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How to Bring Home Souvenirs


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?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

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Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

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Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

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Travel Resources

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Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Allie says

    Is it pretty secure to check a bag like the Chico bag? I’d be a bit worried about a drawstring-style bag coming open and the contents spilling out. I suppose you could just know the drawstring…


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