Travel season is upon us, with holidays and vacations on the horizon. Yes, it’s time to lock down the hotel and restaurant reservations, book special tours and events, arrange for pet-sitting, buy some new travel togs, and . . . get ready for travel. Get ready for travel? No, you don’t have to start packing yet, unless you’re leaving tomorrow. However, for those traveling to another country, it is time for those special preparations that make your return simpler and conflict-free.
Get Ready to Go
For starters, if you’re leaving the country, make sure your passport and other travel documents are in order. For those with U.S. passports, that means your passport should be valid for another six months after your travel, or you won’t be allowed to go.
Trust us; we know folks who were turned away from flights. To be really safe, your passport shouldn’t expire within six months of your intended return, not just departure.
Prepare for Customs
But then there’s the matter of your stuff . . . what you’re bringing on the trip. Of course, it’s always difficult to whittle down and decide what you really need and what fits in your luggage, but that’s not really what we mean.
The issue is being able to demonstrate to customs officials that you possessed items before your trip. Why? Well, you don’t want to be accused of bringing back non-declared (more on this later) items purchased abroad. To some, your baggage full of designer bags and goods could resemble the spoils of a happy foreign shopping spree rather than just your fine taste in fashion. Evidence that you left home with these items proves the point.
Simply put, you must photograph and document everything of value before you leave. That includes luxury bags, jewelry, even clothing. You want it to be date-stamped and/or shown with your boarding pass or a current newspaper. Furthermore, you must have this documentation with you during your travels.
Clearly, the simplest method is to have the photos on your smartphone, ready for review by any official. Alternatively, a paper copy will suffice, but that’s just another thing to carry. Another benefit is that, should items be stolen or lost during your trip, this proof may help with any warranted insurance claims. Try this as your new travel mantra: snap it before you pack it.
Additional Pre-Trip Tips
As we’ve written many times before, whether coming or going, keep your valuables with you during travel. Checked luggage gets delayed, lost, and even pilfered. The good stuff is safer with you. (Read: Travel Reminder: Don’t Put Your Birkin in Checked Luggage)
And if you’re looking for handbag protection, look no further than The Eclipse, one of our newest PurseBop Frocks. No Birkin will end up scuffed in this protective jacket.
Lastly, never forget PurseBop’s tried and true “bag nesting” techniques for toting (pun intended) some of your favorite handbags to your destination(s). This method allows you to bring more without taking up any extra valuable packing space. It also facilitates room to bring home those vacation finds.
Time to Go Home
After days (or weeks or months) of adventure, dining, touring, shopping and more, it’s always time to go home. As with your pre-travel chores, preparation and planning eases the return trip (though perhaps not the re-entry into daily life). As always, keep your valuables with you rather than in checked baggage.
If you’ve been shopping abroad, pay attention: Declare all of your purchases to the customs officials upon return. Be honest and account for everything. Yes, it may cost you extra money, particularly if you exceed the duty-free allowed amount. Yes, the overseas bargain based on currency differences and VAT refunds may dissipate.
However, if you do not declare and are caught, the costs are greater. Experience tells us that there is a connection between VAT refund tracking and customs declarations. There’s no excuse for risking it. Not only will you be responsible for the excess duty, but there may be fines and other penalties. We know of people who, for example, have lost their Global Entry privileges for failure to declare. (Read: Part VI: The VAT and Customs Procedures)
Conversely, be ready to show that items in your baggage were not purchased abroad. To a customs official, that Hermès Birkin or Chanel classic flap on your arm might be a new purchase from Paris. Having easy and ready access to your photo and document proof discussed above will dispel any doubt that these items left home with you.
What’s the most difficult part for you about traveling with luxury goods? Tell us below!
For more travel advice, read:
Travel Alerts For Spring Travelers Heading to Europe
Hermès Collector Jamie Chua Reveals Her Luxury Packing Secrets
Travel Reminder: Don’t Put Your Birkin in Checked Luggage
2017 Travel Guide
How Do you Bring Home the Hermès Kelly and Everything Else After Shopping in Europe