Can anyone suggest the easiest and most cost effective way to bring home or ship souvenirs home to the U.S.
The easiest and cheapest is to bring them back with you. I typically carry a nylon duffel bag with me, rolled up in my bag, and as I pick up small items, I transfer clothes to that bag and put souvenirs in my main bag for protection. On the way back, I check both bags. I also try to wait until the end of the trip to do most of my purchases if possible, and have gone so far as to buy a case or trunk to check if I buy something large (like the Cuckoo clock). Sounds like a hassle, but managed right it is not a problem, and much cheaper and safer than shipping via UPS or the postal system.
Even if you have to pay extra, carrying them with you is usually the best.
If you have a military connection, you could try the APOs on bases. The last time I used one they charged the same to send from Europe as if you sent a parcel within the US.
Thanks for the reply guys. I thought that was one option, but wasn't sure if it was the way to go.
It clearly depends on what you are buying, how long you'll be travelling and how you are getting around. I don't like to check bags or carry extra weight,so I plan on two things for souvenirs: One- I always factor shipping money into my plan. I'm not going to carry a heavy breakable plate for four weeks. Two- I leave most of my clothes in the hotel room my final night. This clears up room in my carry-on for the things I have gathered towards the end. Josh.
After our Amalfi Coast driver stopped for lunch at his friends restaurant where we drank a bottle of limocella - he drove us to another friends ceramic store. Yes - we all bought (wonderful) Amalfi Coast dinnerware - they shipped it. YES we were tipsy, YES it was a setup YES everything arrived a week later and YES I am glad I did it. One friend didn't trust / didn't want to spend the $ shipping and she had to lug the stuff around with her for 3 days in and out of trains and planes. My advice - SHIP the stuff home.
If you want to get a feel for price go to any of the UPS, FedEx, etc. web sites and plug in some numbers. It is expensive and depending on the value could get hung up in US customs. They can be difficult to deal with.
I do what Paul does. Carry a lightweight nylon duffle or tote in your luggage and fill it with worn clothes as you make room for your treasures in your main luggage. Do take the extra precaution of remembering to place more fragile items at the end of your carry-on opposite the wheels. I know it sounds simplistic, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to forget.
I heard it's very expensive.I don't believe they have something like we have here a flat rate envelope or box.
Depending on what you are going to buy, the best way is to carry them with you. I got a KIVA thin backpack that folds into its own pocket for about $6 from Dick's SG and when I left Europe I put some of the souvenirs in there. The rest of them went into my main backpack and the day backpack I was carrying around the cities. I purchased a lot of clothes and some shoes, but I managed to fit everything in 3 backpacks.
Sometimes it might be hard to carry more than a bag from the airport or train stations to your hotel, if you don't take a taxi, but I personally wouldn't spend money to ship home a few t-shirts.