Holiday Gifts for Travelers (2014 Edition)
Christmas season is upon us. If you have a traveler in the family and are clueless about what to get them, this handy gift guide should help. We’ve picked out a range of gifts for travelers that will fit any budget, complete with recommendations and links to make your gift buying easier. So start shopping, and happy holidays!
Kelty Redwing 50
The popular Kelty Redwing 50 is not a travel-specific pack, per se, but it functions excellently as one. The Redwing 50 is a well-designed bag with tons of space and pockets, all at a price point that won’t break your budget. Check out our in-depth review on the Kelty Redwing 50 for more details.
This seems to be the pack that many travelers are turning to lately. Built by travelers for travelers, it is flight-size approved, has tons of great features, and is comfortable to carry. I’m not a huge fan of the look, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a function over form type of person, grab the Tortuga before it sells out again.
When it comes to organizing your pack or carry-on, there’s no better way than to utilize packing cubes. Feel free to check out our packing cube showdown, or just go ahead and purchase our editor’s choice: the Sea-to-Summit Travelling Light Garment Mesh Bags.
Cost: $14.95 – $20.95
Sea-To-Summit Ultrasil Daypack
This 20 liter bag is perfect for exploring throughout the day. The Siliconized Cordura material makes it durable and yet extremely lightweight. When you’re finished with it, simply stuff it into the provided pouch. It crunches down to a 2″ x 3″ (5.1 x 7.6 cm) ball and weighs only 2.4 oz (68 grams), so it won’t take up hardly any space in your larger pack.
Electronics and Gadgets
When it comes to travel, an iPad is your entertainment, communication, and information portal. We use our iPad all the time, everywhere. It’s one of those devices that is so essential, if ours were ever lost or stolen we would replace it instantly. The iPad Mini is the perfect size and weight for travel (7.87 x 5.3 x 0.28 inches at 0.68 lbs, or 200 x 134.7 x 7.2 mm at 308 g). If you have the extra room, the iPad Air 2 is only slightly heavier but with additional screen size. I recommend getting the iPad Mini 2 instead of the iPad Mini 3 as it is priced $100 less. The only difference between the two are the available colors and the inclusion of Touch ID, which is hardly worth the $100 (on the iPad, at least).
Monster Outlets To Go Power Strip
It’s the bane of a digital nomad’s existence: trying to find enough electrical outlets to charge all of your electronic devices. More often than not you end up spending the night in a room with only a single outlet (and it’s probably in the most inconvenient place in the room). Or you might find yourself scrambling to recharge your multiple devices in the only available outlet in an airport. For these moments, there is a solution: a mobile power strip capable of charging multiple devices from a single plug. There are a number of options on the market, but one of the thinnest, lightest, and most portable options is Monster Power’s Outlets To Go Power Strip.
When it comes time to plug in your electronic devices or mobile power strip, you will need a way to adapt your plugs to the local standard. We use a 5-piece set of loose adapters by Lenmar, which meets all of our power adaptation needs. There are larger and bulkier all-in-one adapter kits available, but we prefer the individual adapters because they pack better (they conform to the available space in your pack instead of taking up a block of space). They also tend to do a better job of staying fixed in those loose electrical outlets that you find throughout the world. Keep in mind that these are adapters and not convertors; they only adapt your plug to the local shape, not your electricity to the local power standard. If you’re purchasing the correct equipment, however, you shouldn’t need a convertor since all your electronics should be able to handle currents between 110-240 watts.
JLabs JBuds J5
For movie and music affectionados, a set of good quality headphones/earbuds is a necessity. The JLabs J5 earbuds are a fantastic budget option. The sound is crisp and clear, with a clean range throughout the highs, midrange, and low tones. The J5s come with a variety of interchangeable tips for different size ear canals. While the J5s aren’t noise canceling, the in-ear design isolates outside noise, providing a much clearer, enjoyable experience over the standard kit earbuds that came with your phone.
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones
If earbuds aren’t your thing and price is no option, the highest quality travel headphones you can buy are the Bose QuietComfort 15 noise canceling headphones. It’s astounding how good of job these do eliminating outside noises and they are super comfortable to use. The QuietComfort 15 fold down into a compact carrying case, but it’s still a bit large for anyone who stuffs their entire travel life into a single backpack. And did I mention the price?
Peak Designs Leash
Every good camera needs a good camera strap. The stock camera strap that came with your camera body has two problems: it announces to thieves and predators which brand of camera you are wearing, and it doesn’t come off your camera easily. I originally solved both of those problems by purchasing a Black Rapid RS-7 camera strap. The Black Rapid strap had its own issues, however; namely the fact that it was bulky in my camera bag, and I had to remove it each time I wanted to mount my camera to a tripod plate. In my quest to downsize my photography kit, I discovered Peak Designs Leash: a lightweight, unobtrusive, affordable sling-style strap that is easily removed. Plus the Leash can be attached to a variety of Peak Designs Swiss Arca tripod plates, negating the need to remove it when attaching the camera to a tripod.
Serious travel photographers need a serious travel tripod. It must be light, ultra compact, flexible, and affordable. The MeFoto Travel Tripod is only 12.6 inches (32 cm) when collapsed, but it extends to 51.2 inches (130 cm). It weighs only 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg). Another recommended travel tripod is the Slik Sprint Mini II which weighs in at 1.75 pounds (0.8 kg) but with less extension height (43.3 in/110 cm). Out of the two, the MeFoto has the better ball head.
Pedco UltraPod II Tripod
Even if you don’t carry a full-size tripod, having a table-top tripod can be very handy. The Pedco UltraPod II is only 7 inches long (17.8 cm) and weighs only 4 ounces (113.4 g). It is capable of carrying camera loads up to 6 pounds (2.7 kg). The UltraPod II comes with a velcro strap that allows the tripod to be secured to objects likes tree, poles, and railings. I recommend purchasing an additional quick-release plate for the UltraPod II so that you don’t spend all your time screwing and unscrewing your camera to the mount.
Health and Hygiene
There are a dozen different solutions for doing your laundry on the road: everything from sink washing, to washing in a large ziplock back, to paying to have your laundry cleaned by a third party. For those who prefer–or need–to do your own laundry, the Scrubba Wash Bag is a portable solution that helps speed up the process. The lightweight (5 oz/142 g), durable bag contains hundreds of nodules that replicate an old-timey washboard action. Check out the in-depth review of the Scrubba Wash Bag by Snarky Nomad.
Humangear GoToob Travel Bottles
Humangear GoToob are best travel bottles for carrying toiletry liquids or gels, period. Trust me, we’ve tried everything else. GoToob packs comes in sets of 3 with small (1.25 oz/35 g), medium (2 oz/57 g), and large (3 oz/85 g) sizes. GoToobs are easy to fill, easy to use, and easy to clean.
Travelo Refillable Perfume/Cologne Spray
Being a traveler does not give you an excuse from being a stinky, Bohemian mess. Come on, who doesn’t appreciate someone who smells good? The problem is that travel-size perfume or cologne is expensive, unwieldy (What? No spray option?), and unnecessarily heavy in those glass bottles. The Travalo Refillable Spray bottle allows you to easily fill from your larger perfume/cologne bottles (or perhaps from the airport testers in the Duty Free shops…*wink*). It takes up much less size and weight than the travel-size glass bottles, and even has a transparent window for checking remaining quantity. Available in a variety of colors.
REI Revelcloud Jacket
When it comes to lightweight, synthetic down jackets, the REI Revelcloud is one of the best buys available. It’s not the warmest, but does a bang-up job of keeping you toasty with its 60g fill of PrimaLoft insulation. It is also the cheapest in its class. The Revelcloud packs into a hidden pocket for easy packing, or you can use it as a spare pillow. Available in multiple colors for men and women.
Overland Equipment Donner Purse
Finding the perfect purse for travel can be a bit like searching for the Holy Grail in that it may take a lifetime and may not even exist at the end of your journey. If you’re still searching for your Holy Grail purse, check out the Donner bag by Overland Equipment. It is amply sized but svelte enough for any trip or outing. The design is loaded with organization pockets, including two large but unobtrusive pockets that can hold full-size water bottles. The Donner bag is versatile, comfortable, and attractive. Check out the review of the Donner bag by Shannon O’Donnell on A Little Adrift.