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Holiday Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life

I’m not big on gifts–either for birthdays or holidays. As I travel around I pick up some small gifts for people because I think they’ll enjoy them. Gift buying doesn’t revolve around any specific days. As I have some friends who enjoy traveling, I should think about gifts I can get them for their next trip.

There’s more than just gadgets that travelers need to get around–most travelers already have a decent camera and smartphone with all the necessary free apps. Low-tech products are still the most versatile items to bring on short or long journeys.

As you search online for gifts, be sure to check offers through your airline miles’ website–you can multiply the purchase amount for your own travel benefits.

I’ve compiled a list of products that I either already own or that are on my wish list (hint, hint).

Get some rest with a travel pillow

I noticed the Cabeau Evolution travel neck pillows at the airport awhile back, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money. I gave in on my way home in November (it was even on sale at the airport!). I had hoped to find it in a store, but never did. There are two versions of this pillow–I originally bought the memory foam pillow and found the high neck pads helped me sleep. It also tightens enough to prevent your head from falling forward like with other pillows.Cabeau Evolution pillow

There’s another version called the Evolution Cool pillow, which is more expensive. Unlike the original Evolution pillow, the cool pillow doesn’t overheat your neck. I had to take the pillow off a few times during my trans-Pacific flight because it was so hot.

cabeau evolution pillow

Now that’s compact

The best part about these travel neck pillows is that they can be scrunched up into a small bag to fit in your backpack. Of course, you could always tie it around the outside of your backpack too. Either way, this makes storage easy for when you’re not traveling.

A different kind of light reading

I love my Kindle. Alright, my mom gave me hers before I set out a few years ago, but it’s now basically mine. I love reading, but I don’t want to lug around tons of books wherever I go, so this was the best option. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to read classic literature that I missed out on during my education (Project Gutenberg has a ton of free books as does Amazon).

I still use the first generation Kindle. If it still works, why replace it? I have seen newer ones that have a similar size screen but a smaller overall body for even lighter travel. These are especially good for anyone who takes public transportation to and from work–I used to read a lot on the trains around Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei.

Alternatively, you could purchase some ebooks for someone who already has a Kindle–travel guides and history books make great gifts. I’d also recommend books by Laird Hunt and Haruki Murakami.

Enjoy a quieter flight

I need to earn more money and buy this for myself. Bose QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones are amazing. I tried them out at Costco. The store was busy and noisy and these headphones eliminated almost all the noise. They’re also very comfortable to wear, so I might be able to sleep with them on in combination with my Cabeau Evolution pillow. Most importantly, they eliminated more noise than my reusable earplugs that I’ve used on numerous flights to this point (I still find airplane noise too much with them in).

World wines shipped to you

You could splurge on some wine. It’s a great gift that you could share with the recipient. If you have MileagePlus with United like I do, you could earn more miles by shopping at a few of the online wine shops and having it shipped to someone’s door. I recently did this for my mother’s birthday (I wasn’t expecting the package to arrive in two days, so it arrived a bit early). I would definitely recommend shopping at wine.com as the selection and prices were good. They also included a free bottle in with the three that I ordered (I have a feeling it was a holiday promotion).

Lucky wine

Everyone loves free wine

Screw shopping, let’s get a beer!

Sometimes the person on your list just doesn’t need anything. But that same person could always use a good beer. A great option of the beer lover on your holiday list is Dogfish Head’s new beer called Beer for Breakfast. This is Dogfish Head’s beer to rival Founders Breakfast Stout. This a rich stout with an even flavor of coffee, roasted malt, and chicory. There’s even a bit of maple syrup and scrapple in the brew.

dogfish head beer for breakfast

Courtesy Dogfish Head website

There are more beers that you could buy, which I’ve written about before. Or you could just buy a variety pack to make everyone happy.

There are plenty more gift ideas for travelers, but these are some of my favorites. Of course, you could just buy an plane ticket or an upgrade for you favorite traveler (I also accept travel lounge memberships).

What’s are your recommendations for gifts for travelers?

8 Beers of Christmas

I present to you the 12 8 beers of Christmas. For the beer lovers on your list, here is a list of some brews that you can pick up for last-minute gifts. These beers will certainly keep everyone warm while it snows (certainly better than shoveling the snow, right?). Many of these beers can also be found in large single bottles, which are great for sharing. Some of these beers have a shelf-life of a year (higher alcohol beers last longer).

Left Hand Fade to Black Vol. 4

fadetoblackThe fourth annual installment of Left Hand’s Fade to Black series doesn’t disappoint. It’s an American black ale. There’s a slight citrus flavor and strong hops. The variety of malts includes dark chocolate, which adds to the bitterness. This is a limited release beer, so pick up a six-pack soon or wait for next year’s recipe, which will be different.

Ballast Point Victory at Sea

My friend and I agree that this is definitely one of our top 5 beers–it has a rating of 96/100 on Beer Advocate. This is a coffee vanilla imperial porter from the San Diego brewery. It’s very smooth and well balanced. Let this one warm up a bit before sipping slowly, then enjoy the victory.

Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog

I’ve written about this beer before. It’s still one of my top 10 beers, and the best brown ale I’ve had.

troegs beer

Troegs Impending Descent at Barcade in Jersey City

Tröegs ¿Impending Descent?

I just tried this beer at Barcade in Jersey City on Friday night–funny that it was brewed to celebrate the end of Mayan calendar. This is a limited edition beer, and it is amazing. It is the strongest beer on this list at 10.9% abv, so be careful with this one. This imperial Russian stout has a complex flavor–there’s a lot of hops and six types of malt, including chocolate and pilsner. There are hints of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla in this bold beer. Drink a few of these and you’ll forget that New Year’s is approaching.

Affligem Noël

This is great selection for a Christmas beer in a big bottle, and it’s the only import on this list. It’s not overly spiced like many others, but has a strong yeast flavor to balance the spices. This might make watching the yule log interesting.affligem noel

Anchor Christmas Ale

From one of the oldest micro-breweries in the US comes my stand-by seasonal beer. Anchor Brewing changes the recipe for this beer every year, but it’s always a solid brew. This year’s beer is dark spiced ale with 5.5% abv. It’s definitely a lighter selection for Christmas beers.

Dogfish Head Chicory Stout

How can you go wrong with a dark beer from Dogfish Head? This is a lighter stout with a strong chicory flavor. This is a beer that I could drink for a whole night.

Great Divide Hades

Might not be the best named beer for Christmas, but it’s still another wonderful brew from Great Divide. This is an Belgian-style ale. It has a strong hoppy flavor balanced by the Belgian yeast. It’s a crisp golden ale, but looks can be deceiving–it still packs a nice punch at 7.8%.

What other beers are on your holiday wish list?

Black Friday

I have a confession to make. I’m a terrible consumer. I hate shopping. Crowds are even worse. Combine all that on Black Friday and I’m ready to run and hide. I typically avoid malls or major stores between today and New Year’s.

You’d think I’d be better with crowds in shopping areas after living in China, but you’d be wrong. I couldn’t stand going to places like Carrefour on weekend afternoons because it reminded me of shopping during the Christmas season. I just wanted to buy what I needed and go home.

Spring Festival shopping crowds in Yu Yuan, Shanghai

Spring Festival shopping crowds in Yu Yuan, Shanghai

I generally don’t even care about receiving gifts. Every now and then I want something, but it’s not often. I wouldn’t mind having a new camera or one of those cool new tablet computers, but they’re not high on my list of priorities. Travel is at the top of my list. Of course, I also appreciate some cool travel accessories (and BootsnAll has some cool suggestions for that–I’m tempted to buy that keychain tripod).

There really are only three worthwhile gifts that help create memories–and all three are in the title of this site. You can’t go wrong with the gift of booze–a nice bottle of scotch or some great microbrews (it’ll help support the American economy, too). Food is another great gift, especially if you’re taking family out for something different. And those family vacations create the best memories, plus they can combined with the food and booze. However, sometimes it’s nice to surprise those special people in your life with plane tickets (hint, hint).

However, there are other gifts besides those three. Art and literature tend to be high on my gift list. It’s always nice to have a good book while taking a long flight or just relaxing in nature. Michael Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay was a good choice when I went to Panama. Guide books and phrase books are also quite helpful.