Travel writers are often on the receiving end of small gifts and gimmicks from tourist boards and marketing companies plugging a particular destination.
Sometimes these can be useful travel aids – things like adapter plugs or alarm clocks – all branded of course. Over the years I’ve been given jackets, scarves, gloves, beanies and sun-caps, carry-0n wheelie bags (usually at conferences), all manner of satchels, books, pens, notebooks, watches, toiletries, key-rings….again, mostly emblazoned with the giver’s logo. Sometimes, especially in the case of the cold-weather gear, it’s the host’s way of ensuring we are properly equipped and comfortable!
Some are not so useful, but rather a gimmick designed to make an impact or say something about the place. To make us remember them, talk about them…even if we’ve not been there. These are usually the things handed out at promotional events. Like the miniature rolling pin that the Austrian National Tourist Board sent out with an invitation to a strudel-making class earlier this year (then there was the apron to bring home). Or the snorkel that once arrived in the post, along with an invitation to a lunch hosted by Queensland’s Tourism Whitsundays. Soft toys, too – a lovely squishy orangutan has lived in my office for many years, courtesy of a Borneo promotion, and I also remember some penguins from Phillip Island in Victoria that went to appreciative small people.
Some of the less useful things (really, how many caps does one woman need?) find their way into the charity bag, but others have been doing good service in my household for years.
This week, as I prepare for a trip to Spain with tour company Globus, a parcel arrived along with my tickets and itinerary. In it was a branded Globus strap for my suitcase, and a smallish zipped satchel. I guessed more documents, and laughed out loud when I opened it to find a miniature cheeseboard, along with cheese knife, pate knife, two forks and a corkscrew bottle-opener! Not the sort of thing to toss in my carry-on luggage, but certainly useful.
Yes…Spain. The Best of Spain, according to Globus. Madrid, Seville, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona. All new territory for me. Once, when I was young, I went to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Later, I went back to northern Spain to lounge on the beach at San Sebastian. But that has been the extent of my Spanish experience. This time, I’m looking forward to exploring the big cities on assignment for Australian travel magazine Get Up & Go.
I’ll be blogging whenever I can…