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I live in Vancouver, Canada and will be travelling to London and Paris for several weeks in October. I will be using Airbnb and CouchSurfing. I would like to bring some small gifts for my hosts and any other people who are particularly helpful or kind during my travels.

Ideally, these gifts will be small, inexpensive (preferably under $10), travel well (won't get crushed in my bag or suitcase), useful/consumable (I don't want to just give "stuff" for the sake of giving something), and something that is either a) recognizably Canadian/British Columbian/from Vancouver, or b) unusual/unavailable/hard to find in the UK and France.

Ideas I have considered:

  • Small bottles of maple syrup (maybe somewhat expensive?)
  • Canada lapel pins (not exactly useful)
  • Individual bags of ketchup or all dressed chips (almost certainly going to be crushed in transit)
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    @pnuts I'm happy to change it to something more appropriate, I was following the example of this question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/2349/… – Blooper Sep 3 '16 at 21:47
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    @pnuts I really like the postcards idea! – Blooper Sep 3 '16 at 22:49
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    Maple syrup, maple syrup and more maple syrup. You've already considered that, it's obvious but it still makes sense IMHO. – Relaxed Sep 3 '16 at 22:59
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    If I was hosting a Canadian, and they gave me a postcard from their home town/area, wrote a short hand-written friendly/complimentary note in it that also served to remind me of some fun moment or joke from their time in my house, and also gave me a moose-head fridge magnet, I'd definitely stick that postcard on my fridge using the moose head fridge magnet and remember that person if I was planning a trip to Canada. – user568458 Sep 5 '16 at 0:43
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    hey @blooper - definitely MAPLE SYRUP dude. europeans love it, have fine taste, and it's expensive there. Note - you should not bring gifts to airbnb businesses. – Fattie Sep 6 '16 at 4:39
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Personally when I give "Canadian" gifts to my friends out of the country its maple syrup inspired things (candy, bottles, etc) or Ice wine as thats pretty unique to Canada. Ice wine isn't the cheapest thing to buy for a friend so it depends how good a friend we're taking about. Its usually $60 to $100 a bottle but theres a decent selection at duty free in the Canadian airports like Toronto, Ottawa, or Vancouver. The maple syrup thing works well with my european friends. Small bottles shouldn't cost all that much, check local grocery or even at the duty free again. We're talking like $10 - $15. If you want something uniquely Canadian though, perhaps some native gifts or art. Oh, and ketchup chips are a thing in the UK.

  • I love the ice wine idea, though it is a little out of my price range for these particular gifts. I've updated the question to be a little more clear. Also, note that these gifts will be for strangers I meet on my travels, not friends that I already have. I had always heard of ketchup chips as an exclusively Canadian thing, learn something new every day! – Blooper Sep 3 '16 at 22:47
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    @Blooper I can get 50ml bottles of ice wine for $7.95 (CAD) at the LCBO, probably the same thing is available in BC. The only issue would be if there was some stupid # of bottles limit on imports. I imagine they would travel well, and of course your bag would get lighter as you gift and/or guzzle them. – Spehro Pefhany Sep 3 '16 at 22:53
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    Ice wine isn't uniquely Canadian, and I assumed (possibly wrongly) that the Canadian product is only an attempt at emulating German Eiswein. Even if I am mistaken in that belief, I am probably not the only European to think so. And those who do not know about German Eiswein are very unlikely to have even heard of the Canadian version so all in all it might not be such a good idea if you want something recognizably Canadian. – Relaxed Sep 3 '16 at 23:03
  • @Relaxed i'm pretty sure you haven't heard a word of ratafia, yet it's a traditional liquor from central catalonia and italy and widely known by local population. OP's recognizable mention is surely not about " hey yes this is canadian i always wanted it", but rather "i didn't knew about this thing! you do this in canada? awesome!" feel. – CptEric Sep 5 '16 at 12:53
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    forget about "ice wine", it's silly and nobody wants it. if the receiver is an oenophile they'll roll their eyes. if the receiver is not an oenophile they'll wonder why the hell you didn't bring MAPLE SYRUP, which is (a) beloved in europe (b) overpriced in europe (c) beloved as a gift. if you're lucky enough to be a Canadian, you just can't go wrong giving your awesome national treasure. if I'm from Scotland and asking you "Should I give single malt" your answer is YES, OF COURSE, OBVIOUSLY!!!! go for it dude! – Fattie Sep 6 '16 at 4:44
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I remember a whole range of maple sirup items in shops, like boiled sweets. These will travel better than bottles.

What I like to bring home from a country, which I think is also a nice gift, is small calendars, the ones with pictures.
No need to go for bigger than post card size, if you can find them so small. Not to eat but to consume over the next year even so. And they make a nice reminder of your visit.

Good places to go 'souvenir hunting' are the shops to museums and (National) parks. Specially those that are about the history of Canada.

  • I think you can buy and give calendars from the start of the summer to just after the start of the new year. I would not give most anymore after the 15th of January, if they are more than 12 months running no later than 12 months till the last day in it. – Willeke Sep 4 '16 at 12:51
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For starters AirBnB people are not "hosts", they are essentially hoteliers, renting you a room (often at market rates) and not really deserving of gifts any more than a guesthouse owner (unless they something extra, like drive you all over the place for free).

But rather than bringing a lot of cheap shelf candy to give out along the way, you might consider bringing just a couple of nice things for folks who make your trip super special.

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    I plan to use the AirBnB option to stay in someone's spare room. My motivation is to actually "live" with a local. Despite the fact that I will be paying for my stay, I would like a way to say "thanks for letting me live in your space and see your life." Maybe it's a Canadian thing! ;) – Blooper Sep 4 '16 at 18:52
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    @Blooper, I'm with you. I usually take something that is far less expensive when bought at home, such as a whiskey (smaller bottle) for their drinks cart. – Giorgio Sep 5 '16 at 13:37
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what i would love if i was your host/hotelier/renter?

  • Some sort of weird, local / regional / national sauce. As an example, i haven't been able to find uk's / ireland's mint sauce in spain, and i love putting mint in things. syroup will do fine.
  • A local / regional / national recipe book ( this migth be weird if the host is young, but, hey, it's about food and food's an international, worldwide necessity and pleasure).
  • A local / regional / national "book of cool pics from x" , those usually sold at tourist stores / postcards.
  • Some local beverage / Liquor.
  • An invitation to get the experience back if he wants to, by being your guest in the future at your place's spare room ( this is weirder if done on arrival and not on exit or after some ... human contact).
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    saves the recipe on a sticker well that's awesome. forward to put mint on everything! – CptEric Sep 6 '16 at 6:06
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As a Greek, I buy magnets for the fridge, as described here.

Notice that I do that regardless of whether my trip was to America, Europe, Africa or Asia (list of destinations). All the magnets I have bought live in Greece.

Notice that this little (easy to carry) can be very special, for example one bought from Monaco was like a wall-frame, made mama smile wide! ;)

Moreover these little cuties can be helpful, since my parents use them to hold notes, cached telephone numbers, etc.!


My father, when in Canada, he brought back home jewelry for my mother. One shaped like the leaf in Canada's flag was very distinctive, and favored by my mother. He also brought Niagara-falls-related stuff, which I don't really remember, except from the classic photo.

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