Please sign in to post.

Packing Light Dilemma -- What about souvenirs?

So I've been really trying to take the packing light philosophy to heart and pack everything for my two week trip in a carry on bag. My husband, however wants to bring a larger bag, so we have extra room for souvenirs, and we won't have to battle with stuffing larger fragile items in tight quarters.

Will we really be at disadvantage if we travel with one carry on sized bag and a slightly larger, not fully packed, rolling duffel?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Posted by
9363 posts

I know there are many people who say that carryon only is the way to go, but I have no problem checking a bag. If you want to try just taking carryon bags, you could always buy a cheap bag while you're gone, fill it with your dirty clothes on the way back, and check it. If it's delayed, it's not as big a deal as having a bag delayed at the start of your trip. That way you could put your souvenirs in your carryons for the ride home.

Posted by
102 posts

for souveniers bring every woman home a scarf!

non breakable and usually loved by all!

Posted by
46 posts

We bring empty duffle bags (they're actually part of our backpacks but they zip into a full bag). We carry-on to Europe and check our duffle bags full of laundry on the way home, leaving our other bags free to haul home half of Europe as souvenirs. We also are able to carry our souvenirs on and then there is minimal chance for breakage on the way home. And, if the airline looses my stinky travel clothes on the way home, who cares?

Posted by
1732 posts

In my carry on, I pack a small, packable tote bag with a zipper close on the top. It folds down to almost nothing. Plenty of options for this, including one on the RS site, plus check out the Container Store or any well equipped travel store (Baggalini sells several kinds).

On the return trip, I use the fold-up bag as my carry on and check my "bigger" bag. I use the checked bag for things I don't mind getting displaced for several days should it go missing on the way home (like the clothes I've been wearing for 2+ weeks). I tend not to buy many souvenirs so it's usually not a problem. Just remember that liquids over 3 ounces have to be checked on the way home unless you buy them after customs.

Posted by
7 posts

I used to do the carry on only, but in many cases found it more trouble than it's worth. I still try and pack light and small(hauling a heavy bag around is no fun at all), but it's kind of nice to not have to be quite SO small.

Recently I acquired stacking luggage (small bag fits inside medium bag which fits inside large bag) and since then have been packing everything inside one and puting it in one of the empty larger ones. That way I only have one bag going, but have room to expand for the return trip (without expanding too much or having to spend money on a new bag).

Posted by
26 posts

Eileen, in Ricks travel store they sell a lightweight bag that you can pack without taking up much space at all, on your way home fill it with your dirty clothes and check it through carry your souvenirs in your bag with you.

Posted by
9363 posts

Ginette, we did the exact same thing on our first trip to Ireland years ago. My daughter packed her things in the smaller bag and put it inside the larger one. On the way home, we used the second bag for stuff we brought home.

Posted by
12055 posts

On one trip, my kids had saved up better than $100 each and bought an assortment of stuff (some of which they still treasure). They knew they had to pack it. Toward the end of our trip they chipped in and bought a rolling duffel bag from a vendor. They packed their souvenirs carefully and checked the duffel bag for the ride home. Since we had carry on only on the way, we weren't charged for extra luggage.

I always bring a quarter roll of duct tape for emergency repairs. The duffel looked a little flimsy, so I reinforced it with tape. It made it home fine.

Posted by
8700 posts

I have an Eagle Creek packable duffel which takes up very little space in my carry-on bag. At the end of a trip I fill it with dirty clothes and anything else that will fit in it that doesn't need hard-sided protection. Then leaves me lots of room in my carry-on bag for fragile souvenirs, padding and all. I ordered my duffel from Magellans. See here:

Posted by
1589 posts


I love San Francisco (our youngest daughter and her husband live one block from the Painted Ladies )and visit there twice a year, but I don't bring home anything but memories and photos. I suggest that the same might apply to your proposed trip. Either way, have fun!

Posted by
258 posts

I took a RS hide-away tote packed in my carry-on. Then on my way back I put non-breakable items like dirty clothes, travel guides, etc. in the RS hide-away and wrapped all my breakables in my RS convertible, which I expanded to fit everything and just checked both bags.

Posted by
25 posts

In all honesty, you shouldn't really have any issue with one larger bag. Sure, the chance of the airline losing it is higher but you're still far more likely to get your luggage back than to not get it back. And honestly, what's the longest you've waited for your luggage when it gets off the plane? The most I've ever waited was half an hour.

But just to be safe, have him bring a change of clothes in his carry-on in case the worst happens.

However, if you just take the small bags, I second the Eagle Creek packable duffel:

It worked for me returning from China last year. And since I'm finally taking the plunge to go carry on only, it's more important that I take one to Egypt.

Posted by
11464 posts

Souvenirs always seem like a good idea at the time, but ,, I sure see alot of souvenirs at garage and junk sales, hint hint, LOL
I buy keychains and scarves, neither take up alot of weight or room.

The ugliest thing I have ever seen tourist buy were these tacky Leaning Tower Of Pisa lamps,, gosh , what ever posseses some people, LOL I 'd love to see their rumpus rooms.

Posted by
160 posts

You can also mail stuff home as well, as I did from Oslo in 2005 and Santiago (Spain) in 2007. Maybe a bit spendy, but in some cases it might be better than shlepping it around...

Posted by
8 posts

Wow! Thank you so much to all for the great advice!! I think I'll champion the packable duffle to be filled with clothes on the way home to my husband and see what he thinks.

We're of the same mindset as some of you that we don't like to buy a whole bunch of stuff, but we are most interested in the glass art in Venice and want to make sure it gets home intact.

Thanks again!!

Posted by
61 posts

I've started taking bubble wrap with me to be extra cautious with breakable items. Flat sheets don't take up much room and are very light. I also have been packing a hard sided plastic box as well. I put things that will be used up on the trip in it when I pack (snacks, etc.) and then put the breakables in it on the way back. It gives the extra protection, and makes me keep its size in mind when I'm purchasing items, keeping the purchases smaller and light. I've successfully brought back very small porcelain dolls, mugs, glass jewelry, delicate woodwork, glass rosary beads, small bottles of olive oil, etc. with no problem.