The return of a traveling loved one is a joyous occasion. Filled with hugs, exciting stories and delightful photos, there are some unspoken traditions (flipping through photographs or talking about difficulties in the airport for example) that never die. Bringing back gifts from faraway places is one of these.
Too often we find ourselves at a loss as to what to bring to our loved ones, selecting generic gifts that could probably be bought back home. It is true that it's the thought that counts, and any things we give will pale in return to the gift of your safe return, but being able to pick out something extra special is always nice. What about something that speaks to the recipient about the true feeling of the country, gives them a little taste of what it would be like to be there themselves? Here are a few creative gift ideas that will entertain, bring joy, and speak of your care for those those you love.
- Enjoying the diverse and exotic cuisines of other countries is one of the most exciting parts of travel. So why not bring it back with you? Sure, you won't be able to take a five-course meal from France or a pile of succulent Costa Rican fruit with you in your carry-on baggage, but you are sure to find some packaged foods that will give your loved ones a true taste of the country. Try cheese from France, mango pickle from India, or maple syrup from Canada.
- Ready to get creative? Try making a short video dedicated to your loved one. You could, for example, set up your camera opposite you as you eat and pretend to converse and share food with your partner, offering succulent bites to the camera. or you could work with some talented locals. Try asking a street musician to perform a song for your loved one, throwing his or her name into the lyrics.
- Ask for personalized handmade crafts. Local craftsmen are abundant in most countries and are eager to make personalized gifts for your loved ones. Bring a photo and have a drawing made, have a special poem or message embroidered, or get their measurements and have some clothes made just for them (imagine getting a German dirndl or Indian sari that was made just for you!).
- If you find yourself in a particularly beautiful or special area, or enjoy an especially memorable experience, bring back something from the area (just make sure you don't accidentally steal something or negatively affect the ecosystem by doing so). Even a simple stone or piece of cloth is meaningful if there is a story behind it, and your loved one will be touched that you though of him or her at such a special moment.
- Learn to cook local food. Take a cooking class or simply ask a local acquaintance to teach you, and you'll be all set to provide the authentic experience of faraway cuisine. Make sure you learn something that can be made with ingredients back home or with some easy substitutes. Try French crepes, Thai curry, homemade tortillas from Latin America, or whatever else suits your fancy in the country you are in.
- Learn a craft. Many tourist areas offer cheap classes for tourists to learn local crafts. Everything from wood carving to weaving or jewelry making--and a whole lot more--can be learned abroad, and you can get the hang of the basics of most of these in little time. Don't tell your loved ones about learning the new skill until you give them their gift and surprise them by saying that you made it!
Travel is wonderful and so is the return home. These special gifts will let your loved ones know that even though you were having the time of your life on vacation, they still held a special place in your memory. Happy travels!