You don’t need another gift guide. No one knows your friends and family quite like you do. Gift giving as a traveller, however, can be a little tricky. Maybe you’re backpacking through South East Asia or living abroad. Either way, bringing back gifts for friends and family can take up precious backpack space. If you’re away for the holidays, mailing is expensive. So what’s a traveller or expat to do?
Here are some of my top tips about gift giving as a traveller (and some ideas if you’re stuck!).
Get Yourself An Elf
Just like Santa, everyone needs a little helper. Whether it be through online tools or a friend or family member, there’s no reason your shopping needs to be overwhelming. When I’m living abroad or in one place for a little while, I find it easiest to to mail things once. Instead of send a bunch of little packages, send one slightly larger package to one address. No extra stamps needed! I typically send things to my mom/sister and have them disperse the gifts to various friends and family in the area. While this isn’t ideal for friends all over the world, it works perfectly for family back home that will already be gathering.
Alternatively, if you do most of your shopping online, take advantage of Amazon’s Gift Services. They will gift wrap, supply a card with your message, and hide any prices. The packing slip will be hidden away in an enveloped marked “Don’t Spoil the Surprise” so the recipient won’t know what’s inside until they unwrap your gift.
While they’re not quite as exciting as receiving a physical parcel, E-Gifts can be a lifesaver when gift giving as a traveller. And honestly, they’re far more likely to be used. You never end up having to worry about someone not getting something they’ll like or use as they get to pick it out themselves. Bonus points if you know it’s something they already use like a Netflix Membership, Kindle Unlimited, Spotify, or whatever service they already have or want to use. Most of these you can choose to send as a physical gift card (so they will get a small parcel to unwrap), or via email (great to send to fellow travellers or if you’re concerned about things being lost in the mail).
Cut Down On Gifts Altogether
I know, I know, I probably sound like a grinch right now, but think about it. Of all the friends and family you want to send gifts to, it’s bound to get expensive or time consuming. Not to mention the stress of possibly forgetting someone. If there are people who you often exchange money or gift cards with equally over the holidays discuss the idea of cancelling it out. My sister and I thought it was silly to basically just exchange $50-$100 with each other so we stopped. Other great ways to limit the amount of gifts is to participate in Secret Santa or other gift exchange games with friends and family so you only need to buy one in each group!