Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Another Little Piece of My Heart: The best English travel gifts aren't always purchased

I am always bringing gifty things back with me from England, and I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of key chains, pencils, and fridge magnets.  Not always the most welcome or unique gifts you can find for your friends, are they?  Well, I’ve pieced together a few ways to obtain gifts that your friends can be proud of and that carry memories of your trip back with you!

  1. A piece of the country you are visiting!  Do you know, I’ve had requests for rocks on more than one occasion?  One of my friends, on her 90th birthday, received rocks from Tintagel and St. Nectan’s Glen from me.  She has a thing for what she calls “spirit rocks”, and I think she really appreciated them (at least I got grand gushings from her and a special email of thanks).  My brother-in-law is a geologist and also wanted rocks.  My neighbor asked for rocks from my travels when I asked her what I could bring her (she got an entire baggie full).  So, bring back samples of the wonderful places you’ve been by gathering rocks, feathers, pine cones, or other natural things that might be appreciated by people on this side of the Atlantic.

    P.S. Within reason and legal limitations! Do NOT dismantle castles, holy places, and other historical sites.  Don't be the Ugly American tourist.  Always check the HM Revenue and Customs for what is and is not legal to take with you or the US Customs and Border Patrol website for what you can bring into the United States. 
  2. Post Cards. People don’t send me post cards very often, but I always enjoy seeing the foreign lands they visit.  If you’re afraid you’ll be spending all your time addressing and writing your post cards, pre-print some address labels before you leave for your trip.  Saves time and provides your friends with a lovely little piece of your vacation!
  3. Town Markets.  In England, many towns have a market day set aside for local crafts, foods, etc.  Buy something unusual at the markets that you wouldn’t find at one of those Piccadilly touristy gift shops.
  4. London Markets.  London has a variety of markets from Camden’s hippy chic to Portabello’s antiques and Petticoat Lane’s textiles.  Research the days and times of these markets to find just the right gift for your special friends.
  5. The Queen’s Gallery is my favorite gift shop of all the gift shops I’ve visited in London.  You can get objects both cheap and expensive, but all done with royal good taste!  The Queen’s Gallery is located at the back side of Buckingham Palace.
  6. To make things easier for you (because it means not lugging souvenirs along on your entire trip), give yourself time to shop in the Duty Free area of Heathrow or Gatwick airports as you leave.  At Heathrow, you’ll find outlets for Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Kath Kidman, World of Whiskies, and more! You’re in duty free at that point, so you will be saving money while spending the last of your British coinage (which you can’t exchange once you’re back in the states).
  7. Ask friends for out-of-the way items that they may be interested in.  I found this out by accident when one friend asked me for “sheep’s roving”.  Well, what was that?  It sent me on a scavenger hunt – meeting people I wouldn’t have normally met and in towns I wouldn’t normally have visited!  It was a wonderful way to get stuck into a gift-finding adventure!
This is just a gentle reminder that some things of greatest value don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.  Always be mindful of the following:
  • Your friends’ tastes
  • The cost. You don’t want to blow your travel budget on everyone but yourself!
  • Weight (because you’ll be lugging around what you buy).  I’m reminded of the time I bought this cute little slate sign with my name on it to hang on the outside of my home.  Cute yes… but the darn thing weighed 10 pounds!  
Extremely Heavy Travel Gift!
  • The amount of space you have.  One year I actually had to buy another piece of luggage to bring back all the things I’d bought!  Don’t be me.  Keep your presents small and well-thought out.
  • Timing.  Try to buy things as close to the end of your trip as possible.  Don’t buy everything on the first day and then have to cart it around with you the entire trip!  One friend picked me up some beer from Germany but had to stow it in a train locker get it at the end of her trip because it was too heavy to haul around on her vacation!
If you’ll keep these things in mind, you’re sure to have yourself a great vacation and friends who will thank you profusely for thinking of them!

No comments:

Post a Comment