Things this post is not:
- A list of versatile clothing, water purifiers, safety gadgets and other travel gear that every traveler supposedly dreams about.
- A list of travel apps, iPad cases, e-readers and other techie items that come with a pro and con list about why you should choose one brand or item over another.
- A list of magazines you should subscribe to (no need to do that for me; I already have my favorites).
No, this post isn’t about those kinds of gifts. In fact, despite what you may be thinking, shopping for the travelers in your life doesn’t have to be laborious, difficult or expensive. And, the easiest and least expensive gifts you can give them are also the most meaningful.
What are these gifts? Let me share:
Travelers like to talk about the places they’ve been and the places they hope to go. As a traveler, I can tell you that usually only other travelers really care about what we have to say, and I can appreciate that. I wouldn’t be able to offer much to a car enthusiast, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try.
Instead of asking a generic question about someone’s travels and then zoning out, invest a small amount of attention in what is being said. Let the traveler share some of his photos with you. Ask questions. Care. You might even find your interest piqued.
If you don’t like to travel, that’s okay, but it’s important that travelers are given the space they need to explore, ask, make mistakes and learn. They may feel the need to take off for the weekend or stray from a predetermined plan. Sometimes travelers need to travel alone. It’s nothing against you but simply a need that travelers have to push their comfort levels. Give your traveler space to be and grow, and your time together will be more meaningful.
Travelers can’t seem to harvest enough time to go all of the places they want to go. When your traveler has off from work, offer to take care of his house so he can take advantage of that free time to travel. If you are in a position to grant gifts to employees, consider giving the gift of time instead of a physical present. An extra day (or even half of a day) is much more valuable than another mug filled with chocolate-dipped pretzels.
You don’t have to care about how many countries a person has been to or what a person does on the road, but traveling is not always easy. We have to deal with jet lag, negotiate local customs, spend hours sitting in airports, eat strange food, sleep in strange beds and always be attentive to the things going on around us. I’m not saying that traveling isn’t fantastic, because it is (if it wasn’t, I’d find a different hobby), but it can be stressful, expensive and exhausting. Tell the traveler in your life that you appreciate how he handles all of the aspects of travel (instead of just telling him that he’s the luckiest person in the world). Doing so shows that you realize just how much baggage (literally and figuratively) he hauls with him every time he books another trip.