My Favorite Travel Gifts
Welcome to the giving season. Oprah released her holiday list of 102 of Her Favorite Things, which made me realize, I have a list of my favorite things I always take along when traveling. Here are a few of my favorite things that will make great gift items for you, and others, who enjoy traveling. I take gift giving very seriously and love matching people with items they will keep, use, and enjoy.
Eight years ago I made my first solo drive in my Toyota Corolla from Weston, Connecticut to Denali National Park, Alaska to work at McKinley Lodge (name changed to The Lodge at Denali Park Village) presenting programs on women in the Goldrush and the history of the conservation movement. I worked extended weeks to enjoy long weekends traveling to out of the way, often difficult to reach communities. One night I stayed in a hostel and the woman sharing my room pulled out two things I had never seen before: a sleeping bag pad and a mummy liner.
“What are they and why do you have them?” I asked knowing the hostel provided fresh sheets and a blanket.
“Comfort,” she grinned. “My mat will make this thin bunkbed mattress much softer and the mummy liner is lovely and roasty toasty.”
“Instead of the blanket?”
“Cool in a warm location, here, in addition to a blanket, heavenly.”
“Did you bring a sleeping bag with you?”
“Most trips I do, but I knew here I’d have a bed and linen.”
Very interesting. Since I already had a great sleeping bag, I bought myself, and friends who camp out regularly, a foldable pad and silk mummy liner. The pad comes in unexpectedly handy in and outside of the house and the mummy liner provides about five degrees added warmth and softness wherever I happen to be, particularly on airplanes.
When I am not writing and traveling, I teach Business Writing and Speaking classes on the college level surrounded by headphone and earbud wearing, music listening students. They never ever seem to be without their extra ears on or in. Walking down the halls, there is little talking with everyone listening to their own tunes. One day a student came up behind me and put earphones on my head. I was amazed how great they were at blocking out sound. “If you’ll use them, you can keep them,” he offered. “My brother just upgraded his and was giving these to his nerdy girlfriend. I promised him, if you don’t want them, I’ll take them right back to him.” I never leave for a flight or train ride without them and they certainly make a lovely gift. Check out these noise canceling blue tooth headphones.
Fleece Blanket Coat
At the Autumn Crafts Festival at Lincoln Center I picked up a reversible, unbelted, fleece, wrap around coat. I live in it, inside and outside the house. It is the only cover up I take onboard flights and is like having my own wearable blanket. The loose-fitting, wrap around coats and sweaters have become so popular in fleece, cashmere, and lightweight to heavyweight knits, they are the perfect gift. I like the one size fits all and washable fleece the best, although the cashmere is quite extravagant and gorgeous. These make great, highly valued gifts worn forever. Mine is not wearing out even though I wear it out constantly, particularly during changing seasons. Check out this fleece reversible poncho.
Fortunately for me, my friend Meryl recently visited Ireland and brought back blue tweed hand knit extra thick homespun Irish Wool foot cardigans, aka socks. I adore them. Receiving socks reminded me of being a kid. Every birthday and holiday I gave my father socks and my mother a fancy handkerchief. I had forgotten about those childhood traditions and now added all kinds of socks and Vintage lace and embroidered handkerchiefs to my gift lists. I am sure you too have a few friends (or relatives) with cold feet who will be very happy to receive wool socks. For an added treat, throw in a few packs of feet warmers. Check out these Irish wool socks.
Ten years ago, I received a Kindle. It does not have the bells and whistles on the newer models, but it still works great. I keep copies of my own books on it to show people my work alongside my newest reading adventures. This is a very popular gift for any of your writing and reading friends. Check out the Kindle family.
Journals are one of the nicest things I gift others and myself. I always have one in my pocketbook or computer bag. My daughter recently gave me one in a canvas cover with a built-in purse to hold pens, money, and keys. On my first solo trip driving cross-country, I left with a new journal and needed to buy a new one before reaching the West Coast.
I also had a beautiful leather bound guest book with me to collect notes and contact information from the people I meet along the way. It never ceases to amaze me how people will write surprisingly lovely thoughts they would not necessarily feel comfortable saying. I think of my guest book collection as my treasure chests filled with notes from around the world. Check out these leather journals. Check out these journals.
Two hours before my ride to the airport was due for a summer teaching job in Italy, my friend Annie texted me: “Do not leave home without a Mophie.” I had no idea there was such a thing as a wireless charging battery pack. I knew I would be using the GPS constantly on my notoriously short on power iPhone in Rome. The week before I had an upsetting experience. My iPhone ran out of power and I made a few wrong turns in a rush to pick up a friend while driving from upstate New York to Connecticut. I was totally lost.
Annie was right. I ran to the store. A very nice salesperson explained everything I needed to know about cell phone recharging batteries and I bought one called Pocket Juice (at a third of the price Annie paid). I use it all of the time in the car and walking. Whenever my cell phone hits 20% power, I simply hook it up. The charger is the same size as the phone so they both fit easily into my pocketbook, connected to each other, and the Pocket Juicer recharges the phone five times without plugging in. Get the details on the Pocket Juicer.
Carry On Luggage
I discovered one of my newest gifts due to that international trip. I failed to check in with the airline on the luggage policy on my flight to Rome from New York. The first bag was free; the second bag cost $100. I had two bags and no room in one for the other and neither fit in the overhead compartment. I paid the fee and began looking very closely at the people all around me with luggage they were taking onboard. I compared two-wheeled to four-wheeled, asked about cost, took photos of the different makes, and did some research. I decided to buy an aluminum frame, hard sided 20-inch suitcase with detachable wheels with brakes, and a side-mounted TSA lock at a target price of under $100. On my third day in Rome, I found one in royal blue right in a flea market on the Viale Trastevere for 40 Euro ($47.17). The street vendor helped me make up my mind by reducing his price by 10 Euro. My beautiful new valise was my first purchase in Rome that was not for food. Hmmm, food, now there is another great gift idea. Happy holidays. Happy trails. Happy memories. Check out this bag.