When you’re bringing back mementos from the other side of the world, the last thing you want to worry about is what will happen to them.
As a constant souvenir shopper, I know how difficult it can be to pick out all the right items for friends and family back home as well as getting them all back in one piece. I’ve experienced bringing a Mexican hammock as my carry on, broken coffee mugs, confiscated snowglobes and everything in between. I’ve got some words of wisdom to shopaholics like myself for how to get your souvenirs safely home.
Buy as many souvenirs at the end of your trip as possible.
Carrying that one-of-a-kind vase from city to city just means there’s more time for you to break it before you even get home. And by the time you’re at the end of your trip, you will have had time to shop around instead of buying at the first store you see. You can be more realistic about how much money you have left to spend and how much space is left in your bag.
Choose small items like postcards, scarves and jewelry.
You don’t have to pick big things to bring home. Some of my favorite souvenirs are my leather bracelet from Florence, my earrings from Australia and the dozens of postcards I’ve acquired over the years. Search local markets for items that are both portable and authentic to the destination.
Mail your souvenirs home.
This option eliminates much of the stress in traveling with souvenirs. You don’t have to worry about running out of room or having them break in your backpack, but it’s the most pricey option. I mailed home a box of postcards and gifts from Australia and it cost me $50.
Be aware of customs and quarantine rules.
Some items, like food, are not allowed to be brought into many countries for contamination reasons. Australia and Hawaii in particular are sticklers to what is brought in. Bringing back Iberico ham or a runny French cheese may seem like a great gift, but you can be fined up to $10,000 for bringing some products back into the United States. If you’re unsure, check the Customs and Border Protection website.
Make sure the souvenirs are secure.
Pack souvenirs in places they are less likely to get broken or dropped. If you have paintings or flat items, place them in a rigid envelope at the front of your backpack. If you are packing breakables, try to surround them with clothing or bubble wrap. There are several products on the market that are used to protect breakable bottles (like wine bottles) when you travel. The Vinni Bag serves the same purpose, but takes up more room.
Carry on souvenirs.
My grandmother has always followed this rule, often bringing an extra duffel bag to bring back our Christmas gifts from abroad. Bring an extra tote bag, like the Chico Bag, that you could place breakables in, allowing you to check an extra bag and not worry about your souvenirs being ruined.
How do you bring home souvenirs?