Shopping for Travelers

Brian Welsh
Nov 30, 2010
Updated • Dec 6, 2012
Mobile Computing

One of the hardest things about this time of the year is finding the right gifts for the people you love. Sure, it's easy to buy a tie for the men and perfume for the women, but do you really want to go that route? A far better way is to think of the kinds of things they love and buy them something that will enhance their enjoyment of not only their favorite pastime but also of the holiday season too. That's why it's always a good idea to think about what brings joy to your loved ones. If they love to golf, look at putters, if they love to dance, consider buying them clogs, and if they love to travel...well...what the heck do you buy for someone who loves to travel anyway?

You should be careful. Don't run right out and buy a travel pillow or a big GPS unit, those of us who love to travel are notoriously picky about what we put in our travel kit because unlike the Victorian travelers of yesteryear, we usually have to lug our baggage around with us instead of having a team of porters or sherpas who are willing to carry our things for us. In addition, because of global security and the cost of fuel, every ounce counts when you are trying to figure out what to put in your bags and what to leave behind. So, even if you buy something that you are sure will be useful, don't be surprised if it doesn't make the cut. However, in order to maximize your chances of holiday gift success with the globetrotter of your life, this small guide will help you to narrow the incredibly broad range of choices in travel gear, travel technology, and travel comfort items.

To start with, let's have a look at some of the top travel gear that your traveler may enjoy. First, let's start with the bags. There are a number of great bags out there that are designed for global comfort, security, and ease of use. I'm not only talking about rucksacks here, but also great messenger bags, wheelie bags, and multi purpose travel totes. That's a keyword by the way when you are looking for things for those who travel, multi-purpose. If something can do more than one thing, it is twice as useful as something that only does one. Think about the kind of travel they will be doing. Are they a backpacker in third world countries? A secure pack with slashproof sides and bottom, good locks, and a wire mesh protector is probably a good bet. If they are traveling in mostly developed countries, a carry on size wheelie bag with multi compartments and specific areas for laptop, chargers, phone, and other accessories is probably a gift that will be both appreciated and used. For those who are doing both, you might consider one of the rugged and now fairly famous saddleback leather bags which are designed specifically for globe trotters.

Although most travelers can use a good knife, this is probably not the best idea as a gift since in these days of security and checkpoints, the wrong knife can either be confiscated or get the traveler in trouble. Other items to consider are silk sleepsacks which weigh little and provide great comfort, lightweight travel towels, and specific travel clothing like the Scott Travel Vest.

Moving beyond the basics and into the realm of gear, we can find a wide range of laptop and phone accessories that are perfect for the traveler. Of course, if you want to skip the accessories and move straight to the phone or laptop you really can't go wrong with an iPhone or a Netbook as a gift. They are light, multi functional, and usually can be modified to work in any country the person will be going to. Along the same lines, you shouldn't neglect the idea of the universal travel adapter. Not all countries use the same electric current or voltage and an adapter can really be a useful item for those on the go. Furthermore, a set of ultra portable speakers can turn an iPod, iPhone, or Netbook into a full on entertainment center, which is pretty cool when you are stranded at a camel crossing in Timbuktu. Other technology items to consider are travel extension cords, ink-less travel printers, and of course cameras.

There are very few travelers who don't love taking photos and a great camera means they can share their adventures with you. Everyone wins in that situation. A gift that is becoming increasingly popular with the jetset is the Kindle. No more shopping in airports for trashy novels, with the Kindle you can bring hundreds of books in just one small container. For those who already have a kindle or iPhone, you can provide gift certificates to Amazon, iTunes, Apple, or other app stores where the adventurer can select their own digital downloads.

Finally, let's have a look at comfort items. These are things that most of us who are a little older think of as travel items. Neck pillows, folding toothbrushes, travel irons, travel blow dryers, and that kind of thing. There are some really great products out there, all you have to do is look through the SkyMall catalog next time you are flying somewhere and you will see them, but ask yourself if they are really necessary. A travel alarm clock probably isn't since you can assume that everyone has a phone with an alarm clock built into it. Same goes for a calculator. One thing that can be nice for any traveler are lightweight organizers for bags or stuff sacks for gear. Simple things like travel size shampoos, toothpaste, and first aid kits can also be well appreciated.

In short, there are a million and one things you can buy for the person in your life who is always on the move. The big decider is what kind of travel they are doing and what kind of person they are. If you buy a business traveler a hammock, chances are he will appreciate it less than a wrinkle free tie and the opposite is true for the gap year backpacker in your life. One thing is for sure, the shopping can sure be fun. Now get to it.


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