’tis the season…for gift guides. Last year I promised myself that I wouldn’t feel compelled to hop on the bandwagon unless I felt I had something to contribute and some strong recommendations. So here’s the first of only two courses I’m serving up this year. 🙂 Yes, my gift suggestions tend to skew toward the practical. I enjoy giving (and receiving) gifts that will be used rather than sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
If there’s a “frequent flyer” on your gift list, I’ve selected a few travel gifts that either I’ve either come to rely on myself, or have been recommended by people I trust. Some of these have been mentioned here before, but I thought they were worth revisiting in the context of gift ideas.
Long gone are the days of porters and free checked bags. Most people today want to travel lighter and smarter, and all of these products support that goal. Most of the items shown above are under $100.
- These little fillable travel atomizers are great for bringing a favorite fragrance along, and can be filled even from another spray bottle. At $6 each, they make great stocking stuffers.
- Oh packing cubes, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…organizing, compressing, keeping clean and dirty separate, making re-packing in between destinations a breeze. One friend buys a different color set for each member of the family when they all travel together to help everyone find their own things easily in shared spaces. For shirts and items that need to be folded, the packing envelopes work brilliantly to prevent wrinkles.
- Friends and other travelers rave about these Uniqlo packable down pieces. I’ve shown a water-resistant hooded coat here, but there are also shorter jackets and vests too. They all pack down into a small pouch, and layer well.
- The EMME bag is hands down the best travel toiletries kit I’ve ever found. Nothing else comes close. It’s compact but holds a LOT, and that clear zip-off liquids pouch is the TSA-approved size and makes going through airport security just that much less stressful. I love that this bag hangs (helps save often limited counter space) and the clear pockets eliminate digging blindly around for your tweezers. It also comes with a set of travel containers in various sizes with labels.The EMME bag is available both at amazon here and Brookstone here. You can see how i packed my EMME bag for three weeks in Europe here.
- For that person who has not yet succumbed to a tablet, an e-reader is such a boon to traveling light. You can download not only books but magazines, guides and periodicals. I use a Kindle app on my iPad now, but before that used and loved my Kindle reader.
- I’ve used this Lipault 19″ Weekender bag as my “personal item” on the last few trips, and remain delighted with it. Huge capacity, but even when full it still fits under the seat. There’s a laptop sleeve that easily accommodates my 13″ laptop, and the smaller front pocket is an easy place to stash travel documents. The flap on the back slides over the handle of my wheeled luggage, and zips snugly in place. I’ve also used it as a primary piece of luggage for long weekend road trips.
A few more ideas:
- Travel makeup brush sets. These are plentiful this time of year, and are often good values. I think this one from Lancôme includes all of the brushes most of us would need, at a very good price.
- Cashmere scarves and wraps. For cold airplanes, or to add some color and pattern to a neutral travel wardrobe. Even in summer I travel with a lightweight cashmere scarf.
- Portable phone chargers. Never again run out of juice when you’re just about to snap that photo of a lifetime.
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I had the uniqlo pack able down last year. The problem for me was that there is no storm flap or flap at the top of the zipper, so it irritates my chin and neck. I traded up to the lands end coat featured in another blog post.
I like the Lands End packable primaloft coats and jackets. Though I like the Lipault weekender I prefer the City Tote as my personal item. I carry my EMME bag, the small ebags (leopard print!) cube, a water bottle and a pashmina in the tote. The cube holds my Kindle and all the small stuff I want while flying. I pull it out on the plane and put the tote under the seat. The Lipault 19-inch two-wheeler is my new favorite carryon
I really like the Lipault range. The bag you mention is great, and I also like the totes which have a top zip closure (so many are open, makes no sense to me as things can get wet, plus an open invitation to pickpockets)
Great ideas! My daughter is an inveterate world traveler and could use that Emme organizer. I’d like one as well. My loyal Hartmanns are getting wonky so I’ll check out that Lipault weekender too. Thanks!
I love Lipault and the packing cubes are marvelous! During one of your trips you took your EF black jacket and I would love to know how you packed it. Whenever I’ve traveled with that same jacket, the wrinkles were difficult to deal with, so I just stopped taking it altogether. I’d be grateful if you’d share your expertise on this one.
Second your recommendations! I just returned from two weeks in Northern Europe. I bought the black & white houndstooth Lands’ End coat specifically for this trip, since I knew the weather would be cold. The coat is long enough to cover longer tops, packs up small, and has a removable hood. I layered underneath, and was comfortably warm the whole time.
I was not convinced I would like the packing cubes, so borrowed a set from a friend. They were great! Especially since we stayed in seven different cities on this trip, they made the packing & organizing much easier. I am ordering a set for myself, just need to decide which sizes.
I also have a couple of the travel atomizers; important to be able to refill from a spray bottle, since almost all my perfumes DON’T have a screw-off top for decanting into an atomizer. Thinking I may check our your toiletry bag…bought a new one recently, but it seems a little small and not as functional as I had hoped.
My next big travel purchase will be a new big suitcase. I had bought my husband a Briggs & Riley carryon size since he travels so much for work. He loves it! So now I want a bigger one that will work for a two week trip in cold weather…I can’t travel carryon like you do!
Consider the ebags slim packing cubes. I have a set of the slim cubes and a set with the small, medium and large. The slim cubes measure in at 14″ x 5″ x 2.75″ and I find I use them more often because they hold much more than I expected and are also a better fit in my 19-inch carry-on bag, It looks like all ebags cubes are on sale at ebags.com for the next three days – slim cubes for $15.99, regular cubes for $17.99, other options available too.
The value set is on sale too – $39.98 for the small/medium/large PLUS three slim cubes. Enough to gift!
Just back from Barcelona and once again, the Emme bag was superb! We had nice large hooks in the ultra modern bathroom, the bag just hung there for five days, and always so accessible! I’m still working on just the right combination of suitcase and carry-on and will have to do a post when I get my ideas together! Thanks for these great suggestions.
I like these choices and opted for the cubes on my last trip. I love opening a bag and not seeing a “messy drawer” and needing to feel around for what I want (I never unpack into hotel drawers – perish the thought). I use the LL Bean hanging travel cosmetic bag. I would humbly offer that it might be preferable to the Emme bag for the fact that clear plastic most likely does not have the life span of the mesh and fabric of the LL Bean one, especially when the latter can be tossed into the washing machine to rinse out the toner that leaks all over it due to operator error in an under-screwed cap (which perhaps actually happened). The clear plastic might break apart over time and clear plastic ‘pouches’ don’t age well, in my experience. The LL Bean one also has a hook and a hooked mesh section that can be pulled out and hung in the shower with essentials. And it comes in three sizes!
The atomizer is a great idea and a great price. I have been using the sample ones that you get at the perfume counter. I can easily spray my favorite perfume into them (having watched closely as one was made for me).
Interesting that the recent scarf I purchased at Nordstrom didn’t show up in the selection. I wonder how they filter them. It’s still available, in many colors. It pays to add an extra search for specifics, i.e. cashmere scarf, silk, etc.
OMG, you are so organized and have such good ideas. I was away recently for about to weeks. I think I ten times the makeup you brought. I need to whittle this stuff down. My luggage is way to heavy and I’m taking way too much. I need an intervention! The ladies above all sound like they have it together. I don’t. I’ve got the Emme bag but have not put in the time to figure out where eveything goes. But after this lat fiasco….
I just want to mention that with the recent popularity of down comes news that much down is harvested inhumanely, i.e. by plucking live birds. I don’t know if Uniqlo’s down is “cruelty-free” (from birds killed for meat) but if this matters to you and/or your readers, this is what you need to ask companies in order to find out what they sell. The more consumers ask, the more apt companies are to demand cruelty-free down fill.