Do you spend hours scratching your head trying to find the perfect gift for that special someone? For Christmas, for Valentine’s Day, for birthdays and celebrations? If your loved or significant other is a travel lover, here are a few of the best ideas I have bought, given and received through the years, things, experiences and objects that would make any travel lover happy to receive.
1. Photo session with the Pros
I have been traveling with a great photographer in a couple of recent trips and have realized the power of a good eye. And the power of having nice photos of yourself.
Previously, I tried taking the photos of my trips myself and, although a good camera, a drone and a GoPro certainly help, nothing beats a good eye. If you don’t have a photographer friend like me, try out Flytographer.
They specialize in travel and special occasions and will offer 30min and 1 sessions to take photos of you or your beloved ones in nice settings. For example, I am getting this for my mum and sister this Christmas so we will head to Parc Guell and take some photos with the backdrop of the pretty mosaics and architecture of Gaudi. I can’t wait!
What better gift than that of great memories? This is the ultimate Christmas gift for the family.
2. A voucher from a Luxury Travel Club
There are lots of discount sites for luxury hotels. They usually work on membership, but access is free. The maths are simple. Even the most expensive of resorts have extra inventory that they might be willing to sell off last minute with generous discounts but they cannot do this on their own sites because that would damage their brand image so they choose to do it via these channels. I wrote a round-up of the best discount sites before and, last year, my friend (the same who I buy Christmas presents for and who motivated this post) asked me what to buy his parents. eventually, he settled for a voucher from one of these. You can choose the value and the recipient can book whatever destination they want. This is a great way to buy someone travel with the flexibility of a wide array of options and the knowledge that they are getting a good price. If they don’t want to book a flash sale, some of these, like The Luxe Nomad, will also offer regular bookings. As these sites tend to be focused on specific regions, best you settle the large area of interest of the person you re buying off first. JetSetter is more of an Americas + Europe portal. The Luxe Nomad is primarily Asia. Splendia and Secret Escapes are mostly focused on Europe. Voyage Prive is a holiday site ore than a hotel booking website. Lastly, True Luxury Travel is the gateway to Africa
3. Bose Noise canceling headset
There is no better way to ensure a sound flight than to get the one and only, the most popular, noise canceling headset: Bose.
It is the ones most frequent travelers swear by. Forget about crying babies, loud passengers, annoying cabin crew or terrible airline headsets through which you can’t even hear the movie, these are your passport to good night sleep. They even come with their own traveling case and can be folded to take less space.
4. Louise Vuitton City Guides
There are many travel guides out there but Louise Vuitton promises to show you the hidden and best places. Covering 21 city destinations they are the perfect gift for that jet setter friend who regularly spends the weekends between Tokyo, London and New York. Get them from any Louise Vuitton store
5. DJI Camera Drone – Phantom 4
I got my DJI Phantom 2 Visio Plus drone a while back and it is one of the most incredible photo and video taking items I have ever got. I even wrote a review for it. But then came the Phantom 3, which I also bought, and the Plantom 4 which I currently use, and I am addicted to these. If you have a friend that is a bit geeky, who loves to play video games (just because he will already be half way there in terms of learning to fly it) or who loves to see places from a different perspective, this is the item you should buy. The Phantom 4 is made for dummies like me. It is easier to fly, more stable and it avoids objects when it comes back. It can even follow you around. I have crashed it many times and it has survived even water, which damaged a battery irreparably but left the main drone body in perfect condition still. Fair to asy it is a pretty resilient piece of equipment. The DJI Phantom 4 starts at $999 on Amazon.[/easyazon_link] Remember to buy an extra battery and extra set of propellers, trust me on this one. The extra battery is almost essential as you only get about 20min flying time each and the propellers are necessary because your loved one will crash it, and most likely the propellers will be damaged even if the drone is not. The Phantom 4 comes in a handy grey box with a handle for traveling so you may not need a backpack.
If your friend is more of an amateur photographer, you should consider the DJI Mavic, a much smaller drone from DJI. Much easier to carry as it is of a significantly smaller size, so the receiver of your gift will be able to make the most of it but with a slightly lower quality of image that should bear no difference for your loved one.
6. Scarf with pockets
I, like you, also get a bit squeamish about putting my handbag up into the overhead compartment when I fly. The trip may be long, I will try to catch some sleep and who knows where my wallet and other belongings may end up. This stylish, warm and smart scarf will solve this problem. under the layers of pretty fabric hides a pocket. Get yours from $55 from Speakeasy
7. GoPro dome for stunning under and over water photography
Ever wondered how all those awesome shots with a fisherman on his boat and the fish swimming under water where taken? It is not the magic of a photographer but the right accessory, For the GoPro all you need is to get a Dome Port and you are sorted.
8. A Tumi carry-on bag
My trusty Tumi has followed me around the world several times. I used to take it with me on every trip, every single week, for a decade and it is still my most precious and most valuable carry-on. I drag it down the stairs, up the stairs, through rain, snow, gravel, dust, desert, heat. It has gone on countless trips, I reckon over 2,000 and it is still in great shape. In the same time and with much lower frequency, I have had several larger suitcases but none gets anywhere near my Tumi. If you want a truly resistant and durable suitcase that is also stylish and modern, ultra-frequent travelers carry Tumi. Trust me. The most popular and one of the first models, the expandable Tumi Alpha is a fantastic travel partner. I have the hard case one because I like that it can literally be wiped off the many customs control stickers.
9. A refined of Hunter wellington boots
Because you have to keep warm in the winter and on the snow but you don’t have to look unfashionable. Hunter’s printed snow and rain wellies are making a come back in nice floral prints. The snow boots are more fashionable than the plastic shiny ones your grandma used to wear but with all the waterproof warmth of the original ones. Don’t forget to add a pair of high socks to keep those toes toasty.
10. Something unique from a crowdsourcing site
Last year I bought my friend a carry on suitcase that, although it wasn’t Tumi, it included a charger and a GPS among other things. The truth is that, even if was not going to be the best carry on ever, I knew he would be interested, even curious, to find out how it would stack up to his trusted leathery safari weekend bag and his expandable classic Tumi. The idea of an incorporated charger and a GPS to make sure it would never get lost, were added ideas that inspired us. It would be great if they worked out. Most importantly, I bought it on Kickstarter.
I find that the gifts one buys from the crowdsourcing platform can be both unique and helpful to great innovation ideas. So there is an added benefit of helping someone else make their dreams come true while getting a wonderful gift out of it. And, as yet another bonus, we could follow the production and design through.
The downside of buying off a Kickstarter campaign is precisely that: no time commitment so don’t buy this for someone who is impatient but someone who will appreciate partaking in something bigger. You will find thousands of ideas on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdsourcing sites for specific types of projects.
11. The Way of Wanderlust, Don George’s anthology book
Pioneering travel writer Don George has just published his last book, The way of wanderlust. In his own words “This anthology of my best travel stories and essays is a culmination, completion and rounding of my career to date”.
For those less familiar with his background, Don can be considered the father of travel writing. Editor and author os Lonely Planet’s Travel Writing book, Don is an extremely humble and inspirational person. I recently attended a Travel Blogger’s conference in Bangkok where he gave a two-day writing course and a few other shorter talks and I found him a kind and fascinating person. This is a book I will be buying for me and for my dearest travel passionate friends
12. Grid-It cable and gadget organizer
I think this is a great and necessary gift for anyone who travels. Although relatively cheap it is a genius companion for your traveling plans. I am tired of having cables getting messed up around my handbag and I can never find the right one. Grid-It is the solution for packing up in a tidy manner, all your travel cables and chargers. Result! And it only costs $12,99
13. Iridium Go! Satellite Hotspot
On top of a mountain in Iran and looking to post that amazing photo you just took of an incredibly beautiful peak, powder snow and absolutely nobody in sight? Ok, let’s bring this to a more realistic use. Do you want to feel safe when trekking in the middle of nowhere through access to all your apps as well as voice and SMS?
Even in the developed world, some remote parts have no mobile signal. Iridium Go!, from the Satellite owner and operator Iridium, is a portable WiFi hotspot that connects you to the world through a satellite connection. As long as you have direct line of sight to a satellite, which you will have if you are anywhere outdoors and without anything blocking you, you can get internet. It won’t come cheap. The Iridium Go! hotspot is $799 on Amazon but it will ensure that you are covered in case of any emergency when completely disconnected. Ideal for that friend who thinks that he is James Bond. I bet the international bad boy has one of these in his toolbox.
14. Curated boxes by Quarterly
Whether you travel or not everybody likes receiving surprise boxes full of goodies. Quarterly does just that. Their team of curators will send you a box on a quarterly basis filled with wonderful things from around the world.
Their model is personal and personable. You choose a curator and then receive the boxes that he or she curates every month, so you need to choose a person that you find interesting and that may share the same interests of the person you are gifting this to. Or maybe someone who is completely different to open them up to a new world. The subscriptions are charged quarterly and there is a small fee for international shipping. You may stop the subscription at any time. Subscription values tend to converge around $100 but they have some for a lower amount.
15. Name a star
The International Star Registry offers you the quirkiest or perhaps cheesiest git every, naming a star. You can name it your child’s name, your spouses or your combined names for as little as $54. It is a very affordable yet pretty impressive gift. You can always spend your evenings trying to locate the star.
16. National Geographic donation
The National Geographic Society works with presence on the ground to support conservation efforts across the globe and it is entirely financed by the subscription and the sales on their store, plus donations from people. You may make a donation on behalf of someone else for whom the society’s mission may be valuable and they make it rally easy. National Geographic will even send a letter on your behalf to the person you are donating on behalf of.
17. A trip of a lifetime
Of course, not everyone can afford a trip of a lifetime but, as a travel blogger and all time ultra-frequent traveler, I always tell my friends I am really easy to please: buy me a trip! There are many things money can’t buy and, although I do not believe that money brings happiness, it goes a long way to organising the trip of a lifetime. If money is no object, I could give you an endless list of experiences worth paying for from a safari in Africa to a trip to Antarctica, a cruise to the Arctic, the train journey of a lifetime onboard the Luxurious Maharaja’s Express through Rajasthan on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian. The list is endless. And for all budgets. Need help with great ideas? Drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
18. A photography course
Every traveler wishes he or she would be able to capture the beauty of the moments lived. But sometimes, we just are not good enough. A photography course, available in pretty much every city, is a great way to help someone improve. Bonus: every time you travel together you, too, will have great memories.
If you do not know where to get started, check out National Geographic photo expeditions, they are obviously, fantastic!
19. Rediscover your own city With Context Travel
I realised that, although I lived in Singapore for almost 5 years there is plenty I have yet to see as I only really explore my ow city as a tourist when I have visitors and, well, Singapore is very far from Spain! A great way to re-discover your own city is on an expert tour.
If you are looking for something a bit more modest than a trip of a lifetime, you can also buy an experience from Context Travel. Context offers tours for the intellectually curious ranging from a tour of the wall of Berlin with a Historian to an architecture tour of New York city including Cloisters and Medieval Art or a Food tour of Shanghai. All of their tours include a scholar in the subject, be it a Doctor, an Architect, a Historian, an Anthropologist or even an Archeologist.
20. Save nature, save the planet
A few years ago, as I was living in Singapore, the sky became grey with the smoke blown into the country from the burning fires in Sumatra and Kalimatan, in Indonesia. The smoke, generated by the burning fires used to clear the jungle for palm oil, filled the air, making it impossible to breath. At the peak, we were told to stay at home and the Government declared the state of emergency. I found myself sealing the doors and windows with towels to prevent the particles from entering our home. I sadly became acquainted with the reality of development, corruption and political incompetence in Indonesia.
Since then, that reality has not only persisted, it has worsened. As Singapore faced the second month of ongoing haze that reached “Very unhealthy” levels, forcing us all to stay indoors, I felt like I had to do something. Consumers are, after all, the only ones who can do something. If we stopped palm oil consumption, we would send a strong signal to the brands fuelling this crisis. Through my research I came across a few organizations working hard under inhumane conditions to save as many orang utans as possible from the flames as their homes disappear under the fires. These organizations are overwhelmed and lacking in resources. I cannot think of a better gift this season than a donation to these organizations. The Rainforest Action Network allows you to become a member or make a one-off donation. If we burn down their habitat, the poor orang utans will burn down too and extinguish with our planet.
Do you want to know what this is all about? Watch this video