Home for Christmas
After having done two consecutive Christmases in China, it’s perhaps a measure of my excitement for a traditional Aussie Christmas at home that I’d actually finished my Christmas shopping before November had ended. So over-zealous have I been – in fact – that I went on another bout of Christmas shopping after returning and have now bought all of my family members 2-4 presents rather than the one I normally would.
While every Christmas I’ve had abroad has been a memorable experience and none have been without their charms and happier moments; it’s safe to say that for me, Christmas will always be about waking up at the crack of dawn at my parents’ place in the New England mountains and tip-toeing down out to see what gifts have been left under the tree. Christmas for me will forever be about devon lilies and egg nog, midnight mass and fancy cheese, fried eggs & bacon for breakfast, a lazy late lunch, and that inevitable feeling of sadness that sets in at about 5pm when the festivities are over for another year.
Christmas for me is ducking out to the backyard pool for a swim and some entirely inappropriate uses of inflatable devices, overseeing my brothers as they string up Christmas lights, and reminiscing over Christmases past with my brothers over cold beers and handfuls of lollies.
And, of course, it’s about the giving of gifts and watching with wide-eyed anticipation as the recipient opens it. Will they or won’t they like what I’ve picked out for them?
The Struggle for Gift Ideas for Travelers
While I’ve found it easy to find presents for my siblings, their spouses, my parents, and my niece and nephew – my own family have found it tough to find gifts for me. After all, when somebody spends most of their life on the road or planning their next trip – it’s not so easy to find a suitable gift.
Anything too large to pack is probably out – and in this age of digital media and e-readers, the old stalwart DVDs, CDs, and books are out as well. Short of helping the traveler in your life assemble a Complete Works of Lonely Planet, it can be difficult to find something they’ll like that they won’t have to put into storage when the travel bug next bites.
Attempting to help my mother in her search for suitable gifts for me, I went browsing for Christmas gifts for travelers and came across an article over on the Avanti Travel Insurance blog. Avanti are better known for their travel insrance, but their blog is on a bit of a Christmas trend at the moment and suggested a few fun gifts for travelers.
Posts such as this one and the ambitious 101 Stocking Stuffers for Men Who Love to Travel over at Man on the Lam have inspired me to share a few of my own suggestions when it comes to gifts for any travelers you might have in your own life.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a few gift ideas for those who need last minute presents for the traveler in their lives. I’d love to hear your suggestions as well!
Clever Travel Companion
My first trek abroad saw my Mum try to force an ungodly ugly travel belt in which to hide my passport and money upon me. While I certainly understood the safety benefits of keeping my personal belongings closer to my person than my pockets, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear the damned thing.
The Clever Travel Companion is a pair of comfortable, fairly long legged underpants with built in pockets perfect for a passport, some spare cash, or that all important emergency credit card. Since you’re going to be packing underwear anyway, they have the added benefit of security without having to pack an additional item.
Where to get it: Clever Travel Companion
Plox Portable Charger
If your traveler is anything like me when they’re on the road, they’re constantly plugged into their smart phone or iPad sharing their stories via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever. Even if they’re not a social media butterfly, chances are they’ll need their phone to check directions, keep track of expenses, or just do some research. If that’s the case – they’ll be only too familiar with the sinking feeling you get when the ‘You have 20% battery remaining’ sound plays and they’re nowhere near a power outlet.
Items like the Plox portable charger allow you to carry an extra charge or two around with you wherever you go, and the slim design means it easily slips into a pocket on your backpack or in your coat.
My own Plox is a vivid green, vaguely phallic object – but there are plenty of designs and colours to suit any taste.
Where to get it: Ploxit
Kensington EVAP Rescue Pouch
If the threat of battery loss is frightening for your traveler, than the threat of irreparably damaging their phone is likely to cause cold sweats and the kind of nightmares where they wake tangled in sheets and screaming nonsensically.
The Kensington Evap Rescue Pouch is a $15 insurance policy against any water related accidents a phone might come across. Whether it’s dropped in the toilet after a big night of boozing or simply forgotten about in the mad rush to be first into the ocean, your traveler’s smart phone might just survive the encounter thanks to the special drying agent contained in this single use Evap Rescue Pouch.
Sure, rice might do the trick – but the EVAP Rescue Pouch is 700% more effective. In anywhere between 6 and 24 hours, your traveler’s precious phone might just be back in business.
Where to get it: Kensington
Credit Card Bottle Opener
One of my best friends works for Commonwealth Bank in Australia, and was kind enough to gift me one of their nifty branded credit card bottle openers. Tucking into my wallet in the same space a bank card or piece of ID would fit, this little beauty has started more friendships and lowered my standards than any other gift I’ve ever been given.
Unless my beard counts.
Anyway, rather than being a clunky key ring attachment or another piece of luggage, this slim bit of metal is easily tucked into a wallet and forgotten until it’s needed. Don’t be stranded on a Boracay beach unable to open your Red Horse ever again!
Where to get it: Amazon.com
Noise Cancelling Headphones
It’s true that I’m capable of falling asleep virtually anywhere. Legend even tells of a time when I dozed off while standing at my register in the Newcastle Coles.
Not everybody is blessed with my state of perpetual drowsiness however, and even the most patient traveler will eventually encounter a screaming baby, obnoxiously loud phone conversationalist, or intolerably squeaky bus. No matter how loud they manage to get their iPod to blare out their favourite tune, they’ll still be able to hear the offending noise.
While the Avanti article suggests something as pricey as a set of Dr. Dre Beats, you don’t need to mortgage the house to buy your traveler a little peace and quiet. Noise cancelling headphones aren’t as expensive as they once were, and they’ll certainly appreciate them when and if they encounter a walking, talking cacophony and want a little peace and quiet.
Where to get it: Kensington
Much like the aforementioned Clever Travel Companion, Adventure Underwear are marketed around the fact they keep your most important belongings safe while you’re on the road. While I will go on record as saying that Adventure Underwear aren’t quite as comfortable as the Clever Travel Companion – they do stand out in two very important ways:
Where the Clever Travel Companion is made from a more comfortable material, it’s still the kind of material that holds onto a smell after a long day of travel. Adventure Underwear’s material is considerably more forgiving in this regard, meaning a single pair can be worn for 2 or 3 days without offending all that is good and holy.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the pockets on Adventure Underwear are 100% waterproof. They’ve even been certified to up to 200 feet!
No need to bury your phone and wallet in the sand and pray some enterprising beachcomber doesn’t find it! Your traveler can take their passport or phone with them into the water without fear of damaging it! I even did this with my phone in the Philippines earlier this year to test it for myself.
Note: Sizes tend to run on the small size, so order one size larger than usual. My current pair emphasize the thunder just a little too much >_>
Where to get it: Adventure Underwear
Do you have any favourite gift ideas for travelers?
If you’re a traveler, what kind of gifts have you found most useful? Or what gift would you most like to get this Christmas?