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It’s that time of year again… Christmas markets, mulled wine, cookie baking and of course gifting. While I’ve finished my Christmas shopping early this year – I had gotten all my gifts ready in October, wrapped and ready to be put under the tree (I was in Germany and left a bunch of gifts for my family and friends before flying back to the States) – I know that most of you are still looking for the perfect gift for your loved ones. And since last year’s holiday gift guide was so popular, I decided to put together another gift guide with some of my favorite things I’ve added to my travel gear or accessories this year. There’s something in there in all price ranges that makes for a great gift for the travel addict in your life.
So here you have them, things that made me very happy this year, or that I’d absolutely love to see under my tree:
I’ve only upgraded my Kindle from the original Kindle to a Kindle Fire last month, but I’ve been using it daily ever since, and am not sure why I waited so long to replace my trusted original Kindle. Not only is the Fire a much better reading experience, but I can also use it as a Tablet, watching Netflix, surfing the web, and listen to music. For the latter I am using the next gift idea for a sound quality better than the Kindle Fire speakers offer. Definitely the best gift I gave myself this year, and the best thing: Kindle Fires have gone down in price a lot! Price: from $49.99
JBL wireless headphones
Over the past couple of years I’ve come to really appreciate wireless headphones. No more getting tangled up in cords, which used to be a huge pet peeve of mine, considering I wear headphones for the bigger part of the day – while I work, while I exercise, while I cook. Taking it up a notch meant for me to look into noise canceling headphones because I usually work in coffee shops and have to block out all the noise around me when I write.
My new JBL Everest Elite 700 headphones do exactly that – I am actually wearing them right now while I am writing this – the noise cancellation is amazing, as is the sound quality. I am already looking forward to my next long flight – it will be a completely different experience with these headphones! A great gift for travelers, but also for anybody else who is a headphone snob, looking for a pair of over-ear headphones that block out noise and offer a fantastic sound experience.
Price: JBL headphones start at $149.95
Instagram photo books
I’m a huge Instagram addict, I have to admit it! And I’ve been looking into ways for how I can print my Instagram pictures – nothing chronicles my world travels better than my Instagram feed! In preparation of my End Of The Year 2015 post, that’s where I first looked to relive my year in review, and it made me wish that I could make my Instagram gallery into a beautiful photo book. Luckily there is not just one company offering that, but several ones, but the best one I’ve come across is Printrbook.
They’re a UK-based company but offer free shipping worldwide (!) and their prices are super competitive – a 25-page book is £12.99 (US$20) and the 50-page book is £15.99 (US$25) – a steal compared to Shutterfly, where a 20-page Instagram photo book costs you a whopping $65 (plus shipping!). If you’re not necessarily into books, but like the idea of stickers, framed prints or calendars featuring your favorite Instagram shots, here are 13 more way to print Instagram photos. I think all of these make fantastic gifts with a personal touch.
Price: from $20
Airport tag clothes & accessories
I am in love with all the products I’ve found on the website of this new travel gear shop which focus on travel gear featuring airport codes or other frequent flyer related quotes. You can get just about anything from tote bags, fridge magnets, pillows, mugs, phone cases and at fabulous T-Shirts, but my personal favorite are the customized products – you can get a pillow or T-Shirt made with a flight that you actually took, inserting the date, flight number and departure/arrival airports.. which would also make a great gift for someone you took an amazing trip with. If you’re still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for me, look no further ;-). If you’re still looking for a gift for the frequent flyer or airport nerd in your life – this is the perfect site for you. Head over to Airportag and have a look for youself. Price: Products start at $4.90
Scratch-off World Map
I came across this Scratch Off World Map a few months ago and have been recommending it to several people since then who were looking for a cool gift for a travel addict. It lets you scratch off all the countries you’ve visited, uncovering a colorful world map. But let me warn you: seeing this map on your wall is going to make you even more eager to scratch off all the countries. Life goals, right?
Price: $24.99 Secur Solar Media Player
I love this device so much that the Secur Solar Media Player has been traveling with me to every single place I visited over the past few months – Italy, Berlin, London, Iceland, Tel Aviv.. Wherever I was going, this speaker/charger/rain cover came everywhere with me. It uses solar power to charge itself up, and I usually keep it in a sunny spot on my window sill so that it recharges itself – I honestly don’t remember the last time I plugged it into a wall plug to recharge it! It charges anything that’s USB powered, be it my Kindle, my cordless headphones or my phone.
At the same time, it functions as a speaker, and it’s been getting lots of use at picnics in Central Park, at the beach in Tel Aviv, even in the car during my Iceland road trip when we wanted to listen to an audio book and couldn’t figure out how to connect my phone to the car sound system. Definitely one of my favorite new travel companions this year.
The Chrysalis Cardi
This is the dream of every traveler who loves to pack light – the Chrysalis Cardi is especially designed for travelers who don’t want to pack a million outfits but still look good. You can wear the Cardi eight different ways – including two different types of dresses, a scarf, or a wrap. I am trying to pack as little as possible these days, so this is without a doubt the most efficient items of clothing in my backpack right now! Price: $128.00
I bought my underwater camera on a whim before I left for the Philippines earlier this year, and am not sure how I existed without one before. I’ve not only used it underwater on snorkeling trips, but also to document fun in a swimming pool or in a water park. I love its compact size and I love the excellent image quality of the Nikon COOLPIX. There’s a better model out now than the one I got, and I think I’ll upgrade to that better model before my trip to the Caribbean.
Price: From $89.00
Sholdit: Pickpocket proof scarf
This pickpocket proof scarf has been a favorite of mine for a while, and I’ve raved about the SHOLDIT Women’s Infinity Clutch Wrap Scarf several times before – including last year’s gift guide! But since I’ve been wearing it pretty much every day since I got back to New York, I thought it should get another shout-out. Not only does it keep me warm, no, the more important feature is the secret pocket where you can put credit cards, a small wallet, your phone, keys and other valuables in. The pocket is not visible from the outside and I love that I can store all my important stuff in it, without it becoming less comfortable to wear. Price: $39.99
Guide books are the only books I still lug around with me – everything else I read digitally on my Kindle. But it’s just not the same going back and forth between chapters in a guidebook when you do it on a Kindle, I noticed that a couple of weeks ago when I used Frommer’s EasyGuide to National Parks of the American West for inspiration for my road trip next spring. A Kindle is great for novels, but I don’t think it’ll replace actual guidebooks for me.
I didn’t only check out Frommer’s brand new Europe guide book but also their Frommer’s EasyGuide to New York City 2016 (Frommer’s Easy Guides) and I have to say that it’s the best NYC guidebook I’ve seen so far (some others I’ve looked at ignore Brooklyn and Queens completely for example!) – now reading it from the perspective of someone who spends a big chunk of the year here rather than someone who is just visiting, I was impressed with the detailed insider information.
As for Arthur Frommer’s Europe: It’s a comprehensive guide that includes the following countries: England & Scotland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia (briefly), Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Austria, plus a planning chapter for your big Europe trip. Yes, there’s a lot missing – especially ‘hot’ destinations like the Balkans, Prague or Budapest, but by focusing on the main points of interest in Western Europe (for most North American tourists), it is able to provide more detailed information for these places, instead of trying to fit it all in.
Price: from $8.00
If you’d like to participate in the giveaway, just leave a comment mentioning the giveaway and you’re entered (make sure to enter with your email address – it won’t be published when you leave a comment but I need it to email you if you’re the lucky winner). The giveaway can be entered until 24 December 2015 (midnight). It makes for a great gift or if you’re planning to travel around Europe next year, this will get you started planning your trip!