Do you need to buy gifts for friends abroad? Perhaps your best friend is now an expat, and she is celebrating her first birthday away from home in Mexico. You may need a holiday gift for a nephew studying in Madrid. Or your grandparents are spending 6 months in Thailand to celebrate their retirement.
Very often it’s hard to know what to send as a gift for a holiday or special occasion. If your gift recipient lives across the pond, knowing what they need is even harder.
I have learned through my own gift-giving and traveling experiences, what it is people want and need most when living away from home.
Sometimes, it’s something practical that they really need.
Occasionally, a present that just elevates their experience to a new level.
Always, is the gift that lets them know how much you love and miss them.
I’ve sorted this gift guide for far-away friends and family into categories. It will help you narrow down the best gift when shopping for the international traveler.
- Thoughtful and personal gifts
- Practical items
- Spoil them with luxury
- Especially for students
Prepare to be inspired to make, or buy, the best gifts for your friends and family overseas.
*Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission when you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. I only link to products I use or really like and would personally recommend to a friend. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Thoughtful Gifts for Friends Abroad
Living far from home can be challenging in many ways. Stay connected and tell them you love them by sending a message or gift from home.
A Handwritten Letter or Card
Take the time to write a heartfelt letter expressing your appreciation and love for your friend. It’s a personal and sentimental gesture that can be treasured for years.
Encourage your friends to document their adventures with a beautiful travel journal. Include some personalized notes or travel prompts to inspire their writing.
This lovely travel journal has 100 pages filled with prompts to record 15 trips. It has pockets to store photos and other momentos.
Local Crafts and Artwork
Seek unique and locally-made crafts, artwork, or souvenirs representing home. These items can serve as decorative pieces and reminders of your friendship. Shop at local farmer’s markets or fairs to find those ultra local items.
Consider gifting a customized map featuring their travels or places of significance. They can mark the countries they’ve visited or plan to visit. Highlight a significant place or city that holds special meaning for your friendship. It could be where you first met or a place you both dream of visiting.
If your gift recipient doesn’t have a lot of space, you may want to consider this scratch-off Wanderlust Map. Perfect for traveling with a tube for easy transport.
Consider a piece of jewelry with their name, initials, or a special message engraved on it. It can be a necklace, bracelet, or even a ring.
Search Etsy , an online marketplace, to find personalized jewelry and artistic gifts for friends abroad. Many shops will package it beautifully in gift wrapping, so you can have it shipped directly.
This necklace is personalized with birthstones and could be given to represent someone’s children or siblings.
Symbolize your international friendship with matching friendship bracelets or charms. Look for designs incorporating elements from your cultures or featuring a world map.
Personalized Photo Album
Create a photo album filled with memorable moments you’ve shared. Include handwritten notes and captions to make it extra special.
If an album will take up too much space, try your hand at a wall collage instead. Create a collage using photos, ticket stubs, and other mementos from your adventures together. Frame it as a keepsake they can hang on their wall.
Collaborate on a scrapbook, filling it with memories, quotes, and inside jokes. Leave blank pages to be filled with future adventures.
Fill a jar with small notes or memories of happy moments you’ve shared. Your friend can pick out a message whenever they need a reminder of your friendship and the special times you’ve had together. A small decorative box would work as well.
Care Package of their Favorite Things
Put together a care package filled with their favorite snacks, treats, or small items that remind them of home and your friendship. Snacks are always a good idea!
Virtual Surprise Celebration
Plan a surprise virtual celebration, gathering friends from different locations. It can be a video call filled with heartfelt messages, virtual toasts, and laughter.
If connecting at the same moment through a video call or chat isn’t possible, think about creating a pre-recorded message. Collect video messages from family and friends and piece them together as a keepsake video.
It can be as simple as stringing together a bunch of messages on your phone. no editing skills necessary. It will be treasured and replayed over and over again.
Practical Gifts for Friends Abroad
These practical items can greatly improve the comfort of your friends’ daily lives while living abroad. Receiving an item of something that may be hard to find overseas will be greatly appreciated.
Travel Adapter/ Converter
A universal travel adapter is an essential item for anyone traveling abroad. Look for a compact, versatile adapter that supports multiple plug types and voltages. Even if they have one, it is always great to have more.
Travel-Sized Toiletries and Essentials
Put together a care package of travel-sized toiletries, mini skincare products, or handy travel accessories like a foldable water bottle or travel-friendly towel. This is a handy gift item for someone traveling light or backpacking.
Show that you care about their well-being by gifting them travel insurance coverage. Look for a plan that offers comprehensive coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other travel-related incidents. It’s the kind of thing you think you don’t need until you do.
Travel-Sized First Aid Kit
Put together a compact first-aid kit with essential items like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and other necessary medications. This can be handy for minor injuries or illnesses while they’re away from home.
Travel-Friendly Laundry Kit
As laundry facilities may differ in their host country, a travel-sized laundry kit with detergent sheets, a travel clothesline, and wrinkle-release spray can make doing laundry easier and more convenient.
Travel Adapter with USB Ports
A travel adapter with USB ports is practical for simultaneously charging electronic devices. It eliminates the need for multiple chargers and ensures compatibility with different plug types.
Compact Travel Umbrella
A small, foldable umbrella can be a useful gift for friends living in rainy or unpredictable weather conditions. Look for a compact and lightweight design that easily fits into a bag. A small fold-in-a-bag rain poncho is a handy gift too.
Reusable Water Bottle
Encourage eco-friendly habits by gifting a durable and leak-proof reusable water bottle. Look for one that is lightweight, easy to clean, and suitable for travel.
I love my Zulu water bottle. I took it all over Iceland.
- handle to hook on backpack
- narrow enough to fit in cup holders
- leakproof and durable
Travel-Sized Toiletry Bag
A compact toiletry bag with travel-sized bottles, mini toiletries, and a hanging hook can keep their essentials organized and easily accessible during their travels.
The ultimate in organization. It’s amazing how much more you can fit in your bag with these fabulous luggage cubes.
I honestly LOVE my packing cubes. It saves so much time when searching for what you need. Also good for separating clean laundry from dirty in a backpack.
I am 6 years in with my Eagle Creek cubes and they are great!
Ultimate Luxury Gifts for Friends Abroad
Find unique and luxurious gifts that align with the finer things in life.
We always know that one friend who has everything and is hard to buy for.
Or maybe you want to spoil someone who would never otherwise experience this because you know they deserve it.
Here is inspiration to help your friends indulge their passions while living abroad.
High-end Coffee Gadgets
Consider luxury coffee appliances such as a French Press coffee maker or espresso machine.
Unless I lived abroad in a country with amazing coffee (Hello, Italy and Costa Rica!) I would be lost without my Nespresso machine. I feel spoiled to say it, but it’s true!
The Cafe du Chateau French Press will make a rich cup of coffee. Electricity is not required, which may matter to someone living abroad in a developing country where power is not always guaranteed.
Premium Cookware Set
Gift them a high-quality cookware set from a renowned brand. Look for sets that include essential pots, pans, and utensils made with top-notch materials for superior cooking performance.
Gourmet Food Basket
Create a lavish gourmet food hamper filled with luxury items like truffles, caviar, aged cheeses, rare oils, and fine wines. Ensure the items are suitable for international shipping and adhere to customs regulations.
Premium Wine or Spirits
Gift them a bottle of rare and exceptional wine, champagne, or aged spirits they can savor and enjoy during special occasions or intimate gatherings.
Fine Dining Experience
Treat them to a memorable fine dining experience at a renowned restaurant in their host country or arrange for a special chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings.
Gourmet Cooking Classes with Celebrity Chefs
Find exclusive cooking classes or workshops taught by famous chefs or culinary experts. These hands-on experiences allow your friends to learn from the best and gain insider knowledge.
Luxury Food and Wine Accessories
Consider luxury food and wine accessories like crystal wine glasses, premium cutlery sets, artisanal cheese boards, or handcrafted serving platters to enhance their dining and entertaining experiences.
Personalized Food and Wine Tours
A unique gift for your friends abroad would be to arrange a personalized food and wine tour tailored to their preferences. This can include private vineyard visits, food tastings, and exclusive access to renowned culinary establishments.
Gifts for the Student Abroad
Wondering what to gift your friend in another country?
It can feel lonely as a student living away at school, especially when attending an international campus. These gifts are designed to show your love and support to the student living abroad.
Comforting Items from Home
Help them combat homesickness by sending comfort items from home, such as their favorite snacks, a cozy blanket, or a photo album filled with memories.
Travel-Sized Study Essentials
Put together a kit of travel-sized study essentials such as mini notebooks, pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and a portable USB drive. These items are practical for students who may need help finding them or afford them where they are.
Language Learning Resources
If your student friend is studying in a foreign country, consider gifting them language-learning resources specific to the local language. This can include language textbooks, language apps, or conversational language guides. I have used apps like Duolingo and Babble when traveling. They are great for basic stuff but can only take you so far.
International Calling or Data Plan
Help them connect with family and friends back home by gifting them an international calling or data plan. This can be a prepaid SIM card or a subscription plan offering affordable international communication rates. Sure, there are free apps, but those can be unreliable and internet dependent.
Local Experiences or Tours
Treat them to a local experience or guided tour that will allow them to explore and learn more about their host country. It could be a city tour, a cooking class, or a cultural workshop.
Portable Power Bank
Help them stay powered up throughout the day with a portable power bank. This can be a lifesaver for students who are frequently on the move and may not always have access to a power outlet. Many are lightweight and small, like the size of your thumb, so they can easily be stashed in a pocket or purse.
International Student ID Card
Help them save money on transportation, attractions, and student discounts by gifting them an international student ID card. These cards often offer various benefits and deals worldwide. They are a valuable gift and pay for themselves in discounts.
These Skull Candy Headphones and
This list is filled with many inspiring ideas for finding gifts for friends abroad.
So stop wondering what you can gift someone who is traveling and start shopping!