We know that many cruisers like to give gifts to people they meet along the way and most communities are incredibly grateful for the support they receive from visiting cruisers. That said, not all gifts are necessarily useful and often what we perceive to be everyday items are actually the most valued gifts. In our experience, here are some of the most well received gifts to share in the islands.
Bags of rice, flour, sugar or milk powder
Small bottles of cooking oil
Soap for both personal hygeine and washing clothes
Toothbrushes and toothpaste (You may need to give a demonstration)
Basic Reading Glasses
2-3 metres of cotton fabric
Sewing needles and thread
Reusable sanitary items (You will need to explain their use)
Fishing hooks and lines
Rope eg. Used halyards, mooring lines
Basic gardening and hand tools eg. Hacksaw / hacksaw blades, pliers, wire cutters, sharpening stone
Small games eg. knuckle-bones, yo-yos, checkers, snap style playing cards
Classic colouring books and crayons
Sports equipment. Footballs are well loved, but they are also a very common gift and sometimes communities get a football overload! Think about other sports/games that you could introduce such as beach cricket, beach volleyball, hacky sacks or frisbees.
School supplies for the local school. Stationery is a common gift and while it is well received, sometimes schools get far more than they need. Think about other kinds of school resources such as maths sets, educational posters, flashcards, chalk or teaching games (K-G4). Be prepared to show local teachers how they work.
Gifts you may not have thought of…yet
Solar chargers for mobile phones
Solar torches or lanterns
Mosquito nets and mosquito coils
Guitar strings – often communities have guitars, but no access to replacement strings.
Clean water – if you have a water maker on-board, you may be able to help with clean water supply, particulalry after a storm when water supplies may be contaminated.
Skills and expertise – sometimes the best gift you can give is the gift of knowledge. That’s not to say that you know more or better than local communities, but you may well have different skills and expertise you can share. Sometimes communities have been gifted useful equipment, but have never been taught how to maintain or fix the equipment when necessary. Your boat maintainence skills could come in handy!
Gifts to Avoid
Plastic toys and gimmicky souvenirs that only end up as waste
Children’s jewellery, dress-ups and make-up
Expensive licensed products eg. Disney, Pixar
Lollipops and sweets
Traditional playing cards. While snap style cards are a fun gift for children, traditional playing cards can cause unintended harm for adults in the community. Gambling addiction (primarily through the introduction of Poker) has become a noticeable issue in some communities.
Second hand clothes. While not a strict no-no, it is useful to consider the effect that gifting second hand clothes has on the local economy. Many local women make their living through dressmaking and tailoring. If you really want to gift clothes, jandals (thongs or flip-flops) and suncaps would be most useful.
In areas where cruisers are common, you may find that locals actively ask for gifts or support. In these instances, it is often more useful to provide items as a form of barter or exchange, rather than a flat-out gift. Suggesting an exchange for some local fish, fruit, vegetable or handicraft is entirely appropriate.