How to safely bring souvenirs back home

outdoor market with souvenirs

Any time you visit somewhere new, it's nice to have a keepsake to remember the adventure. That's why it's fun to shop for souvenirs for yourself, friends and relatives.

The problem many travellers face, however, is that transporting purchases home can be a hassle. There are numerous opportunities for your items to be lost, broken or stolen. But don't let that risk discourage you. With a little planning, you can significantly reduce your chances of something going wrong.

Here are some helpful tips for getting your souvenirs home safely:

•Wait until the end of your trip to buy everything. It's tempting to purchase an interesting souvenir as soon as you see it. But unless you know that you'll never have a chance to return to that particular seller, try to wait until it's almost time to leave before you actually make your purchase. Otherwise, you'll carry this item with you or store it in the place where you stay. This situation could mean more risk for theft or damage.
•Avoid packing items in checked bags. Do you think everything that goes into your checked bag is safe? Think again. Airlines will certainly do their best to guarantee that all of your luggage safely arrives wherever you do, but nothing is completely certain. Your bags could be lost, stolen or dropped, which might leave you with broken gifts. Unless your souvenir is explicitly banned from overhead or under-the-seat storage on your method of travel, it's generally best to keep it where you can always see it.
•Check with customs and airline security. You can't bring just anything home, and you certainly have to be careful about what you carry aboard planes. Liquids, for instance, typically have stipulations on the amount you're allowed to store in a carry-on bag. Customs will also restrict certain agricultural products, so read up on what you can bring into Canada. Finally, make sure you fully understand airport security guidelines. If your hobby happens to be collecting antique firearms, be aware of exactly what you have to do to legally bring one home from abroad.
•Wrap everything carefully. Whether you place items in your carry-on or checked bag, don't just pack them in there haphazardly. Use bubble wrap if you can to give souvenirs some extra cushion. If that material isn't available, make use of all the clothes you brought - the thicker, the better. Even if you have multiple fragile souvenirs in your bag, a few sweatshirts can keep them from smashing into each other during transit. Finally, pack everything in the centre of your bag or suitcase if you can, surrounded by softer padding. This way, sudden bumps or drops are less likely to cause any shattering.

Your souvenirs are valuable, both in terms of money and sentiment. Don't let anything happen to them on the way home.