Christmas is coming and you know what that means?! Eggnog, good cheer and story time in front of the fireplace! Just kidding, it means shopping. Shopping and the giving and receiving of gifts. While it is a lovely time of year Christmas poses some unique challenges for people like us who live out of our backpacks and those wanting to buy us a gift.
As we live life on the road we have to carefully consider each new item we add to our possessions. We have limited space and regularly need to carry everything we own on our backs. We have no shelves on which to store books. We have no counter tops on which to place knick-knacks. We have no wardrobe to hold extra clothes and no spare room in which to stash a battery powered singing fish.
So, what do you get people like us? The tradition of gift giving is deeply ingrained and Christmas just wouldn't feel right without it. Fear not, I have some helpful suggestions.
Firstly, a warning. There is one category of gift that may appear perfect but which you should rule out completely. Unless they have specifically requested a specific item do not buy any travel type products. By travel type products I mean anything sold by a store with an indoor rock climbing wall, a range of hiking boots and packs and maybe a selection of fishing gear.
I know you mean well but we spend all day, every day living with our current set of gear. If anything isn't working, we replace it without a second thought. We have spent vast amounts of time with our small set of clothes and equipment and have had endless train rides, flights and bus trips to contemplate what can go and what could be better. Items that aren't working are quickly replaced and you tend to develop an encyclopaedic knowledge of what's available in the process.
The chances of you wandering into a camping or travel store and coming up with something the eventual recipient either doesn't know about or wants but hasn't got around to purchasing are extremely slim.
So, what should you give them then?
It may not buy you love but it can buy just about anything else. Yes, some people feel its a little impersonal but think of it as a gift voucher for the entire world.
For anyone receiving cash consider picking something you're doing over the next month and deciding that this dinner was paid for uncle Bob's gift or that this splurge night in a fancy hotel was paid for by aunt Julie. Take a photo, send it to the person and say thank you.
These can be a little tricky but coupons or gift cards certainly don't take up much space in the backpack. You need to be careful. Are they really going to want to go sky diving? Are winery tours their thing? If you know them well and think they'll be into it then buying them an experience can be more personal than cash. Also, make sure that they have time in their schedule. Gift cards often have expiry dates that make them impractical for people who are overseas a lot.
A Gift Card From Kiva
If you're not familiar with Kiva it's a website where people can make small loans to aspiring entrepreneurs in poorer nations. You're able to browse through people wanting a loan to purchase supplies for a food stand, live stock to breed or any number of other potential money makers. Hopefully they then repay the loan and the money is returned to you to re-loan.
A gift card here can be the gift of a great experience to your friend or family member plus the gift of a chance at a better life for the loan recipient.
Food and Drink
These are technically things, things that occupy space. However, they are also easily consumed. Chocolates, wine, cake, lollies etc all make fantastic gifts. The recipient's waistline may not thank you but these will be heartily enjoyed and, having been enjoyed, do not need to be carried around anymore. So go shopping for something tasty, fattening and delicious.
Alternatively, you can even whip something up yourself. Personally I'm happy to receive a box of home made chocolate brownies any day of the week. The potential for DIY makes this not only a suitable but possibly very affordable option.
Hopefully these ideas have got your imagination working. I know the temptation to buy a thing that you can hold in your hands, that you can wrap, put under the Christmas tree and which the recipient could potentially have forever is strong. That impulse, sustained by a lifetime of advertising, dates back to a long gone time when nice things were expensive and hard to come by. Constantly falling manufacturing costs and readily available credit have changed all that. Now, free time, experiences and options are precious, not belongings.
I hope this has been helpful 🙂