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What to get your traveler this holiday season?

It’s that time of year again. Black Friday is just around the corner and if you have a traveler on your list, you’ll be looking for some gifts to make their traveling days a little easier and more enjoyable. Of course, if you’ll be on the road this holiday season, you may find some gifts for yourself. You know how it goes…one for them, one for you, one for them, one for you…

Malcolm and I use most of the products in this gift guide, so you can consider them road-tested. Those we haven’t used yet are on our holiday list (hint, hint!).

Travel Tray by Tom Bihn

Tom BihnThis is the best travel tray in the world! It’s a pop-up bag with a draw-string top and can be squeezed into cracks and crevices in your luggage. I usually pack cosmetics in mine. When I get to my destination, it becomes a catchall for those little things that tend to get misplaced in hotel rooms: keys, pens, lip balm, chargers, etc.

Another way to use it is to store your TSA 3-1-1 bag in it, then as you go through security, place your cell phone, wallet, change, and all those other loose things that need to be corralled to make it safely to the other side.

Need a place to keep snacks on the way? Need a lunch sack at your destination? Travel tray to the rescue.

It’s 4.5″ deep as shown here, but doubles its storage when you flip up the sides and use the drawstring to close it. Made of Dyneema® nylon, it’s as light as can be, holds an amazing amount, and comes in a variety of colors. At $25, you can’t go wrong with this multi-purpose travel accessory.

Belkin Surge-Plus USB Swivel Charger

Belkin Surge ProtectorMost travelers are pretty well wired these days, and multiple devices need to be charged at the same time, often in hotel rooms with limited outlets. Enter the Belkin Surge-Plus USB Swivel Charger. This device has many appealing features, the main one being that it can be inserted vertically, or switched to horizontal to fit in tight, narrow spaces. No more being able to use only one half of an outlet!

With 3 AC outlets and two USB ports, there’s ample opportunity to keep all your electronic devices charged and humming along nicely. And Belkin will repair or replace any equipment damaged by a surge, spike, or lightening strike while properly connected to the surge protector … up to $75,000 that is. What’s not to like about that? The price is $29.99.

SCOTTeVEST 24-Pocket Travel Vest

SCOTTeVESTThis is the ultimate travel vest! Check out the x-ray view to the left. Available in men’s and women’s sizes and with or without RFID protection, the vest is perfect for travelers. Why? Clothing doesn’t count as luggage! So the SCOTTeVEST is your ticket to traveling with just carry-on luggage. Just pack it with the things that don’t fit in your suitcase!

With special pockets for iPads, phones, water bottles, sunglasses, and travel documents (not to mention 19 other pockets!), you can load the vest up as you go through security, knowing that everything is in one location and nothing will be lost. The vest is exceptionally well made and is designed to hold numerous objects without turning you into the Pillsbury Doughboy like so many other travel vests do. It’s made of a lightweight fabric, so it’s not too warm, and it blocks the wind nicely. It’s protected with Teflon®, so spills just run off, and it’s machine washable.

I love SCOTTeVESTs so much, I have two vests, a jacket with zip-off sleeves (the ultimate for one-bag travel!), and a fleece hoodie. I load my vest up for travel, then unpack and re-load with lenses and camera accessories when I’m out shooting. Even with 3 lenses in the pockets, I still keep my girlish figure. It’s an amazing piece of apparel. Prices start around $125.

The Naturally Healthy Traveler

Naturally Healthy TravelerIf you want a no-nonsense book  on how to stay healthy while traveling—and what to do if you don’t—this is your book. Written by Susan Kramer, one of the leading therapeutic herbalists in the US, the book details how to prevent and deal with ailments like altitude sickness, bites, blisters, constipation, diarrhea, foot problems, jet lag, motion sickness, parasites, stiffness, and more.

The Naturally Healthy Traveler tells you how to locate and use remedies from online sites, health food stores, groceries, kitchens, the wilderness and even your own backyard. It’s packed with helpful information you will use again and again, and is the perfect companion for business, holiday, adventure, and armchair travel.

In addition, the book includes information on making your own travel kit and some helpful phrases in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese should you need to communicate with a medical professional during your trip. Available for Kindle or in paperback, both for less than $10.

Evernote and Moleskine: High Tech Note Taking for Those On the Go

MoleskineEvernote. If you’re not familiar with Evernote, it’s an app for your smartphone, tablet, computer—and now the world-famous Moleskine notebook. It serves as a place to keep notes and to-do lists, set goals, clip web pages, and more. Evernote syncs automatically across all your devices and across all operating systems, so your information is available anyplace you have web access.

This new Evernote Smart Notebook uses Evernote’s Page Camera feature to capture the pages of your notebook with your smartphone or tablet so you can keep your digital and analog work spaces synced.

Now you can write, sketch, or draw your thoughts and observations on the pages as you travel, then save them, search them, and share them with your friends and family back home. $24.95 for the 3.5×5″ size or $29.95 for the 5×8.25″ version.

Don’t need a high tech solution? Moleskine has notebooks of all sizes, shapes, and colors so you can find the ones that are just right for the traveler on your shopping list.

Travel Size Wet Wipes

TravelWipesAirport-security and carry-on friendly, these biodegradable and compostable wet wipes are so convenient, you’ll want to carry them with you even when you’re not traveling. And speaking of healthy, these wipes are free of parabens, sulfates, triclosan, dyes, and artificial fragrances, so even people with chemical sensitivity can use them.

What do you need to wipe? Whatever it is, La Fresh probably makes something for you. Their best sellers are:

  • Make-up remover wipes
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Insect repellent wipes
  • SPF 30 sunscreen wipes
  • Antiperspirant wipes
  • Shoe shine wipes
  • Nail polish remover wipes

I love the make-up remover wipes, and I’ve just added the sunscreen wipes to my kit. Individually-packaged wraps come in sets of 48 for about $20. A sampler pack including one of each of the above is available for $4.95. Think of all the room you’ll have in your TSA 3-1-1 bag now!

Scratch Your Way Around the World

Scratch MapThis 23×32” scratch-off-where-you’ve-been map charts globetrotting in a fun, colorful, and innovative way. Scratch off the countries you’ve visited to reveal adventurous pops of color that turn traveling into a treasure hunt of on-the-fly geography lessons. Add stickers for those countries on your “must go” list. Filling in your map is a fun way to remember your journeys—just be sure to keep a coin handy for easy scratching! Available for $20.

Or upgrade to the deluxe version for $31.95. The deluxe version features topographical markings, showing the mountain ranges and oceanic ridges that add variety to our world. It also has a row of infographics along its lower edge with interesting facts about world geography.

Either map makes a fun, decorative gift for world travelers and armchair travelers alike. This map is on my personal wish list.

A Spare Battery for the Road

Anker Astro Mini BatteryEvery road warrior needs extra battery life along the way. Anker is one of the top makers of external batteries, and they offer a wide range of them. We find the Anker Astro Mini 3200mAh External Battery sufficient for our needs.

Anker says this battery provides a full charge…that’s up to 9 hours of talk time on an iPhone or more than 90 hours of audio playback on most other phones. I charged my iPhone from 12% to 98% in about an hour, and had enough juice left for another charge.

This palm-sized charging station is only 3.7″ long and less than 1 inch in diameter. And at only 2.8 oz., it doesn’t weigh you down. You can choose from five colors.

At $19.99, this charger is compatible with all Apple and Android smartphones, tablets and other USB-charged devices.

Retrospective® Think Tank Camera Bag

Think Tank Camera BagWhen Malcolm saw this Retrospective® camera bag at the Book Passage Travel Writer’s and Photographer’s Conference this year, he added it to his list of travel must-haves.

One thing you don’t want to do when you’re on the move with professional-quality camera gear is to advertise what’s in the bag. This inconspicuous, messenger-style bag— available in pinestone, black, or blue slate—helps photographers blend in with the crowd. It fits a standard DSLR with 1–3 lenses or a complete Micro Four-Thirds or rangefinder camera system. All the dividers inside the bag are removable so the interior can be customized to any photographer’s set of gear, and there is extra space for accessories.

Sturdy hook-and-loop panels keep the main flap of the bag in place and your camera gear secure. However, if you need to move into stealth mode, special “sound silencers” under the main flap allow you to cover the hook-and-loop so you can open the bag without the loud tearing sound of Velcro-type closures.

The bag comes in four sizes, so you can find a fit for any gear you might want to take on the road. Prices range from $144.75 to $174.75.

Of course, there are are a lot more gifts that travelers would love. What’s on your holiday wish list?

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