I'd rather avoid those seasickness wristbands.
November 11, 2007 10:31 PM   Subscribe

What should I give my mother for her upcoming trip around the world?

My unbelievably cool mother will be attending the Scholar Ship program this spring, starting in Hong Kong in January and travelling west from there (itenerary here - how seriously cool is that?). I want to make her a care package or get her something wonderful as a send-off/Christmas gift, and since a lot of you are well-travelled I figured I'd come here for advice. She'll be living on the ship, so she shouldn't have too much trouble with weight; she'll also have a computer with (I assume) internet access. I'll obviously want to include some reminders of home and other personalized things you can't suggest, but what else would be useful, comforting, or especially cool to send off with her? What would you want to have with you if you were spending four months on a cruise ship, finishing your bachelor's while traversing the globe?

Incidentally - anything I should ask her to bring back for me?
posted by you're a kitty! to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A t-shirt.
posted by geekyguy at 10:38 PM on November 11, 2007

Or this version of said t-shirt
posted by Mercaptan at 11:17 PM on November 11, 2007

When I went on my first overseas journey, someone gave me a reasonably small, battery powered, high quality AM + FM + Shortwave radio with a clock. I've never traveled more than a few hundred miles without one since (currently, a 10 year old Sangean 505, though if price is a non-issue, the 909 is significantly more sensitive (gets more stations)).

Mine has come in handy through hurricanes in Tortola, Honduras, South Carolina, and Mexico, the NYC blackout, and many long nights in distant lands (USSR, Venezuela, Bonaire, Honduras...). It also makes an excellent portable clock-radio, to gently wake me up when morning comes.

There is decreasing activity on shortwave these days, but there's still some... and having a really good AM/FM tuner is pretty nice too, even when there's not a hurricane outside (the local news isn't a bad thing to listen to, and the music stations are the best way to find where the local concerts are). This thing seems to get FM stations from about 20-30 further than anything else I've used, and does fairly well on distant AM at night.

While on Margarita Island, I was able to easily get most of the (English) stations on Trinidad, which was a nice alternative after a few months of nothing but reggaeton and state-owned Venezuelan news. Looking at that (enviable) schedule, I know that I'd be feeling some isolation sometimes, and would be glad to have my battery powered squawkbox with me.
posted by toxic at 11:23 PM on November 11, 2007

Best answer: A small digital camera, if she's not got one yet. The Canon SD1000 is teeny tiny, easy to use, produces great photos and is under $200, I just got my mom one last week and she loves it!

(A Flickr Pro account would be great too, to make it easier for her to share the photos she takes and to keep you updated on what she's doing.)
posted by lia at 11:58 PM on November 11, 2007

Best answer: Get her the most important thing anyone needs when traveling.....good luggage. I don't know what your budget it, but by good, I also mean secure. If she will be on a boat, there will be housekeeping and people, so perhaps a security device for either or her luggage or her laptop.

If that is too much, perhaps an extra portable hard drive that she can attach to her USB on her laptop that she can save her pictures to. I have one that can hold 160GB, it ran about $250, but it is awesome. You can also, if you are computer literate, surprise her with some music/movies in the hard drive so she can have some things to watch while on the boat if she has any down time.

If the hard drive, or a video ipod, idea is too much, then how about burning her some mix cds you think she might like? Moms always love home made presents! And it could really mean a lot of effort on your side for having gone through the time to sort out the tunes for her.
posted by dnthomps at 12:13 AM on November 12, 2007

A Flickr Pro account so she can upload and share all the pictures she's bound to shoot.
posted by Baud at 12:29 AM on November 12, 2007

Living on a ship probably wont be as hard on her luggage as trekking around with it on her back, but I find straps and duct tape infinitely useful.

Black straps, an inch wide or so, with those things on the end so you put the end through, pull it tight, and it holds. To release, you just push the little latch. Does that make sense? And duct tape, tear out the cardboard inner and flatten the roll into a rectangle shape so it packs more easily.

Those two things (and a small sewing kit) can solve almost all travel problems. Strap things to your bag, strap your back to things, wrap duct tape around a wonky power adaptor that wont stay in the wall, etc.
posted by twirlypen at 12:48 AM on November 12, 2007

Thirding the Flickr Pro account.

Maybe some binoculars?

And my favorite - a little spray bottle. Put on wrinkly clothes, spray it with water from the little bottle and your clothes gets non-wrinkly from your body heat. I know your Mom will be living on a boat that will likely have hangers and probably even an iron ... but still - I don't travel without one.
posted by redteam at 4:32 AM on November 12, 2007

A Leatherman.
posted by signal at 4:44 AM on November 12, 2007

Best answer: One thing which might be nice is a small photo album where she can keep pictures of her kid(s) and all. She can keep pictures of you close but also have something to show people she meets about her life when she is not on the boat - a great icebreaker when meeting people from different cultures.
posted by shothotbot at 6:15 AM on November 12, 2007

Point It, a picture dictionary for travellers.
posted by kidsleepy at 7:20 AM on November 12, 2007

Maybe a Skype account/number?

Depends on whether or not she wants to stay connected while away, but an account + headset might be nice.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:35 AM on November 12, 2007

Best answer: Local currency, in small denominations. Being able to get to a place, and already have the local currency with which to hail a cab, take a bus, buy a snack, trinket, etc., without first having to locate and get to an ATM or bank makes multi-nation travel much more hassle free and enjoyable. You can even buy one of those index card holders with multiple pockets, and organize the money chronologically in the order of countries that she will be visiting.
posted by jujube at 8:56 AM on November 12, 2007

My brother just went travelling and I got him a tiny keyring compass.

I appreciate your mother won't be doing too much orienteering on the boat (neither will my brother), but I think there's a simple pleasure in knowing if you're headed north, south, east or west.
posted by tiny crocodile at 9:41 AM on November 12, 2007

Oh lucky you and your mum!! I actually got offered a space in that program (same sem as your mum actually) but uni makes it difficult for me to make it, bah.

Here's what came handy for me when travelling:

Change in local currency (your mum would be travelling a LOT)
Some money in the main TSS currency, as there are various charges on board (laundry, internet, etc) - find out what this is
A Travelex Cash Passport came in handy for me, but make sure there is enough on there
Candied ginger is AWESOME for nausea
Gatorade is also good for nausea
Books she can swap around
Journal to keep memories
Shoes!! Mine fell apart on my last trip
Carrier bag
Phone numbers of people to contact
Something to cuddle, like a teddybear (would be nice...)
Toiletries - showers are a LUXURY when you're travelling
A sleep mask (helps SO much)
posted by divabat at 4:51 PM on November 13, 2007

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