When to Buy Gifts When Traveling

Tea and Jewelry in Istanbul by Natalie Parker

It’s the season of giving.  It’s also the season of traveling (for me at least).  When do we buy gifts for people back home during a trip?  I’ll explain our philosophy.

We don’t have a must by for list.  In other words, we don’t have to buy anything for anyone.  Think about it.  It’s very freeing.  The first couple of trips we took, we felt we had to buy things for all our family members.  It turned travel time into stressful hunts for things that might be okay and people ended up getting mass produced things from souvenir shops, not anything special at all.  I’ve realized that people aren’t going to appreciate that random thing you bought that was made in China just so you could buy them something.

We only buy if we see something perfect for someone.  This is the fun part.  By not having a set list, we are free to wander without obligation.  If we see something that we know someone would really like, we buy it.  They’re usually little somethings, not too huge.  I knew my corgi-owning friend would love a corgi Christmas ornament from Buckingham Palace.  No brainer there.

Even if it’s for an acquaintance, finding the perfect something can make their day.  I have a friend I don’t keep in touch with as often as I’d like.  Mr. P and I were in a bead store in Istanbul last year and had some necklaces made (pictured above).  They had little black skull beads that I knew this friend would absolutely adore.  I thought about it for a while and went for it.  She loved it.

Buying birthday and Christmas gifts ahead of time is a win-win.  If we’re in a country where it might cost a bit more to get something, but it’s for someone who we buy birthday or Christmas gifts for, we stock up.  We bought lots of little things for family members in China.  But we also loaded up on custom pearl necklaces that we saved until Christmas.

Packing up and shipping our little finds is my favorite activity when we get home.  I use my vintage stamp collection and make Weasley-style mail.  I love surprising people and I love it when they love what we found.

What about you?  Do you like buying gifts while traveling?

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