In the off chance that your travel-crazy friend actually makes it back home for the holidays, here are 10+ useful and pretty affordable gifts to make their travels easier. Check the YouTube video for more details, or read quick-bits below with tips on where to buy items.
1. Multiple time-zone watch. A watch that lets you know local AND homeland time, because it’s hard enough keeping track of time when you’re also keeping track of luggage, money, which direction you’re going, and using a foreign language. Casio makes some really nice, inexpensive ones.
2. Portable and rechargeable battery(ies). There are few things more irritating than being in a foreign land and your phone, tablet, laptop, and/or iPod are dead with no outlets in site. Get a portable, rechargeable battery pack to prevent them from resorting to a payphone (they still make those?)
3. Self-stick. For the independent, solo-traveling, Insta-famous friend. Check out these, or find one at most stores and your local off-price retailer (Ross, Gabes, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Roses, Five Below, etc).
4. Gorilla pod. This small, lightweight, flexible tripod can stand alone or be wrapped around different structures to get shots at multiple angles and can hold 10-pound cameras. These pods by Joby are definitely worth the investment.
BONUS: Throw in a bluetooth photo clicker so your friend isn’t running back and forth, competing with the camera self-timer!
5. Convertible luggage bags (with GPS). Easily go from backpack to roll-on luggage or purse to backpack. Steve Madden and MultiSac make cute, functional backpack-to-purses, while my favorite luggage-to-backpack (carry-on size) is by High Sierra.
BONUS (not in video): Trunkster is a new brand that gained high popularity stemming from its kickstarter project. Their luggage has GPS location tracking, a digital scale, USB ports, and no zippers for extra security. This one is a splurge but very useful!
6. Phone credits / Phone subscription. Switching out SIM cards can be a hassle and it’s hard to get one for a specific country until you’re there. Help your friend by getting them Skype credits, phone cards (oldie but goodie), and MagicJack, which is my absolute favorite. MagicJack ($20-$50 depending on the model, length of subscription, and where you get it) allows you to have your own local US phone number so your friends and family back home can talk to you at no charge; your own voicemail for missed calls when you are away or without WiFi; and ability to use your computer speakers or hook up an actual landline phone to the jack and use it like a real phone. Reliable and easy to use!
7. Waterproof camera or waterproof camera/phone cover. Water and sand look dazzling in photos, but not in the actual camera itself. Keep your smart phone protected with a waterproof case, or put it in a waterproof case-bag. Protect your camera with its own waterproof case or just skip all plastic wrap and get a waterproof digital camera.
8. Vitamins and allergy medicine. W Personal space is not the same everywhere, nor are the rules of hygiene and covering one’s mouth. Keep your friend in tip-top form with yummy vitamins like Emergen-C (especially for friends traveling to Korea–it’s a great gift for teachers) and antihistamines for unforeseen allergic reactions.
9. Scarf. Not only will it keep you warm, it also serves as a: headwrap; impromptu skirt or shawl for places that require you to cover bare arms, legs, and even the chest; beach or picnic blanket; and a germ- or scent-blocker for places that may not smell the best. Almost any average-sized scarf will do (think lighter, summer scarves versus thicker winter scarves).
10. Poo-purri. You can’t bring aerosol cans on the plane, but you also don’t want everyone you’re rooming with to know your bathroom business (nor do you want to be part of theirs). Poo-purri spray coats the toilet water, so anything below it in the bowl gets masked with a pleasant scent.
BONUS: Money. It never fails……ever. Seriously. FOR REAL.