5 Tips For Sensible Souvenir Shopping
Bringing back gifts from a trip is always a thoughtful way to give your loved ones a piece of your experience—but choose wisely! An impractical souvenir can be a hassle to bring home, and some items may not make it back at all. Follow these tips from the Booker Travels team for some guidelines on how to keep your souvenirs sensible.
1. Choose gifts that are easy to bring back with you
I know you’d love to buy a Persian rug for your distant cousin, but stop and consider—how are you going to get that on a plane? Does your budget for this gift include the price of a new suitcase? Booker Travels prefers to bring back gifts that are small, light, and flat—this way, they fit easily into our bags without crowding out our necessities. Some examples are prints of photography or paintings, books, and clothing items. Plus, this way when we find something big that we just have to have, there’s that much more room to pack it!
2. Items should be non-breakable, non-perishable
There’s no point buying a gift that won’t make it home, so be sure your souvenirs are solid and sturdy—glass, mirrors, and pottery are risky. If you do choose to bring items like these home with you, be sure to pack them extra well by wrapping them in layers of newspaper or bubble wrap—an added cost you should account for when you buy the gift. Furthermore, any food items should have an expiration date a couple weeks after you’re planning to give the gift, or better yet, none at all! Booker Travels always loves to bring home spices and dried fruits native to the countries we visit, to flavor the food and conversation when we see our friends again. However, if you still decide to bring back perishables, a cold pack and a lunchbox can keep refrigerated items fresh on a flight.
Not only are most foods not practical for bringing on flights, many aren’t legal either. Almost all meats are illegal to bring back to the U.S. from other countries, though certain nations are exempt, and seafood is typically allowed. Permits are necessary for fresh fruits and vegetables; most cheeses are okay, and yogurt, jarred goods, and pantry items like condiments and baked goods, are “unrestricted,” meaning they will not be subject to inspection at customs. The Department of Agriculture has a comprehensive list of what can and cannot be brought into the U.S. from foreign countries on its website here.
4. Conserve time as well as money
A helpful shortcut the Booker Travels crew likes to use is to get everyone you’re giving souvenirs to the same gift—well, not the same gift exactly, but if you find a store that sells scarves in your price range, why not get one in every color and have all your shopping for the trip be done with? It’s much easier than getting to the last day of your journey and having to rush to finish up your souvenir hunt.
The most valued gifts are the ones your loved ones will have a reason to pick up and use often. After all, do you want to see your gift gather dust on a shelf or in a closet when it could become a part of your friend’s life instead? The more they use it, the more it will mean to them! Even better, if you know something of theirs is broken or wearing out, why not replace it?