"Want to bring home extra mementos? You can always buy another suitcase! It can be cheaper than shipping." —AAA Travel Counselor Mary Nicol.
Know the rules.
Before you shop in a foreign country, check U.S. customs regulations regarding dollar limits and prohibited or restricted items. Generally, you can bring back less than $800 worth of merchandise duty free, but fresh food and certain furs are restricted. "Any run-of-the-mill souvenirs are probably OK," Nicol says. For full details, visit cbp.gov/travel.
Seek out items handmade in your destination. (Ask a local to recommend a specific shopping street or artisan.) Buying one-of-a-kind items will support the region's economy, and your keepsakes will possess a strong connection to the place.
Buy not so local.
Mass-produced items such as magnets and postcards from your various travels can make for a fun collection, especially when displayed together.
Include your loved ones.
Thoughtful souvenir gifts are cherished. Nicol and her husband gave their moms hand-stitched decorations. Says Nicol, "When they display them, they can say, ‘Our kids got this on their honeymoon in Slovakia!' "