Help me pick a fun yet handy gift for my good friend.
December 13, 2008 9:28 PM   Subscribe

What going-away gift should I give to my 21-year-old friend who will be spending the next seven months in Egypt/Germany?

My good friend and former roommate is going to Egypt for a bit over a month to a friend and travel to adjacent countries, followed by six months of EU parliament studies in Freiburg, Germany. I am having lunch with him tomorrow for the last time until he returns next year, and would like to give him a thoughtful and practical going-away/Christmas gift.

He is a political science/economics major (pre-law) who is more knowledgeable about current and past world affairs than anyone else I know, he just turned 21, and this will be his first time traveling beyond this continent. He cares passionately about history, government, atheism, the German language (he would absolutely not allow me to do his homework while we lived together) his iPhone and really, really wants to make sure we keep in touch and don't grow apart while he is gone (we'll be communicating over phone/IM/email when he's gone).

He's already made sure he has all the essentials he will be needing in Egypt and in Germany (seriously, he's thought of everything), and I would rather not inconvenience him with anything bulky.

Catch: I will be driving out a few hours to see him, so I need to be able to acquire the gift, if tangible, before 10 am on Sunday in Houston, Texas. Also, I am poor, so cheap is good (up to $40, but less is better).

Unfortunately, my brain is no longer functioning correctly after a set of grueling exams, and I can't come up with any decent ideas. Please help me, hive mind!
posted by halogen to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Rommel Papers - Best book I've ever read.
posted by chrisalbon at 9:37 PM on December 13, 2008

If you have a portable macbook that you can meet him at lunch with, and if he has his iPhone with him, you could do something like download the offline version of wikipedia onto it with some key pages bookmarked on Egypt/Germany. (you could probably do the same with Maps as well). Or perhaps a manilla envelope saying 'do not open until your flight has taken off' and inside have a little 'flight kit' including some candy, ear plugs, a book of sudoku (or whatever he's into), a photograph from home, a note from you, i.e. not very costly but meaningful stuff. If he hasn't gotten one already, a really nice handheld towel would also be a great gift. One that dries quick and is made just for traveling/washing/wearing. If you are close to a travel store you could also get him a pair of Tilley socks, the kind that are like $30 for a pair but are the best frickin' travel socks in the world.
posted by ageispolis at 10:32 PM on December 13, 2008

posted by meerkatty at 10:57 PM on December 13, 2008

A Tilley Hat!

Oh goodness, I don't know how I would go someplace hot without it. I've never tried their socks (as Ageispolis suggested), but I'm sure they're great, too.
posted by ThomThomThomThom at 11:02 PM on December 13, 2008

a paid Flickr pro subscription to upload/share pictures from his iPhone while he's traveling? A Skype pro account with - say - 20$ in it plus a webcam (if he's not got one on his laptop) to call home? A 2-way train ticket from Freiburg to Strasbourg to visit the European Parliament?

Whatever it is, add my recommendation for the small brauerei right inside the old city, near Schwabentorplatz. Can't say anything about Egypt, but he's going to have a great time in Freiburg. It's a lovely, small, lively city with a great university.
posted by _dario at 11:51 PM on December 13, 2008

Is he a diver/snorkeler?
If so, he's probably going to Dahab or Sharm at some point in that month. If it's Dahab, then you need to give this guy a dedicated milkshake budget.
It's the same concept as giving him a microbrew allowance in Germany, but the money will go much, much further in milkshake form.

If it sounds dumb, that's because it is. But a good kind of dumb.

Not dumb and definitely awesome are all of the other suggestions so far.

Since this guy is sounding so industrious, why not give him more work to do?
If he has a camera get him to send you an ongoing photoessay comparing the political ideals/methods/images of graffiti artists in each place he visits.
posted by Acari at 12:32 AM on December 14, 2008

« Older How best to sensibly splurge at Whole Foods?   |   What's the going rate for a pleasant apartment in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.