On your next trip, don't scramble at the last minute to find a cheesy key chain or baseball cap to bring back home -- take some time to find a souvenir that will truly be memorable for you! Here are a few good tips.
1. Don't Bring Back Anything Illegal. You'd be surprised at what items you're not allowed to bring back overseas from a trip abroad. Don't get caught with something you didn't think twice about, and end up with a huge fine or a night in jail. Check all the customs laws before packing your bags!
2. Don't Bring Back A Specialty Item That You Won't Be Able To Use Again. Okay, this one may sound a bit specific, but there are certain items you can get abroad that you won't find the matching products for back home. For example - a mate cup from Beunos Aires is cool, but does your hometown sell Argentinean yerba? If not, that cup will collect dust, as it doesn't pair with normal tea bags.
3. Don't Bring Back Anything Fragile. This may sound like common sense, but all too often do we hear about awesome pottery or a glass sculpture that, no matter how securely the owner claims it was packed, gets chipped, nicked or shattered on the flight or drive home. Unless you plan on holding it tenderly in your lap for the remainder of your travels home, make sure your souvenir is sturdy!
4. Make Sure You Understand the Cultural Purpose of What You've Bought. While donning a sari or dirndl may break the ice and show you're trying to appreciate a culture while in India or Bavaria, bringing a culturally significant item back to your hometown can border on offensive appropriation. Make sure your souvenir does not hold cultural or religious sacredness in the country you visit, or if it does, be sure to understand and respect that meaning when you're back at home.
5. Bring Back Something That You Learned From. One of the best parts of travel are the lessons you'll surely learn. If you find a piece of art, a book, a statue, an item of clothing, or anything else that helped you learn more about that culture, bring it back home to share the message with your friends and family. They'll appreciate the new knowledge, and you'll always have yours as a reminder of what you took away from your travels.