Gifts for friends living abroad vary depending on the circumstance -- a friend studying for a semester in Paris has different needs form a friend working for the Peace Corps in a poor village in Croatia. That said, some gifts transcend time and place. Consider both personal gifts that fit the individual, gifts that maintain your link with your friend even from afar and gifts that have practical applications.
A Message From Home
Whether or not your friend admits to homesickness, a reminder of home will be a welcome change to the new environment overseas. If your friend's hometown is famous for maple syrup, cheese curds or smoked salmon, send a food gift. If your friend cooks and lives in Europe, expatriate and chef David Lebovitz suggests chocolate chips, which are expensive and hard to find overseas. Or send a calling card so you can have an actual conversation to stay in touch.
An Encourgement to Explore
With the wealth of good maps, travel books and history books available for all parts of the world, chances are your friend could use another version even if she already has a map to get around the city where she lives. For city dwellers, look for books about the best places to go for certain things, such as food or hiking or spots off the typical tourist routes. Travel journals, magazines and novels about the overseas site will also inspire your friend to explore.
Fun and Games
For expatriates near to cities, send e-tickets to sporting events or concerts and gift certificates for a famous local, and pricey, restaurant, museum or department store that they might otherwise avoid. If your friend lives in a more rural area, light-hearted gifts include the latest interactive party game for someone who likes games or a sketch book for an artist friend.
Practical and High Tech
Practical or technology gifts work best when you know what your friend was bringing overseas initially. If you don't know, ask him how he is doing with the topic at hand. For instance if he complains about getting Internet access, sign him up for a mobile hotspot device. If charging electrical devices is onerous, send a solar charger. And if city noises or cackling rosters are a problem, send an effective, noise-cancelling set of headphones. Certain items, such as jeans, are much more expensive overseas than in the U.S., so an extra pair would be a welcome gift.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.