The Holidays are just a few weeks away now and it will be the first time in seven years that I’ll be home for Christmas. I usually don’t get asked what I want for Christmas, but this year, I’ve heard the question several times already: ‘Is there anything you want for Christmas?’, followed by ‘It’s really hard to come up with a gift idea for you, considering you don’t have a home!’. Which led me to think about the items I’d actually appreciate, and the items I’d recommend as gifts for travelers. So if you’re still looking for gift ideas, or get the question ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ from your loved ones and you see anything in my list of 10 ideas that you think you’d enjoy, why not forward this article to them 🙂
Please note that these are all things that I’ve either personally tried and tested and love, or things I’d love to get for Christmas myself!
1 A voucher for a plane ticket voucher
Most airlines offer vouchers for plane tickets these days, and there is just no better gift for a traveler than a plane ticket, or in this case not an actual plane ticket, but a voucher for one. This doesn’t even need to be expensive, considering that budget airlines around Europe offer flights for as little as 20 Euros and Norwegian offers transatlantic flights for less than $200. Just look up ‘gift vouchers’ plus the airline of your choice and you’ll be able to purchase them on the website of the respective airline.
2 Travelcard Portable Charger
I’ve had my fair share of portable chargers for iPhone and other USB devices, but I didn’t love any of them – too clunky, too short-lived, too impractical. The Travelcard charger, however, might just be the perfect portable charger: At the size of a credit card, I can charge my phone while putting the Travelcard right underneath it, and almost not even feel that it’s there, instead of carrying an extra device, connected via a long cord. The Travelcard comes with its own short lightning cable, which means that even if I don’t have my charger cord with me (I tend to forget it), I can charge my phone. I gifted this to one person already and it was a huge hit – if you have any phone addicts in your family, this is the absolute best gift. For me as a traveler, it is invaluable, considering I spend a lot of time on buses, planes and trains and hate running out of battery.
3 Sholdit Scarf
I was ecstatic when I first heard about the Sholdit: a scarf that has a secret pocket for my valuables! This is just genius. I always worry about where to put my most valuable and beloved things (passport, iPhone, wallet), especially when I am on long bus rides or when I want to just run out to pick up a coffee without having to take my entire purse or backpack. Now, I can just hide everything in my Sholdit and it is not obvious that I am hiding stuff in the infinity scarf. The hidden zipper pocket holds almost as many things as a small lady’s purse: a thick wallet, passport, cash, phone and other small items that you might need, like lip gloss, the Travel Card charger I mentioned above, chewing gum or mints and travel-size lotion.
The scarves come in different colors and styles, so that they are not only practical, but also chic. I am much less worried about pickpockets on buses when I wear it and I am not freaked out about falling asleep on trains anymore now that I have my valuables close to my heart, quite literally! If you’re not sure which style is the best fit for your friend or family member, you can also purchase a gift card on the website.
4 A cool guidebook
I am traveling without a guidebook for the very first time here in Sri Lanka and I don’t like it at all. I am not sure why I didn’t pick up a guidebook before my trip – lesson learned! I even still use a guidebook when I am in New York, a city I have come to known much better than any other city in the world, but a guidebook usually gives me some ideas for new places, hidden gems or simply things that I haven’t had on my radar yet. This year I was introduced to a guidebook series I hadn’t known previously – the Knowing Where You’re Going guidebooks. They are formatted beautifully, have excellent maps (I love their design!) and plenty of great tips for neighborhoods to explore, self-guided walks to try, and lots of interesting facts about both the major tourist attractions and lesser known places.
Other guidebook series I like include the DK Eyewitness Guides, Rough Guide and Footprint, which have guidebooks for most countries and cities. I still buy Lonely Planet guidebooks, although I find their region guides (like the South America one) increasingly outdated and disappointing, but the city and country guides are better researched and much more detailed.
5 Tablet / iPad
Oh, how I wish I had a iPad! (Hint, hint, family members who are reading this!). I used to think that tablets weren’t necessary, but I find myself using my iPod Touch or iPhone so much these days, and more and more to consume media – i.e. to watch videos or read articles, so that I am longing for a bigger screen. It hurts my eyes to read on the small screen of the iPhone for a long time, but when I go to bed I tend to read the NYT or articles I saved in my Pocket App. For travelers, it’s great when you want to just research your next destination, make hotel bookings, especially when you head to a café to do that and don’t want to bring your laptop. I guess my Facebook and Instagram streams would also look much nicer on an iPad, and I remember that I appreciated having the iPad when I was traveling through South America and was able to watch TV shows on the iPad on seemingly never ending bus rides. (That iPad was borrowed). Even better for travelers: the lightweight iPad Air which wouldn’t add any weight to my luggage, or take up much room.
6 Photo books
I have made several ones of those myself this year, for family and friends, and everybody loved them! Photo books relatively easy to make (once you get the hang of it) and they are such a great souvenir for a trip, and a very personal gift. I’ve found great deals for photo books on Groupon (just type ‘photo books’ in the search box) and so far I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the books. When you purchase a photo book through Groupon, they are as little as $8.99 for a 20-pages hardcover book, and there is a gift option when you buy them, which means you can actually give a voucher for the book to the traveler in your family, and they can make a book themselves with their favorite pictures of their last trip. If you’ve just traveled with someone, you can easily make a book with the photos of that trip for them – what a great Christmas gift! I’ve personally used Printerprix and Snapfish and was satisfied with both of them. (Note: In my experience, the books are usually delivered within 5 – 7 days of ordering).
7 Instantly Framed
I love the concept of the brand new Instantly Framed app: you open the app, choose an image from your library, fit it into the square format, and order a print of it! Not just any print though – as the name suggests, you get the image in a beautiful 12×12 American-made walnut wood frame. Once you’ve placed your order, Instantly Framed promises a 3-day delivery within the continental US, which means you can have a great picture you took on your iPhone framed on your wall three or four days later! A great gift idea and I am happy to announce that Instantly Framed is offering all of my readers a $10 discount off each frame (not just each order!) when using the discount code GLOBETROTTER10, and the code is valid until 25 December 2014.
8 The Wanderlust Tote Bag
I came across this wanderlust tote bag on Facebook and fell in love with it right away. What made me love it even more is that it was created by my fellow travel writer and photographer Jessica Festa, and nothing makes me happier than supporting a fellow solo-preneur. This tote bag is an inexpensive, unique gift, and I recommend checking out Jessie’s entire collection on Redbubble.com – you might find a motive there that you like even more.
9 Modstraps camera accessories
I’ve been getting compliments for my modstraps camera straps and the matching accessories bag ever since I got it earlier this year, and I am looking to get me a second set because I like this one so much. The strap doesn’t only make my camera stand out, but it is also very sturdy and I can wash it if needed (much needed after my hike through the Negev Desert!). The accessories bag holds my filters, spare batteries, a small tripod and cleaning utilities, but also fits my large 300mm zoom lens (though I was told that I shouldn’t keep it in there as it doesn’t provide that much stability, despite the soft, thick plushy coating on the inside.
You can order modstraps accessories straight from the website or find some of their collections exclusively at Target. I also recommend checking out some of their other products on the website, like cap savers or tablet sleeves. They deliver within 3 – 5 business days, so you can still order some camera accessories in time for the Holidays – and modstraps.com has gift certificates!