Ed. Note: This time of year we see lots of gift guides, almost always filled entirely with free products that companies sent editors so that they’d be included in their gift guides.
Since all the stuff people offered to send us was rather lousy, we turned to someone who knows how to pick a good gift, my wife. Her gifting has become legendary, and not just because she once kidnapped me for a Tokyo escape on my 30th birthday (but that’s a pretty good example). She finds little things that others ignore, and pulls a package together in ways you can’t always imagine.
So in a move that combines both nepotism and public service, we turned to her for holiday travel gift guide advice. You last-minute shoppers can direct your thanks to her Twitter account.
You’re making a list and checking it twice. Your peeps love to travel and you want to get them something awesome. But you don’t want to get them a passport holder or a yoga mat holder or anything that they will open and say, “Wow. Thanks… This is… Nice.”
So here is our very discerning pick of the best gifts to get people who love to travel.
Have a friend who’s totally stressed out. Give her a $9.95 month long subscription to Dave Romanelli’s “Meditate On.” The meditations are short, not overly New Age and full of Dave’s mellow, surfer vibe. Check out the sample, Meditate On Hawaii.
The New York Oyster Map
Food maps from All You Can Eat Press are limited to New York, but anyone who loves food would appreciate one of these in their stocking. No matter where you live, it’s worth it for the inspiration alone:
We love the:
Many things at Flight 001 are fantastic (even the passport holders we promised not to mention), but we like these little pouches with travel encouragement:
In our house, we can’t keep these En Route notecards in stock:
Illustrated En Route notecards.
The Aromatherapy Associates Mini Bath and Shower Oil Collection is great for travel. But it is also great for when no trip is on the agenda and you want to close the bathroom door and pretend like you’re at a Four Seasons.
Each mini vial is good for one shower or bath and the scents are: ontains Relax Light, Relax Deep, De-Stress Mind, De-Stress Muscle, Revive Morning, Revive Evening, Support Breathe, Support Equilibrium, Support Lavender and Peppermint
We especially like to order this from Net-A-Porter and get it wrapped in their beautiful signature black box with the grosgrain ribbon:
The Try the World food boxes send monthly selections from some of our favorite places like Paris and Istanbul. Their special holiday box includes 8 full-size items including Urbani white truffle oil from Italy, authentic Swedish gingerbread thins and Favarger heritage Swiss chocolate. Just the thing for the holidays when people drop by unexpectedly. Oh, do people not drop in unexpectedly at your house? Our bad.
One of our favorite cookbooks this year was Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. You can nab a signed copy at Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, GOOP for the very low price of$29.95.
Not a fan of the Gwyneth? Understand. But this is signed.
Gifts for Children
Let’s Go Adventuring double sleeping bag.
This is by far, above and beyond, our favorite book to give as a present to kids. Around the World with Mouk is the story of a French bear who goes around the world from Greece to Madagascar, from Burkina Faso to Bondi Beach. Mouk’s itinerary is inspiring for both little ones and grown-ups alike, the bear and the author, Bouvant, have both got mad travel game:
Another great book, Kiki and Coco in Paris, and the doll that inspired the book, a collectible, handmade, rag doll by artist Jess Brown. Both are available at Land of Nod:
We love a camper and this Jetaire play tent will be the starting point of dozens of imaginary trips, while a double sleeping bag will carry your little ones from the front porch to the back yard to points beyond. Let’s Go Adventuring? Yes, please, thank you.
An Airline or Cruise Line Gift Card: Jet Blue recently discontinued their gift card service, but Delta has picked up the slack. They do both egift cards and physical gift cards with a fetching photo of a plane on it. Nothing says, “Come see me!” or “I miss you!” or “Go have an awesome adventure” like a gift card that can actually be applied to travel:
We are not ashamed to say that we love a good cruise. Having recently sailed Royal Caribbean’s newest Quantum of the Seas, we would be very happy to get even a $25. gift card from that line. We had the most delicious breakfast at Devinely Decadence, the healthy restaurant by Biggest Loser Chef Devin Alexander.
A Relais & Chateaux gift box.
We loved the roller skating, the rock climbing and all the maxing and relaxing we did in the solarium. And dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian was as good as some of the best meals we’ve ever had on land.
Royal Caribbean gift cards come in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500.
Relais and Chateaux Gift Box: These gift boxes can be used for hotel stays, meals or a combination of both. They are pricey, but so worth it. (Note most of the hotels and restaurants are abroad so do read the fine print about these fine establishments.)
- The Tasting Celebration Box, 249 Euros is good for a three or four curse dinner and a glass of wine or champagne for two at 196 restaurants around the world (although only one in the U.S., the White Barn Inn).
- The Romantic Getaway (389 Euros) is good for an overnight stay, a 3 course-dinner for two and breakfast for two at 159 properties around the world.
… And Everything Else
A Globee Hong Kong city globe.
Globes can be cliché, these clever mini globes (some are also night lights and savings banks) are not.
For guys, you can’t go wrong with Paul Smith for printed laptop sleeves or the flight bag.
And while the Paul Smith Havana wash bag is supposedly for men, we think it makes a chic clutch for the chicas.
We get it. You love your Kindle. It’s so light. You’ve got a hundred books in your backpack and it’s light as air, yadda yadda yadda. We have two words for you: Juniper Books. They package collections of great books that look as visually stunning on the shelf as they are extraordinary to read.
A custom collection of Hemingway novels.
More than ever, we travel via our plate. Gift the gourmand in your life with the World Spice Gift set. An amazing cookbook and 13 custom blended spices to whip it all up. Need convincing, check out this sneak peek recipe.
Veronica Chambers is the author of over 20 books for adults, young adults, and children, including the James Beard-award winning “Yes, Chef” and the memoir “Mama’s Girl.” She focuses on gifts at Gifty McGifty.