With Christmas fast approaching, have you finished your gift list, checked it twice and finished your shopping? Or do you still have some presents to buy? If you need ideas for what to get for folks who travel a lot for pleasure or business, a "gift of go" can be the perfect solution.
Shopping is convenient, no further away than your telephone or computer. Whether scratching your head about what to buy for someone who visits a different Caribbean island every winter or for Aunt Matilda who’s planning a trip to Europe next spring, the selection is long and varied.
If you can’t decide what makes the best present, a gift certificate is a welcome alternative. Or you may prefer to peruse catalogues or websites of companies that specialize in items that make travel more convenient, comfortable or safe.
Magellan’s claims to be "Your Trusted Source for Travel Supplies," and the company comes up with a number of nifty ideas. Luggage scales (analog $12.50, digital $25) can quickly pay for themselves by avoiding overweight airline baggage fees. An inflatable Back Buddy Pillow ($28) provides comfy lower back support in otherwise uncomfy airplane seats, as well as on a train, in a car and even at home.
Security-conscious travelers may opt for a Cash Safe Belt ($16) which protects paper money in a hidden zippered pocket. More protection is provided by VaultPro tote bags ($50-$90) made of slash-proof mesh with a cut-resistant carrying strap and locking zippers. There’s even high-tech protection against cyber identity thieves who scan credit card chips remotely to steal the data they contain. For more information or to order a catalog, call (800) 962-4943.or log onto magellans.com.
Safety also is the goal of some merchandise sold by TravelSmith Outfitters. It covers all aspects of trips from packing to in-flight and hotel comfort. A set of four transparent Smart Pouches ($29) is transparent for easy viewing and made with a spill-proof lining. They’re great for organizing and packing shoes, soiled or damp articles, toiletries and any number of other things.
In the safety line, the imaginative Travelon Garment Hideaway ($25) offers a place to conceal valuables where would-be thieves are least likely to look. Styled to resemble a woman’s tank top, the ersatz garment has eight concealed pockets for hiding jewelry, documents and other things you don’t want to lose. For more information, call (800) 770-3387or log onto travelsmith.com.
Eddie Bauer has been selling quality outdoor clothing since it was established in 1920, and it’s still the go-to place preferred by many outdoor lovers and travelers. With winter here, the choice of fleece jackets, coats, pants and other outer wear for men and women offers something-for-everyone variety. Light weight, quick drying fabrics combine warmth with ease of packing, perfect for family or friends heading for colder destinations.
Women’s zipper jackets with handwarmer pockets ($79.95-$89.95) are designed to provide an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. On the other hand, items like zip pullover jackets ($39.95-$49.95) are designed to offer what the company describes as "exceptional price-to-warmth ratio." For more information call (800) 426-8020 or log onto eddiebauer.com.
Orvis makes gift giving convenient. Among choices on its website are links to pages listing presents for men, women, fly fisherman and even dogs. What frequent traveler wouldn’t welcome a 12-in-1 Multi-Flashlight ($25) that casts a super bright beam and includes two screwdrivers, two knives, a can opener, scissors and other attachments?
A four-dial Brass Word Lock ($12) replaces the usual number combination with an easy-to-remember word that is set by the user. At the higher end of the price spectrum is a compact Bushnell Backtrack GPS ($89) that guides people back to their starting point whether they’re driving, riding a bike or walking in the woods. For more information call (800) 541-3541 or log onto orvis.com.
Sharper Image promises "Gadgets Galore" on its website, and lives up to that pledge. A miniscule, light weight Travel Razor ($39.99), which is smaller than a smart phone, charges from a computer and provides 30 minutes of shave time when at full power. A multi-voltage four-port Universal Charger (also $39.99) allows four devices to get juiced up at the same time, and (the catalog claims) "works in over 150 countries."
Light sleepers should welcome a Travel Sound Machine ($89.99) that offers 17 soothing sound options which drown out unwanted noise. Among choices are pleasant sounds of ocean waves, rain and a gentle brook. For more information call (877) 363-9984 or log onto sharperimage.com.
Anyone heading for a country where they don’t speak the language is sure to get a lot of use out of an electronic translator. Franklin Electronic Publishers offers an array of compact, lightweight devices ranging in price from a basic Spanish-to-English model ($9.99) to a deluxe 17-language translator ($179.99) that includes both the major languages plus some that are less widely spoken like Korean, Farsi and Hindi. The words and phrases are both displayed on the screen and spoken, and it’s even possible to enter some words and expressions into the database that the traveler expects to need. For more information call (800) 266-5626 or log onto franklin.com.
Then there’s Hammacher Schlemmer, which has been selling "the unexpected for 165 years." That company’s annual holiday gift catalog is fun to peruse even if you have no intention of ordering, for both its product claims and some items themselves. For example, "The World’s Smallest Automatic Umbrella" ($34.95) measures only 8 inches when closed, small enough to fit in many purses and pockets. How have your traveling relatives and friends lived so long without a Flat Fold Travel Mirror ($49.95) which expands from 1½-inches thick when closed to a height of 16 inches? It has 1X and 10X magnification for both close-up and full-face viewing, and each mirror is surrounded by a fluorescent light.
The traveler who uses the Power Nap Head Pillow ($99.95) to catch 40 winks on an airplane, in an airport or elsewhere appears to have a pumpkin on his head. The cocoon-like head rest is designed to block out both sound and light, while leaving an opening for the nose and mouth. The soft cushion collapses for easy packing. The question is whether the opportunity to get some sleep is worth the risk of attracting attention, and perhaps guffaws, from fellow passengers or passers-by. For more information call (800) 543-3366 or log onto hammacher.com. FP
Victor Block is a nationally published travel writer.