1. Make room to start with!
Leave extra space in your baggage for souvenirs. It’s rare that one actually regrets packing on the lighter side. All too often, you’ll find you’ve brought way more than you actually needed. You can also pack a light, collapsible (empty) bag in your luggage for filling with souvenirs. Part of the fun of travelling is collecting mementos!
2. Make it a priority
Jot down a list of people who you’re buying for, and note how much of your budget can or should be allotted to each one. If you have a pre-made list, the likelihood of forgetting a significant family member or friend significantly decreases. Remember that whatever you purchase, you have to be able to fit in your bags and be willing to drag back home with you. So consider carefully your list of recipients. Once you have a chosen few, focus on gifts that are of good quality. Stay away from breakable or overly expensive items. And another thing: if you’re like us, you might be prone to getting so excited about your adventures that you sometimes forget to schedule in a little souvenir shopping time! Set a reminder on your phone or in your planner to hit the stores.
3. Don’t forget yourself
Remember, you can certainly be on the gift priority list here. I’ve made some killer purchases of leather goods, silk, pottery and more for myself on trips around the world. Every time I shrug my shoulders into that coat or burn incense in that tray, it brings back the sights, smells, sounds and feel of my adventures. “Souvenirs” you give to others are exotic curiosities to the gift recipients; souvenirs you give yourself are just that: reminders of memories made in your travels.
4. Packing light?
Be sure to skip on containers of liquids over 3.4 ounces when you’re only traveling with a carry-on. Similarly, as cool as that authentic tribal tomahawk is, TSA’s not going to allow weapons on the airplane. And remember, they may even consider wine openers to be weapons. In many California airports, you can pick up great local wine, chocolate and other local goods at the duty-free stores after the TSA checkpoints.
5. …Or ship it!
Although it can get pricey, it may be worth it to ship souvenirs back home, especially for larger items. If you are considering purchasing an item that will need to be shipped, remember that you’ll need to investigate a few things beyond the shipping costs themselves, such as import fees and insurance. Also remember to package that baby up to prevent breakage. Include your declaration forms when shipping internationally.