Ed note: Most of us think about souvenirs we want to bring back from our travels, but how would you manage taking gifts with you on a trip? It’s a common conundrum for Jeannette Kaplun, so she’s here to share a little frugal wisdom. Leer en español.
When you live far away from your family, every trip to visit them is a source of joy. It also requires quite a bit of planning, especially if you want to show your love for your friends and family. Taking gifts is customary when visiting your loved ones and you don’t want to exclude anybody.
When traveling to Chile where I grew up, I not only need to budget airfare and typical travel costs, but like many Latinas, I also need to plan for gifts. I miss so many family events that I feel I need to take regalitos. Not only for my parents, brother and grandparents, but also for my closest friends and their kids.
A few years ago it started getting out of hand and was costing a fortune. No matter how much I saved during the year, there was no way my budget could survive taking dozens of presents. I began asking myself whether I really needed to take so many gifts. I realized I could get away with small presents, like stickers, instead of the large presents I was used to bringing. Plus, airlines tend to charge more for extra bags during peak seasons, so I also had to be smart about how heavy or bulky the gifts were.
Here are a few tips if you need to take gifts for your family and friends when you travel:
- Make a list. I have a master list on my smartphone of my closest family members and friends. I also add details, such as ages, hobbies or sizes. This helps me have a set plan when I go shopping for gifts.
- Plan in advance. Once you know how many gifts you want to take with you, take advantage of sales (especially online) prior to your trip. This can save you lots of time and money.
- Have a few extra gifts that everybody will enjoy. I take boxes of nice chocolates, in case I attend unexpected events or parties. I also give them away as hostess gifts. Imported chocolates are always a nice treat!
- Take gift bags with you. Due to increased airport security measures that might require easy access to any objects in your bags, I always leave gifts unwrapped in my luggage. I take gift bags and tissue paper so they don’t take space in my bag, and that way I can give a beautiful present in minutes once I land.
- Don’t forget about weight restrictions when choosing gifts. Check with your airline about your baggage allowance. Many airlines allow up to 50 lbs. per checked bag. If you go over that limit, be prepared to pay $100 extra! That’s why I prefer lightweight gifts, such as scarves, t-shirts, makeup, wallets and stickers.
In the end, remember that your time and presence is much more valuable than any gift you can buy.
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