The Why Am I Not There? Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers 2016

Hey, big spender! It’s time to think about that beloved traveler in your life. They might be thinking of never coming back to the U.S. after a game show host becomes President.

These gifts will be practical to the intrepid traveler or will inspire their wanderlust. Even better, they are below $100. I’ve seen other gift guide and I say to myself, “Of course, I have $595 for leather gloves as a gift.”

Some of these are reposts from my last gift guide or suggestions from my Consider This column. So they’re good for the holidays and beyond.

passportPassport Wallet — I categorize this as a necessity as a frequent and organized traveler. You’ll be
amazed how many people put their passport in their pocket. You need something with weight and bulk that can hold all your other documents, cards and currency. I keep my Global Entry, frequent flyer cards, transit cards, extra credit card and foreigner currency in mine. It fits right into my inside blazer pocket, making it pickpocket proof,  so I always know its on my person.

I like these passport wallets from Fossil. They are classic looking, made of leather and more than anything, it’s practical.

$55-$75 from

cashmereCashmere Sweater — Travel pillows are the single worse travel accessory ever invented. They are painfully unpackable, stupid looking, uncomfortable and more trouble then they are worth.

A cashmere sweater serves two purposes:

— You can wear it, duh! They don’t winkle when you fold and pack it. Since layering is the key to picking your wardrobe when traveling, cashmere sweaters are thin and light. More than anything, they feel great to wear, which leads me to…

— They make excellent travel pillows for your neck. Just roll it like towel and you got yourself some neck support while being relaxed by its gentle touch.

Uniqlo makes the most reasonably priced sweater that are available in a wide assortment of colors and style.. I personally have a gray one — easy to match and coordinate. They are constantly on sale.

$99 from Uniqlo

notebookPaper Notebook — Despite the fact that I travel with my laptop and smartphone, I still carry a small notebook to jot down ideas, sketch out directions or tear off to give my address/numbers to new found friends. It’s one of those  “you never know” items that won’t be bothersome to have in your carry-on or traveling bag.

The Japanese brand MUJI is slowly expanding in America with 12 B+M stores in New York, New Jersey and California. They’ve expanded their online store to the U.S. I first discovered it in London during my first visit 12 years ago. In China and Japan, they’re just as ubiquitous as IKEA.

They are known for minimalist home goods and stationary. Their black notebook is a perfect gift or stocking stuffer. Pair it with a great pen and your recipient will be writing away.

$ 7 from MUJI

luggage-tagsVintage Luggage Tags — One of the stupidest items sold in travel sections of department stores are color straps for luggage to help you pick out your luggage from others. Some people will put masking tape Xs on them which is pretty lame.

You can never have too many luggage tags on your case. Keep one on the top handle, so it’s not to confuse with the tag the airlines will put on it. The rest you can load up the side handle.

Etsy is the best places to find fake vintage handcrafts. The craftpeople won’t charge you much for shipping.

$3-$12 from Etsy.

sprayTravel Perfume Atomizer
— For gals and dudes, these capsules made by Travalo can make sure you are smelling smart on the go. You just take the spray cap off your favorite perfume or cologne, place the bottom of this atomizer on top of the bottle’s nozzle, pump to fill up the atomizer and you are good to go. It saves you from getting travel sizes of scents, making a mess from filling up a smaller plastic bottle or bringing the whole bottle.

$10 from

travel-guide-ny-timesNew York Times 36 Hours Travel Guides — While TripAdvisor, Yelp and Foursquare are invaluable travel sites when you’re on the go, I like to trust my research from sources like Time Out and the New York Times. The 36 Hours series is reprinted and updated by Taschen covers the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe. All major cities are covered along with mid-size towns and excursions. The mega $125 complete set covers every continent.

Ignore the 36-hour time restraint and just rely on their descriptions of hip eateries, indie shops, boutique hotels, art galleries and bars that the locals hang out.

$9.99 to $39.99 from Taschen

Charitable Donations — If your friend or loved one just came back from a far off land, considering donating to a cause focused on bringing relief. Did they come back from safari in Africa? Donate to, which provides fresh water solutions to impoverished areas of the world.

How about the nature lover who went hiking through the mountains and forest? The National Audubon Society does great things in preserving birds and ecosystems in the United States so that future generations can enjoy.

A quick Google search of a country and their best charities will reveal some worthwhile causes that will let your travel friend leave a lasting impression from their visit.


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