Finding the perfect going away gift for a work colleague going travelling


What do you buy as a going away gift for someone going travelling? Many moons ago in a office where I used to work, a female colleague stood up from her desk and calmly declared – ‘I’m going travelling for a year’.

Once we all got over the initial surprise, shock (she’s leaving) and the general bewilderment(why is she leaving us), the office conversation(behind her back of course) quickly turned to the topic – what to get her as a going away gift.

Going away gift for someone going travelling

Buying a leaving gift is never straight forward but buying a going away gift for someone going travelling around the world requires more than a little thought.

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A going away gift has to be something the person can take with them and be of use during their travels. This rules out the kitchen sink as it’s too bulky.

Small but useful…

Given that our colleague was travelling around the world with all her worldly possessions in her rucksack, the going away gift had to weigh as little as possible and not take up too much space.

After all, rucksack space is at a premium.

When our colleague announced her leaving, we also learned that she had most of the usual required travel items purchased or already at hand – rucksack, day pack, sleeping bag, camera, travel books, travel journal, phone and Kindle.

Out of ideas before we started…

We decided to dig deeper, to explore her trip plan. We asked her where she was going and what she was planning on doing while travelling. She told us that she was going to volunteer while in South East Asia and South America.

We got our first going away gift idea – a mosquito net. Anybody that’s travelled in South East Asia or South America will tell you that a mosquito net is an essential rucksack item.

Our colleague wasn’t a first time traveller – she was a hardened traveller. After further probing she revealed to us that she had a mosquito net, a sink stopper, a GPS, a Swiss army knife and a Multi-tool. When it came to stuff for hardcore travelling, she had it all already.

What about a Digital product?

Somebody in the office came up with the bright idea saying ‘It’s got to be a digital product’. With this revelation, we were immediately back on track and thinking clearly again.

We collectively ruled out Amazon gift vouchers, insurance for travelling and living abroad, accommodation and flight vouchers. The reason been – we wanted to show her that we were taking the quest for the perfect going away gift very serious. We were not going to stop until we got something that she could use.

Giving cash (always welcome to any traveller) was also discussed but decided against it too – we wanted to give something of meaning.

We wanted her to know that we were taking the time to think about her going away gift.

A few weeks past and we were no further along in our quest for the perfect going away gift.

As it came closer to her departure date, our hand was forced. She loved Japanese food, we decided that we’d pool our resources together and bring her for a meal to her favourite but very expensive Japanese restaurant.

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