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Finding a great gift for the traveler in your life can be a daunting task – especially for someone who may seem to have it all. But I’ve put together this list with my 20 top picks of great items for budgets both modest and extravagant based on my own travels and wish list.
Before you go on a spree, though, remember always to try to shop via shopping portals in order to maximize your miles and points, and you can use sites like EVreward.com to find the retailer giving you the most bang for your buck. So remember, do the research and comparison shop before buying so you make sure you get the best deal.
1. Parrot Zik Headphones: Nothing can ruin your flight faster than noisy neighbors – whether it’s a talkative seatmate, a screaming baby or over-the-top flight attendants. That’s why I always have a set of noise-cancelling headphones with me and my current pick are these sleek ones designed by Philippe Starck Using 4 microphones, these discreet bluetooth headphones have an active noise-cancellation system which eliminates up to 98% of ambient noise. They have an easy-to-use touch control panel to change volume, track songs, equalize and more, and were sound-tested by none other than Lou Reed. They look cool too, coming in four colors: classic black, black gold, rose gold and yellow gold. I recently got these as a gift and I love them – even more than my Bose! The Parrot Zik Headphones are available on Amazon.com for $399.95.
2. Rimowa Salsa Air Carry On: If you’ve flown international first or business class lately, you likely collected a nifty Rimowa amenity kit from carriers including Lufthansa and ANA, but why not upgrade to a full-on carry on? It’s a great luggage brand and very stylish, so you’ll turn heads as you strut through the terminal. This ultra-light carry on, poly carbonate hard side case has some neat features, like a a telescoping handle that can lock into any height position. It weights just 4.2 pounds and all four wheels have 360 degree movement – Rimowa actually has their own patented multiwheel system – and the mesh zipper bags on the silk-lined case interior will store your belongings comfortably. Available at Magellans for $475.
3. Canon Vixia Mini Video Camera: I hate lugging around bulky cameras, especially when I find something interesting on the fly and want to shoot it in a hurry. But Canon has a slick little video camera that’s easy to tote and WiFi-enabled to make uploading a breeze. This tiny video camera packs it all in, a 2.8 fisheye lens, flip up touch screen, and high-quality audio. You can also capture still images with the 12 megapixel camera. The camera is travel-friendly, weighing just 2.1 ounces, and 3.4 inches wide. The Vixia is available on Amazon.com for $269.
4. Tory Burch Women’s Zip Jewelry Case: Why should the men have all the fun, though? All women know that keeping your jewelry organized while traveling can be a mess, especially keeping together tiny stud earrings or stopping necklaces from getting tangled. This eye-catching case will keep your precious jewels safe and organized, using padded ring bars, an elasticized pocket, and a drawstring pouch strategically designed to accommodate various baubles of various shapes and sizes – all with a . The case is priced at $125.
5. iPad Mini: Now that the FAA has relaxed the rules on in-flight electronics to allow passengers to use more devices during taxi, takeoff and landing, it is the ideal time to have Santa bring a new tablet for that special person on your list. I like the iPad Mini because it is small enough to fit in a carry on bag and is light-weight with a long battery life. With a 7.9-inch display, it is plenty big enough to read books on or watch movies. You can also access both your iPad and iPhone apps from it, and get a cellular data connection to avoid in-room WiFi charges. Available for $299. If you are not an Apple guy like me, check out the Microsoft Surface Art or the Google Nexus 7 tablets.
6. Longchamp Boxford Garment Bag: Essential for a business traveler, this compact Longchamp garment bag can work for men or women – pretty much anyone traveling with a suit. The two-tone leather and fabric look is understated and elegant, and it comes in three colors: blue, black and brown. The bag costs $175.
7. Suunto Core Multifunction Watch: For the outdoor adventurer on your shopping list, the Suunto Core Multifunction Watch is perfect for even their most daring of expeditions. Inspired by my recent scuba diving trip to the Maldives, this rugged watch can read accurate depths down to 30 feet, and also has an altimeter, barometer and compass to gauge performance, direction and weather, along with a storm alarm feature that activates when there is a rapid drop in air pressure. It is available from REI.com for $500.
8. Unlimited Gogo In-flight WiFi: With more airlines offering WiFi on more aircraft every day, there’s no reason you and your loved ones can’t keep in touch even while up in the air. For the road warrior in your life, a Gogo in-flight WiFi subscription makes a great gift and is available on Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, United, US Airways and Virgin America. Packages start at $39. 95 per month for a single airline unlimited pass and $49.95 per month for unlimited internet on any participating airline
9. Rosetta Stone: Every seasoned traveler knows the importance of speaking the language of your destination. Whether it is a few sentences so that you can order in a restaurant, or the desire to be able to get directions (or even go on a date!), being able to communicate is essential. Rosetta Stone has long been the flagship for computer-based language-learning, and now is the perfect time to help a loved one learn since Hilton has teamed up with Rosetta Stone so that when you purchase a course, you can get 25,000 Hilton Honors bonus points. Rosetta comes as a CD-Rom set, or you can download it online. It comes in the following languages: Chinese (Mandarin) German, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), English (American), English (British), Italian, Russian and French. The 25,000 points are enough for a Standard Room Reward night at participating Category 1-3 hotels and at select Category 4 hotels, and this offer runs now through January 10, 2014. They also currently have an offer where you can buy the program for $299 plus free 2-day shipping, reduced from the usual $499.
10. Sodashi Rejuvenate Skin Care Kit: Flying dries out even the softest of skin, and when you add in cold wintery winds then we all need a good skincare regimen to keep us looking good. I like Sodashi products such as the ones in this Rejuvenate Skin Care Kit since they use nourishing plant essences to add moisture to dry, damaged skin and are gender neutral so you can buy them for any relative – and then borrow them back again if you travel together! The complete kit contains: Clay Cleanser with Lavender, Rejuvenating Concentrate, Rejuvenating Face Mist, Rejuvenating Skin Boost, Rejuvenating Face and Neck Moisturizer and a Eye and Lip Smoother. It available online at Sodashi.us for $237.93. If you would prefer a smaller and less expensive option, perhaps as a stocking stuffer, try Jet Lag Recovery Kit instead for just $53.55, which contains Jet Lag Recovery Mist and Jet Lag Recovery Gel.
11. Packable Tour Rain Boots From Hunter: Come rain or shine, we all have to travel no matter what the weather. Packing clothes for chilly climates can take up so much space, which is why TPG Contributor Debbie Emery (a Manchester native) loves these Wellington boots from Hunter that literally fold up to fit neatly in your case or stuff into a drawstring bag. Scotland-based Hunter have been making the finest and most fashionable wellies since the 1850s, and the latest style come in red, navy, yellow, black, green, blue lily and purple – to guarantee you look stylish when skipping through the wettest of puddles! Available online for $140.
12. Brookstone Mobile Phone Charger: Having a dying cellphone can hinder any journey, and no one wants to spend their time in the airport huddled around a wall socket desperately trying to juice-up before take off. Many people now carry multiple gadgets such as an iPad, tablet or camera as well as a phone, making the Brookstone Mobile 7800 mAh Charger even more useful as it charges two devices at once and works with most smartphones and small electronics powered via a micro/mini USB connection. Just make sure you keep the charger itself powered, but a handy charging light will let you know when you need to plug it in. Available at Brookstone.com for $99.
13. Polo Cabled Cashmere Travel Set: I hate getting cold on planes, and many airlines don’t offer blankets anymore (and even if they do there’s no guaranteeing their cleanliness) so it is always wise to carry your own. Fortunately Ralph Lauren has a Cabled Cashmere Travel Set that keeps you cozy in style, containing a cashmere blanket and eye mask, while the zippered bag also doubles as a pillow. A nice added touch is to personalize the set with Ralph Lauren’s monogramming service, which lets you have custom-embroidered initials or a name added in a choice of fonts. Available on RalphLauren.com for $395.
14. Priority Pass: Sometimes the best gifts come in the smallest packages, such as Priority Pass membership, which allows you access to airport lounges around the world. The membership program lets the recipient reap the benefits of over 600 airport lounges in 300 cities globally and 70 in the US, where you can work in peace with WiFi, enjoy food and drinks, or just relax and escape the bustle of the terminal. There are three membership plans ranging from Standard for $99 per year to Prestige for $399 per year.
15. A Maison Gray Photo Print: Maison Gray is a photography atelier based in LA whose owner is a globe-trotting shutterbug snapping everything from European beach aerials to vast landscapes on the salt flats of Bolivia. He has several-themed collections of travel photography prints, so no wonder the studio’s motto is “the destination your walls have been waiting for.” Whether or not you want a reminder of your romantic trip to Paris, or dream of that beach in Asia, Maison Gray has a print for everyone, including me – I bought one of the Prada Marfa store last year that I love. Prices range from $100-$300 per print, depending on size.
16. True Organic Pharmacy In-Flight Kit: Travel can be stressful, turning the most even-keeled person into a neurotic mess. That’s why it’s nice to have some soothing toiletries along to keep you relaxed and smelling fresh. This bag is filled with organic and homeopathic essentials to soothe and support the body during travel. The kit includes: Rose Facial Spritz (10 ml), Monoi Lip Gloss (5 ml), Lip & Eye Treatment Cream (5 ml), Rose Herbal Hand & Nail Balm (5 ml) and remedies for insomnia and jet lag. The kit costs 46 GBP ($75).
And if you’re just looking to give out a little holiday cheer without breaking the bank, here are some great ideas for little gifts that make for delightful stocking stuffers.
17. 4-in-1-Adapter: Convert energy in over 150 countries with this handy 4-in-1 adapter stocking stuffer. It’s basically a set of color-coded plugs that come with a color-coded map that helps you find the right plug for your trip simply by matching colors. It couldn’t get any easier. I personally have tons of different adapters and I am always losing them and sometimes actually grab the wrong ones because they are all white, so this colored set is very helpful. Available at Flight 001 for $25.
18. Scratch Map: For those travelers who love to tell everyone where they’ve been, the perfect stocking stuffer is the Scratch Map. Basically all the countries are brown until you scratch them off with a coin, revealing a colorful country underneath. This is a great gift for both kids and adults alike. Available at Uncommon Goods for $20.
19. Lauren Pajama Set: If you are not fortunate to be on a business or first class flight where they hand out PJ’s, then a comfy set is essential for a long-haul flight. These silky soft Lauren Pajamas from Magellan’s pack up easily into a carry on for a quick change up in the air, and dry four times faster than cotton in case of spills during turbulence. The top comes with a banded neck and V-button front, and the easy-fitting pants having a soft-gathered waist with a draw cord, and back pocket to keep essential items in. Guys take note, these would make a great gift for your mom, wife or even sister, and she is guaranteed to think of you every time she gets a good night’s sleep on a plane afterwards. Available from Magellans.com for $100.
20. Jonathan Adler Luggage Tags: These are fitting for a personalized, colorful stocking stuffer. With many patterns, colors and quotes to choose from, you can pick which one works best for each friend or family member. Particularly cute for a couple are the “His” and “Hers” luggage tags. All tags are $38.
21. Outwell Neck Pillow: This neck pillow is extra special and extra comfortable – and once you get over the fact that you’re wearing a neck pillow, you won’t leave home without it. With two double A batteries, you can turn the pillow into a neck massager by simply pressing the on/off button, and the soft micro-fabric will provide comfort even without the massage feature. It comes in three colors: blue, green and black. The pillow is priced at 16.99 EUR ($23.30).
22. Aquabells Dumbbell & Ankle Set: Keeping up with your workouts can be a challenge on the road, and if your hotel doesn’t have a swanky gym like these then you might be left having to get creative, which is why I love these Aquabell Travel Weights. Simply fill up the inflatable dumbbells and ankle weights with water and you have an instant exercise tool to use in the hotel fitness center or in your room. Once you are done, pour out the water and the pack in your suitcase again. The Aquabells Travel Weights set comes with two 13-inch-long cushioned hand grips and eight attachable water chambers, the water chambers each can hold up to 4 pounds of water and each dumbbell handgrip can hold 4 chambers for a total weight of 16 pounds per dumbbell. Available from GoingInStyle.com for $80 per set.