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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
‘Tis the season, shoppers. With the holiday season upon us and the selection of potential presents as vast as ever, the TPG staff has pulled together a list of our favorite travel gifts. Whether your significant other is an AvGeek, your best friend is planning a backpacking trip around Europe or your retired parents caught the travel bug — we’ve got your back.
Best of all, this list includes highlights from all our top gift guides, from affordable stocking stuffers under $10 to lavish presents for travelers who already have it all and even the tiniest travelers on your holiday shopping list.
Also, to maximize your purchasing power check out our official guide for holiday shopping. Happy shopping!
The Best Tech and Gadgets
“A good gift idea for friends and loved ones who travel a lot and haven’t yet joined the ranks of people who use e-readers. The newest edition of Amazon’s e-reader is waterproof as well as readable in direct sunlight — and weighs only 6.4 ounces. Any novel long enough to last through a transoceanic flight would be far bulkier than that.” — Alberto Riva, managing editor. Buy: Amazon.com, $130
“These noise-canceling headphones from Bose can put any frequent flyer in Zen mode — even on the most hectic flight. My boyfriend bought some earlier this year before a series of trips we had planned, and he said they blocked a lot of the grating noises that fellow passengers can make on a plane. Plus, the sound quality when watching videos or listening to music is beyond compare. They have Bluetooth and come in a variety of colors. (I have my eye on the rose gold for my own gift list). Or, you can even customize your own color scheme.” — Jessica Puckett, assistant news editor. Buy: Bose.com, $400
“Kids need inflight headphones, but they don’t need ones that cost a fortune, are easy to break or that will be too loud for their ears. Our go-to solution is relatively inexpensive Kidz Gear Wired Headphones that come in a variety of bright colors so each kid knows which pair is theirs. If you want to splurge, the Bose Build-It-Yourself Bluetooth Headphones for Kids also look pretty sweet, but are more than 6x the price of our go-to brand.” — Summer Hull, director of TPG Family. Buy: Amazon.com, from $16.
“The Sony RX100 isn’t cheap, but it’s one of my favorite electronics to travel with. This lightweight camera takes exceptional photos and videos. It’s the ideal alternative to a heavy reflex version. I love its small size, which can easily fit in my purse, carry-on, backpack or even my pocket. I put my phone on airplane mode, live in the moment and take photos using the camera. It’s even small enough to fit into a Christmas stocking!” — Lori Zaino, senior writer. Buy: Amazon.com, $370
TPG editors absolutely love giving — and getting — Bose noise-canceling headphones. “Jessica is clearly a fan of Bose’s over-the-ear headphones, but while I do love those as well, I’ve actually found the company’s earbuds to be a better fit for me. They’re far more compact, making it easy to bring them along even when you need to pack light. They don’t seem to block out quite as much ambient noise, but they do an absolutely fantastic job given their size.” — Zach Honig, editor-at-large. Buy: Bose.com, $250
“This ultra-portable and very affordable mini-speaker goes all around the world with me. While I use my noise-canceling headphones on flights, it’s nice to be able to play music while I’m working and podcasts while I’m not. The sound quality is amazing for such a small and cheap speaker, making it worth the extra 9 ounces in my daypack.” — JT Genter, points and miles writer. Buy: Amazon.com, $26
“Apple’s Messages app has kept me locked into the iPhone ecosystem, but I also like to dabble in Android, especially on trips overseas. My latest go-to device is Google’s new Pixel 3 XL — it doesn’t have dual cameras, like my iPhone XS Max, but it does a far superior job in low light, thanks to an incredible new “Night Sight” mode. It also works seamlessly with Google’s Project Fi mobile network, which offers data and voice coverage in more than 170 countries for just $10 per gigabyte of data.” — Zach Honig. Buy: Store.google.com, from $800
“As a lifelong photography enthusiast, I’ve recently become a drone fanatic. It’s becoming more difficult to launch a quadcopter at some tourist hotspots, including hotels in French Polynesia, but if you are able to get your drone in the air, an aerial perspective is hard to beat. My current aircraft of choice is DJI’s new Mavic 2 Zoom, which sports a 2x optical zoom lens, making it possible to get closer to the action without burning precious battery power or disturbing those below.” — Zach Honig. Buy: Dji.com, $1,500
“Sony has been in the noise-canceling game for some time now, but Bose has remained an industry leader. I’m here to tell you that their newest iteration might be worth switching sides for. Not only do these over-ear headphones cancel airplane engine sounds, but they also have intuitive controls. Most notably, an ‘ambient sound’ mode that you can access by simply placing your palm over the right ear. Similarly, users can control the volume or track selection by just swiping up, down, left or right on that same right ear. Want to pause or answer a phone call? Single or double tap. They even come with a double-pronged adapter in case your stuck on a flight that requires it. They’re easy, sleek, reliable and very comfy.” — Wallace Cotton, community manager. Buy: Amazon.com, $350
“When you’re traveling with kids, phone, tablets and other devices are essential. This multi-port portable charger is powerful enough to re-charge multiple devices at once, yet small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.” — Summer Hull. Buy: Amazon.com, $87
The Best Skincare and Makeup
“I got this as a gift two years ago before I studied abroad in Europe. The samples were perfect for weekend trips and I never had to worry about transporting my perfume into a travel-sized bottle when I wanted to fly sans checked bag. Plus, you get to test out different scents until you find the one you love. I still use my favorite (Clémentine California) from the set every day.” — Jordan Allen, editorial intern. Buy: Ateliercologne.com, $35
“Believe it or not, this drugstore item has been my mascara staple for a decade now. The formula forms little fiber ‘tubes’ around your eyelashes instead of painting on colored goop, which means your mascara will not run no matter what you do, including rubbing your eyes, crying, sweating through a workout (or a sprint across terminals) or falling asleep and waking up in three different time zones. I compare it favorably to Blinc’s Kiss Me Mascara, which does the same thing but costs twice as much. Plus, this mascara lasts six months or longer.” — Katherine Fan, news writer. Buy: Amazon.com, $12
“This so-called Littles kit by Drunk Elephant would be a knock-out gift for a skincare-obsessed traveler. After reading tons of positive Sephora reviews, I bought it for myself as a treat to try out the brand, and I noticed a huge difference in my skin within the first week. At $90, it isn’t cheap, but the products are luxurious and effective and last for a while. The kit comes with its own travel case and is the perfect size to throw in a carry-on for a last-minute trip.” — Jessica Puckett. Buy: Sephora.com, $90
“My hands tend to get really dry, especially in winter and on planes, so I always carry a small tube of hand cream in my bag. There are a few brands I love, and Roger & Gallet is one of them. I discovered it during my study abroad year in Paris, and when I went back to the City of Light this year, I stopped by the boutique to stock up. Fortunately, it’s also available online and is small enough to use as a stocking stuffer. I’m partial to the fleur de figuier scent, but they also have scents like rose and ginger.” – Laura Itzkowitz, contributing editor. Buy: Amazon.com, $12
“The phenomenon of wearing Michael Myers-esque face masks on planes isn’t new, and neither are these masks from Japanese luxury skincare brand SK-II. But I recently gifted them to a friend and she told me that her ‘life was changed.’ They’re that moisturizing, and just imagine how useful they’ll be on or after a long-haul flight with all that recycled air. Buy them from Sephora (hopefully with a strong shopping portal bonus) and get ready to say, ‘you’re welcome.'” — Sarah Silbert, senior cards editor. Buy: Sephora.com, from $17
The Best Shoes and Apparel
“These are literally the comfiest pants I have ever worn in my life and I refuse to go anywhere without them now. They’d make a great gift for the frequent traveler in your life who wants to be comfortable yet chic when they’re on the go.” — Samantha Rosen, social media editor. Buy: Shopbop.com, $110
“These are my all-time favorite leggings for my three favorite activities: traveling, working out and going out. The darker shades work perfectly for all three pursuits by hiding sweat, fitting smoothly under dresses or sweatshirts alike, and still looking chic and retaining their shape no matter how long you’ve been on the go. The thigh pockets are the perfect height and size to hold your phone on one side and your passport on the other — just what you need when going through security or wrangling all your luggage. I have at least half a dozen pairs and always keep an eye out for more!” — Katherine Fan. Buy: Lululemon.com, $108
There’s some comfy pants competition in the office, too. “These are the comfiest pants I own, and are perfect to wear on long flights or traveling around a new place. I have them in black and can dress them up with heels and a nice top. I get asked where I got them nearly every time I wear them.” — Caroline Schagrin, editorial intern. Buy: Meundies.com, $68
“Living out of a backpack, I really appreciate adaptable clothing. And I stumbled across these — my new favorite pair of travel pants — just a couple of weeks ago when my checked bag was misplaced by EgyptAir. While sold as ‘golf pants,’ I find these lightweight pants can be dressed up with a button-down shirt or worn casually. The breathable, moisture-wicking material makes these pants great for when you’re visiting somewhere where long pants are culturally required — even when it’s hot.” — JT Genter. Buy: Amazon.com, from $25
“To this day, one of my favorite travel items is the Departure dress from Eddie Bauer, and I’d give this to any of my jetsetting girlfriends. No matter how long it stays crumpled in the bottom of a suitcase, it doesn’t wrinkle. It’s moisture-wicking (perfect for running through the airport) and it’s super stretchy and soft. I don’t just travel in this dress, I basically live in it.” — Melanie Lieberman, travel editor. Buy: Eddiebauer.com, $80
“With bad weather season upon us, and without a lot of room in carry-on suitcases, it’s important to have a stylish, functional sneaker that can be worn on the plane with you and then anywhere once you get off. The Adidas Ultraboost Mid is exactly that — the thick rubber sole is designed to handle less-than-ideal street conditions with aplomb, but it has a modern, urban look that works pretty much anywhere that’s not a beach.” — Nick Ellis, reviews editor. Buy: Adidas.com, $200
“As a person who is always cold, I’ve recently been loving the versatility of big blanket scarves. Not only are they a great extra layer on a windy New York City evening, but they also double as a cozy wrap while on a flight.” — Meg Palmer, customer experience strategist. Buy: Anthropologie.com, $48
“When you’re traveling in winter months, the last thing you want to do is fill up your suitcase with bulky layers. And for outerwear that can be hard to avoid. That’s why my favorite piece of travel gear this year is the BC Evertherm Down Jacket From Eddie Bauer. The jacket is light and packable like a traditional midlayer but it’s also windproof and waterproof, ultimately eliminating the need for an outer shell or bulky ski jacket.” — Lindsey Campbell, director of social media. Buy: Eddiebauer.com, $500
The Best Luggage
“When kids are really little they don’t need legit luggage, but as they start to creep toward those tween years, it’s a good idea to step up their game. Away has a kid’s luggage line for those who are done with cartoon-colored bags, but who are not quite ready for the full-sized versions. The Kids’ Carry-On comes with an ejectable battery so your kids’ devices can stay charged, has 360-degree spinner wheels and weighs in at just 6 pounds. This means no more begging to borrow mom and dad’s spinner bags!” — Summer Hull. Buy: Awaytravel.com, $195
“One thing I will never travel without is my DSLR camera. In addition to my camera, I typically carry multiple lenses, camera accessories and a tripod. I’ve searched all over for something that would hold my equipment yet not easily identify me as a tourist with an obnoxious, bulky camera bag. I found this backpack on Amazon and was instantly drawn in by how fashionable it was. It has a camera and lens organizer, a large section for accessories, multiple pockets, a laptop compartment, a tripod holder and a waterproof rain cover. The gender-neutral bag comes in various color combinations and is perfect for a photographer that wants to stay in style.” — Danielle Vito, Points Pups intern. Buy: Amazon.com, $60
“Stoney Clover Lane makes pretty, fun and practical accessories for traveling. I’m OCD when it comes to this stuff and I like having matching bags to keep all of my makeup, toiletries, chargers and other accessories organized.” — Samantha Rosen. Buy: Stonecloverlane.com, $44
“Ever since I got my hands on this bag, I travel with it everywhere. It’s great for laundry, or for when you pick up too many souvenirs and need a separate bag on the return trip home. It zips up into a flat pouch that takes up no room at all in your bag (it weighs less than a pound) but still holds its shape when full, unlike other, similar products I’ve tried. Best of all, it comes in a variety of sophisticated color schemes and there’s also a fold-up backpack version.” — Melanie Lieberman. Buy: Paravel.com, $60.
“As someone who hasn’t yet crossed Iceland or the famous northern lights off my travel bucket list just yet, I’m dying to get my hands on Away’s new line of celestial-inspired luggage to tide me over. It’s the Away luggage products we all know and love with a dreamy redesign, and I’m here for it.” — Jane Frye, weekend editor. Buy: Awaytravel.com, from $225
The Best of Everything Else
“I was beyond skeptical the first time I tried ‘my sleep spray,’ but as a frequent time zone hopper, I was desperate for a solution to jet lag. And believe it or not, this one totally did the trick. Now I ‘spritz’ whenever I need to snooze, at the beginning of a red-eye flight, when the clock says midnight but my body says ‘noon’ in Asia and even when I’m jet lagged after returning home. While it doesn’t work for everyone, all I need is two quick sprays in my mouth and 15 minutes later, I’m out.” — Zach Honig. Buy: OneSecondSupplements.com, $20
A New Credit Card
“Sure, it may feel a little ridiculous to put a credit card in a gift guide. But hear me out: Right now, both the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard are offering 75,000 miles and 70,000 mile sign-up bonuses, respectively. These offers are worth north of $700 when redeemed against travel purchases and both cards waive their annual fees for the first year. If you’re like me and your favorite gift is that yearly Christmas check from Grandma, this is basically the next best thing!” — Brendan Dorsey, associate news editor. Apply: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
“Remember to show your pups some holiday love this season! I love gifts, especially ones that make traveling easier for the Points Pup intern, Danielle. One of my favorite pet travel accessories is this 12-ounce portable water bottle that is made for dogs on the go. It’s leak-proof, making it perfect for flights, long car rides and outdoor adventures. A human just needs to push down the button to release water into the attached cup. Whatever the doggie doesn’t finish flows back into the bottle when the button is held down. If I had thumbs, I would give it two thumbs up! Also, don’t forget that the Points Pups have their own fashion line of pet accessories available in the TPG Shop!” — Points Pup Swisher. Buy: Amazon.com, $11
“There are a million eye masks to choose from on the market, but Bucky 40 Blinks may just have the best price to quality ratio out there.” It was one of TPG’s top-rated sleep masks in a grueling and totally scientific review of some of the most popular products on the market now. That’s because its padded foam eyepieces won’t crush your eyelashes or put pressure on your eyes. But it still blocks out 100% of the light and, best of all, the price is right. — Lori Zaino. Buy: Amazon.com, $10
“My family got me a framed world map with pins to document all my travels. As a visual person, it’s awesome to be able to look at the map and remember all the cool trips I’ve taken. There’s something so gratifying about putting a new pin in the map as soon as I get home from a trip.” — Emily McNutt, news editor. Buy: Etsy.com, $140
What’s on The Points Guy’s holiday gift list this year? “Donations to an organization like the Gbowee Peace Foundation or PeaceJam.” With Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee’s foundation, for example, donations help Liberia’s youth access education, develop leadership skills and empower Liberian women. After all, there may be no greater or more meaningful gift than giving back in the name of someone you love. Best of all, until the end of the year, TPG is matching up to $150,000. — Brian Kelly, The Points Guy. Donate: GboweePeaceUSA.com.
Featured image by PM Images via Getty Images
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.
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