. It’s incredibly strong, and highly durable, which means it can last you through the years.
I spent much of the next few weeks in the local bazaars, looking for papyrus scrolls, paintings, postcards and bookmarks. Most of these are handpainted in bright colours, depicting the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, including Osiris, Horus, Nefertiti, Anubis and Thoth. Being a local expert, I was able to get these at good bargains.
When I got to Europe, I realized once again how easy it is to shop and travel with ShopTrav. Once I handed in the stuff I’d bought for the shoppers, they sent an alert to the app confirming the safe receipt of their orders. ShopTrav then released the payment that had been kept in airtight escrow to me, and that was that.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve traveled extensively in England. Next stop is Germany and I’m super pumped! It’s a great feeling when you get paid to travel to all your dream destinations! I also love meeting new people through ShopTrav. My social circle has become so much bigger since I jetted out merely fourteen days ago.
I also have plans to do some shopping from ShopTrav. What I love most is that you can shop for your favourite items without having to dole out money for standard international shipping charges. If that’s not a double win, I don’t know what is!
Before signing off, I’d like to give my readers a few tips for buying papyrus products in Egyptian markets. Here are some of the things you need to be aware of:
- Checking the quality
Papyrus paper is native to Egypt, but that doesn’t mean that every papyrus product is of good quality! Some paintings and artistic merchandise are cleverly made of banana leaves instead of papyrus. Here are some ways to check their authenticity:
- Check the thickness of the paper—genuine papyrus is heavier and slightly opaque.
- It will be hard to tear.
- It goes back to its original shape after being rolled out.
- It isn’t brittle.
- It has a crisscross pattern, which can be seen in the light.
- The darker papyrus paper will look aged in appearance, and you will be able to see fibers on the edges.
- The design will be handpainted, not printed.
- Wet the tip of your finger and place it on a tiny corner of the picture. If you see some paint on the finger when you remove, the painting is genuine.
- Buy it from a reputable store
This is a good way to ensure the product is genuine, as it will have a stamp that certifies its authenticity. You can visit the Papyrus Gallery in Cairo to buy some genuine artwork.
- Know your Egyptian artist
If you’re buying papyrus artwork, look for the signature of a well-known artist. Some of these names include:
- Besheer Abdel-Salam
- Mohamed Khedr
- Adel Ghaboor
- Mina Adel
- Abdel-Moniem Waheed
- Yaser Abdel-Moniem
- Adel Eawzy
- Yehya Zakariya
Most importantly, be ready to haggle! I’d suggest going to a few different stalls before buying your chosen product, just to make sure you end up getting the best quality product at the lowest price.