In Eastern Europe, you can find souvenirs that range from small matryoshka dolls to large samovars. Doling out the dough for these items is easy. Packing them in such a way that they won't get broken, scratched, or banged up on the return flight is hard. Use these souvenir packing tips to keep your treasures safe.
1. Pack Souvenirs Among Clothing
It may seem like a no-brainer, but wrapping souvenirs in shirts or sweaters will cushion them during transit. In addition, it's also smart to stuff socks in any hollow items, like mugs or vases. This will also save you room! Painted wooded crafts, handmade pottery, birchbark items, dolls, and more can travel safely this way.
2. Pack Souvenir Jewelry Items Separately
Precious amber gifts, silver Art Nouveau-style finds, or Czech glass beads should be wrapped carefully and placed within your carry-on luggage. These small items should also be checked on any layovers (but be discreet!), as they may shift and knock against other items which may scratch them. Protect them with tissue paper or even toilet paper if you want to keep them scratch free.
3. Keep Souvenir Export Licenses Handy
Antique or art items may require export licenses. These are usually written out and certified by the dealer. Don't lose these, and keep them handy when exiting the country. You will need to verify that you have obtained these documents in order to take your purchases home.
4. Hand Carry Bulky, Awkward, Fragile Items
You will usually be allowed to hand carry any especially fragile items along with your carry-on luggage when you board the plane for the flight home. Balalaikas or other instruments, marionettes, or items given to you by friends or host families should go in your carry-on if possible. If not, wrap them in some paper and a bag, and carry them as you would a child.
5. Packing Souvenir Books
Pack books at the bottom of your suitcase, or tuck them in around the sides. Souvenir books may be some of your heaviest items, so you don't want them to crush other souvenirs you may have packed underneath them. Wrap them in clothing or a plastic bag to keep them as good as new.
6. Packing Souvenir Food Items
You can't carry anything fresh out of Eastern Europe, but you can take pre-packaged food items with you, such cookies, candies, or canned items that you want to share with your friends (or keep to yourself, whatever the case may be). Anything that can be crushed or has the potential to melt should be placed in bags and put in a shoulder bag or carry-on bag. Cans of caviar or other items can go anywhere you want them to. Due to TSA regulations, bottles and jars of liquids or liquid-like substances must be packed in your checked baggage.
7. Packing Souvenir Fur ItemsFur hats or other fur items should be wrapped carefully in tissue paper. Place them on top of the other items in your luggage so that the fur isn't compressed too much by any other objects, barring the top of your suitcase. Fur souvenirs should be removed immediately upon arrival home and hand-fluffed lightly. Store them carefully . . . away from eager-to-see-you pets.
Glass bottles are difficult to pack. Wrap the bottles in several sheets of paper - newspaper is good - and then place them in plastic bags individually. Self-sealing bags are the best option, so if you plan to bring wine or spirits home with you, invest in a box of these bags big enough to fit over a bottle and use them for the flight home. If a bottle breaks, this will keep glass and vodka, beer, or wine, from getting all over you, your things, and the plane.