What NOT to take

Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann writes regularly for 111 Travel Directory - Adult Escapes - and 1000 Travel Tips - as well as several other websites.

Planning to travel abroad? Leave these items at home!

Leaving the Figueroa

Anyone who travels regularly is aware of luggage and carry-on restrictions post 9-11. However, if you travel abroad, there are other considerations to keep in mind. No foreign country wants undesirable insects, rodents, or diseases to infiltrate their population via border crossings.

Before reading further, remember that if you have outstanding police warrants or a criminal record, you should probably forget about foreign travel. Period.

What NOT to take with you

Regulations vary by country. The snacks you pack for a domestic flight may not pass customs inspection for an overseas destination. Start with a good dose of 'common sense' and you will quickly realize why most of the items on the following list are not permitted:

- Beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages that have been opened

- Pets without appropriate vaccination certificates

- Native wildlife

- Weapons - or toys and other items that look like weapons

- Big game bagged while on your safari or hunting trip

- Prescription drugs without an accompanying doctor's prescription

- Drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements with unreadable labels

- Illegal drugs or paraphernalia - *DEATH PENALTY* in some countries

- Potted houseplants, seeds, soil, pebbles, or sand

- Natural products like seashells, pieces of coral reef, whalebone

- Uncooked pork, poultry, beef, and other meat or animal products

- Unprocessed or uncooked vegetables, fruits, tubers, roots, etc.

- Hay, straw, oats, and similar items

- Any other natural products that may harbor diseases or pests

- Fireworks and incendiary devices

- Clothing and souvenirs manufactured with any of the above products

Some prohibited articles may be allowed with appropriate permits or certification. If you don't know for sure - don't pack them or bring them back home with you.

What you MUST take with you

Imagine your charging should you go through customs on your return trip and discover that you must pay duty on your laptop computer, digital camera, and jewelry - even though you purchased them in your own country prior to your trip. Yes, it can - and does - happen. Protect yourself!

Pack copies of documents such as sales receipts, credit card statements, insurance policies, and appraisals for all valuable items to prove ownership and purchase date - especially for anything that looks like new.

No receipts or paperwork? Take a picture of each item next to a newspaper that plainly displays a readable date. Note the serial number(s) with each photo. Keep all photos and paperwork in a safe place along with your passport and other important documents. They will be invaluable when you fill in customs declarations - both leaving and returning.

Do your homework

Spend some time doing research on the internet before you travel. You should be able to find a government or embassy website that provides the regulations online. Do searches such as:

- customs regulations France

- customs regulations Spain

- customs regulations Brazil

- customs regulations USA

Advance investigation may save you considerable time, money, and effort as you pass through each border crossing.

Be aware! The resulting peace of mind will make your holiday much more enjoyable.

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  • milliestar says
    great tips - thank you!
  • T T says
    NZ is really strict on bio-security, and a good thing that it is too!

    Another thing that people MUST take... their credit card(s)?
  • jkt says
    With regards to prescription drugs, is it ok if you have the meds in a bottle with your name clearly labelled on (you know how they print it at the pharmacy and stick it on for you??) or do you have to have a separate letter?

    Taking photos of your valuables is also super handy if they get stolen then you have proof for insurance! Also taking photos of your stuff can help you remember if you've lost anything.

    I definitely haven't found that NZ charges customs on any items purchased overseas. I came back to Auckland from Hawaii this past January with over $3000 worth of new stuff and they didn't bat an eyelid. What countries are known for charging duty?
    • New Member says
      Every time we have travelled overseas our meds have been in the container from the chemist, with names etc on it and we have had no problem
    • Most of it is common sense, but being charged duty on personal goods that you take with you, crazy stuff, I would never have known that!
    • Moz za says
      Many years ago I travelled extensively. While in London we'd visit the laundromat with our dirty clothes in a backpack and the measured dose of washing powder in a plastic bag popped into a side pocket. I used this backback as my hand luggage on my flight returning home to NZ and had forgotten to remove the plastic bag containing the white powdery remnants of the washing powder! After customs discovered this dogdy looking bag we were holed up for a few hours while every piece of our luggage was painstakingly scrutinized and tested. So my own personal advice is to be thorough and try not to overlook the obvious!!!
    • I wish I was travelling again!!! I could do with a drink to reminise
    • Claire1971 says
      Is it just me, but don’t you feel sub-consciously guilty just walking through Customs, even when you genuinely have nothing to declare? I have a recurring nightmare about being caught red-handed with an apple passing through Customs at Auckland Airport, then repenting at leisure at Auckland Women’s Regional Corrections Facility!
    • Ebby says
      My advice is - always pack light - that way you can fill it up with goodies to take home! And take an enthusatic love for your country - share the tales of NZ and it's beauty!
      • Wice says
        Or, pack a smaller suitcase inside a bigger one so that you have two to fill up after your shopping expeditions!
      • Silverbabe says
        When I first saw the name of this article I thought great you are going to help me to take less stuff cause I always seem to end up with everything going with me on holiday and only needing like half of it. Now with a baby on the way I'm going to have to get strict cause we will have all of their stuff too lol

        Oh well not that kind of article but it will still help haha
      • ama2008 says
        Good point! :-)

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