Gift ideas for travelers

20 December 2012

What do you buy someone who can only pack so little? Buying the perfect holiday gifts for the traveler in your life is often an adventure in itself. When we were little, my sisters and I would huddle over our dining table above the three-inch-thick J.C. Penney Christmas catalog. Like little bratty, spoiled children, we would go through the entire catalog and excessively circle the toys we absolutely couldn't live without. Then, we'd go back through, evaluate our choices and strike the toys that didn't make the cut. Eventually, our parents picked up on our greedy, sinister ways and gave us a good scolding followed by a big kabosh for all J.C. Penney catalogs.

Since then, Santa's been let off easy. 

Now that we can all provide for ourselves -- though, not to the standards we once expected of Santa -- Christmas shopping has become a yearly feat. As a result, we stick to giving presents guaranteed to please: travel gifts and travel necessities. Over the last two years, we've opted for self-bought holiday getaways like Las Vegas and SoCal, and exchanged stockings stuffed with small goodies. Finding reasonably priced gifts for travelers on my list isn't always easy. So, since J. C. Penney no longer mails ridiculously oversized catalogs, I've put together my top 10 stocking stuffer travel gifts that won't break the bank. Each of these travel gifts are under $35; take a peek!

travel gifts

1. Thermarest Compressible Pillow: $17.95. The stereotypical compact pillow is stereotyped for a reason, and this one in particular is a winner. My sister swears by it, and she can't usually sleep anywhere comfortably.
2. Eagle Creek Travel Gear Silk Undercover Bra Stash: $13.50. I know there are mixed opinions about money belts, but these do the trick when I'm not carrying my purse, I'm wearing a dress or sleeping in lesser quality hostels. 
3. Howler Whistles: $7.62. Three things I always carry with me: a compass, a pocket knife and a whistle. It's true, I am the product of a trusty Girl Scout mother and first-aid-certified camping fanatic father. Personally, I carry a little whistle with me in case of an emergency (really, just peace of mind).
4. Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter Cubes: $35 for 3. Packing cubes make life on the road so easy. Organizing gear into these cubes saves time and stress. They make mornings, airport security and repacking episodes a much smaller task. These are my No. 1 recommendation to friends beginning their travels.
5. Joby GorillaPod: $19.99. Point-and-shoot selfies just got easier, friends. This self-supporting, flexible tripod is built for travelers. It's simple to use, portable and made for just about any surface or environment.
6. Vapur Element Collapsible Water Bottle: $11.99. I'm always on the hunt for necessary travel items recreated by someone familiar with packing lightly. Carry even less with the most travel-friendly water bottle on the market. 
7. Light My Fire Titanium Spork: $12.01. Okay, I lied. There are four things I always carry with me: a compass, a pocket knife, a whistle and a spork. I'm serious; they're handy when traveling! In fact, I use mine just as much when I'm not on the road.
8. Cavallini Notebooks Travels: $12.50. Aside from photos, I like to document my travels in writing. They preserve travel memories, let me relive my trips, and are perfect for your travel(love)bugs too!
9. Fridge-It Naturally Activated Charcoal Odor Absorber: $4.17. For long-term travel, deodorizers should be first on your packing list. For shorter travel, you can probably go without. But these are great for packs, shoes and even gym bags. 
10. REI Stuff Travel Pack: $29.50. Once used for travel, this backpack has now become a daily essential. It's compact, comfortable and convenient. REI makes a number of compact packs and you can't go wrong with any of them.

Best of luck in your final shopping hours. Amazon and REI are still promising delivery before the big day, so get going!

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