Friday, April 26, 2013

Gifting on Your Travels- Testing this out in Cuba

While preparing for my trip to Cuba in February,  I read online that it's nice to bring some items to gift to Cubans during ones stay in the country. The reason is because items in our home countries that we take for granted such as soaps, diapers, kids toys and the like are in scarcity in Cuba. Sadly, due to the political situation in the country, the only way locals would have access to such items would be through relatives abroad who sends these items through a friend or another relative or just through tourists who brings these items with them to Cuba.

Because I planned to travel light with just a carry on for my week long stay, I looked around my room for new items I haven't used and also purchased additional items to take with me.
I also took some hair beads with me which I gave to a lady who has two little girls. The black flip flops are actually mine :)

I gave all the items to women I came across while I was there. I also gave 2 pencils and a ruler to a 4 year old who was on his bike enjoying the evening breeze at Plaza de Armas with his father. I also gave some pencils to a man who was asking for money. I have to confess that he didn't appreciate them because he would have preferred money, but since I didn't have any change on me, I tried not to leave him empty handed.

While travelling in Cuba, you'll be approached by many locals who would try to trick you into some kind of scheme or just ask you for money. So, it's advisable that you carry some change with you at all times for this purpose. However, if you happen to be uncomfortable giving out money or rarely carry small change on you, you can instead take some items with you in your bag to give to little kids, women or anyone else you feel might use the item. And don't feel shy about it, infact,  I saw a tourist give out a soap bar to a man on Obispo Street. Just make sure you carry multiples of those items with you because the local might end up sending his/her friend to come get his gift from you.

I would go out each day with some of the items I brought with me in my bag.

All the items were well received, infact, I was surprised at the reaction I got because I wouldn't think they would appreciate the pencils that much, but the women I gave them to were surprised that I actually brought them something.

Who should you gift?
Your waiter, waitress, hotel staff, tour guide, museum and other major landmark attendants and just about anyone else in general.

What should I bring with me when I go to a developing country?
I'll recommend doing a research on what's in need in those countries and then take those items with you. Consumable items and other necessities such as hygiene products, clothing, stationery and kids items will be the safest choices. These items doesn't have to be expensive or be the "latest" in style as anything useful will be greatly appreciated. And if the person you give the item to doesn't have a use for it, he/she can always give it away to someone else or even sell it!

Do you take gifts with you when you travel? Who are some of the gifts you've given to locals and  how are they received?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Site under ANOTHER construction!

El Moro, Havana, Cuba
I apologize for any interruption. But please feel free to read previous posts :)