Travel Gift Policy

As our family heads off to Denmark, on our first international family vacation with kids, I’ve started to consider the topic of gifts.  When it comes to travel, gift giving often hits you coming and going.  Unless you are headed off to a resort, in most cases of international travel you may likely have reason to provide your host with some kind of a gift.

In our case, I have beloved host families whom I’ve lived with and care for deeply.  We’ll also be staying with several families over the course of our trip, and thus obviously want to provide a thank you for our hosts.  I won’t give it away entirely, as some may be readers, but I’ve managed to find some lovely options at our local Saturday Market.  When it comes to buying outbound gifts, the main guidance is to find something that represents where you are from (hopefully locally made as well), isn’t too weighty or delicate, and shows appropriate thanks to your host.

On the flip side of travel, is to consider what works for you in terms of buying gifts for friends and family as you return from your adventures.  While clearly it is nice to share goodies from your travels, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind when souvenir purchases:

  • Don’t go over board!  It is very easy to want to buy something for everyone. From my experience, most people aren’t actually expecting something, and will respect that you would rather share stories than t-shirts.
  • Not everyone actually wants a souvenir from a place they’ve never been.  They would likely appreciate something thoughtfully selected, but to buy something just to check it off your list is likely just a waste on both sides.  Not everyone wants a wooden rhinoceros.
  • Have fun!  Shopping and finding goodies to bring home from travels is supposed to be fun, so don’t feel like you have to buy anything for anyone, including yourself.  Markets and shopping can be some of the most interesting experiences in any country, but not becomes significantly less fun if you have an agenda. 
  • Be conscious of what you buy for yourself.  Likely you’ll want to keep whatever it is that you get for a lifetime to remember your trip.  If you travel a lot, it is easy to end up with a pile of trinkets.  My sister, who travels abroad frequently, advises to find something utilitarian that will add value to your life in a useful way.  This most often ends up to be something kitchen related, or an easy buy of jewelry, which is lightweight and adds to your style.  
  • You’ll also likely appreciate the memory of shopping for the item as much as you will the item itself!

What gifts do you bring for hosts when traveling?
What are your favorite souvenirs?

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