If I get given another magnet I might just scream

Gift-giving in general is an art, so when it also involves travel of some sort it almost becomes a real life challenge. Personally, I feel like there’s a bit of a formula you can stick to when it comes to what sort of gifts you should bring back for friends and family. In my mind it goes something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 4.39.03 pm

That is, the value/quality of the gift is equal to how much money you want to spend over the destination you’re in. I’m sure all the maths nerds out there are up in arms at my misappropriation of mathematical symbols but it makes sense to me.

So what are the factors you have to remember when thinking about buying gifts for people while overseas? Well there’s actually a huge amount of things to consider. As demonstrated by this handy list I prepared earlier for you to print out and complete:

Gift giving checklist

So if the above list doesn’t help you, here’s my tips for making it through the gift purchasing gauntlet that can be overseas trips.

I think it’s fair to say that unless you’re going to a wildly amazing world event or beautiful and bizarre location, if your trip is shorter than one week, you really don’t need to bring back gifts for many. When I was lucky enough to go to the Royal Wedding of Will & Kate on a work trip I was only there for 5 days but the amount of souvenir requests I got seemed like it totalled more than the amount of likes the photo of Pippa Middleton’s bum got on Facebook.

Unique Items
We’ve seen enough episodes of Border Patrol to know that you should always pack your own suitcase, you should never bring back anything that remotely looks like it once was an animal and that the bottle of scotch you bought from an old lady on the street in Taiwan is most likely probably not scotch. That being said, I feel like items that are unique to your destination  – but not illegal – are always the best items to bring home.

Items Made In That Country
This applies more than you think. I’m amazed at the amount of souvenirs I saw on a recent trip to the Pacific Islands that were made in Thailand, China or India but had the word of the area we were in written in Gold Sharpie. That’s really not a unique memento of the place you’re in, especially when you start seeing the same objects with different Sharpie-scrawling on them from town to town. Try wherever possible to bring back items made in that country – I feel like that’s a much stronger memento.

Buy big things sparingly, little things in bulk
I usually go with a few big ticket items for my family / close friends if they’ve requested it, and then bulk up on unique, often weird, wacky and cheaper smaller items for everyone else. At Disney World that was Disney character-shaped pencils unique to the gift shop(s), in Holland it was tiny clogs that doubled as bottle openers, in Fiji I bought sealed bags of Fijian Coffee and Tea. Also buy a couple more of the cheaper items just in case you accidentally forget someone on your list in your travel daze. 

Don’t forget yourself
This may not apply to everyone but for many it will resonate. If you’re a frequent traveller or plan to travel a lot, buy yourself a memento that you can find in all the places you travel. I know a friend who buys a metal fridge magnet in every town she visits, another friend buys a car sticker in every country he visits but sticks them on the inside of his suitcase. In 2008 I was challenged to buy a mini snow globe in every city I visited on a big Euro trip. Almost 10 years later I still collect a tiny snow globe in every location I go just to keep the tradition going. Don’t forget yourself on the list.

Happy Travels!

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