Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers
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. Here are some of my picks for interesting gifts for the traveler in your life – from cheap stocking stuffers to over-the-top gifts sure to knock the socks off of the most discriminating person if your life. I will be updating this list throughout the holiday season, so feel free to Tweet or email me your gift idea/product if you’d like it considered!
Note: As I’ve written about many times, you should try to buy via Shopping Portals in order to maximize your miles and points. You can use sites like EVreward.com to find the retailer giving you the most points. So, do research and comparison shop before buying so you make sure you get the best deal.
BIG TICKET ITEMS
Men’s Original Wallet from All-Ett – This suggestion comes courtesy of TPG Reader RCalistan, who says: “every serious card collector needs a slimmer wallet. I use the men’s original from All Ett and it holds 24 cards. Made from America’s Cup yacht sailcloth; thin, strong and great customer service. And when it’s holding 24 cards plus cash, receipts and business cards, it’s still thinner than almost any other wallet empty. $34.95
Marc by Marc Jacobs iPad Case – I just got an iPad myself for travel, and the last thing I want is to scratch it going through security. No need to even take it out of this slick case from Marc by Marc Jacobs (available in colors both manly and girly), though. I can just toss it in one of the plastic bins then scoop it up on the other side and be on my way. $43.95
Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi™ 4510L- Fast wifi, no matter where you are. I have one of these and absolutely love it- I never pay for a fast wifi connection and I even use it in hotels where the wifi is slow. Works great in the car (when I’m not driving, obviously) and have been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion. While it’s only $29.99 to purchase, it requires a monthly service contract which starts at $50 a month, which isn’t cheap.
Luggage Shipping Service – What with increasing checked baggage fees, decreasing baggage allowances, huge check-in lines, and the likelihood of an airline losing your checked luggage, it’s just not worth it to check anything these days. That said, sometimes you just have to bring more stuff than you can carry on. That’s why one of the best presents you can give a frequent traveler is a luggage shipping service. Yes, it can be expensive, but it saves time, baggage fees, and most include insurance up to $10,000, guaranteed on-time delivery and can ship odd-size items like golf bags, snowboards and bikes. Try Luggage Club, Luggage Forward or Luggage Free. $50-300
Saddleback Leather Passport Cover. Per TPG reader Robert pronounces, “I lived in countries for 2 years where I had to have my passport on me at all times and this is the best passport holder I’ve had out of 4 or 5, including a Louis Vuitton. It’s bulky but awesome.” $63
Stationery from Tweedle Press – Make sure your favorite world traveler can stay in touch wherever he or she goes with some custom stationery from this artisan printing house. And don’t worry about the carbon footprint of mailing letters halfway across the globe since Tweedle Press uses only sustainable, eco-friendly materials and methods to print its products. Price available upon request.
Dean & Deluca California Wine Club – We’ve all got wine geek friends, and we can’t exactly afford to send them to Napa, so why not get them a membership to one of Dean & Deluca’s new California Wine Clubs. Each wine is hand-picked by the store’s Napa-based staff, and includes shipments for a set period of time you choose ranging from the beginners’ Discoveries Club to the specialized Cellar Rarities Club for true aficionados, and everything in between. $50-$3,600
ExpertFlyer Subscription/ Gift Card. I use ExpertFlyer almost every day. Whether it’s finding award availability or checking flight availability- it has many uses for the frequent traveler. I also lover the Award Seat Notifications, which let me know when hard to find award seats (like Qantas business class) open up so I can book them before anyone else. $99
Travel Insurance – Seasoned travelers will tell you that the one item most people forget to pack is suitable insurance. Your medical might cover some costs if you’re out of the country, and your credit card likely carries car rental insurance, and some even have trip protection, but if you have friends going on a major trip where something could go wrong that would leave you in the financial lurch (have you ever tried to catch an emergency flight back from Australia or get helicoptered to a hospital in India?) consider getting them travel insurance as a present. It’s cheap, simple to purchase, and can save a lot of time and money if something goes wrong. I’d suggest starting by checking World Nomads. Usually around $100.
Rosetta Stone Language Course – One of the best ways to get to know a destination is to learn the language. That can be daunting, though, and who has the time to actually go out and take courses? One of the most popular ways to learn at home these days is with Rosetta Stone thanks to word-image associations and easy-to-follow lesson plans. Give your polyglot friends yet another passel of bad words to teach you with a course in languages such as Arabic, German, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Turkish, and even Welsh, among others. $179-$369, online $299
Bon Voyage from Jetsetter - You’ve probably seen the sales on Jetsetter.com to fabulous dream destinations across the globe and thought…well, maybe one day I’ll have it together enough to purchase one of these. Well, even if your timing doesn’t quite match up to the sales, you can still put together your perfect escape by flipping through the pages of this enormous coffee table book that contains the itineraries for 24 bespoke journeys created by the Jetsetter Personal Travel Planning Team, along with a personal travel journal to keep track of your planning and your adventures. Plus, if you buy it now, you can take advantage of Gilt Groupe’s recent offer of 1,500 United Miles and 5 miles per dollar promo for new users. $199
“Quiet Planes” print by Tod Seelie – Put a little bit of whimsy back into your favorite airplane enthusiast’s life with this archival pigment photographic print by artist Tod Seelie of various airline plane models, both retro and modern, that will get any armchair traveler dreaming of the skies. Like all the unique art prints from 20×200, it’s available exclusively on the site, so you won’t find it anywhere else. $200
Victorinox Avolve 22” Suitcase – Part of the Swiss Army brand, this bag is durable, slick and will fit in any normal overhead bin. Totally the road warrior’s wheelie of choice. $215
Tumi T-Tech Presidio Tri-fold Garment Bag. The quintessential, heavy duty garment bag that will ensure your suit arrives in better shape than you. I have this and I’m always impressed at how much I can pack into it- including shoes in the outer pocket and amazingly things always stay unwrinkled. $225
Derek Lam For Kiehl’s In-Flight Kit – Give yourself (or your favorite fussy traveler) a mini-facial mid-flight with this super-luxurious kit of Kiehl’s products courtesy of Derek Lam. It includes Lip Balm #1, Crème de Corps, Amino Acid Shampoo, Crème de Corps Nurturing Body Washing Cream, Conditioner and Grooming Aid “Formula 133.” $225
Purdy Stop-Over Stealth 22” Carry-on Rollerboard. While this bag may not be the most fashionable, it’s a tried and true road warrior favorite. In fact, its the same bag you’ll see many pilots using- including the hook that allows you to attach another smaller bag as you roll it through the airport. TPG reader Steve swears by it and calls it “heavy, but indestructible. You can sit on the top which is handy if taking a flight in Italy where they almost never have enough seats in the waiting area. $275.95
Bose QC15 Headphones. I personally use these on all flights- whether a 45 minute short hop or a 15 hour flight to Asia. I never worry about crying babies or obnoxious seatmates- whenever I’m in a pickle, I pop on these bad boys, crank up the tunes and slip into my own personal airborne world. $299.95
Unlimited GoGo Inflight Internet For A Year On Delta – You can now purchase an annual Delta Wi-Fi pass and stay connected all year long for only $399.95. Take advantage of this Wi-Fi rate, which is the best value for frequent Delta travelers. You’ll get unlimited access to Gogo® Inflight Internet onboard all Delta Wi-Fi equipped flights for a full year. $399.95
Shanghai Tang Pyjamas – These days, not many airlines are handing out pyjama sets even for their first and business class customers. One that still does in First Class is Cathay Pacific, and they actually get theirs from Shanghai Tang, so I went looking for some luxurious silk pyjamas there for my own personal travel kit. These beauties, called the Double Happiness pyjama, are available in navy, burgundy and charcoal with various piping colors. You’ll be the most stylin’ sleeper on the plane! (Ladies, check out the similar Eight Fairies Silk Pyjamas.) $449
One year of Unlimited Gogo In-flight Wifi. Unlimited packages work on all Gogo equipped airlines, including Delta (almost all domestic planes), American, Air Canada, Alaska, United, US Airways, Virgin America. Single use passes are up to $12.95, so you’d need to use this at least 4 times a month for it to make sense. $39.95 a month/ $479.40 a year
Tern Folding Bike – This is the perfect gift for adventure travelers and adrenaline junkies who like to go biking on their trips but hate having to borrow a bike. Tern makes a diverse range of fantastic, design-focused folding bikes to help you conquer everything from the concrete jungle to rough mountain terrain, and everything in between. Plus they look really cool, and many even fit in a large (but not oversize) suitcase within weight requirements. Starting at $500.
Bottega Veneta Nappa Leather iPad case. While it may cost more than the iPad itself, it’s certainly a stylish way to accessorize your iPad and protect it from the rigors of travel. $630
|Apple MacBook Air -$999+. Only 3 pounds, so it’s easy to travel with and packs a punch. I can usually get a couple hours’ work done and then watch almost 2 feature-length movies on mine when on long-haul flights.
Private Jet Service on JetSuite – Sure, you might not earn miles, but every so often you’ve got to treat yourself with a reminder of how truly glamorous travel can be. JetSuite is a company based in the western U.S. with a small fleet of bookable Embraer Phenom 100’s to fly you and your friends between cities such as Phoenix, Tahoe, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Austin and San Antonio, among others. JetSuite also has a SuiteKey Membership loyalty program that allows flyers to accrue flight credits, lower fares, better availability and more—just like airline elite status. Flights: $999-4,199, SuiteKey: $25,000
Louis Vuitton Keepall 55″ Duffel Bag with Strap – Classic, iconic and simply well made. A leather bag that will last for years and only get better with age. It comes with a monogrammed tag that can be “hotstamped” in store with initials. Great for him or her. $1,485
Concord C1 WorldTimer – For the most discerning and active of jetsetters, this beauty will set you back quite a bundle, but it’s worth it. The stainless steel case is indestructible, and contains 53 elements. While the vulcanized black rubber strap, sapphire crystal face, and self-winding Dubois-Dépraz movement will hold up to almost 20 ATM underwater. Plus, it tells time the world over with its state-of-the-art blue arc display, which shows the time in the world’s major cities. $11,000
Musha Cay – As one TPG reader pointed out, Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s Caribbean retreat, recently suffered a devastating fire, so chances are, no one will be paying $159,000 for it anytime soon. However, illusionist extraordinaire, David Copperfield actually has his own private island in the Bahamas called Musha Cay, that you and up to 23 of your closest friends and family can enjoy all to yourselves as well, and it starts at a mere $37,500 a day!
360 Panorama App- It allows you to take panorama images with one easy click and then upload them instantly to email and social networks. I just bought the app so stay tuned for enhanced 360 views of my upcoming trip reports! $0.99
Dermalogica Hydramist- Travel Size 1oz. I got this in an amenity kit and now keep it in my Bose QC15 case so I have it whenever I fly. Airplane cabins are dry, nasty environments for your skin so spritzing up with this mist midflight and before landing is a great way to keep your skin from looking dry and battered. It’s lightly fragranced and gives almost a mini-shower feel after just a couple sprays. $7.90
Try This: Traveling the Globe Without Leaving the Table – My friend Danyelle Freeman, the food writer and blogger behind restaurantgirl.com, wrote this fantastic book about fabulous foods from all over the world. I obviously love travel, and I’m a big foodie, so I think it’s a great gift, and will get you salivating over all kinds of exotic dishes. Print: $11.99, Kindle: $9.99
Wallpaper* City Guides – These colorful pocket-size guides are some of the coolest city-specific guidebooks on the market, and often have the most up-to-date information on design hotels, chef-driven restaurants, in-the-know boutiques and all the best watering holes. They currently cover over 80 cities including Bangkok Barcelona, Boston, Buenos Aires…and those are just some of the B’s. If you’re buying for someone more mobile, consider getting them one of the apps for iPhones since they’re updated more frequently. Books $9.95, Apps $4.99.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector – This is a suggestion from TPG reader Coleman, who prefers it to the Monster Cable thanks to its compact size and lower price. $12
Lights Out Sleep Mask. While I still use my British Airways first class eye mask, several uber-traveler friends recommended these eye masks that completely block out light making for peaceful sleep in a chaotic environment. $14.50 for one, $12.50/each for 2 or more.
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Eye Depuffer. Because no one likes to arrive looking haggard. This lightweight cooling de-puffing eye stick is formulated with caffeine and refreshing Arctic Root to minimize puffiness, and to help revive and awaken tired eyes. Convenient and portable packaging also allows the formula to glide on easily, providing an instant cooling effect. $18.50
Neti Pot- I’ve never actually used one, but when I wrote about travel health earlier this year, there was a vocal contingent of TPG users who rave about the powers of the Neti to ward off sickness and sinus congestion when traveling (this included TPG managing editor Eric). $15-$30
Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube. Made by the iconic travel luggage brand that often uses nearly indestructible materials like “1050d U.S. ballistic nylon and YKK splash-proof zippers”, this 3-1-1 TSA compliant bag is perfect for housing your precious liquids when traveling. $22.
AwardWallet 6 Month Premium Subscription and 3 OneCards. AwardWallet is a great service that tracks all of your miles and points and emails you when any are in jeopardy of expiring. It’s a free service, but the Premium Membership gives you extra perks and they recently launched OneCards- which are plastic cards that have all of your loyalty program numbers and telephone numbers. $25
Monster Cable: Outlets to Go Portable Power Strip with 4 outlets, so you can charge all of your devices when outlets are scarce. A great way to make friends in a crowded lounge! $5