One of the best things about traveling is you get to shop for gifts. When I say this, I do not mean souvenirs like key chains and t-shirts or even little knick knacks you keep around the house that would later collect dust at home. But sometimes we cannot help ourselves buying these type of things to give them to people at home as present.
But these is not the kind of gifts I like to purchase when I’m traveling. I like to purchase things that you would often not find at home. One thing in particular that I like to buy for people is food. They are the easiest to find and often the cheapest of all the gifts you can give, not to mention the recipient can sample some of the local food found in the city you’ve just visited. This also gives you a good excuse to go to the local market to check out the food locals eat and sometimes if you’re lucky, you get to taste them.
I have done a lot of shopping in my travels and had great experiences going to different types of markets. Here are some of the items I brought home.
Saffron and other spices – I bought and brought saffron from Paris and from London. I am also regretting I did not buy any during my trip to Marrakesh. It seems that saffron is “cheaper” from Europe and Africa so I try to buy them there as much as I could. I also bought a container of spice mix from the New Orleans School of Cooking in New Orleans so I cam make Jambalaya at home as instructed by the school.
Tea from Marrakesh – speaking of Marrakesh, mint tea is one great product I particularly enjoyed when I visited Marrakesh some years ago. I am yet to try the tea I bought myself there. I bought a box of mint tea to try at home.
Vanilla from Mexico – during my last trip to Mexico, I made sure to pick up a large bottle of vanilla. This was one of the products I bought home from Mexico on my first trip more than 20 years ago and its one product that had proven to be good. This product is grown almost everywhere in Mexico and is found in almost every market in the country. A 20 ounces battle will last you a long time.
Jewelry from Mexico – the country of Mexico has a diverse list of products to offer every traveler, one of which is jewelry made of silver and semi-precious stones. During my visit to San Jose del Cabo in December 2016, I was able to purchase silver earrings and an aquamarine ring.
Dried fruit from Thailand – my particular favorite is dried mangoes. I love yellow Asian mangoes which are sometimes referred to as Manila mangoes or Champagne mangoes. I think they are the best in the world. Once they are ripe they are sweet and juicy, great just as it is or made into ice cream and smoothies. Unfortunately, the dried fruits I brought home are now gone. It was very popular with my family.
Tequila from Mexico – another abundant product from Mexico, they have a great variety of tequila in the original gold and silver and others are even flavored. Just be sure to pack your tequila and vanilla in your checked luggage, either boxed wrapped in your clothes.
Coffee from Hawaii – now this is one of my favorite products to bring home. Kona coffee is one of the best in the world and I try to bring more than one bag of it home. They are available in every ABC stores in the large cities in the Hawaiian Islands, even those at the shops at the airport.
Cookies and chocolates in tin boxes – I admit, I don’t buy these for the content. I buy it for the box. After eating the contents whether chocolates or cookies, I like to use the box to keep some of the mementos I have collected on that very trip.
Books – mostly travel books from museums I visited in the city. Some are picture books others are travel guides. I have to admit, this could be the heaviest of all the gifts I brought home as I had to check my bags several times because of it. But it is one of the best travel guides out there because it is specifically written for the traveler by a local.
Beignet mix from New Orleans – I had beignets for breakfast almost every day while I was in New Orleans. So I thought I’d take home a box of beignet mix and chicory coffee from the famous Cafe du Monde. Though some grocery or supermarket may not carry beignet mix around the country, it is still hard to come by here in California.
To a person like me, shopping is always fun especially if you are shopping for gifts to give other people. Since I always travel solo, the least I can do is bring my loved ones things I had experienced in my travels. I hope these gifts would encourage them to go to the places I have visited one day.