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To Gift Or Not To Gift?

by Globetrooper Lauren | 17 Responses

This Sunday is Father’s Day in Australia – yes I know, we like to be different and have it on a different day to North America – but my Dad isn’t big on presents. He knows I’m half-way around the world, traveling on a budget. And I know that Canada Post is slower than a snail. So, a Skype kiss will have to do.

But considering Christmas will be here in no time, what’s the general consensus for sending gifts home?

I love to give presents. I enjoy seeing that first reaction when a gift is opened: be it positive, negative, surprise, bewilderment or ‘I knew it’. But buying gifts puts a big dent in the travel budget, especially at the merry time of Christmas when there are so many people to buy for.

I’ve been away from my family for Christmases before, but I was only traveling for short periods of time. But what happens now? When I don’t know when I’m going back?

I also have to take into consideration the size of my backpack, it’s only 35 liters. So it’s not like I can make up for it with accumulated treats and souvenirs from around the world. Sure I could post some stuff, but it’s expensive and adds up, and isn’t it the thought that counts?


Llamas for Christmas, what an idea!

For all of you nomads, long term-travelers and expats, What do you do? If you’re away at Christmas is it ‘too bad, so sad‘ or do you sacrifice your future travels to buy pressies?

I think I’ll stick with postcards this year… I’ll send one to the family home for everyone to skim through on Christmas Day. Is this just selfish of me? Or are gifts just a product of the materialistic world we live in? Or is that just a poor excuse to save time and money?

Posted in | September 1st, 2010

17 Responses to To Gift Or Not To Gift?

  1. I have spent the past couple holidays away from my family. Though they always say “don’t buy anything, don’t spend your travel money on junk”, I always try to buy a small detail I know I can carry it for the rest of the trip and that I know they would appreciate. But when I do my RTW, I think the story will be different because I won’t be parceling stuff from every country I visit.

    I think postcards are a great gift for long term travel. It is more personal than just an email and it goes more with the sentiment of letting them know you are “there”. Plus, getting a unique postcard/letter stamped from another country is really exciting. I’m sure your dad will be really excited with your postcard. :)

    • I love getting anything in the mail, especially when it’s a postcard from somewhere overseas!! Pity we’re not going to have a letterbox anymore :(
      I also like to get little gifts along the way, but then a lot of the time, you like something that someone else doesn’t.
      I think I’ll stick with the postcards!

  2. We’ve been away so often for Christmas that it is weird now if we are home. But I know that it is odd your first time away. We just try to talk to everyone that day. We make ourselves available on skype and watch for family to pop on line. It is awesome to chat with everyone. I didn’t know that Father’s day was on a different date than Canada. That is cool.

    • Not very cool, very confusing. Father’s Day in Canada & the US was a few weeks ago I think (maybe months actually) and I remember thinking, ‘oh crap, gotta remember to call my dad’ only to realise another difference in our countries besides driving.

  3. I’m a long time expat, and stopped the gift giving a long time ago. However, I do give to my father. If I didn’t, he probably wouldn’t say anything, but I would feel bad. That’s just me. Now he’s almost 87, so what to buy is always the question.

    Generally what I do is I keep an eye open when I’m traveling and something usually grabs my attention. This summer in happened in a Sake House in Nara. They had delicious cured cucumber and melon. It keeps for several months without refrigeration. It will fit in a padded envelope, which is relatively cheap to mail from Korea. I also give him a check to buy something or use however he sees fit.

    Also, this past Christmas I found a company close to my Dad that smokes eel. He loves the stuff. He was thrilled when it arrived at his door on Christmas Eve.

    I remember/give at Father’s Day, Christmas Day, and his birthday.

    • Very sweet Nancie. I feel like that with both of my parents though and a few close friends. I think I’ll have to narrow it down to birthdays and Christmas.

  4. I think postcards go a long ways, and are a great way to say thank you, even to people that make even the smallest difference along the way. What’s a dollar to brighten someone’s day and remind them they made an impact on you?

    I pick up little things as I travel, but mostly for myself. Every few months, I just mail a package home. It’s then that I usually buy a couple of other little gifts to toss in for family and friends. That way I don’t have to haul them around.

    An exception: I always call to a place back home and have flowers delivered to my Mom on Mothers Day and her birthday.

    • ‘What’s a dollar to brighten someone’s day and remind them they made an impact on you?’ Very true, can’t argue with you there.

  5. We will be in the Dominican Republic for Christmas this year with our two babies. If we get any presents for family it will be inexpensive and small – their gift is seeing the babies when we get back to the States! ;)

    • Children are a whole other story when it comes to presents. Props to you for travelling with kids!

  6. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do this year. I love shopping in foreign countries, and part of the joy of travel for me is finding interesting gifts for my family back home. At the same time it can be an expensive and difficult habit to keep up in the long run. I think I’m going to try to send some stuff home for Christmas if I can do it without breaking the bank.

    • Yeah I like your plan. Maybe some small gifts for close family if something catches my eye in a quaint market.

  7. Hey, my dad insists on getting a postcard every time I leave the house practically, it drives me potty as I’m useless at remembering to do it! I suppose I do like receiving them though, it’s still a thrill to get any personalised post these days among all the pizza menus, gas bills and direct mail from the banks.

    As for gifts, well I think if they’re unique and you know the recipient will like them, then why not? There’s a big workplace tradition here to bring back native chocolates, biscuits and foodstuff like that, keeps you popular around the water cooler it seems!

    • I absolutely love getting real mail. And I used to insist on ppl sending me postcards when they went away, now I realise what a hassle it all is.

  8. I always like to try and get small gifts for everyone that will fit into my carryon, sometimes its hard though because over time you have to start bringing gifts for more and more people. One thing that i did when I was living in Europe is ship everything back to the states. A funny story is one time i shipped everything from Europe to S. America for xmas.. it was around the beg of December and everything got to S. America in February!! lol 3 months for the mail to get there.. classic

    • Considering we’re only going carry-on, I don’t think small gifts for everyone will fit. Maybe a few, we’ll see :)

  9. forums who go across the very same topics? Thanks a lot!

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