2012 Gift Ideas For Travelers

Image: Plastic_Bat.

Do you have a person on your gift list who loves to travel? Need help picking out that perfect present that will help them travel, enjoy the world, and shower you with thanks? You've come to the right place to help you find just the right gift idea.

something for everyone

If your special someone is in the market for a new backpack, this new bag from Texas - the Bexar Goods Urban Vagabond backpack ($230) - would be a great choice. Each one is handmade of durable materials, which means it should survive even the roughest trip. It struck me when I first saw it online; I'd have one if I didn't already have a closet full of great bags.

Day bags and carry-ons are another great gift idea, for just about every kind of traveler. French bagmaker Teddyfish has created a fashionable option - the bleu (I prefer the 2.5, which is $220.)

To wrap up our backpack gift ideas, I leave you with another handmade creation from Etsy seller maytreeark. Kelly owns and loves the predecessor of this Camp Lincoln messenger/backpack ( $80 ), which is well-made, comfortable, and durable.

handmade leather dopp bags

Sometimes a smaller bag is what you need, especially when it comes to keeping your toiletries in order. I love a good dopp bag, especially when they are made out of high quality materials (or just look different). These leather bags ($45, as seen above) fit the bill, as does this recycled rubber one ($50), all of which are handmade.

felt iPhone wallet, passport sleeve

Can one wallet really do it all? This handmade felt wallet/passport sleeve/iPhone case ($45) holds all your travel essentials, all while looking sleek. This same Etsy seller makes truly wonderful technology cases, as well.

What if you're buying for a first-time traveler? In some ways, buying gifts for newbie travelers is the easiest gift-giving task. You're not left wondering if they've already got a good bag, or a cute passport holder, or a set of packing cubes. They're a blank slate. But, in the same vein, since they've not necessarily gotten fully addicted to travel, you don't want to overburden them with too much stuff; you've got to be selective in your choices.

With TSA requirements on liquids as stringent as they are, new travelers could probably use some help selecting some travel-size toiletries that don't come from the drug store travel aisle. This collection of toiletries ($30), made by MALIN + GOETZ in New York City, will keep a traveler smelling fresh and safe from TSA screeners.

Muji garment packing cubes

An inexpensive, yet ultra helpful part of a traveler's repertoire is the collapsible garment bag. We've been using a small set of these Muji mesh garment bags ($10 - $16) for a year or so, they've been very helpful in keeping our clothes organized inside our luggage. As an alternative, these Rick Steves cubes ( $18 ) would do just fine, as well.

If you want to help them organize in a more handmade fashion, I found some zippered bags like the one above( $22 ) on Etsy - like this one ( $11 ) and another ( $19 ).

the photographer

Do you know a traveling photographer who seems to have everything they need? I recently ran across a wonderfully simple, yet stylish, camera strap that will help them stand out while photographing the world. Great State Strap Company makes these sleek leather straps in the Rose City itself: Portland, Oregon. ($40 - $120)

Sony NEX-C3 camera

It's no secret that when we travel, we take oodles of photos. This year, our photography gear load has lightened quite a bit, since we picked up a Sony NEX-C3 camera. We've been super happy with the photo quality, interchangeable lenses, and the weight of both the body and the lenses, which has meant we don't have to lug around our relatively heavy digital SLR on every trip. I still miss having a true viewport in very sunny conditions, but I'd gladly give up that feature for the featherweight, high-quality lenses that Sony has developed. Plus, you can get a true 50mm prime lens, which I've greatly missed on my Canon digital SLR.

Whether you're traveling with a big camera, or a small one, nobody wants to lug around an extra bag just for photography gear. These inserts by Camaroo ($16) allow you to turn your normal day bag into a camera bag.

the gift of technology

It seems that with every passing year, technology gift-giving gets more and more difficult. After all, most people already have a smartphone, computer, and possibly a standalone camera. What's left to give? Accessories are always an option, but as an obsessively light traveler, I'm hesitant to recommend too many. Here are some ideas to help your traveler go further, last longer, take more photos, and carry less.

Want to help your favorite traveler be the most popular person in the airport? Give them this inexpensive and collapsible power strip ($12) to help keep them powered. With 4 outlets in a compact bar, this idea is sure to be a hit.

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You can help them when they are on the airplane, as well. These Sennheiser earbuds ($90) are great for both keeping out the plane noise and people's loud conversations. Plus, they help keep your ears' pressure stable throughout the entire flight, which is a huge comfort bonus. I've used these on several flights this year and have been so happy with them, I keep them in the whole flight (much to Kelly's chagrin.) They're also much more durable than other earbuds I've had in the past; the case that comes with them also helps keep them protected.

Since we take a lot of technology on the road, especially our smartphones, we're frequently in need of a recharge. This year, we picked up a portable battery at a tech shop in JFK and haven't been disappointed. If you're looking for a gift for your own smartphone addict, this myCharge battery( $60 ) would be an excellent idea.

the road-trip addict

Do you know someone who loves to drive? Who would pick up and drive halfway across the country, just because they could? Their needs are a little different than most folks. Get them something that can keep them on the road and connected. One of my favorite car toys is my inverter, I can keep our phones, laptops, or anything else charged for the entire ride. However, I wish it were a little easier to store in the car while I'm driving. I found this cup-shaped inverter that allows you to charge two devices, plus one USB-plugged item, all while the inverter is sitting snug in your cup holder. Or, if you prefer, you could get one that's more traditionally shaped ( $50 ).


Loooove these suggestions!!!

Thanks for the great suggestions, Austin. I know this is a gift guide, but I recently got a job with DISH that requires a lot of travel, and I have been looking for a few things to make life in the air a little easier on me. One thing that I already got for myself is a DISH Sling Adapter for my DVR. It streams live TV and recordings from my DVR to my tablet. It’s great because I like to watch my Denver local news shows, even when I am on the other side of the country. I think I might invest in a pair of those Sennheisers for the plane, and streaming so much kills the battery on my tablet, so that myCharge battery might be a good idea too.