Traveling gives you a chance to see unbelievable sights and to meet great people. Bringing back some memories for people comes with photos, etc. On the other hand, sometimes you feel you should buy gifts for everyone. And although I frequently bring back small things like keychains to pass around at the office, I got over the thought that I need to buy other folks gifts just because I like to travel a while ago.
Now that doesn’t mean I don’t shop when I travel, that I only shop for myself or that I don’t want to share what it was like. When I get home, I can’t wait to talk to family and friends, to share photos and tell stories. Hear from others who have had similar experiences. Now when I travel overseas, I frequently do birthday or Christmas shopping. And if there is someone I know with a particular connection to the place I’m in.
My nieces and nephews all have gifts brought from my big trips. Some of the big ones include jewelry and kilims from Turkey, pearls from both China and India, sarongs from Malaysia, puka shell necklaces from the Philippines and one I think is especially close to the heart for my nephew, a hand-carved stone chess set from India. My oldest sister & I frequently find ourselves buying Christmas ornaments or things to place on Christmas trees so the stories come back for us each year!
This year’s trip to the Philippines included some very special items for a friend who’s dad is Filipino. He is a fireman and loves to trade shirts with other departments and he and his wife were pregnant for the first time. Granted, I don’t always shop for Jeff, but with the family ties, he zoomed up on my list and I wanted to make it count.
I met some volunteer firemen who gave me a patch and t-shirt for Jeff with their “text fire” motto on it! (Great prompt for me to explain mobile phone availability outside the US and that 911 is not universal!) Of course the t-shirt was the biggest avaialble and still 3-4 sizes too small, but Jeff never flinched in his excitement. And did I mention because I asked about buying these things to start a conversation, they insisted I take them as gifts to a fellow fireman & refuse to let me pay? So with this, it was truly the thought that counted. 🙂
For Jeff’s unborn son, I picked up a couple of jeepneys — one was wooden which is probably more likely to be played with while his real small and the other similar to a matchbox car but a bit bigger. One was quite a hit at a baby shower!
Thoughtful gifts can wait to be presented weeks, even months later. The recipient is still thrilled by it and it lets me share great memories while keeping my travel budget in tact!
Knowing that’s the way I approach it, my family waits with bated breath at times to see if I came back with something. And to respect others’ travel budgets, I may just hand them some cash and ask them if they see anything I’d like, to pick it up. They get the joy of shopping without worrying about those dominoes falling — afterall, we are all safe from wondering why I got something when someone else may not have.
I love a good souvenir… was reminded about that today as my sister brought me back a bit of shopping she did with money I sent to Japan with her. Got a great, unique backpack briefcase and a fabric piece to keep my kitchen from looking directly into the pantry. GOOD GIFTS!
Before you head out on a big trip, give some thought to your gift buying strategy & talk open & honestly with friends. You’ll find the thoughts really do make all the difference!
If you have a particular gift buying strategy, please share it. I’m always looking for ideas!