Every year people email me looking for suggestions for travel-related holiday gifts. So this year I’m writing a post before I get those emails! I don’t do many product-related posts – I think the only posts that fit into that category would be:
If I talk about anything on my website or social media, it’s because we actually use it and (99% of the time) travel with it. And I’m still not an Amazon Affiliate. If I link to Amazon below, it’s because that’s where we actually purchase most things. Make sure you sign up for Amazon’s Smile program, so that a percentage of your purchases goes to a charity or non-profit of your choice. Everything we buy benefits my kids’ school.
So what should you get for the traveler in your life?
Cool Travel Products
I still love getting travel magazines in the mail. My favorite (by far) is AFAR. I love its emphasis on traveling deeper into destinations, and it continues to inspire a lot of my travels. Simply the best “personality” of any travel magazine out there – if it’s possible for a magazine to have a personality? Subscribe here.
Power banks are ubiquitous right now – it seems like I get another one at every conference I attend. But it’s worth investing in a couple of good power banks to be able to charge your devices on the go. You never know when you’ll be on a 5-hour flight or 10-hour bus ride (or a lot longer) without power outlets. There are a number of good power banks, but I’d give the edge to the ones that come with attached lightning cables – one less thing to think about when throwing one in a backpack and heading off to explore.
Bose Wireless Headphones
When Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone, I went wireless. I’m loving it! The Bose SoundLink wireless headphones require periodic charging, but I love that there are no wires to tangle or become damaged, and when I have an aisle seat and need to get up to let someone by, it’s just plain easier to pop up out of my seat. Unfortunately my kids are liking them a lot too, and buying multiple pairs is getting expensive. Bose, do you want to partner? 🙂
The Game of Life: TripAdvisor Edition
My kids love board games, and they travel, well, a lot. They’ve been having fun with the new TripAdvisor version of the Game of Life and its vacation cards. It’s probably the most travel-related game we play regularly.
A Good Notebook
My wife always keeps a notebook in her purse. It comes in handy for sketching anywhere – from restaurants while waiting for food to airplanes to hanging out near world monuments – as well as playing games like Tic Tac Toe and Hangman. We prefer notebooks with perforated paper since we can easily tear out sheets for multiple kids to be able to draw at once. Our favorites have always been the Semikolon Le Professionnel Hardcover Organizer Notebooks (pictured) but they’re not made anymore. Whether you go for Semikolon, Moleskine, or another brand, get a good one and take it with you everywhere!
If you haven’t tried Marvis toothpaste before, I highly recommend it! They have all kinds of cool flavors. This summer in Florence we bought half a dozen types and tried them all, loving some (Cinnamon, Ginger Mint, Cardamon) and throwing some away immediately (Jasmine). Next up to try as soon as these run out: Rambas and Royal. Note: Marvis is based in Florence, so it’s less expensive there. I still think it’s worth the splurge online though – far more interesting than Crest and Colgate.
This fall I did a campaign with Zappos and Blundstone and, as part of that, ordered my first pair of Blundstone boots. I love them! I’ve been virtually living in them for weeks, wearing them around the house and barn but also to five-star hotel openings and theme park events. They’re work boots but work well for nice occasions too, and I’ve been packing lighter as a result. My Blundstone blog post is here.
We have two Nokia Thermos – one for home and one for travel – and love them. They’re fast and accurate, they work in the dark (huge if you’ve ever had to turn on a light to take a temperature in the middle of the night), and the LEDs light up differently for normal temperatures vs. anything you should be concerned about. Plus they interact with Nokia Health’s smartphone app, so you can easily track temperature readings throughout a cold/flu, and look up health information based on the temp reading and other symptoms – especially convenient when traveling.
I shoot with a lot of different cameras, and am currently transitioning back to Canon from Sony. But I always take my Insta360 Nano with me. It plugs into my iPhone and takes 360-degree photos, which I post to Facebook. I’m having fun with the different perspective.
Zerogrid Passport Holder
I love this travel wallet and use it all the time when traveling by myself or with some of my kids. It doesn’t work quite as well when all five of us are traveling, since we have thicker US passports (with pages added) and it’s pretty snug if I try to get all five of them in there, in addition to bank cards, foreign currencies, etc… Would love for Zerogrid to make one just a little larger. If you don’t plan on fitting five or six bulky passports in there, though, I highly recommend it! Buy it here.
Giving the Gift of Travel
Of course I’m also a big proponent of skipping gifts and saving towards cool trips. I even wrote about giving the gift of travel for Outdoor Families Magazine. If you want to invest a little in future trips, here’s what I recommend.
A Trip with Thomson Family Adventures
My son and I traveled to Panama with Thomson Family Adventures earlier this year and I was so impressed with the company and the trip that I talked them into making me an ambassador! They have really cool, well-thought-out itineraries to 25+ countries, all timed for school breaks. If you want to take your kids somewhere new in a very easy way, and potentially get them new lifelong friends in the process, I couldn’t recommend Thomson more highly.
Flytographer connects travelers with professional local photographers around the world. When I travel with my wife and kids I’m always behind the camera, which means I’m never in our photos. Using Flytographer once a year (Venice last year and Prague this year), we actually have some vacation photos with all of us in them! It’s also a great service to use if you’re planning a special event or proposal somewhere. They have gift cards.
Years ago my wife had a medical emergency in New Orleans and almost died. If we had been somewhere else in the world, she likely would have. So we purchased a five-year family Medjet Assist membership for medical air transport back home if any of us are hospitalized somewhere. We luckily haven’t had to use it, but I love knowing that we have it. They also offer MedjetHorizon which adds crisis response coverage for safety and security issues ranging from natural disasters to terrorism.
Universal Orlando Tickets
Universal Orlando‘s three Florida theme parks are our easily our favorite parks in the world. If your kids haven’t been yet, take them! I highly recommend going off-season and mid-week to avoid crowds. But Christmas at Universal is pretty cool too, with the new Hogwarts light show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Macy’s Holiday Parade. Stay on-site at the Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay or Royal Pacific to get free Express Passes.
A Walking Tour
If you have travel planned in the next year, add on a walking tour. Always look for a kid-oriented one (if you have kids, naturally), since there’s nothing worse than dragging kids on a tour that’s boring for them or over their heads. We’ve done great tours throughout the world with a number of different companies. Our favorite recent tours have been with Context Travel, in London last summer and in Tokyo last month. I love their family options.
What am I missing? What’s on your list for the traveler in your life? (I promise not to tell!)