What's a relatively inexpensive gift for a girl studying abroad in London?
June 25, 2011 10:16 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend is studying abroad in London for the fall, and our 3 month is coming up soon. I wanted to give her a gift (no more than $40ish because we put a limit on them) that was relevant but not too personal/emotional because I'll be getting her some nice jewelry as a momento for our 4th month - which is right before she leaves.

My best option right now seems to be a travel guide - but what I'm really looking for are other suggestions so I have some choices. If a travel guide is really my best option though, I'd like suggestions on ones that make for good reading in the month before she gets there.
posted by Vexir to Travel & Transportation around London, England (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What is she studying? Is there anything in particular she's really excited to do or see in London? What are her other interests? Just asking because there may be a book or some kind of gift related to one of these categories.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:33 PM on June 25, 2011

She's excited to just experience being in a new country and really take in the culture there. She's studying Communications, but she's really excited to just see the city. She plans on visiting other European countries while she's there, typically on the weekends.
posted by Vexir at 11:00 PM on June 25, 2011

England has different electrical outlets than the US so she will need converters if she's bringing any gadgets that need to plug in. Not romantic but very practical.

Travel guide is a good idea, so she can get excited before her trip.

You could get her a foldable wall map of the city, or of the subway system.

If you know where in the city she'll be, you can put together a movie night of movies/tv shows set there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:06 PM on June 25, 2011

I like the Let's Go European tourguides. Let's Go Europe would be a good choice if she wants to visit many cities.

I also LOVE the movie night idea!!
posted by pupstocks at 11:08 PM on June 25, 2011

I'd get her an Oyster Card. It's the swipey thing that automatically pays for tickets on buses and the underground. It's not romantic but it is the single most useful thing I can think of for a London student from abroad.

Just as an FYI, she can get Tube maps for free at any Underground station, and foldable city maps are all over the place - hotel lobbies, hostel lobbies, kiosks, information booths, tourist centres, etc. So while those are both useful to have, I wouldn't make spending money on them a priority.

PS: If she's planning to vist other European capitals on weekends, she should hop on EasyJet and book at least a couple of her tickets now - summer is peak travel season and the fares will not get cheaper.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:35 AM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you can wait for her to get to the UK, you could arrange for these to be sent to her :-

Luxury chocolates from Rococo, Knightsbridge.

Soaps from Body Shop.
posted by plep at 2:04 AM on June 26, 2011

England has different electrical outlets than the US so she will need converters if she's bringing any gadgets that need to plug in. Not romantic but very practical.

This. Not just a prong adapter, get a voltage adapter unless you know that everything she's bringing can accept 220-240V. I've been pretty happy with this one. It says not to use it with computers, but most portable computers these days wouldn't need it anyway.
posted by solotoro at 3:32 AM on June 26, 2011

A London popout map (I've lived here five years and still love mine) and/or a London Mini A-Z.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:42 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Herb Lester's quirky maps of London might be a lovely addition to a guidebook if any of the maps fit. Likewise, if any of the past AskMe threads about London match her needs or interests, compiling links or printouts could be bundled with the real gift and be of lasting use.

On another note entirely, museums and galleries that are free for entry do also offer memberships, which offer access to openings etc as well as supporting the institutions - here's the V&A student membership, for example. (They are full-year things, but if she's looking forward to visiting anything in particular, maybe you could get a gift voucher for lunch at its cafe, or something?)

Body Shop soaps (mentioned above) are incredibly highly-scented and I'd tread very carefully if she has sensitive skin - they'd leave me in agony, for one.
posted by carbide at 4:24 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

If she ever wears shorts or skirts, several pairs of black patterned tights. I've been visiting London for the last month, and my god...these things are part of the fashionable-young-woman-in-London uniform or something. I've been walking around bare-legged and have been made to feel totally gauche.
posted by phunniemee at 4:25 AM on June 26, 2011

The Eyewitness Guide to London might be good - I don't know the London one particularly, but they're a series of guides that make great gifts because they're so beautifully designed and will really whet your appetite for a place before you get there. And seconding the Mini A to Z. I lived in London for five years and had it in my bag the whole time.
posted by penguin pie at 5:18 AM on June 26, 2011

The City Secrets: London guide is the one I recommend to people doing more there than sightseeing. Very, very readable in its own right.
posted by holgate at 6:55 AM on June 26, 2011

What about reservations to something touristy she'd like to do (you can book a LOT of European tourist attractions online in advance), or a membership to a museum? Tickets to see a band she likes that's going on a European tour?

What about some travel writing about living in Britain? Notes from a Small Island comes to mind.
posted by Sara C. at 6:58 AM on June 26, 2011

Popped back in to add the suggestion of Not For Tourists London. I haven't personally used the London one, but I used my NYC one constantly when I first moved there and it was awesome. It has excellent maps, especially for using public transport. I totally recommend their books for residents of places because the maps are so great.
posted by pupstocks at 10:21 AM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think the Moleskine London City Notebook would be pretty cool. Moleskine website. Amazon link.
posted by BenS at 10:21 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just got back from studying abroad in London, and I say a really really nice tiny collapsible umbrella. I got a cheap one and I regretted it all of the many times I used it. And also a framed picture of the two of you, my boyfriend's excellent pre-abroad gift to me.
posted by MadamM at 11:00 AM on June 26, 2011

2nd a nice umbrella.
posted by pompomtom at 9:00 PM on June 26, 2011

If she hasn't read it, a copy of Watching the English: a funny and insightful exploration of English culture.
Otherwise, a gift card for Fortnum & Mason, London's most amazing food store, full of quintessentially English products.
Or a ticket to Kew Gardens, beautiful botanical gardens just on the edge of London.
posted by sleepy boy at 4:22 AM on June 27, 2011

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