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6 Tips for Gift Giving When You Live Out of a Suitcase

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1. Don’t be a day late for birthdays and anniversaries due to time zones.

Use Google calendar to set up annual recurring reminders of important birthdays and anniversaries (don’t forget parent’s and siblings’ wedding anniversaries). You can see up alerts to remind you day of, day before, and 7 days before etc.

Google calendar also supports multiple time zones. If you’re planning on sending gifts by post, make sure you set the reminder far enough out to allow you to post something.

When it’s your birthday, don’t forget to make yourself available for family phone calls based on your family’s time zone.

2. Since you will inevitability run late sometimes, have a strategy for local delivery.

Instead of sending a gift from where you are, send a gift via a company that operates where your family live. This will cut down on delivery time. Familiarize yourself in advance with companies that provide fast and free or low cost shipping where your family and friends reside. Consult family members who love shopping for this info!

If your family live in the US and you are traveling abroad, this is a great opportunity to keep your frequent flyer accounts from expiring by shopping through the airline “shopping malls.” I only just learned about this way of earning miles recently. Most major online shopping sites like Amazon, Wal-Mart etc are part of the shopping malls. You just shop through the airline’s shopping mall link but that link takes you to the company’s regular website and you shop as normal.

Note: This is not like the sky mall catalogs you get on planes. It’s completely different! You shop completely as normal from the full range.

At minimum you typically get a point per dollar but sometimes much more. I like the American Airlines shopping mall. If you use a milage earning credit card, you’ll get extra points this way.

3. Physical photos still rule.

For grandparents and very small nieces and nephews, consider making photobooks. A photobook is a great gift for a toddler. You can get a photo book that contains 30 photos and include pictures of the toddler, their immediate family, and their extended family. Theme the photobook around the types of photos that the child will be interested in. For example, we had a photo taken at a fire station. My nephew apparently loves pointing out his aunties, the fireman and the firetruck.

4. Find out which family members have a kindle.

If your family member has a kindle, you can send a book to their kindle. Only do this if you are confident they will return it if they don’t like it. Most of my kindle owning family members don’t under that you can return a digital item.

5. Send $$ for the parents of nephews and nieces to purchase a gift on your behalf.

An easy strategy for gift buying to send money for your siblings to purchase the gift you have in mind for your nephews and nieces. This also works for having your Mum buy your Dad’s present.

Since many relatives won’t have Paypal, this is a good reason to keep at least one bank account active in the country where most of your relatives live.

6. Gift a flight.

ala-moana-beach-memorial-dayHawaii is an easy place to convince family to visit you! Australia (but not in the height of summer) is also a great extended family travel option.

If you have orphan miles hanging around in a frequent flyer account, consider purchasing a domestic flight for a family member.

If you have a lot of miles you might consider using miles to pay for a family member to come visit you while you’re traveling.

Since many milage programs allow one way awards now, they have may enough miles to cover one way of a trip to visit you, and you could cover the return, or something like that. This will provide better value than buying or gifting miles.

If they have some miles but not enough, then consider topping up their frequent flyer account (by gifting them some of your miles, buying the miles, or sorting out a strategy for them to acquire the extra miles they need) to meet the required number.

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