Ho Ho Ho! What to Buy the Traveler in Your Life

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It’s December 1! It’s December 1! Meaning I can spread my Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear! finally talk about the holidays and not have you guys roll your eyes in response. (Let’s forget the fact that I’ve been listening to my holiday playlist on iTunes since Nov. 2. Have you purchased the Glee Christmas album yet? If not, you’re sorely missing out.)

I’ve never really had to shop for other travelers before. Most of the giftees I normally buy Christmas presents for tend to stay grounded. But that’s changed of late. And I’ve found it easier to shop for such people (I’m being vague in case any of the gift receivers happen to read this post), because it’s just like shopping for myself! To an extent.

(Here’s a picture of me and running buddy Autumn all dressed up for Santa-Con two years ago. Just cuz. This is a Christmas-themed post, after all, and I need Christmas-themed visuals.)

So what would I, being your average twenty- or thirty-something traveler, want for my travels? I made a list. (I’m all for making lists. You should see my home office and its Rubix cube of Post-Its. Seriously.) I didn’t check it twice, though, so pardon all typos. I’m busy. Guidebook and Trivial Pursuit deadlines quickly approaching. So let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

The Tech-Savvy Traveler

While I can easily pack for a 10-day trip with just the use of a carry-on (and additional laptop bag), it’s often my electronics that weigh me down. And as I travel with multiple cameras, a laptop, a Kindle and an iPod, that means a whole lotta cords, batteries, memory cards and the like. I typically stuff them all in a drawstring bag, which results in one big tangled mess. Then I found this handy electronics organizer, the Grid-It, and my life the lives of my giftees were forever changed.

The Flashpacker

The iPad is an obvious, right? I only got my first eReader (a Kindle) for my birthday in February, so I won’t be springing for an iPad anytime soon. But I’d say it’s the ultimate traveler’s toy. If I were to have an iPad, I wouldn’t need to carry my MacBook or my BlackBerry on all my trips. (Though let’s be honest, I probably still would.) If you’re simply looking for an eReader for the sake of keeping up to speed on your reading, I adore my Kindle. And the price has been drastically reduced thanks to the introduction of the iPad. And how cool was it to be able to download all three of the Millenium trilogy on our honeymoon while in the middle of the jungle in Borneo?

The Frequent Flyer

How many times have you teetered on your own scale while balancing a 75-pound suitcase on your feet, trying to figure out just how much that sucker weighs? (What, that’s just me? Whatever.) Just saying—all travelers would benefit from owning a luggage scale. If nothing else, it will save you mad cash from having to buy a bag from the airport when you’re inevitably five pounds over (or forced to pay overweight fees or dole out extra money to check a second bag).

The Cosmetologist

I skimp when it comes to toiletries and beauty products, as in I only pack the bare bones (a toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen moisturizer). Frankly, this is because most of the places I stay have decent enough bath products to hold me over during my visit, and also because I’m too lazy to wear make-up and the like when I’m not on the road, so my non-beauty routine becomes even more whittled down while I’m traveling. But, as I’ve found through jet-setting with other women, not everyone abides by my “less is more” policy. That’s where Minimus comes in. Selling your favorite brands (with as obscure ones as Kiss My Face and Tom’s of Maine) in three-ounce-or-less, regulation-size bottles, you can still carry all your favorite products in compact containers (and without going through the hassle of checking a bag, too!).

The Photographer

While I often take two cameras and a host of lenses on my travels, one thing I am forever leaving behind is my tripod (because it’s super heavy and you have to draw the line somewhere). Then one time SVV stuck a mini-tripod in my bag—the cheap kind that come with a lot of camera kits—when I was going somewhere with great sunsets, and thus needed a steady hand and longer exposure, and my camera-toting travel was forever changed. Now I never go anywhere without one. I love the Gorillapods the most, as they’re flexible and adapt to your environment—and not only work on point-and-shoots but are sturdy enough for a DSLR.

The Fashionista

I nabbed these adorable luggage tags and accompanying passport holder for my sister before her round-the-world trip. I’ve been debating about going back and getting a few for myself. The problem is I don’t allow myself to mosey on down to Flight 001 unless I have a mission; otherwise, my bank account suffers severely. What can I say: I’m a shopaholic and just can’t get enough of their trendy (albeit pricey) travel accessories!

The Business Man

This is probably an arena in which I have the least amount of experience (the only businessman I know, my father, hardly cares about material things), but a blogger friend posted this Etsy find—a chic messenger bag/laptop sleeve made from recycled suits—awhile back, and it’s been on my mind ever since.

The Newlyweds

Hey, that’s us! I’m a firm believer that the couple who plays together, stays together. Thus, what better gift than a getaway? We had two good friends who just tied the knot, and as opposed to giving them dinnerware as a gift, we contributed to their honeymoon fund instead. Nine times out of 10, I prefer giving experiences over crap. So if you’re looking to spend a bit more on a couple, why not spring for a night or two at a hotel? My new favorite obsession is scouring Jetsetter (a Groupon-style travel site owned by Gilt for whom I now write) for stellar hotel deals and tours. Log onto the site, sign up for the newsletter so you know what destinations are right around the corner (most property sales run for five days on average) and be prepared to buy your favorite couple a weekend’s stay at a posh Caribbean resort—or beyond. Do so and you’ll no doubt go down in the Gift-Giving Hall of Fame.

The Family

I’ve never traveled with kids, but I can imagine how boring a five-hour, cross-country flight would be to a squirmy, energetic eight year old. Heck, at 27, I feel their pain! That’s why I’m constantly tempted by these travel-sized games of Boggle, Scrabble, Trouble and Monopoly that Flight 001 sells. The only problem is that, more often than not I travel alone, so who would I play with? I guess it could be a good ice-breaker for getting to know my seatmate on long hauls…

The Arm-Chair Traveler

My new favorite hobby is creating photobooks of my trips. I did it for my mom’s birthday in October (as you can see above), and I might have done it for quite a few family members for this Christmas (I’m not telling). These scrapbooks of sorts make great gifts for others—and they show a good amount of thought, too, as they require more effort than adding something to your online shopping cart and pushing “purchase.” I alternate between both Shutterfly (for an encyclopedia’s worth of layout options and when I’m making a more whimsical book) and Blurb (for a cleaner, more professional look). If you don’t feel you’re that creative, you can always give a gift card for either service and have the giftee make his or her own.

The Heavy Packer

This was a last-minute add, due to a massive sale. SVV’s long been a huge fan of Tumi luggage. I understand why: It’s simple, chic and incredibly durable. I often use his rolling bag when we travel with a checked bag—and I’ll agree, it is awesome—but can’t justify splurging for my own. (That stuff isn’t cheap, yo.) But Rue La La is having a huge Tumi sale—many bags for up to half off—through midnight tonight. Get over there and buy yourself (or your giftee) an item—but hurry, a lot of the items have sold out already! (or buy it full price elsewhere if you missed the boat)—and revel in the fact that there’s a lifetime warranty, so should something happen 10 years down the road, you’re still covered. How amazing is that? (And if you’re not a member and need a Rue La La invite, click here.)

So that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. It’s all she wrote. What did I leave out?

And more importantly, what’s on your Christmas list this year?

**I was not given any free products for the sake of this post, nor was I compensated for mentioning any of the above items. With as opaque as the Internet has become, I thought it worth noting.

  • December 1, 2010

    These are awesome suggestions!! Thanks for sharing! I looked into every single item … mainly for myself since I have some big vacations coming up! You mentioned that you usually take a 10-day trip with just a carry on. I NEED to get better at packing light and would love to be able to just use a carry-on for my 10 day trip to Europe this summer. What kind of bag do you use? Can you offer any more suggestions for packing light? Thanks!

  • December 1, 2010

    Great suggestions. And y’all look so cute in your Santa gear! I love the idea of the Grid-It. We might be buying that because managing our cords is such a pain.

  • December 1, 2010

    If ONLY Santa brought me an iPad…le sigh.

  • December 1, 2010

    I love your Santa outfit lady! Super cute!

  • December 1, 2010

    The luggage scales you gave me for my birthday last year were one of the BEST presents I’ve ever received! So useful! You’ve saved me $$$ many times over at this point. In fact, I’m actually buying them for several family members who have the propensity to overpack this year (cough SUSIE AND HER FIVE HUNDRED PAIRS OF SHOES).

  • December 1, 2010

    My month has just been made.
    (Also: That messenger bag is gorgeous.)

  • December 1, 2010

    Ahhh theses are such wonderful ideas! I was lucky enough to receive the iPad as a birthday/going away gift and it is fantastic – I adore it! I’d never heard of the Grid-It but as someone who has tons of electronics I’ll definitely be getting that for myself….as well as the Gorilla Pod. I’m moving to India in the new year and was just thinking maybe it would be nice to have a small lightweight tripod for some shots I know I’ll want to take….

  • December 1, 2010

    Nice wish list. I really like the scale, to weigh backpacks before hiking. Hope you get what you want.

  • December 1, 2010

    Nice wish list… thanks for sharing. The luggage scale reminded me of a fish scale, you know, for fishing 🙂 Good idea though, because I have actually weighed myself then picked up my suitcase and weighed the both of us and counted on my fingers and toes to calculate the difference to find out how much my suitcase weighed. I needed every single pound I could get when I left for Alaska. My Christmas wish list is simple… wait, no, it’s not. I’m simply grateful to be happy, healthy and whole. hugs from HW.

  • December 2, 2010

    Ooh I want pretty much everything on this list for myself, ahem, to give to other people! The grid-it and the Gorillapods have been on my wish list for a while now, I’m happy to see that you gave them the Camels & Chocolate seal of approval!
    On my wish-list this year, is a new camera so I can take some fancier photos next time we travel. I hope the brochures I’ve left lying around the apartment open to the DSLR page will work :0)
    Also, I’m loving those Santa outfits!

  • December 2, 2010

    And I almost forgot, loving the Elf quote! :0)

  • December 2, 2010

    Who’s the douche-monkey in the hat?

  • December 2, 2010

    I think the Grid-It just might save me from having an anxiety attack over what to get my sister-in-law’s boyfriend for Christmas! Thanks so much for the suggestions!

  • December 2, 2010

    I have a Canon 40D and agree the Gorillapod is great for the heaviest of DSLRs. I really like that Grid-It, I could really use it because now I just shove everything into my netbook sleeve.

  • December 2, 2010

    Haha, I am STILL coveting that Etsy bag too! Love these ideas. I’ve never heard of the Grid-It before, but now I definitely have to have one. There are also some sweet travel gift cards out there that I sometimes give as gifts (one is the BedandBreakfast.com gift card–the disclaimer is that I work for them, but they really are awesome cards that can be redeemed at 4,000+ properties, so I’ve given them to people who need a vacation as presents).

  • December 3, 2010

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! So excited about this list…

  • December 3, 2010

    That’s an interesting and useful list. I’m usually all ho,ho,ho myself but the x’mas spirit’s not quite there this year and that’s not good in my book. I think I should get my hands on the Glee Christmas Album as it might be the perfect solution. Hmmm.

  • December 3, 2010

    What great gift ideas. You’ve got to love a bit of travel scrabble to pass the time. The snow here in Edinburgh is pretty extreme so I am in a Christmasy mood. Haven’t managed much shopping yet but I am now inspired!

  • December 5, 2010

    Great list of stuff! Love the Boggle idea. I always play it at home but never think to bring it on the go! I know Go Girl Magazine just came out with a nice list of holiday gifts for travelers, too, on http://www.travelgogirl.com. Definitely think you and others should check it out. Happy Holidays!

  • December 6, 2010

    Cooool I want that little electronics organizer! Soo helpful. These are cool gifts. I always thought the ipad was kind of silly, but now I guess I see how it could be really convenient!

  • December 7, 2010

    I have to have that travel scale! I’m always sweating it out as they weigh my bag at the airline check-in line!

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