Reminders of home: care packages for loved ones overseas

Travel has long been a rite of passage for Australians and for as long as we’ve gone overseas, there’s always been the care package.

Iconic reminders of home

Perhaps by virtue of our remote southern oceans outpost, Australians are renowned for travelling far and wide, to all corners of the globe. At any given time, about a million expats are dotted around the globe, each of them at some time or another longing for the familiarities of home.

Whether it’s a simple childhood treat (Down Under Box knows the value of an Iced VoVo when you’re far from home), a sentimental gesture like a canister of sand scooped from a favourite beach, or something considered such as Australian literature that can’t be found in foreign bookstores, a package from the homeland is one of the great joys of living overseas.

The longer you’re away and the further you go, the more you become aware of those little things that are gone—food, clothing and brands once so familiar they were virtually invisible. Even someone who barely gave Vegemite, Cherry Ripe, Bonds or Speedos a second thought on Australian soil often feels an irresistible pull towards anything uniquely Antipodean.

Sending stuff overseas

If you’re sending a care package from Australia to someone overseas, think about the weight of whatever you want to send. Estimate postage costs and consider size and weight restrictions before you shop—naturally, bulky and heavy items cost more, so give thought to these lightweight, uniquely Australian gift ideas:

Some gifting inspiration

($) No ordinary pair of socks: Tasmanian company, Mongrel Socks makes merino wool and possum-merino mix wool socks in a range of electric (and more subdued) colours.

($$) The not-for-doing-the-dishes tea-towel: Melbourne-based design studio and gift-shop Third Drawer Down makes short-run tea-towels in partnership with independent Australian artists.

($$$) For fashion kudos: Designer Jenny Kee has released a series of her ’80s Australiana prints like Black Opal and Flamingo Waratah in silk scarves of different sizes.

Of course, a care package is about more than the items inside—it’s what they represent: memories, a connection to home and the effort someone has made to buy and post them. Step up your care package game with professional tips on how to put thought into every aspect of your gift. And to make sure it makes it safely across the seas, consider your tracking and signature-on-delivery options.

Sending stuff home

If you’re sending a parcel back to Australia, you’re subject to the same strict Customs restrictions as you would if you were arriving by plane. In general, avoid food, plant and animal products, check any clothes are laundered and shoes are free from mud and gunk. If in doubt, check with the Department of Agriculture’s list of banned items. Of 170 million mail items delivered to Australia in 2014, 24,000 were destroyed for not following the rules.

Before sending a package, make sure you’re familiar with Australia Post’s International Post Guide to learn about postal restrictions and prohibitions for the country you’re sending to.