Electronic-only European gift-giving ideas
July 29, 2014 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I am in the US. My brother is in Europe on business, his first time out of the US, and will be there for about another six months. Right now he's in Germany, but the list of additional countries he'll go to later doesn't seem to be finalized. His birthday is coming up, and I want to send him a gift that won't generate logistical problems for him.

Any physical object he'd have to lug around Europe for 6 months probably isn't a good idea unless it's something so incredibly useful, well, I can't even imagine how useful it would have to be or why he wouldn't already own it.

He is not the least bit homesick. He is totally loving it there, although he's posting photos of places and things he doesn't know how to label, because language barrier. I'd get him a guidebook or dictionary or something, except he won't be where he is much longer, and it's unclear which country he's going to next.

I'd love to not pay for shipping, so if I could send something electronically, that would be perfect.

I probably don't want it to be food-and-beverage-related since he has a generous per diem to cover that.

My go-to gift in the past has been A Book I Have Read And Thought You Might Like, but I don't want to send a physical book because I don't want him having to schlep a physical anything, and he is vehemently anti-e-book. I just don't think he'll read from a Kindle app or similar.

Can you gift apps? Is there a guidebook app or multi-language translation app that's worth it? I'm Apple; he's Android. So how would that work?

Ideally, I'd like to get him something thoughtful that will enhance his trip. I'm hoping the hivemind can help with that. Thanks!
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
I work abroad & I was trying to think of what things I pay for or someone else has bought for me that I really love. Although I am pretty fluent in the local language I like to watch TV from my home country for relaxing & keeping up with home pop culture. To do this I use a VPN service, which enables me to access the free catch-up sites, & I believe also works with paid services, although I haven't tried that. Maybe a subscription to that would be a nice gift? The one I use is Witopia & it will work from almost any country.
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 9:08 AM on July 29, 2014

Send him flowers? You can send a really nice bunch to Germany via FloraPrima for a very reasonable price. The flowers are delivered via DHL or DeutschePost.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:20 AM on July 29, 2014

Buy him a copy of Rosetta Stone for German? Buy him sessions with a language coach? Dialect coach? Accent reduction coach?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:43 AM on July 29, 2014

Best answer: There is one physical book that's tiny, and helpful as a dictionary wherever he happens to go. This is it and I can very much recommend it.

It's just a small gift, but he'll most likely like it. Apparently there are apps as well but I don't have a smartphone so I don't know about those.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:49 AM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

What's your budget?

Get him an experience. Either send him money or a pre-paid credit card with Euros on it, or tell him to pick out an experience that he'd like to do but wouldn't under his normal budget. Hot air balloon above the countryside, guided hike through a mountain or forest, winery dinner, night at a cool yurt/castle/cave/b&b.
posted by barnone at 10:15 AM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it should be something you made yourself. Those are the best gifts! How about a gif where you (and family/friends) wave or do something silly? Or a sort of podcast where a group of you records a conversation about the local things he missed while he was abroad?
posted by travelwithcats at 10:17 AM on July 29, 2014

Response by poster: Some good ideas so far, thanks!

Just to clarify: his business is moving him around within Europe from city to city, country to country, on a schedule that has not been finalized. So anything that is specific to one location or one language will not be helpful, because by the time he gets it and arranges to use it and apply it, he may be sent elsewhere. He will be returning to the US six months from now, probably without the opportunity to go back to Europe anytime soon.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:23 AM on July 29, 2014

Response by poster: I think money or gift card for a great experience would be nice, but I need a really clear explanation of how to send it so he can access it with the greatest of ease, even if he gets moved to a different city on short notice.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:26 AM on July 29, 2014

Three easiest ways to get him an experience:

1) Ask him if he has his eye on something, and get that. Contact the company and arrange the payment over the phone or email.

2) Send him an amount via Paypal (to his account - Family and Friends) and he can pay for whatever it is that way.

3) Purchase a pre-paid credit card, and mail it to him.

Another low-cost option - have a bunch of family and friends make a short recorded video wishing him a happy birthday. Maybe they can each give him a 'cheers' at the end. Edit them into one video, with the conclusion being all of their simple 'cheers'. Add some background music or text and send him the link!
posted by barnone at 11:33 AM on July 29, 2014

Something that was always a treat when living abroad for me and my family was the ability to rent a car and get out of whatever city we were living in at the time. Just getting out of the city and seeing the countryside was great.

If he doesn't have a car to use, perhaps a gift certificate for a car rental from a Europe-wide car rental company?
posted by sciencegeek at 1:34 PM on July 29, 2014

I gave a friend in a similar situation this multi-European-language phrase book. There is even an electronic version.
posted by lollusc at 10:09 PM on July 29, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I ended up getting him a Google Play card and suggesting the Point-It app and a few others I like.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:19 PM on August 17, 2014

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