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Souvenir seahorse magnets are awesome mementos, but it is important to know how to pack your souvenirs so they make it home in one piece

Many of us return home from a journey to be greeted with 'what did you bring me?' Building a reputation for bringing back good souvenirs is a good way to have an audience for your travel stories. The trick is to make them all fit in your luggage. Follow our top five tips for packing souvenirs so they arrive home in one piece.

Advance planning

Throw a small duffel bag in your suitcase to give you some extra room in case you need extra space. This smaller bag can either hold your souvenirs or become a dirty laundry bag. It’s always a great idea to have an additional bag than to risk splitting the zipper trying to cram everything into your one suitcase.

Selective shopping

As you’re shopping, think about what memories you want to save from the trip. An item you use and enjoy every day is often more meaningful than a knick-knack collecting dust on a shelf. Good examples of useful souvenirs are:

  • decorative bowls that you can use for cereal
  • tea or coffee cups
  • decorative items
  • jewellery
  • unframed art (smaller than your suitcase)

If you are shopping for others, think about portability as well. There are times when something fragile is the perfect item, but handmade textiles are great gifts too. When you have a choice, select the sturdier item.

Packing

First, know what you can carry on and what must go in your checked bag. For example, some aerosols are not permitted to be carried on. And depending on where you are travelling, the amount of liquids you are allowed to carry on may be restricted.

Avoid putting fragile items in your checked bag—carry those on with you. If it’s something you can’t carry it on, then wrap it well and put it in the centre of your suitcase.

For items like boxes or a wooden bird cage, fill any open spaces with socks or smaller clothing items to provide support against crushing. For items that might leak, like perfume, a re-sealable plastic bag can prevent a disaster.

If you need some extra packing material, grab a local newspaper. Office supply stores often have bubble wrap or padded envelopes for more fragile items. (Avoid wrapping items that you’ll be carrying on—they will likely be unwrapped when you go through security.)

Shipping

Shipping it is generally a last resort. In most cases, it’s best to take it yourself to the local post office or shipping company to arrange for shipping yourself. You’ll get the tracking information yourself and know the date it was shipped. Leaving your purchases in a store for later shipping is a recipe for trouble after you leave the area.

For bulkier items like furniture, rely on reputable dealers and get a tracking number before you leave.

Getting through Customs

If you have any questions, double-check with Customs Service before you leave home and before you make any large purchases. Many food items, counterfeit goods, and anything made from endangered species may be subject to seizure at the border, so be sure you know what you are buying. Even crayons might be confiscated if they are made with PCBs.

Now that you’re an expert souvenir shopper and packer, protect your purchases and your travels with travel insurance. Get a quote to cover your trip.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Pic Basement; cropped from original