Please sign in to post.

How to carry home gifts if you have only brought a carry on bag and it is full!

Rick encourages us to wash clothes and only bring a carry on size bag. But how to you bring home a few gifts and souvenirs if your carry on bag is full????? Thank you

Posted by
6457 posts

I pack light enough to leave some space in my carryon suitcase. Then it can be fuller coming home. Sometimes I would tuck a light, small backpack in my suitcase, and that could become my personal item on the airplane going home.

Posted by
503 posts

Easy! Find a small duffel (Eddie bauer, Container Store, Amazon) that folds up and pack that. When packing for home, put clothes in the duffel and check it and place your "souvenirs" in your carry on.

Posted by
11503 posts

Ha , I’ve put all my dirty clothes etc in my carryon suitcase and checked it on way back and have bought like a 5 euro shopping bag to carry back on - which is what I put my souvenirs and valuables ( if checked bag gets lost on way home I’ve only lost clothes ) . Yes it looks a bit pathetic to carry on a reusable shopping bag but I don’t care - and sometimes they are in themselves great souvenirs ( where I live we’ve banned plastic shopping bags and charge for paper ones so everyone uses those reusable bags now for shopping , mine day “ Paris “ or “ London “ lol

I’ve also learned to bring a lot fewer souvenirs- I bring mostly food items and a few scarves , no one really likes most cheap souvenirs

Posted by
2615 posts

pay for hold luggage on the way home.BTW you do not have to follow every bit of Rick's advice, his way of travelling does not suit everyone. you want to take a bigger bag then do so.

Posted by
6912 posts

I do just what pat does. Put all my clothes and non-essentials in my carry-on and check it and buy a cheap bag to carry on with my souvenirs, especially any breakable ones, and important items (meds, electronics, etc). I've had to do that twice when my purchases got too much for my carry-on. I don't buy so much stuff anymore and I've gotten so that I can leave room in my carry-on for anything I do buy.

Posted by
6113 posts

There are ways other than the RS way! Check a bag. It’s not difficult and I have never lost a bag yet, even though I check a bag for at least 6 international flights each year. Than you don’t have to spend half your holiday worrying about where to do your laundry and you can take souvenirs home. I stopped buying souvenirs over a decade ago, other than a fridge magnet.

Posted by
8293 posts

No one will point and snicker if you check a bag. Really.

Posted by
10328 posts

Those nylon small duffels are easy to pack.
Also, buy small things, flat things such as earrings and placemats.

Posted by
253 posts

We save some clothes that we would normally throw away (worn out underwear, socks, and shirts with a small hole under the armpit) or donate (shirts/skirts that are a little big or we just don't wear anymore), pack those, and just throw them away along our trip. Doing this leaves us plenty of room for the select souvenirs we purchase. We still look nice in our photos and have room for souvenirs. Some people may say it is wasteful to throw away clothes we could donate, but it works for us.

Posted by
1025 posts

Mailboxes Etc. branches can be found in a number of European cities. Yes, you will pay for them to pack up your gifts and souvenirs, but you won't have to schlep them to the airport and carry them all over the place when you return.

Posted by
1315 posts

Sib daisy..... oh yeah you have awakened the comment machine.

I did this w a tshirt last week. But I fold them neatly and leave on bathroom counter, they may have a next life as a cleaning rag. Undies go in trash.

Posted by
314 posts

We bring this REI collapsible duffle bag in our carryon and use it on the way home. Generally, we put our dirty clothes and such in the duffle and check it, then gifts go with us in the carryon. This duffle collapses to just larger than a frisbee and is made of very durable material--much better than a cheaper nylon bag.

Posted by
173 posts

I used Mailboxes Etc to ship things home from Sorrento before heading to Rome. Worth the $$$.

Posted by
849 posts

There have been numerous posts on this subject so I may be repeating myself......but I agree with pat, slbdaisy and doric8.......we have been known to purposely pack throw-away shirts, old t-shirts with underarm holes, etc to take with us and throw them away before packing to fly home....alleviates a lot of packing space in your luggage for things to bring home. You also need to realize that you cannot carry-on anything over 3 take your olive oil, mustards, jellies, salt, spices (all things we love to bring home) and wrap them safely in socks, etc in your luggage......check that luggage home. In your cheap $5 souvenir Paris bag stuff your dirty clothes, undies, pj’s.......they are all stuffable and can easily be crammed into a overhead bin on your flight. Your “goodies” are safely taken care of in checked baggage. I know it is a personal thing for me but the joy of traveling internationally is finding those unique, out-of-the-way treasures and bringing them why do I want to stress myself into having to make certain any of them are under 3 ounces???!!! Check those things through to your home and RELAX! Ours have always made it home safely! We were just in Vienna 2 months ago......our “treasures” we had purchased were adding up so we walked into a post office there, bought a $5 shipping box, filled it with things that would take up space in our luggage (t-shirts, Christmas ornaments, vases) and shipped that box home......for about $30. What an easy thing to do.....and it came in about a week after we got home. I will add that once when we were in Paris we tried this with FedEx......and I have an account....and the cost to ship home was $ I think the regular post office is a lot better to use.
Hope this helps!

Posted by
12154 posts

Lots of street vendors offer duffel bags or similar. In the past, we've put our souvenirs into our carry-on and stuffed clothes into a checked bag for the way home. I'm not as worried about lost luggage when I get home - I have a closet full of clothes there.

Posted by
850 posts

I always mail stuff home. Usually with dirty clothes too, as I'll buy new to avoid wasting time doing laundry.

I used to mail everything to my parents, and then we'd have the family over to open the boxes. Made for great evenings.

Posted by
8293 posts

Totally agree with Emma on this. How is it that checking a bag, not doing “carry on only”, has become almost a cardinal sin? Is it the fee to check luggage? Negligible. Is it the time it takes at the luggage carousel? Usually not more than 7-8 minutes. What’s the rush? Such anguish over a minor part of the trip.

Posted by
2559 posts

I admit it--I like to shop when in Europe; the flea markets and antique shops, clothing stores we don't have here, food items and the odd enticing thing that is a joy to use later and thus I almost always check my bag, using a carry-on tote for the extra special and/or fragile things I bring home. The one time I went carry-on only I brought a foldable sturdy LeSportsac zipped tote that was used on the flight home for my loot, and I checked the suitcase. The only things I leave behind are paperback books.

Posted by
3500 posts

With the airline I fly most often, the wait at the baggage carousel is closer to an hour. It can take also that long to check the bag in the first place. I usually don't have all that much with me anyway so I don't need to check a bag.

Taking an extra bag, or buying a cheap one there, and checking your dirty laundry sounds like the best option. Most international flights allow for one checked bag at no additional charge.

Posted by
105 posts

I've done it a couple of ways depending on how I'm traveling. I've checked my 23" that contains my soft side carry-on, so extra space outside the carry-on. Then, left the larger piece at a drop/friends/hotel that I will return to. Travel with the small bag and take a tote. When I fly home, the bags get checked together with what ever I've picked up and I use the tote as a carry-on if needed. (it can be mostly dirty clothes at that point).

Or, take foldable tote along with my carry-on. At the end of the trip, anything that can't be carried on (wine, etc.) goes in my bag and is checked, the rest in my collapsable bag, which is now my carry-on. I actually bought the "Don't tell Rick" bag, and it worked really well.

Posted by
4429 posts

I'm with Emma and Norma. Leaving extra trash in the country you are visiting just seems wrong to me. At home you deal with your own garbage including paying for curbside services. As a tourist you don't. I know most of you travel in Europe where it is bad enough to dump your trash, but doing this in countries with little to no infrastructure for garbage removal is even worse. It's bad enough that they burn their garbage, and oh, while they are at it, they cook their daily meal over the fire of burning trash. We'll add our dirty underwear to it for some extra grossness and polyester fumes and chemicals for the taste. Kind, I'm sure.
As mindful tourists, one wants to remember that much of the world pays a premium for their energy, AC, heat, water and space - including landfills.

Posted by
3134 posts

Sorry but I think packing clothes to throw away at your destination is a bit rude.

I have to say I'm in Emma's camp on this one. Why leave your old clothes for others to get rid of? However, what I can't imagine is bringing old, worn clothes on a trip to anywhere as I want to look nice and feel nice, and I don't feel nice in what I'd consider my 'gardening' clothes. I know a lot of people do this, but I get really confused by this. And I really don't mean to offend anyone with my statement, to each their own, but I just don't understand this perspective.

Regarding souvenirs: I only buy souvenirs that will fit in my luggage. Small or textiles, if any...these are presents that I might bring home. I have the the RS Wheelie, which I could expand if I have to, but I don't believe I ever have expanded it. My concern is weight and ease of use, so I keep it light and pack only 7 days of clothes, and after a week, I'll send my laundry out to be cleaned if at all possible. This being said, I usually check my carryon sized bag both ways, and definitely on the way home. In all my years of travel, I've never lost or had a delayed bag myself (other than skis that arrived 6 hours later to my room in no worries even there). Bring a recycle shopping bag or a packable small tote and use that if you over flow. You might want to ask yourself why you need so many souvenirs if you run out of room and might want to keep a journal or such instead of buying more things. But what ever makes your trip, do. I don't buy a lot of things, but most people I know, do, and that's why they don't have money to travel with me...thank goodness. LOL. YMMV

Posted by
2863 posts

Another agreement here that throwing away your old clothes in another country is not very good environmental practice.
At least put them in a bag at your last hotel ,and leave a note saying Free, or For Donation.
And wash them first!
No one wants your smelly cast offs.

Posted by
5828 posts

I also just bought a REI Roadtripper 40L duffel bag. Carried the duffel bag folded flat in my RS Classic Carry-on back pack to Hawaii and brought it back as checked baggage filled to 40L. Ironically while checking the 40L duffel (and paying $30) agent offered to check our carry-on bags at no charge because the flight was full.

Alternative to pre-buying a lightweight folding duffel is to buy a bag overseas and check it.

And don't dump you old clothing on Europe.

Posted by
6457 posts

I cringe when I often read the “just bring old clothes and leave them in your hotel room” statements. Imagine a whole hotel with rag clothing left in each room to deal with while we trot on for our plane rides home! It really is similar to staying at a friend’s home, and then leaving their bathroom with a stack of dirty clothes for them to find after you’ve left. Please don’t! : (

Posted by
10507 posts

Why should another country have to deal with your rubbish just so you can fit another souvenir in ? It costs that country money to process your waste, it contributes to their landfill

The original query was how to get all the stuff home that was purchased on the trip, supporting the local merchants and adding tax income from 'outside' the system. It turned into a bashing of anyone leaving any 'rubbish' behind.

It would appear everyone should buy clothes in Europe, as it seems they never wear out and end up being tossed into a trash bin.

The visual painted by some previous posts that tourists would add an undue burden on the trash disposal system because of the great steaming, stinking heaps of rotting clothes is amusing. ( at least in Atlantis, the odor would not be a problem! :-) )

Posted by
2766 posts

I don't like to check a bag on the way over. Not out of some "super traveler" principle, but because it's a pain. I arrive at a destination and I want to get going, not wait at baggage claim, and I don't want to not have my carefully planned suitcase if the luggage gets lost. But on the way home I don't care so much. I'm tired and not in as much of a hurry to get home, and if my luggage is delayed I have plenty of other stuff at home.
So - I check my suitcase full of dirty laundry and things like plug adapters, and carry on a tote bag of other things. Gifts and souveneirs, things I may want on the plane, and just whatever fits.

I actually don't shop that much so on some trips I can fit my purchases in my bag by just not overpacking it to begin with. My family isn't big on "stuff" so gifts aren't really an expectation after travels. So if I buy a gift it's because I saw something that seemed perfect for a particular person, and I save it until Christmas or their birthday. I might buy a book for myself, or some home decor. Probably not clothes, I have to try everything on to see if it fits and I don't want to take the time.

Posted by
2090 posts

Rick's Hide-a-way tote is only $20 and really is small and easy to pack. Then when you need it for picnic shopping or whatever, it unfolds to an amazing size. And of course the real benefit is you have a second carry on bag for all the extras you bought...but of course your convertible backpack or rolling bag would need to be checked. We highly recommend taking a hideaway tote on all trips! (And, no Rick's not paying me!)

Posted by
1259 posts

Of all the unsound and morally reprehensible economic, environmental, and cultural acts we perpetrate on friendly countries while traveling, leaving articles of clothing in a hotel bin is WAY down my list.

Posted by
253 posts

I find it interesting how, on this forum, some posters like to bash other people's ideas instead of just politely suggesting their own idea. A small hole under the armpit doesn't make me look grungy in my photos. And FWIW, on our 2 1/2 week trip to Italy this summer, I took 5 shirts and 3 skirts. I washed and wore them again along the way, and ended up tossing only 4 shirts sand 2 skirts. Sorry for those of you who think that's too much for the country of Italy to deal with. There were no filthy piles of rubbish left in ANY hotel we stayed in.

Posted by
4429 posts

The thing is it isn't just one person. It is a person and another, and then they recommend it to others so the concept grows. We read threads on the garbage situation in Rome and though tourists may not see it, it is there and our trash still contributes to it. If a person uses a short let apartment in Venice, there are complex instructions of how do deal with garbage, compost and recyclables that the locals deal with every day. Staying in hotels makes this side of a city invisible, but staying in the neighbourhoods make it much more real and apparent.

We complain about the crowds, the challenges of travel, the costs, the fines for actions we don't take a second thought to consider the impact of. Venice may use some of the tourist tax towards garbage removal and reduction, but other cities haven't got to that yet...though they might.
So, no, Italy doesn't want to deal with it.
If the intent is to donate it, then clean the clothes and drop it off at a church or donation site.
Ultimately, what you do personally is your decision. I just ask that you reconsider the practice and not suggest it to others.

Posted by
1662 posts


As you see, suggestions differ.

I like to joke that "extra light or light packing and Girasole = no match" lol

My longer travels, either Domestic or International, involve my staying in one place (usually Autumn/Winter), so of course that would make it much easier to check and carry on a bag. I also take a day tote for out and about. I put my valuables and at the ready stuff for the plane too.

My checked and carry on are about 22 inches. I don't pack a lot in each though leaving room for souvenirs - like Limoncello, other special sweets like chocolate covered limoncello chews, a chocolaty liquore (to die for! lol), a pistacchio cream out of this World!, and other unique sweets and trinkets I won't get in the States; also memorabilia from St. Peter's and other places I favored.

I take three pairs of black, business casual slacks - wear one, one in carry on, and one in checked bag. Material is washable, wears very well. Pretty much dries overnight.

I took light, thin sweaters - they come to about the hip, V-neck and have two side slits at the hip and a wider, bracelet-length cuff if you will (so a little dressier) - black, cream-white (my last two trips to Italy) - I wore one on plane, packed the cream-white in carry on and packed the other black and cream-white ones in checked. They were the same sweaters, lol, I liked them and the fit. But I added accessories or not for a different look. I also took thin, spaghetti-strapped fitted tanks in white and black to layer under the sweaters.

I like to wear clothes that have more of a solid look or a tonal look, monochromatic, or mix and match color theme.

It is good to choose a base color - like black, navy, dark gray, dark brown - whatever you favor

A couple of scarves. I also like to wear "sheer type vests" that add color - solids or prints for a different look. They are pretty weightless. I wear a bracelet style watch - a panther link - goes with everything; a bracelet, rings and my cross.

Dressy "sheerer" vests that can change the look
Wear one pair of shoes - pack another
Under clothes - enough for 7/8 days; wash every two days and drip dry hang for the other week.

Black Gloves
Black coat
Grey soft wool hat - more like a newsboy style - good for bad hair days too, lol
Winter scarf on the plane (my last two trips to Rome were in December)
Soft neck pillow I attach outside the carry on

I decant and split up my toiletries - the 3-1-1 of course and cosmetic bags with more in quantities (in the checked)
Cosmetics to freshen up between flights - layovers are long so I have the opportunity
"Plane" stuff - toothbrush/paste - mini mouthwash - a few snacks - hand wipes, things like that
Curling wand
Kindle - charger
Phone - charger and portable charger for out and about
Mini umbrella - enough to cover head and shoulders
Sheets of bubble wrap - for fragile bottles larger than 3 ounces - clothes get wrapped around that too - no issues

My smaller souvenirs (fragile and others) go in the carry on

I use soft-sided packing cubes (some have the wire stability frame built in) Separates and keeps clean/organized underwear and the like