It's that time of year and if you find yourself pondering what to get the traveler in your life, here are some of my top picks.
1. The Vapur Collapsible Water Bottle. This collapsible plastic (BPA free) bottle rolls up in your suitcase, can be taken through airport security (empty of liquid) and refilled as you travel. Be green and well hydrated at the same time (and they come in cute colors with a spot to write in your name). They come with a carabiner, so you can clip to your bag (and in my case, I have another clip with a strap, so I can carry mine around on my shoulder too). This bottle is washable, foldable, freezable, attachable and wonderful!
2. A great piece of lightweight luggage: with more and more bag restrictions on airlines, lightweight is key (with the bonus of saving your back). There are many options out there, and different styles suit different travelers. A great backpack is perfect for the young traveler preparing to make his or her way across Europe or through the great outdoors. A carry on bag that is well designed for "maximum occupancy" is great for anyone. Check out Rick Steves' models. Also check out our Amazon link and do a search for lightweight luggage. Many travelers have shared their reviews, and there are great options.
A unique piece that I love is a larger backpack with a zip-off day pack attached. High Sierra and Eagle Creek both make such a bag (both have wheels and backpack straps for the larger bag). I recently purchased a Hedstrom bag, which forgoes the wheels in favor of being lighter overall. I can fit my small laptop and all the items I need to stay entertained on the road in the small day pack and then use the main compartment for a few changes of clothing, toiletries, etc.
3. Kindle or another e-reader. For the traveler who loves to read, this fits right in with the lightweight luggage. There is no other way to have hundreds of books at your fingertips for minimum space and weight. I have the model that requires wifi and it is quite sufficient since wifi is so widely available throughout the world. Amazon gift cards are a great option for the Kindle reader (and for just about anything else as well).
4. Great travel clothing or shoes. A great jacket is a perfect example of something that can be invaluable and last a long time. I suggest a waterproof, lined jacket that can be layered with warmer items underneath for cold days. I think the following features make a great jacket: a zip-off/snap-off hood, durable material, good pockets, and a versatile style (I prefer black or a neutral color that coordinates with the traveler's wardrobe, and a style that can adapt to "dress up" situations). I got a jacket like this over 11 years ago at Nordstrom and it is still in perfect condition and traveling with me to this day. Travelsmith has some great styles and there are a wide variety of men's and women's brands at Amazon. We recently discovered Stormtech while in Canada and they have great outdoor jackets and will satisfy the hiker, skier or general outdoor enthusiast.
For women, a Pashima or any nice scarf/wrap is a great addition to any trip. It can be used as a wrap, blanket, pillow or just a beautiful accessory to dress up an outfit.
Shoes are a bit more tricky and probably not something you can buy as a gift for someone, unless you shop together or provide a gift card to a good store such as Rockport or The Walking Company. This will be a true gift for the health and happiness of your traveler.
5. Travel guidebooks, magazine subscriptions or travel literature (traditional or ereader versions, or gift cards for either).
Happy shopping and traveling!