Practical gifts for travelers
From headphones to luggage: Gifts that will keep travelers happy on the road and in the air.
Northwest travel guides
Got a traveler in your life? Here are some gift suggestions (or things you might like to give yourself).
Know when to fold ’em: Can you really have too many suitcases? You can, especially if storage space is an issue at your home. That’s what great about this Biaggi Contempo four-wheeler: You can collapse it so it fits under a bed.
Useful for a cruise, useful for a cramped home, this 20-incher has another great aspect. It weighs only 7 pounds, thanks to its nylon exterior and aluminum frame. Or you could buy a larger size; you can find foldables up to 30 inches and several sizes in between. Comes in several colors too.
Info: About $150, biaggi.com
Packing it in: More and more, our work travels with us. And here’s a nifty way to take along all the things that let you get the job done. Genius Pack’s High Altitude Flight Bag is a contemporary take on an old-fashioned briefcase. It wraps around the upright tray table in front of you so that your papers, magazines and electronics are within reach during your flight.
For cyclists, it wraps around the bike’s center bar, out of the way for commuting but still safe. It also hooks nicely on your carry-on luggage. In sky blue, coral red, plum and mint. Just think of it as a stylish pocket protector.
Info: $58, geniuspack.com
Wild weekender: It’s time to ditch that frumpy old black backpack in favor of this colorful Allende weekender bag by Stela 9. Handmade in Guatemala, it features a finely embroidered exterior and rolled handles, with an optional pebbled leather shoulder strap. There’s a convenient zip pocket in back, and the zip top opens wide to a lined interior roomy enough to store all the essentials for your getaway.
Info: $282, shopbop.com
3-2-1, chill! If you’re the type of traveler who’s always being reminded to chill, HeartMath’s iOS Sensor is for you. It clips to your earlobe and feeds information about your pulse to the accompanying Inner Balance app, which in turn guides you through a training session that is designed to improve well-being and clarity of thought.
Info: $99, heartmath.com
Getting an earful: Ready to tune into “Song for a Winter’s Night”? British speaker manufacturer KEF enters the headphone market with the M500 over-the-ear headphones, so warm and comfortable you could use them for earmuffs. Even better, the soundscape ranges from deep and warm to high and clear.
The handsome headphones offer sweat-resistant and breathable memory foam ear pads that rotate easily to adapt to different-sized heads. They fold up into a stylish carrying case, ideal for travel. High fidelity, low fuss. Works with most computers, smartphones and other mobile devices.
Info: $299, kef.com
Steady there: One key to great travel photos and videos — often underappreciated by amateurs — is a steady lens. Menotti tripods can give you that, with portability and a dash of style. Most of its products come in eight colors (handy for spotting your sticks when it’s time to move on).
The Day Trip tripod ($119 and up) is the most compact — just 9.4 inches long when collapsed. The top-of-the-line Globe Trotter can support up to 26.4 pounds, converts into a monopod and can be ordered in aluminum ($209) or lighter, pricier carbon fiber. The company also makes $59 monopods.
Info: $59-$369, mefoto.com
Neat, neat, neat:Want to be the most popular kid in the class (or attendee at the conference)? Carry a power strip — one whose size is as manageable as it is in the Pack and Plug, from GUS (Great Useful Stuff). When outlets are limited, you’ll have star power.
That’s just one of the functions of the Pack and Plug, a roll-up home for that power strip and the other assorted connectors and mini- or micro-chargers as well as a mesh pocket for that thumb drive, batteries and other assorted gear. It also keeps those various connectors neat and tidy; you plug them into the power strip and the power strip into your hotel outlet. No more snarls.
Its blue protective case makes it easy to find in the recesses of your bag. Its sibling, the Cotton Cord Roll, does the same thing, minus the power strip. But this organizer, which is coated cotton, is lighter (no power strip) and has labels for the tablet, phone and computer cords. My bag no longer looks like Charlotte’s Web, which takes some of the bite out of travel.
Info: Pack and Plug and Cotton Cord Roll, $19.99 each, greatusefulstuff.com
Zap those identity thieves: Ward off the unseen enemy with these protective passport sleeves, one of the most-interesting — and telling — stocking-stuffers of the season. These lightweight radio frequency-blocking sleeves purport to keep your information (encoded in newer U.S. passports) safe from cyber pickpockets.
The simple cover, known as an RFID-blocking sleeve, looks just like another paper envelope, yet it’s water-resistant and tough to tear. And something special for those with a James Bond complex.
Info: $5, credit card; $6, passport; pacsafe.com
Travel clothing, accessories
Fanny pack, redux: To call Trabeca’s sash a fanny pack is a bit of a cheap shot. It’s a more fashionable alternative to the accessory that has room for everything but your dignity.
With three styles to choose from, the sash is ideal for those who don’t like to carry a purse. A zippered pocket at the small of the back holds a smartphone, and a front pocket with Velcro closure has room for cash, cards or a key. Travelers no longer have to fumble with money belts that tuck under clothes; this sash keeps everything close at hand yet hidden from prying eyes.
Info: $46-$68, trabeca.com
Help’s at hand: There’s no excuse for a droopy hemline or spinach in your teeth with this teeny-tiny (3-by-2-by-2-inch) tool bag. The Transportation Security Administration-compliant Minimergency Survival Kit is packed with 17 items — double-sided tape, dental floss, stain remover, mending kit and more — to help you cope with fashion, beauty or personal predicaments while away from home.
The zip-touch pouch comes in glittery pewter or fuchsia, making it easy to find in your carry-on or tote bag.
Info: $15, containerstore.com
Man up: Men can keep their travel odds and ends organized with a lightweight pouch, detailed with playful graphics such as Man Things.
The 8-inch-long pouch, from Flight 001, can handle most of your travel-related vitals — passports, cell chargers, keys, breath mints. In fact, they would make perfect cigar pouches for your next Vegas trip. Durable canvas topped by heavy-duty zippers for travelers who are looking for a simple pouch that just gets the job done.
Info: $18, flight001.com
Good to gift
Art of the matter: Maybe you don’t have that killer photo that shows the glories of San Francisco, but you can have a representation of these and other destinations beautifully framed. And they may evoke more oohs and aahs than your photos.
Art.com offers prints that evoke the heyday of the picture postcard and can be framed to your liking. If you’re more literal-minded, check out Art.com’s Associated Press collection, which can also be framed. For the traveler in your life — and maybe that’s you — these are fitting reminders of the roads you’ve traveled and the memories you’ve brought home.
Info: From $7.99, art.com
Take a pass: Here’s a cool tool for the beaten path. If you know somebody headed to New York or another major U.S. city, a Citypass booklet can save substantial money on tourist attractions.
With New York, for example, $106 buys adult admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Guggenheim and several other major attractions, which otherwise would cost you $185.
Also covered by Citypass: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hollywood, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California and Toronto.
Info: Price varies by city, citypass.com