The Perfect Gift for a Traveler

           Dane's and my decision to transition into a full traveling life brought with it some interesting challenges. But one of the surprising side effects of our decision was that my baby sister, Zinia, decided to also join the traveler's life.

           While Dane and I were preparing for our own transition into traveling full time, Zinia sold most of her possessions and began preparing to "rough it across Europe." She made several sound investments, rented her apartment starting on the first of the month, and asked our mother to care for her bearded dragon, Eduardo.

           To celebrate and help Zinia transition, we decided to throw her a going away party. She was going to be gone for at least eight months. Most going away parties involve gifts, but with Zinia being so limited on space, we weren't sure what to do. We had one clue to go on: Zinia was struggling most with the idea of leaving behind all of her art and pictures.

           As I stood at the kitchen counter, dicing potatoes and peppers for the potato salad, I pondered the question. Then, all at once, the solution came to me! It's what Dane and I had done so that we could bring reminders of our wonderful times without the heavy scrapbooks that I was always making: custom printing.

           I remembered Vision Bedding then and hurried back to the computer. They had some smaller blankets that would be suitable for Zinia, and, if the quality was as good as the ones we had ordered before, would hold up well. They specialized in custom printed blankets. So, gathering some of Zinia's favorite pictures, I went online, uploaded them to the Vision Bedding website, and ordered the blanket. It arrived in all its soft goodness, the images perfectly printed.

           Delighted, I wrapped the blanket up and set it under the counter as if it was a Christmas tree. I knew that Zinia was going to love it. Though as I stood there, for a moment, a brief moment of sadness washed over me. It was going to be eight months at least until I saw my sister after this. And while she and I would be able to Skype and chat on cell phones if all went well, that just wasn't the same as talking face to face.

           Dane walked in on me in the middle of my musings. "What are you crying about?" he asked.

           "Nothing," I answered, dabbing at my eyes. "It's just…there's a lot of change going on."

           Dane looped his arms around my waist and snuggled me close. Our own house looked much more bare than it had only a few weeks earlier, but when he held me it felt just as warm as ever. "You two are going to have more to talk about than ever when she gets back and we get back. It's not forever, sugar girl."

           The sound of my nickname made me smile. It was true. And I had tremendous respect for Zinia. She was going at this alone. I would have Dane with me as I pursued my travels. But she was taking adventure into her own hands.

           Adventure and memories formed the center of our going away party. Zinia loved everything. Most of our friends and family had had similar multi function gift ideas. Uncle Paul gave her a coffee mug with his face and all of our cousins' faces plastered around the side, and Mom and Dad had a custom set of waterproof protectors for her cellphone, camera, and netbook. Myka and Shiann, our twin roommates from college, both chipped in to buy her a set of waterproof custom pencils and paper that supposedly could be written on even when it's wet. Most of us had used family photos and crazy pictures to make the items special. And by the time all was said and done, we managed to fit it into the backpack she intended to carry.

           As Zinia put the backpack on, she thanked both Dane and me. "Don't let it fall when you walk by the canyons," Dane chuckled. "It's looking pretty heavy."

           "Not nearly as heavy as it's going to be when I put in my food, water, and medicine," Zinia laughed. She kissed him on the cheek, and then she embraced me. "It's going to be fine. We're going to have lots to talk about when we get back."

           And then she was gone. The last I heard, she made it safely to Bolivia and is backpacking on her own through the incredible wilderness. In our last message, she told me that the pictures that everyone put onto their items helped her a lot with homesickness.

           Traveling full time is quite an endeavor. It's best to make sure that everything you own functions in as many different ways as possible. For travelers who intend to rough it or carry all of their possessions on their back, this requirement becomes particularly important.

           Pictures of home, family, and friends can make a real difference. If you are preparing to travel full time or have a friend or family member who is, then consider purchasing items that will serve multiple functions while still keeping those memories and faces of those you love close by.


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