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Follow our easy formula to create a travel-themed care package for your loved ones.
Whether you’d rather DIY or order one online, these travel-themed care packages will bridge the gap between you and your loved ones.
Before coronavirus, my go-to gifts were typically experiences that I could enjoy together with my friends and family. Unfortunately, concerts, walking tours, and coveted restaurant reservations are all off the table in the time of social distancing.
Which means now is the time to bring back the old-school care package. Remember the thrill of unboxing whatever candy and magazines your parents would send you at summer camp as a kid? Recreate that joy by adapting the basic care package formula for your travel-loving friends and family today with our DIY tips below, plus a few suggestions of where to buy premade care packages online.
To make your own care package, fill a small box with two to three of the following items (and don’t forget a handwritten note—Etsy has lots of handmade “miss you” cards for this purpose). Either stick to a specific destination theme (France! Mexico! Japan!) or choose items from an eclectic mix of places to create a journey around the world in a box. Think about including:
AFAR editors love bringing back candy, snacks, and condiments like hot sauce from grocery stores as souvenirs. They’re small, travel well, and don’t break the bank. But did you know that you can find a lot of these goodies online, too? Here are a few of our favorite resources for ordering international and regional U.S. snacks and candy online:
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Note: Chocolate can melt in transit, especially during summer months, so it might be better to stick to hard candy.
Since the USPS prohibits sending alcohol via the mail, pack up a bag of coffee beans or tea leaves from a local café instead and leave the wine and booze to be shipped directly from a licensed retailer. To recreate the full travel experience at home, include a ceramic version of NYC’s iconic Greek coffee cups or a classic Italian Bialetti Moka Express espresso maker. If you’d rather just ship directly, several coffee roasters are putting together their own care packages. For example, Birch Coffee’s quarantine survival kit comes with a bag of coffee, a quart of Oatly oat milk, and roll of toilet paper for laughs.
Note: Keep in mind that alcohol isn’t the only thing you can’t ship—there are also restrictions around mailing hand sanitizer, nail polish, perfume, and lithium batteries. To make sure your package will arrive safely, double-check the rules on usps.com.
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Lighting a candle and applying some fancy hand cream won’t fix any major problems, but they can bring a small amount of joy to an otherwise dreary day. Homesick candles are inspired by dozens of states, cities, and countries, as well as specific travel memories (for example, “Summer Camp” has notes of grass, sunscreen, and smoke). Many of our favorite international hand creams can be bought online, too. If you send a candle or something else packaged in glass, be sure to wrap it well so it doesn’t shatter. Double-check to make sure any liquids are sealed tight so they don’t leak.
We all need a major break from screen time. A novel set in another destination can be transporting, while those who like to plan ahead may appreciate a guidebook to get a headstart on 2021 adventures. Local newspapers and magazines from where you live are also a fun way to keep your loved ones entertained and remind them of the places they’re missing and are lighter to ship. For more literary inspiration, shop AFAR’s reading lists on Bookshop.org.
Just because we can’t travel now doesn’t mean we won’t ever again. Including small items like compression socks, a travel pillow, or a colorful dopp kit in a care package is a nice way to remember that this too shall pass.
Revisit past trips with your friends by sending them snapshots from your previous adventures. Artifact Uprising makes quality prints at reasonable prices, and you can even put together a small softcover book of your favorite Instagram photos, for as little as $15.
If you want to skip the trip to the post office or don’t have time to DIY, the following companies sell premade care packages that they can ship directly to your friends and family.
Buy Now: From $32, shopboxfox.com
Choose from prepackaged gift boxes like the “Breakfast in Bed”—which includes coffee and granola, as well as a candle and a few other small treats—or you can build your own by choosing from dozens of small gifts to include in your custom box.
Buy Now: From $28, etsy.com
Buy Now: From $29, goldbelly.com
For those craving iconic regional treats, Goldbelly is the place to go. You can ship entire New York bagel brunches, Texas barbecue feasts, and Chicago’s deep-dish pizzas directly to your friend’s door in a few clicks.
Buy Now: From $36, milkbarstore.com
Homemade baked goods are tricky to ship—they can crumble and go stale before they arrive at their destination. To leave the baking and the shipping to the professionals, peruse the online shop of NYC’s Milk Bar for cakes, pies, cookies, and more.
Buy Now: From $40, wine.com
It is possible to get wine delivered via licensed companies. Wine.com’s curated wine sets allow you to send several bottles of wine from specific places like Santa Barbara, Australia, and others. More of a cocktail drinker? It also ships prepackaged Manhattan kits.
Products we write about are independently vetted and recommended by our editors. AFAR may earn a commission if you buy through our links, which helps support our independent publication.
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