December 7 2014

Gift Ideas for Travelers

By this time of year I’m normally done holiday shopping. The last-minute mall rush is not my scene and I can do without that kind of stress. But, despite the best of intentions, I’m way behind this year.

If you’re still shopping as well, here are a few suggestions for the avid travelers on your list.


Scratch map


I gave one of these as a gift last year and it was a big hit.

This map has countries of the world outlined and covered in foil. You scratch off the foil (like a lottery ticket) for each country you’ve visited. Great way to keep track of where you’ve been – and motivate yourself to visit places you haven’t.

There is an original version and a deluxe edition.


Cork globe


In a similar vein, check out this cork globe. You can track your travels by pinning destinations to the globe.

For high rollers, you can commission a bespoke globe. (Warning: not cheap.)


Selfie stick

Selfie Stick

If you want to take a selfie without looking like you took a selfie, this selfie stick might help.

I think it’s a great idea but personally am not sure I could summon the courage to actually use it in public. If your recipient is the same way, maybe this is a gag gift?


Hanging toiletries case


Switching from a countertop case to a hanging one profoundly improved my travel efficiency.

When you have a case with a hook, you can hang it from just about anything in a hotel bathroom – towel rack, robe hook, even light fixture. You’re not limited by the amount of counter space in the hotel.

These days I don’t even have to pack my toiletries when I travel. At home I hang the case in the bathroom and it serves as my “medicine cabinet.” When it’s time to travel I just zip up and go. (It’s important to have a case that’s not only durable, but nice-looking enough that you’ll want to use it in your home.)

I use the Coach Getaway case pictured above. It is hard to find online these days (mine was a gift from a while ago), but here are some others:

Eddie Bauer Expedition
Tumi Journey Monaco
Ebags has a wide variety


  • Look for an open (not closed-loop) hook. There are more hanging options with an open hook.
  • Avoid leather as it’s heavy and less flexible, hence harder to pack.


Travel puzzle

Travel Puzzle

For the children on your list, here’s a travel puzzle.




Scottevest makes clothing designed for travelers, with features like removable sleeves and lots of pockets. (So many, the company calls them wearable carry-on bags.)

I have yet to try the products but know travelers who swear by them. So if anyone’s still wondering what to get me…I’m a size XS. 😉


Portable battery pack

Portable battery pack

Portable battery packs really come in handy when your cell phone runs out of juice in the middle of the day or you’re on a long flight and need to recharge a device.

But lately I’ve had another reason to carry one: new TSA requirements on electronic devices.


Foldable water bottle

Foldable Water Bottle

Foldable bottles consume less of your precious carry-on space when empty.

This VAPUR bottle has a 1-liter capacity. There’s also a smaller, half-liter version.
And Walmart is selling a 12-pack for under $12 (though I can’t vouch for quality on that one).


Waterproof shoes


Unless it’s a trip that requires dress shoes, I usually bring just two pairs of footwear when I travel: the pair on my feet plus a pair of flip flops.

So I need versatile, multi-functional shoes. My main pair is currently the Keen Clearwater but I’m eyeing the new Cypress (pictured above) for my next pair.

Here’s the men’s version.

I like my Keens because:

  • Since they’re waterproof I don’t need to bring another pair for water sports, and if I step in something nasty I simply hose it off.
  • They’re flexible enough for daylong walking but substantial enough for light hiking.
  • They have good toe protection.
  • There are no laces to tie and untie – easy on/off for going through airport security.
  • When it’s hot I can wear them alone like a sandal and when it’s cold I can wear socks with them. I know socks under sandals isn’t the best look, but it beats lugging another pair of shoes.

Also check out the Swims line of shoes. They’re waterproof as well, but the design is preppier. (You don’t want to look like you’re on safari when you’re walking in Paris.)


Hand wipes

Babyganics Hand Wipes

When traveling it’s not always easy to access soap and water so I carry lots of hand wipes (and go through them like water given my germophobia). It’s even more important during flu season.

Babyganics hand wipes are the only brand I’ve tried that seems to clean well without drying my hands, and the sheets feel more cloth-like than paper-like.

I much prefer wipes to hand sanitizer gels. With wipes, the dirt transfers from your hand to the wipe; with the gel there’s nowhere for the dirt to go – it just remains on your hand.


Soap sheets

Soap Sheets

Continuing our cleanliness theme, these soap sheets are great for travel. They’re thin and dry, but lather up in water – and are only $1.99 per 25-pack!


Destination candles

Destination Candle

Available in several varieties: Dublin, Santorini, Cairo, and Saigon.


TSA-friendly Swiss Army Knife


The Jetsetter knife has a screwdriver, bottle opener, scissors, tweezers, wire stripper, toothpick, and key ring.

What it does not have is a blade to set off airport security.


Hotel gift cards

Finally, there are several gift-card deals floating around that you might consider.

I’ll list the current ones I know of below, but also consult the Travel Deals page as that’s where I add new deals as they arise and remove old ones as they expire.

  • – Free $75 gift card with a purchase of $250+.
  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts – Receive a $75 American Express statement credit when you spend $400+; details in this post. To trigger the statement credit you need to go to a qualifying property and to buy a gift card there. Be sure to sync your card first (instructions here).
  • Marriott Hotels – Receive a $50 American Express statement credit when you spend $200+; details in this post. The same caveats as those mentioned in the Conrad deal above apply.
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts – Receive a $100 American Express statement credit when you spend $500+; details in this post. The same caveats as those mentioned in the Conrad deal above apply.


Happy shopping!


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Posted December 7, 2014 by Admin in category "Embassy Suites", "Hilton", "Marriott", "Other", "Starwood


  1. By Dana (Wanted Adventure) on

    Several of these are great, but I just LOVE the scratch map!! Awesome gift for a traveler…such as myself! Maybe I’ll give it to myself this holiday season 😀


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