It’s likely that you’re planning on taking home loads of great gifts for your family and friends, as well as a few mementoes for yourself, from your fantastic trip. No matter where in the world you’ve been, and where you’re heading to, when crossing international borders there are some things that just shouldn’t be in your luggage!
Whilst you could get searched, and also have to pass through security detectors, when crossing land borders, this is advice is particularly relevant if you are travelling by aeroplane.
Prohibited items often include drugs, natural items, antiquities, and pieces that have collected at major historical sites. There may also be restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, food, and other drinks.
Here are just a few things to leave behind when heading home from your trip:
Don’t Take Things from Natural Sites!
Many places have prohibitions and restrictions on removing things from natural spots. So don’t be tempted to slip a bit of coral, a shiny seashell, or bits of volcanic rock into your luggage as a unique souvenir or gift, or you could find yourself in trouble!
Some prime examples of places where it is illegal to remove things include coral from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, stones from Acadia National Park in the USA’s state of Maine, anything from any of Hawaii’s beautiful national parks, and shells from many places, including the Caribbean, Tanzania, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Mexico.
This doesn’t only apply to things that you’ve physically removed from the site yourself – it also applies to souvenirs that you may have bought in good faith but that are made from these items. This can include things like jewellery, ornaments, and wind chimes.
Wildlife and Items Made from Animals
Many animal products are illegal, largely to prevent illegal poaching and killing of species that may be endangered or under threat in the wild. There are many such items that could be seized, and you may also face fines or other penalties for being in possession of restricted items.
Be especially wary of anything that may contain ivory or tiger parts. Other things to watch out for are shoes, belts, bags, and other accessories that have been made from crocodile or snake skin, jewellery and other decorative items that use tortoiseshell and conch shells, many traditional Asian medicines, plants, and US products made from bear.
You should also be wary of many products that are made from animal bones. A lot of restricted souvenirs can be found on sale widely in the place you have visited, and seemingly innocent items can be made from prohibited items. These can include, for example, photo frames, key rings, ornamental carved spoons, traditional musical instruments, hair accessories, and may more things.
Whilst some drugs may be perfectly legal in the place that you have visited, they may not be legal back at home or in your next destination. For example, if you’ve been to the Netherlands you may have had a great time smoking some weed and you might even have picked up a few packets of seeds… make sure you get rid of your sensi seeds before leaving!
Coca leaves are widely chewed in the Andes region and are said to help prevent altitude sickness – but customs won’t be too happy to see them in your bags!
There are also restrictions on alcohol and nicotine products. As well as being aware of the limits of how much of a certain thing you are allowed, you should also be aware that some products are forbidden entirely – for example, absinthe and Cuban cigars cannot be taken into the USA. Do your homework first!
Antiquities and Bits of Historical Sites
Tempted to take a piece of the Great Wall of China, a stone from Egypt’s Great Pyramids, or a keepsake from Peru’s Machu Picchu home? Don’t!
There are quite strict penalties for people who try to take such items out of a country. Other examples include Buddha figures from Thailand (even though they are so widely available to buy in all major tourist areas), old Turkish rugs, and antiques from Syria, Iraq, the US – and most other countries in fact!