My Holiday Gift Guide
I had fun creating a gift guide last year, so here’s my 2018 version! As always I have very little financial incentive to recommend anything here. I’ll note when something is an affiliate link. No one has paid to be included here. And yes, there are a lot of books this year! I think I’m finding that there aren’t many products coming out that truly improve the travel experience. If you’ve discovered something amazing, please let me know!
I never seem to be able to find jeans that I like, so a few times the past year I’ve accepted jeans from companies to try them out. My favorite two, and specifically for traveling, are from Aviator and 34 Heritage. Both are stretch jeans, which honestly I’m still getting used to. I think I’ve simply been in stiff jeans my entire life and it feels unnatural to have jeans that are really comfortable? But I’m on planes so often, and have a lot of 36-hour travel days, so I’m a convert when it comes to wearing these while on the road. And they’re far more comfortable when sleeping on planes than other pants!
Aviator’s jeans have extra zipped pockets, so they’re great for tucking away passports, wallets, etc… and feeling more secure walking through foreign cities. 34 Heritage’s jeans are simply really comfortable.
I commented last year that our favorite notebooks had been discontinued. Well, we now have a new favorite! We’ve been traveling with Nomatic’s notebooks and love them, whether we’re playing games at restaurants while waiting to get our food, taking notes at conferences, or sketching in remote locations.
Airplane Pocket / Tray Cover
We love traveling with Airplane Pockets. The cover slips over your airplane tray and gives you pockets for all of your things – iPad, Kindle, headphones, pencils/crayons, magic wands, stuffed animals, etc… Then when you arrive you simply take the entire thing off and put it into your bag – ready for your connecting flight, and without any risk that something is left behind in the plane’s seatback pocket (yes, we’ve lost several devices over the years). An added bonus is that you have a clean surface for dining or working.
The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid
This could have been written for us! A fun illustrated guide to the coolest things in the world, all threaded together creatively. Maybe my favorite family travel book ever! We’ve learned about a lot of amazing places from this book – things that we’ve then added to our travel wish lists. Not expensive either.
Available on Amazon or at your local bookstore.
National Geographic Ultimate Journeys for Two
If you’re not a family traveler though, this book may be more appropriate! Written by Anne and Mike Howard of HoneyTrek.com, who have never stopped traveling after getting married, it’s gorgeous and full of romantic/adventurous travel ideas. And they’re not luxury travelers; a lot of their destinations are far more doable on a normal budget than most people realize.
Available on Amazon or at your local bookstore.
A Travel Magazine Subscription
Please keep subscribing to print magazines! The world needs journalists, and reading a paper magazine on a plane or at the beach is far more enjoyable than viewing the digital version. My favorite is always AFAR. Subscribe here. National Geographic Traveler continues to be solid as well.
And for family travel, I’ve been enjoying Twist. Some print copies are still available, but they’re (understandably, but sadly) moving to digital.
An Old-Fashioned Guidebook
Staying with the print theme, I still love paper guidebooks. And the included maps always come in handy – several times in the past year we’ve been without cell coverage, both in the US and abroad, and we needed to fall back on paper. DK Travel has just relaunched their Eyewitness Guides and they’re excellent – full of inspiration, historical background information, photos, 3D illustrations, and overall trip guidance. And the really nice thing: the books are finite. You can quickly find highlights. Sit down after a day of exploring, thumb through a guide, and figure out what you missed and want to do the next day. Much easier than searching through multiple websites (says the guy with a website).
All over the world we seek out locally-made dark chocolate – the fewer ingredients, the better (chocolate should never have soy lecithin). Our favorite chocolate to order in the US is Dandelion, out of San Francisco. We’re currently loving their Costa Esmeraldas from Ecuador. If you’re a dark chocolate fan, order several different bars and see what you like best, and keep me posted – there may be one we haven’t tried yet! But don’t forget to search out amazing chocolate on your travels too…
I did a campaign with Rosetta Stone this summer, working on my Italian while my wife and daughter improved their French. I was extremely impressed with their app and how in-depth it is. I’ve been using it for months – on planes, during downtime, while waiting at soccer/football practice – and have only scratched the surface, but my Italian is already a lot better. Last week I checked out of my hotel in Montecatini completely in Italian, and it was a fairly detailed conversation. Learn a new language in 2019! Or re-visit the language you studied in high school. Affiliate link. My blog post on the software is here.
We had our DNA tested by Ancestry.com years ago and found it fascinating to find out our heritage, and also to see how different our kids were from each other. We’ve even chosen travel destinations based on the results. If you haven’t been tested yet, I highly recommend it!
If I’m missing something amazing, please let me know about it! What’s your coolest travel accessory? What books or magazines inspire your travels?