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Sending your travel purchases home safely

Sending items home from abroad is tricky territory. Talk to people who have done it, and you’ll likely hear stories of expensive shipments, inscrutable procedures, and packages that arrived very late, if at all. Here are some tips for shipping souvenirs.

If you go through a post office, go during off hours and give yourself plenty of time. Be sure to wrap or pad your items well. Before you go, brush up on key words and phrases you’re likely to need. If the price you’re quoted seems high, ask if there’s a slower route at a lower price. And seriously consider insuring the package.

Also consider post office alternatives. Shipping companies such as DHL, FedEx, and UPS serve the world. By researching your options before you depart, you’ll not only be better prepared, but you may even be able to get a sense of the cost. As with shipping through the postal service, packing your items well is important.

If you buy one or more larger items from a store and plan to ship them back, check with the merchant to see if they will ship your purchases for you. This tactic is likely to save you a fair amount of inconvenience, though it may cost a bit more.

Additionally, take a moment to review U.S. customs restrictions. Be sure to peruse the prohibited and restricted items list.

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