Best holiday gift for someone going on a working New Zealand vacation
December 14, 2010 10:16 AM   Subscribe

What's the perfect small Christmas gift for a co-worker (from the U.S.) who's spending 5 months working/traveling in New Zealand.

A well-liked colleague is headed to New Zealand and I'd like to get her a perfect holiday/going away present for her trip.

Ideally, it would be light, easy to pack, incredibly useful and/or fun and under $50. I was thinking of a set of SmartWool socks but I think it will summer when she gets there (late January), so they might not be that useful. I'm sure she'll be doing lots of sightseeing but not any serious long-term backpacking since she'll have a job.

This previous Askme seemed to mostly focus on backpacking items. Also, I figure her close friends and family will set her up with guide books and standard travel stuff this Christmas, so it needs to be something somewhat out of the ordinary to make sure it's not a duplicate. Thanks!
posted by victoriab to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I love Eagle Creek's packing gear- any of their smaller bags, especially the double sided cube, would be a welcome gift for any traveller!
posted by ukdanae at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: Hey, those are nifty...I might get some for myself as well!
posted by victoriab at 10:51 AM on December 14, 2010

Best answer: Also, a good sun hat. The rays here in New Zealand are harsh.
posted by New England Cultist at 10:55 AM on December 14, 2010

Best answer: If she wears much jewelry, something like this travel jewelry case or this one or this one might be useful. Jewelry can be tough to pack, and these are far enough below your budget that you could still get the Eagle Creek stuff to go with it.
posted by BlooPen at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2010

Best answer: I was thinking of a set of SmartWool socks but I think it will summer when she gets there (late January),

Not only summer but the home of much better merino than you can get anywhere else in the world. This is the kind of thing she should be buying here to take back home.

I second a hat, or really good sunglasses. We have a lot more UV here than she'll be used to, burn time is around ten minutes in summer (if that), and we have the highest incidence of melanoma in the world. You can just about divide up those who wear sunglasses versus those who don't by the wrinkles around their eyes.
posted by shelleycat at 11:48 AM on December 14, 2010

A flashlight! Get her a tiny one that's really powerful. Nifty and useful.

A pair of socks will also work - it depends on where exactly in New Zealand, of course, but it will probably still be plenty cold in January.
posted by Xany at 1:26 PM on December 14, 2010

it depends on where exactly in New Zealand, of course, but it will probably still be plenty cold in January

Um, late January is the hottest part of the year. I guess if she's spending time in the mountains it would be an issue, but in that case she can get better socks here.
posted by shelleycat at 1:47 PM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: Yep, I like the hat idea because she's very fair, but hats are such a personal item. Also, all the ones that would actually be very useful in providing protection aren't that attractive...she's young and hip. Does a young, hip hat that provides good protection actually exist?

Thanks for mentioning that she should buy socks over there Shelleycat...that never occurred to me.

Hmmm...the jewelry case idea might work. Cute, affordable, fills many of my requirements :) I really appreciate all the input so don't hesitate to keep adding items as you think of them. I'll let you know what I ultimately choose.
posted by victoriab at 2:10 PM on December 14, 2010

I wouldn't buy any packing gear or travel gadgets if you're not close enough to know for realsies that she would definitely use that. I'm a backpacker and travel buff, but I can count on one hand the number of Travel Gifts I've gotten any use out of.

I like the sunglasses idea. Very easy to find cute, hip sunglasses for a female traveler. Another idea along the same lines might be a scarf. Something that can work as a head-cover for sunny days she wants to keep her scalp from burning, a stylish accent piece for when she wants to look cute even though she's still traveling light, and something she can keep which will remind her of her time in New Zealand without weighing her down on the road.
posted by Sara C. at 2:17 PM on December 14, 2010

Best answer: Thought of another idea - one thing that has been a godsend every time I've taken a huge trip has been gift cards used to fuel up on media.

The year I backpacked through India, someone gave me an iTunes gift card for Christmas (coincidentally). I bought a whole season of some TV show I liked, a couple movies, and a new album or two. Not only was that stuff great for the 25 hour flight, but being able to lie back and let Grey's Anatomy drone in the background was a perfect cure when I got a touch of Delhi Belly later in the trip.

Last year when I went to Peru, I used the AmEx gift card someone had given me for some prior occasion (Holidays? Birthday? Some work thing?) to load up my kindle with a ton of new books. Perfect for the numerous overnight bus rides.

Even if you gave her a gift certificate to a local bricks-and-mortar media outlet, this is still a great idea because "entertaining stuff for the road" is usually the last thing on a traveler's list of things to square away before the trip. If I have a little spare cash after everything else, then I'll pick up a new book for the flight. Having something set aside for entertainment has been a big load off.
posted by Sara C. at 2:31 PM on December 14, 2010

When my sister went overseas I bought her a Flickr pro account so we could all see the photos, which turned out to be a gift for everyone. Being linked up to our flickr streams was also good because she could see photos of home, so maybe something along those lines (i.e. photos of home) might work?

Stuff to keep her entertained while travelling is also a great idea, books and music are expensive in NZ.
posted by shelleycat at 4:27 PM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great ideas. I'll actually probably use many of them for myself and/or people I know a bit better - especially sunglasses and hats :) Meanwhile, I'm thinking the travel jewelry case with the Itunes gift card inside would be a perfect gift!
posted by victoriab at 1:30 PM on December 15, 2010

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