You can savor a vacation longer if you bring back edible souvenirs—but make sure to plan ahead.

By Stacey Ballis
Updated July 02, 2019
Credit: Photo by Alessandro De Carli / EyeEm via Getty Images

Travel is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. There's joy of exploring new places, meeting new people, getting introduced to cultures and foods. It gets you out of your head and your comfort zone and can impact your life in myriad ways. You will return with a heart full of joy, a head full of memories, a camera full of pictures, and if you are smart, a suitcase full of souvenirs. Purchasing tangible reminders of your travels is a wonderful way to extend the feeling of vacation. Whether it is a piece of art or home décor you can look at every day, or a new ingredient to cook with, being confident about buying things abroad and getting them home safely is an important aspect of travel. So, here are some tips and tricks for making the most of your travel shopping. First and foremost, when you are traveling either domestically or to a place with a different currency, try as much as possible to pay on a card that protects purchases and helps manage exchange rates for you, and gives you points towards future travel, like the Chase Marriott Credit Card. Be sure to reach out to your credit card company before you leave to inform them of your travel plans so that foreign purchases don’t look fraudulent. Second, pack for success. Planning on limiting your baggage outbound allows you to maximize your baggage returning. Traveling in your home country can often mean for reasonable shipping costs, which limits how much you have to carry yourself, but international shipping is wildly expensive, so you want to be able to carry home all of your treasures. Think about your baggage outbound as Russian nesting dolls. Pack a small suitcase to check full of your clothes and toiletries, and then pack that in a larger suitcase or duffel bag so that you can check the one doubled bag outbound but have two to check on the return. For a carry-on outbound, use your “personal item” sized bag, but pack it inside a small roll-aboard that can get filled up on the return. There are also some great “pack-flat” extra bags you can fit in your suitcase if you prefer. If your trip is more casual, think about packing clothing that is a little older or slightly out of date so that you can discard it along the way to make more room for treasures. If you think you might want to buy anything that comes in a bottle or jar ,or might be breakable, WineSkins and Jet Bags are your best pals to bring along. The WineSkins can hold a bottle of wine, alcohol, or even olive oil or the like inside your suitcase in a padded sleeve for protection, with heavy sealing so that if it does happen to break, it can contain the liquid. Jet Bags are long zip-top bags lined with super absorbent padding, so they can protect against leaks. And regular zip-top bags can provide some peace of mind for things like spices, jams or jellies, or beauty products. Know what you can and cannot bring onboard and pack in a checked bag; all airlines will have this information available on their websites. Many people are surprised that cheeses can travel with you as long as they are in a vacuum sealed package, ditto cured meats and charcuterie. And most cheese shops and butchers have a sealer on site, just ask them to pack them up for importation, or ask for them “sous vide.” Both are safe outside of refrigeration in normal room temperature for several days. Nothing is a better welcome home than a cheese and charcuterie platter you brought back with you. If you pick up cooking tools and such on your travels, be sure to pack them in your checked bag—especially cutlery, because if it looks like it could be a weapon, it will get confiscated. Anything super breakable or expensive should go in your carry-on for safety's sake. Finally, think special when traveling, especially when it comes to edible or quaffable souvenirs. Buy items you cannot find back home, whether it is a special spice blend, a local liquor, or a snack you have fallen in love with. But once you are home, remember that you are not attempting to create a museum of ingredients in your pantry. These are perishable items, and nothing feels worse than having to throw away an expired treat you took the time to acquire abroad. When you get home, make an effort to use and cook with what you have brought back within three months of your return, and enjoy the memories it brings back.