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With a world’s worth of potential gifts to give a traveler for the winter holidays, you could spend the entire year looking for the perfect present. Fortunately, TPG Assistant Editor Melanie Wynne has narrowed the list down to twenty must-have items for journeys near and far – leaving you more time to plan your next trip!
TPG TIP: To maximize your miles and points while buying holiday gifts, consider buying them through shopping portals for airline loyalty programs, as well as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. Before you purchase, though, be sure to check sites like EVreward and rewardsDB to compare earning ratios of various portals and determine the best deals. It’s also a good idea to use cards with buyer protection like The Platinum Card from American Express. And read Jason Steele’s post: Credit Card Strategies for Holiday Shopping.
Lipault Foldable 2-Wheeled 22″ Carry-On: The soft-sided luggage from French brand Lipault is light, durable, stain-resistant, and comes in a rainbow of colors that allow you to easily spot it coming your way on an airport carousel. Usually $189 at Lipault.com, this piece is on sale for $139 until December 15, 2014.
Dell XPS 11: This 11.6-inch PC has a flexible, 360-degree rotating hinge design that lets you quickly transition from a lightweight laptop to a tablet, and its high-resolution Quad HD display delivers great picture quality in nearly any light – making it perfect for use on a plane or sitting by a pool in some far-flung locale. $649
KnowRoaming SIM Sticker: When affixed to the SIM card of any unlocked iOS, Android or Windows smartphone or tablet, this micro-thin sticker (in conjunction with a companion app) connects you to a local mobile network in 200 countries. Roaming is eliminated and you’ll simply pay the local rate for voice calls, data usage and texting. $29.99
Skyroam 3Gmate Global WiFi Hotspot: To access Wi-Fi on the go, switch on this handy SIM-free mobile hotspot, activate your Skyroam service and connect up to five mobile devices to the network, then pay as you go for each 24-hour day pass of unlimited data. The first five days of Wi-Fi are free, and then you pay $10 a day each time you activate a day pass. Available from Flight 001 for $99.99.
Kinivo BTH220 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones: The lightweight and well-padded BTH220s allow you to play, pause, adjust volume, switch music tracks and both make and accept calls right from the headphones, and their cordless design enables you to travel tangle-free; when not in use, the BTH220s can rest (and stay) comfortably around your neck. Compatible with all iOS and Android devices, the ‘phones come with a charging cord and travel pouch. Usually priced at $44.99 on Kinivo.com, but currently on sale for $20.99.
Sol Republic Deck Ultra Wireless Bluetooth Travel Speaker: With a range of 450 feet and 22 hours of battery life, this slim and sturdy plastic-and-metal speaker comes in two colors (aqua or black) and lets you connect and play music from as many as five iPhones at a time. Available from Sol Republic for $149.99.
I Was Here: A Travel Journal for the Curious Minded: This illustrated tome encourages you to notice everyday details, take unusual paths, and bring home useful souvenirs. There’s space to sketch scenes from your adventures, as well as jot down addresses, itineraries and tips from locals, and you’ll find a reference section, a back pocket for storing mementos, and an elastic band to keep pages ruffle-free. Available from Chronicle Books for $16.95.
Moleskine Passport Wallet: In two-tone grey and green with rounded corners and contrast stitching, this 4 x 6 x .5-inch polyester wallet from a popular maker of travel notebooks provides just the right balance of hipness and functionality, with a flap section for a passport, as well as two flat pockets, one cash pocket, seven credit card slots, and an elastic closure. Available from Moleskine for $45.
Air Repair Kit: A lifesaver for flight-stressed complexions, this aesthetician-designed skincare kit is also carry-on compliant, as each of its five products is less than three ounces. You’ll find a rich moisturizer, an eye cream, a cleansing milk made with chamomile and arnica, a hydrating facial mist and an all-purpose skin salve/lip balm, all packaged in a clear pouch that’s equipped with a handy clip. Available from Air Repair for $42.
Garnet Hill Cashmere Wrap: Generously-sized at about 7 feet by 2 feet and available in eight colors/patterns created with eco-friendly dyes, this Mongolian cashmere wrap is weighty enough to keep you warm on a plane yet elegant enough to dress up your evening wear. Available from catalogue/site Garnet Hill for $178.
Red Envelope Cozy Cashmere Slippers: Keep your tootsies warm on long flights and the cold tiles of hotel bathrooms by sliding into these 100% cashmere slippers, which feature a suede inner sole, a leather outer sole, and come in five colors. Usually $99 from Red Envelope, but now on sale for $55.99.
Voluspa Mini Travel Candle Trio: Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or just seeking comfort in unfamiliar surroundings, sets of three 3.5-ounce, tin-packaged and fragrant candles from Voluspa’s floral/fruity/spicy Japonica collection will light your fire. Available in three different scent combinations, each one $25.
Exhale Spa Gift Card: Found in 11 destinations across the U.S. and Caribbean, each Exhale Spa offers their own barre and yoga classes, signature spa therapies and acupuncture under one roof, making it easy to pamper someone either at home or while on the road. Any mix of fitness classes (starting at $25 apiece), salon services (starting at $15) and spa/wellness treatments (starting at $95) can be purchased a la carte or in packages, in addition to Exhale Spa’s own DVDs and fitness gear. No minimum required.
Cloud 9 Living Gift Certificates: If you already have a U.S. destination in mind or need an excuse to go somewhere new, consider the gift of a special travel experience from excursion purveyor Cloud 9 Living, like an in-depth tour of a city or wine region, a relaxing sunset sail or spa day, or an adventure activity like zip-lining, kayaking, or flying a jetpack – and even a plane. You (or the giftee) can choose from roughly 1,800 experiences nationwide, returns and exchanges are free, and emailed/printable gift certificates have no expiration dates. Minimum price of $50.
Built NY Two Wine Bottle Tote: Whether you’re headed home from wine country or out on a picnic, this insulated shock-and stain-resistant neoprene carrier, which comes in four colors/patterns, will keep two vintages safe in your car or luggage. (Make a great present even better by gifting this tote with two of the recipient’s favorite bottles.) Available from Built NY for $17.99.
Fitbit Charge: Designed to be worn day and night, this OLED-display bracelet helps you keep track of your fitness, caloric intake, and sleep patterns, and can inform you that you’re getting a call while on the go as well as wake you gently with a silent, vibrating alarm. When you wirelessly connect your Fitbit Charge to your computer or a smartphone app (compatible with iOS, Android and Windows), you can monitor your steps, weight and wellness from a series of colorful graphs and charts, as well as stay motivated by sharing your info with other Fitbit users. Stays charged as long as 7-10 days and comes in four colors. $129.95.
Passports with Purpose: Now in its seventh year, this community fundraiser is sponsored by travel bloggers who want to help people in in the places they visit by donating travel-themed prizes to raise money for great causes. Past projects have included the building of homes, schools and libraries in Africa, India, Cambodia and Haiti, and this year’s project will help families farm sustainably in one of the poorest corners of Honduras. The Passports with Purpose auction runs from December 1-17, 2014, and prizes include various trips for two or four people, luggage, electronics, travel experiences and more. Bids start at $10.
PeaceJam: The Points Guy recently announced a supporting partnership with this remarkable organization, which harnesses the resources and wisdom of 13 Nobel Peace Laureates (from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the Dalai Lama) to inspire young people (5 to 25) to become leaders and create positive changes around the world. Give the gift of a tax-exempt donation to PeaceJam and you’ll be supporting global efforts to provide people with access to social justice and clean water, as well as an end to racism, bullying, domestic violence, poverty and the spread of disease. No minimum required.
Trunkster: Though these ingenious pieces of luggage won’t roll out until summer/fall 2015, if you invest in one or more now you’ll pay $200 less than the eventual retail price. The current prototypes for these 22″ carry-on and 27″ checked suitcases weigh about eight pounds apiece and feature zipper-less roll-back entry, a GPS connection, a removable USB and battery pack that allows you to charge your electronics, a sturdy handle and smooth-rolling wheels, and a five-year warranty. Present prices are $295 for the carry-on Trunkster and $630 for both the carry-on and checked versions together.
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With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.