With the holiday season upon us it’s time to think about what to give those special people in your life. It can be a challenge, but if you have a globetrotter like me in your circle of loved ones, I’m here to make it easier for you. Those of us who live for travel don’t need more knickknacks to sit on shelf that we need to be around to dust. If you want to see our eyes light up, give us something that feeds our wanderlust. From experiences to practical gear, here are 10 ideas to get you started with your shopping.
Some love them, some don’t but I recently started using packing cubes to keep my luggage organized and compact during my travels – and I’ve become a fan. Many styles have an extra compression zipper to flatten out clothes taking up less space in the carry-on. There are several types of packing cubes available so consider a variety of sizes including smaller cubes for jewelry and designs with compartments for all those electronic chargers.
For the adventurer whose clothes get sweaty and dirty, a portable washing system is ideal. While traveling in the Peruvian Amazon, my jungle hiking clothes became – let’s just say unpleasant. Sure I could wash them out in the sink, but to really get the ground in dirt and sweat out, I used a portable washing system with a scrubbing pad and an ultra-absorbent towel to soak up the excess water. It all rolls up into a neat little package with its own travel bag.
You know what it’s like, your flight is delayed, your portable cell phone charger is dead and your phone is running on its last bit of juice. You look around for an outlet in the airport waiting area and there’s only one. Enter the portable power strip to turn that one coveted outlet into an electronic life saver. Just plug it in then plug all your charging devices into the strip. Give this to a frequent traveler and they will love you forever.
With the continued improvements in cell phone cameras, many travelers are giving up traditional cameras and snapping all their Instagram worthy photos with their phones. But sometimes that zoom just doesn’t zoom enough. That’s where the magnetic lenses come in handy. Available in an assortment of sizes, these little lenses magnetically fix to the camera lens of the phone allowing you to zoom in for that coveted close up shot.
With baggage fees levied on most flights, packing light is becoming a necessary skill. Multi-purpose clothing and accessories help keep luggage lightweight. I’ve discovered skirts that can be worn three or four different ways from long, to shorter, or even as a sundress. Also look for scarves for men and women with secret pockets to stash a cell phone or wallet while keeping your hands free. One scarf even converts to a clutch. Tip: Look for multi-purpose clothing and accessories made from wrinkle-free fabrics because no one wants to iron.
If your traveler is heading to the wide-open space of a Dude Ranch, he can wear his wallet in whatever pocket of his Wrangler jeans he wants. But if he’s heading to the crowded city streets, that wallet needs to be in a front pocket. Look for slim wallets designed specifically for front pockets with RFID protection. The slim style lies flat inside the front pocket for a comfortable fit. The RFID-blocking material is stitched directly into the lining of the wallet, protecting credit cards from unauthorized access.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the luxury of flying business class for our long haul overnight flights – which means stretching out in a fully reclined seat isn’t an option. Getting some sleep on those long flights is easier with an airplane pillow, but the standard styles take up valuable luggage space. Thankfully, there are many new inflatable designs. Just blow it up pre-flight, put on that eye mask and start counting sheep. When the flight’s over the deflated pillow can be tucked into the suitcase.
Luggage tags and passport covers are pretty basic travel staples, but basics don’t have to be boring. Give them a boost with personalization. One of my favorite gifts last holiday season was a luggage tag – but not just any luggage tag. My daughter made a collage from photos of my grandkids and had a luggage tag designed from the collage. Now I can take the little ones with me on every trip.
Experiences last far longer than trinkets. Travel gift cards make giving those special experiences easier. Even if an all-expenses paid trip to Tahiti isn’t in your gifting budget, you can still give the gift of travel. Airlines, hotels and theme parks offer gift cards in a variety of amounts. Also consider an automotive gift card to cover the cost of gasoline for a road trip.
As a globetrotting grandmom, encouraging my little ones to learn about cultures around the world is important to me. Even though I can’t always take them with me, I can introduce them to other cultures with gifts of toys from around the world. Another way to provide a cultural introduction is with National Geographic’s Little Passports program. Every month a package arrives from a different country with activities to introduce customs and cultures around the world. Pretty soon they will be feeding their own wanderlust and I’ll be right there beside them.
What are your favorite travel gifts?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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