When I’m traveling, I can’t help but wander into stores with lovely things and then try to think of a purpose for explaining purchasing things that catch my eye.
Museum gift shops with jewelry from local artists and finely-bound notebooks adorned with famous works of art.
Shops focusing on local handicrafts where the goods bear tags talking about the life of the woman who created the shawl or bowl or bracelet and how her work has changed conditions for her family.
And, particularly, groceries and small food producers whose every handmade product has a deep story not only of the person’s obsession with making the perfect chocolate bonbon or cassis wine, but also the history of the provision itself, along with its cultural significance.
When I go on press trips, and someone has told us their story, given us their wares to sample, and, most importantly, set aside their precious business-owner time to focus on us, the compulsion to pick up something that I’m already eyeing is basically incontestable.
As a travel writer, you can always say that such browsing is for research, but for me, it’s more.
I’m pretty nomadic, my husband is based in a normal-sized apartment…for New York (like 600 square feet is quite good/decent), and we’re not big into stuff anyway, so I’m usually not looking for things to buy for myself.
I just love giving gifts.
Even when I have no space in my suitcase. Even when it’s not a special occasion. And even when the price doesn’t really make sense for the person the gift is intended for (I mean, not when it’s outlandish though! The fact that I travel to a lot of inexpensive places make this less of a problem than in the first world).
I just really love surprising people with thoughtful, beautiful things that make them feel happy, loved, and thought of when they see them around.
Since most of my friends and family are now reaching the threshold of having so many such gifts from me that they begin to run out of places to put them, I had an idea.
We’ve decided to combine this with another initiative we’ve been kicking around: how to give the Dream of Travel Writing community more involvement and ownership in what we do as a company. (I don’t love the name DOTW community; someone at a recent event suggested “foggies” (friends/fans of Gabi), which I don’t really think will take off, so if you have another idea, we’d love to hear it :))
On that front, we’re going to be launching a small, weekly survey on all sorts of topics, like:
- what travel writing questions you’d like to see answered on the blog
- what special super-discounted deals you’d like to see in our 12 Days of Christmas sale this year
- what books you think we should add to the library at our retreat house
- what conferences you’d like to see us at or have us report information from
- how you’d like us to share conference insights
- how you’d like us to share insights from business books we’re consuming
- what cities you’d like us to hold events in
- what magazines you’d like to see in the Travel Magazine Database
- and, of course, what else you’d like to give us input on!
So, each week, we’ll have a survey and a special gift to giveaway. Some weeks it will be something I’ve picked up for you in Colombia, Greece, Nashville, London, India, or wherever I’ve been recently, and weeks when I or my partner aren’t at home to ship something out, we’ll have things like books I love shipped to you through Amazon or free webinars from our webinar library, free access to our At-Home IdeaFest and Pitchapalooza Programs, or even event registrations.
If whatever is up that week doesn’t particularly interest you, but you’d still love to chime in on a question, we’ll have an option on the surveys to say you’ll skip the giveaway.
We also like to send our handmade holiday cards and gifts to our community, so you’ll automatically be in the loop to get those when you chime in on any survey.
Let the gifting begin!
Please note: If you live outside of the U.S., I won’t ship you any comestibles for your own sake, because they will get held up in customs and you’ll have to pay the fee to get them out.
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