Gifts Beneath a Christmas Tree

The 2013 TravelLatte Gift Guide

The lights are strung, the tinsel’s hung, and we are in the holiday mood! Our thoughts turn now to finding the perfect gifts for the travelers in our lives, and for our own letters to Santa! We braved Black Friday and scoured the web, and twice each week until Christmas we’ll post the coolest gifts and gadgets we found. Where possible, we’re including product links to Amazon so you don’t have to run around town and/or the web. Thanks in advance if you purchase through our widget at the bottom of the page. Happy holidays and merry shopping!

For the Traveling Loved Ones

Airline tickets.

Airline-tickets1

It’s probably a given that every traveler would love a free trip to somewhere, but we’re thinking about the gift of togetherness made possible by airline tickets. Whether it’s flying someone home, flying out to wherever your someone is, or flying everyone to someplace in the middle, it’s almost sure to be the best present. Ever.

However much you and your loved ones enjoy traveling, nothing beats the joy of time spent with friends and family, especially during the holidays. It recharges the batteries, refreshes the spirit, and renews the soul. The popular choice ’round here, especially when it’s been a year of heavy travel, is down time back home. We find it’s true: “The prettiest sight you’ll see is the holly that will be on your own front door.”

Here’s wishing you a fantastic holiday season, at home and on the road, with the people you love. Season’s Greetings from everyone at TravelLatte.

For the Frequent Flier

“What is that on your sleeve, and where did it come from? And…did it just move???”

Even if the traveler on your list doesn’t live to fly, they probably have to fly to live their vagabond life. Unfortunately, the insides of those shiny flying tubes can be grosser than a petri dish! It’s probably not practical to wrap them up in a cozy, antimicrobial cocoon before boarding, but that doesn’t mean we can’t minimize the yuck. We always carry antibacterial wipes when we travel, and this year added tray covers to our arsenal. Germ-freaks? Maybe. Sick after a flight? Not us!

TrayGuard_Amazon

We love this deal: TrayGuard reusable antimicrobial tray covers in a two-pack for $15 on Amazon. The value is certainly there, but it gives us warm fuzzies to know they are made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic! And, even though you can pack them home to wash and use again, we’re okay throwing them away at this price. I mean…yuck. We still haven’t given up on the dream cocoon, but this is a really good start. It’s also a good gift to help keep your traveler healthy on the road…and keep them from bringing uckies back on their sleeves.

For the Techie Traveler

Can you believe it? Some hotels have the nerve to not have Wi-Fi in the rooms. No Wi-Fi! You want to surf the internet? You’re stuck at the desk using that old school Ethernet cable. Sheesh.

Satechi Smart Travel Adapter with RouterIf that sounds like someone on your list, you might gift them with a Satechi Smart Travel Router. The idea is similar to your router at home – plug in an Ethernet cable and suddenly a drab and dreary hotel room is alive with Wi-Fi! It’s also a repeater, so if you’re at the edge of a good signal, plug this guy in and it will boost your signal so you can roam further. But wait. Yes, there’s more. (Bet you didn’t see that coming!) Since you have to plug in the router anyway, it does double-double duty as a travel adapter and charger. The unit has a 2.1A USB socket, plus a plug adapter which works in more than 150 countries. (However, see our note below about power converters. This little wonder does a lot, but it does not convert current.)

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By the way, Santa, you can find this gizmo at Amazonfor $45, and we have it in our widget below. (Thanks!)

For the Globe Trotter

Where are we? Greenland? What color is Greenland?

All of those international power adapter plugs are confusing. Different sizes, different shapes, different countries…can anyone be blamed for not knowing which is for where? No. And you can’t blame us for the smoky remains of the third laptop in four years, either. But we digress.

flight001-4-in-1adapter

The Flight 001 4-in-1 Adapter can help travelers avoid perplexing power problems easily, and colorfully. The four components are color coded with a world map (hard copy or online) so you can be sure you’ve got the right adapter for the country you’re in. Best of all, it’s just $25 on Amazon (see below). Voila, your world traveler is one step closer to staying plugged in. Literally.

Note: Power adapters are not to be confused with power converters. They don’t change the voltage/current to match your electronics. For example, a 120-volt electrical appliance designed for use in North America will provide a nice fireworks display when plugged into a European socket. Voice of experience? Perhaps. Unless you’d care to meet a handsome local fireman, consult a source like Wikipedia.

FYI: Greenland is green. How ironic.

For the Business(ish) Traveler

The thing about travel is you just never know when you’ll run into Sandra Bullock and find yourself having a nice dinner at The Commander’s Palace where you’ll make googly eyes with America’s Sweetheart all evening. Admittedly, that has not happened for us yet, but it’s still nice sometimes to have a nice, wrinkle-free shirt or dress on your travels. Enter packing bags, like the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder. There are several sizes, but they work the same: Put your ironed, folded garments in the folder (using the included folding guide), close and compress to save on space while keeping your clothes neat and, mostly, wrinkle free. Warning: Eagle Creek makes a variety of packing accessories and, even if you’re not as OCD as we are, they can be…addicting. To say the least.

Pack-It 15_Blue

The Pack-It Folder 15 is the smallest, but it’s a great size because it fits nicely in a briefcase or small carry-on and still holds a half-dozen dress shirts or a few dresses. For the budget conscious, the Pack-It Folders are sale priced at about 30% under their original prices but still give 100% of the gift giving – and getting – satisfaction. The newer Pack-It Specter series are made from rip-stop nylon to cut down on weight, but we’ve heard some complaints about its design so we’re sticking with the originals for this season’s gift giving. You can buy them at Eagle Creek, but we found them at Amazon (see below) for under $20.

For the World Traveler

“Hey, where’s the egg nog?”
In the fridge.
“Uhm…where’s the fridge?”
Behind the magnets.

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This conversation should sound familiar to any world traveler with a penchant for kitschy souvenirs. It turns out, you really can have too many refrigerator magnets. What every traveler really needs is a better way to commemorate their travels. Something to which they can point with pride. Something friends and family will marvel at…and hopefully get you for Christmas. Something like the fun and, frankly, incredible Scratch Off World Map from Luckies of London!

Scratch Map Deluxe Edition

Been to Belarus? Camped in Cambodia? Did the Polka in Poland? Scratch ‘em off! Every bit as fun as a scratch off lottery ticket and far more rewarding. (Plus, you’ll get to hear lots of annoying “itching to travel” jokes!) Seriously, this is just about our favorite gift idea this year. It is a truly individual gift your loved ones can make 100% their own…without cluttering up the kitchen. We found the Scratch Map Deluxe Edition online for $35 from Luckies of London (where they have more cool toys), and just under $30 at Amazon (see below).

For the Gadget Dependent

You may wonder, just how does Santa make it around the world in one night without stopping to top off his Smartphone battery? Obviously, the Jolly Old Elf has one of these XD Design Solar Window Chargers! (Yes, we know he’s traveling at night and a solar charger needs daylight, but that just doesn’t fit our story. Call it creative license.)

XD Solar Window Chargers

There are a good number of solar chargers on the market today, and any of them would make a great gift for the gadget-dependent traveler on your list. We just happen to like the sleek design on this one, and the fact that it has a washable silicone sticky so you can slap it up on the window for maximum exposure. Inside the handsome ABS plastic case is a 1400 mAh Li-ion battery that will recharge your smartphone (or most any small gadget) at 5V via a USB connection. Downside: You can only do this once a day or so, as it takes at least 13 hours of daylight to recharge. Of course, you can plug the gizmo in and recharge in just a couple hours, but we think that sort of defeats the purpose. We’re trying to save the planet, and that takes time. You can find the XD Design Solar Window Charger at a variety of retailers, but the best price we found was just under $33 at Amazon (see below).

For the iPhone-ographer

It’s a tragedy, really. All around the world, good little boys and girls will be gathered with friends and family, some who they see only once a year during the holidays, and they’ll be snapping photos with their iPhones. Dark, shadowy photos where the family is backlit by the lights on the tree and all you can really see is Uncle Jimmy’s ugly sweater. Sigh…

Klyp+ML240

Just wait until they unwrap this little bundle by Manfrotto! It’s a case and accessories for iPhone 4/4s and 5 that promises bring their photos out of the shadows with a snap-on LED flash and a tripod, plus a free app that lets you trigger the camera with a clap, then easily share on your social networks. There are two options: The Klyp case with an ML120 LED light and POCKET tripod is $112, or you can upgrade to the ML240 LED light for $133 from Manfrotto.us. We found them a bit lower at Amazon.


Of course, we’re not the only ones with great gift ideas for the holidays! Check out these other blogs and articles:

Images: Gifts beneath the Christmas Tree © Alex Grichenko | Dreamstime
Product images courtesy of manufacturers

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