Whether you’ve been swamped with year-end projects at work or you’re just a massive procrastinator (you know who you are), the fact is many of us have yet to do our Christmas shopping.
Some people actually love the frenzy of waiting until the last minute to shop for gifts, while others want to avoid the stress and crowds by starting (and finishing) early.
But if you’re one of the procrastinators, don’t worry! We’ve got some great gift ideas for the Proud American Traveler on your Christmas list.
So, there are basically two categories of people we buy Christmas gifts for:
1) Family, friends, the nearest and dearest in our lives. These should be gifts bought with love and a lot of thought.
2) Coworkers, bosses, neighbors you like (but don’t like that much), and for some of you, the in-laws. You feel obligated to buy a gift for these people and don’t really have a clue where to start.
Look, everyone travels at some point. We take business trips. We drive ten hours to visit said in-laws for a week. We’re adventurers, or we like to go to the same vacation spot every year.
Whatever the case, travel gifts are always a good idea. They won’t get you into trouble (more on that later), they always fit, and they send a good message — “I like you enough to make your next trip comfortable without the cop-out of a gift card.”
So with these categories in mind, there are some great gifts out there for everyone on your list. But you’d better get on with it before it’s too late!
Most retailers know how busy we all are. They know we’re stressed out, overwhelmed, and we need something good – and fast. Many even promise delivery within 24 hours through Christmas Eve.
There’s really no excuse to buy a gift card or an evergreen-scented candle and a bottle of wine – unless you know the recipient really likes these things. They’re nice, but they don’t require a lot of thought.
Make An Impact
First things first – the most important people in your life, those near and dear.
These are the people you’re spending the bulk of your Christmas Club money on (or going into debt for), and you want something awesome.
Now, women are experts at this (no, not the getting in debt part — shame on you). We know every little thing about the people we care about and we buy gifts accordingly.
We start writing up a list of ideas in August for the perfect gift for each and every person we know. We want our gifts to be personal and unique, just like the person we’re giving it to.
But sometimes life happens. Work, the kids, the endless laundry, dishes, and piles of papers to sort through. Deadlines, tantrums (sometimes the kids’… sometimes our own), and everything else we didn’t expect happens.
The list sits for months, waiting to be checked off – and then we realize it’s almost Christmas.
Then, there are men.
They just aren’t programmed to think about unique and personal gifts. In fact, they often don’t think about buying gifts at all – until it’s almost too late.
“Oh, yeah. Christmas is next week. Guess I better get the wife something.” But let me give you a word of advice – your lady does not want dish towels or a vacuum cleaner for Christmas.
And if you think she’d like a gym membership or a low-calorie recipe book, then it may be too late for me to help you. And do not under any circumstances “guess” what size clothing she wears. Your life is at stake.
So instead, how about giving those closest to you something they really need?
Stuff that makes all the business travel and time away from home a little more comfortable and bearable? Or stuff that makes the pleasure traveler in your life smile when they use your gift on their next adventure?
Stuff to Carry your Stuff
Yeah, luggage is a major expense, and that’s why most people won’t buy it for themselves, no matter how much they travel.
But a nice set of luggage, or more importantly, one that suits our personality, makes a long trip much easier.
Luggage now comes in every shape, size, and design, and retailers are coming up with innovative ideas to make packing easier.
Whether you buy one piece or a whole set for that someone special, think about their travel needs and what they like. And buying a unique piece of luggage makes it so much easier at the baggage carousel!
Many retailers also sell roll-up garment bags – much less bulky to carry, convertible luggage or duffels that can expand to a larger size for longer trips, and packing cubes. These are my favorite since I’m a perfectionist who likes everything organized and hates wrinkles. Each cube keeps like-sized items contained and helps maximize space in your carry-on or checked bag.
Throw in a travel iron or steamer, and you’ll be the gift-giver of the year.
And because our luggage is our lifeline when away from home, it’s important to keep it safe.
Lost luggage is the number one cause for homicidal tendencies in otherwise lovely people when they travel, so help your loved ones protect theirs with a luggage lock that opens only with the owner’s fingerprint.
These can also be used for airport and gym lockers, and while we may not remember a combination when we have jet-lag, we always carry our fingerprints with us.
And don’t forget an RFID-blocking wallet that matches your near-and-dear’s luggage. You never know who’s trying to rip you off when you’re tired or distracted on a trip.
So what if you have the greatest luggage in the world, locked it up tight, and the stupid airline still loses it?
Enter passport socks. Seriously. These comfy socks contain secret pockets where you can stash your passport, money, and ID. So even if your luggage doesn’t make it to your destination, you’ll still be able to go to Walmart and buy some clean underwear.
We’re actually now in the age of what was envisioned in The Jetsons – or at least close.
Tech gifts are perfect for travelers. Perhaps even more important than having our luggage with us is being able to communicate while traveling.
Sure, charging banks, air pods, and nice cell phone cases are always needed. But then there’s the really cool tech stuff.
Do you know someone who is constantly jet-setting all over the globe for work?
Gone are the days of carrying a bulky, paperback travel dictionary while we hold up the line at a bakery in France trying to figure out how to say “coffee and pastry.”
Now there are sleek, smartphone-like pocket translators that can bring up any word in more than 40 languages in the blink of an eye. Sure, there’s always Google, but that takes almost as long as those old Spanish-English dictionaries do.
Or how about a four-in-one travel adaptor that can be used in any country? No more having to figure out which adaptor you need for which country – or bringing the wrong one and being totally panicked as your cell phone battery dies a slow death.
And maybe the coolest of all – a locator device that can find your most important possessions when you accidentally leave them in a crowded airport Starbucks or an unfamiliar dresser drawer at your hotel!
Just clip a coin-sized tag on your keys, slip one into your wallet or cell phone case, and the locator can send a signal to the tag and find your lost item. They have a pretty good range and may be a life-saver in a crowded place.
Just don’t lose the actual locator – then you’re screwed.
The good thing about travel items made to improve personal comfort is that they’re perfect for those in both category one and category two. Kill two birds with one stone and buy a couple of these items. We won’t tell.
(Non-boring) travel pillows are perfect for planes, trains, and automobiles. Every form of transportation is a literal and figurative pain in the neck at some point. And these aren’t just boring, old neck pillows.
Travel pillows now offer all sorts of accessories – pockets for stuff, built-in charging banks and headphones, massagers, speakers, you name it, and they really are one-size-fits-all.
Many retailers also sell travel blankets that fold up to wallet-size, come in little cases that can clip onto luggage – and, yes – even have attached headphones.
What will they think of next?
Low-Tech, but Special
Finally, some really cool gifts that look like you put a lot of thought into them, but really, you’re making the recipient do all the work to make them feel special. What could be better than that?
Scrapbooking was really trendy a few years ago, but now we’re supposed to examine our inner psyches by journaling.
The thing is, a lot of people really like to do this. It eases stress and is a great way to preserve memories of a special trip. (If a millennial loses their phone containing all their posts and pictures, did the trip really happen?!)
Make a travel journal really personal by giving a journaling kit with some nice pens and pockets for ticket stubs or boarding passes, have it monogrammed, and add a personal note on the inside.
Another way for busy travelers to mark their adventures is by a travel map or globe. In the old days, we would stick a pin on a map of all the places we’d go.
Well, just as “everything that’s old is new again,” this is once again trendy and retailers actually sell kits so we can keep track of where we’ve been.
They’re not just paper maps, either.
There are cork map and pin sets – of just the U.S. or the entire world – scratch-off maps made of the same material as lottery tickets where travelers can reveal the latest place they’ve been with the rub of a coin, and even desktop globes made of cork, complete with little pin flags.
This may seem like a boring gift, but it’s always nice to replace your travel-worn grooming kit with a nice, new one filled with cool soaps, lotions, and toiletries.
Take it up a notch for someone special by buying all their favorite soaps, shampoos, etc. in bulk, then throw in some three-ounce TSA-approved travel containers. They can refill them for each trip for all the comforts of home.
Subscription boxes are YUUGE right now, so why not give your favorite Proud American Traveler the gift that gives all year? For around ten bucks a month, they’ll get travel-sized samples in the mail each month to pack in their grooming kit.
Throw in some of the stuff we always forget to pack, but wish we had: Stain remover pens or wipes, a small sewing kit, a pill sorter for medications, mints – stuff that makes traveling a little bit easier.
If you really just don’t have the time or bandwidth to even think about any of these gifts, even airlines and rail companies have gift cards. It’s a little bit more exciting to get a gift card toward your airfare than a gift card worth barely two cups of coffee at Starbucks.
And if you’re still stuck, you can always buy someone a private jet. It’s the best gift of all because it rids your favorite traveler of any possibility of having a bad trip. No crowds, no annoying fellow travelers, no bad airline coffee, and no squeezing into the plane’s bathroom.
And if you have private jets to throw around, feel free to send one my way.
We at Proud American Traveler wish you a blessed Christmas and pleasant travels this season!