This happens to me every time I go on vacation – I buy too many souvenirs! When we travel I love to find unique souvenirs. My favorite type of souvenir are the ones that are conversation starters. When people first come to our house they are surprised by all the pieces of art on our walls and even the crystal lady with a basket on our shelf. They ask us where we got these amazing pieces and it easily leads into a conversation about one of our many amazing journeys.
Since buying souvenirs is a part of traveling, why don’t we ever plan on how to bring them back? We always pack way too much into our suitcases in fear that wherever we travel they won’t have something we may need. This means we always end up over packing. Over the years, I have perfected the amount of clothes I bring on any vacation because I am guilty of the “I may never be here again so I just have to get it” syndrome. I am here to tell you that this syndrome is a perfect trait to possess because it is true, you may never be there again. You don’t want to get home and have any regrets about not getting that piece of pottery in Italy or that crystal figurine in Hungary. I purchased them, and I love using my ceramic octopus plate and staring at my small crystal umbrella toting figurine. It brings me happiness and it floods me with the memories of those places.
But how did I get them back? There are two ways I bring back souvenirs. One way is by mail. Every country in this world receives mail. Most places where you buy your souvenirs, especially the higher end stores have shipping options for you. Now make sure you weigh your options. If you buy the pottery for $100 but it costs $300 to ship, then your answer should be no. Shipping to the United States is expensive, due to the various taxes and fees, and port charges. The store may also inflate the price of shipping too. You don’t want to pay a couple hundred dollars for shipping a souvenir unless that shipping cost is 10%-20% of the price of the souvenir. Find out what the store policy is on shipping. I have been in stores where they have a flat rate regardless of how much you spend. Depending on what that flat rate is, you may have to spend over a $1000 for it to be worth it.
Group mailing! Wait until the end of your trip to figure out what you don’t want to take on the plane. FedEx and DHL are common mail carriers overseas, and you can pack everything or they can pack your souvenirs for you. REMEMBER! Stay with your stuff until it is all taped up! Keep an inventory. I suggest both written and by photos. Make sure if there is more than one box it says that on your slip. You carried these souvenirs the whole trip, you don’t want to lose them now. Also, take into consideration that it will take a couple of weeks for your items to arrive at your door. They have to go through customs (just like you at the airport) and several channels before they reach your front door. Make sure you have a way to track your packages.
Another great way to bring back souvenirs safely is through your suitcase. Even if your suitcase is filled with clothing the key is to pack a large foldable, duffel bag in the bottom of your suitcase. The duffel bag is great because at the end of your trip you can unfold it and put all of your dirty clothing in here while packing all of your souvenirs safely into your sturdier suitcase. Just take into consideration that you have an extra piece of luggage to check at the airport. Checking an extra bag maybe less expensive then shipping your items back to the United States.
Now you have a few “I may never be here again so I just have to get it” options on your next vacation to get those amazing conversation starting souvenirs back to the United States. Happy shopping!
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