Each time Christmas or a birthday rolls around, the question of travel gifts for women raises its head. It's not easy finding something original, small and light (it has to be carried if you're taking it with you) and useful enough to make a difference when you travel − or at home before you go.
I've been known to buy all sorts of travel-related gifts so I've added them below, along with a few things I'd love to try because friends of mine rave about them. Each gift costs under $30 (or pounds or euros, wherever you live) and will bring you plenty of enjoyment or use.
I don't pack without my packing cubes − ever! They're such a simple invention I can't believe I spent half my life without them. They help me organize what goes inside my suitcase, but once I reach my destination, all I have to do is pull out each cube and set it in the closet or bathroom - they act as 'instant drawers'. I have sets in a variety of colors, which I mix and match.
So many bags look alike when they come off the carrousel that you're never certain which one is yours. These luggage tags will be visible from across the arrivals hall and you'll be able to spot your bag right away. Not only that, but the hidden card provides that little bit of extra security should your bag get lost after your flight.
I have several of these soft pouches, in different colors, and when you travel as much as I do, it's hugely convenient to lift the pouch out of one bag and place it in another without having to empty everything each time you change your purse.
This is such a simple little gadget but so convenient for your cables when you travel. If you're like me and have messes of cables lying around, this solution is so simple it's almost silly - but oh so creative. Keep everything from getting intertwined with a few of these simple snaps.
This is the larger model of an older single flap organizer I love. I carry more things than I should and I outgrew the single flap. I've managed to fit a lot of stuff into this - my computer and phone plugs and cables, two chargers, spare cables, earbuds, my mifi and plenty more. It's also light and attractive.
Traveling these days is hard enough, what with having to squeeze all our liquids and creams into the tiniest bottles. That's why I use these - and I've never had a leak. I simply refill them for each trip and can have my regular products with me when I travel. The perfect gift for the traveling woman!
In case you're planning on doing some extra shopping during your travels, you might want to know how much extra weight you'll be carrying back - especially if you're flying on an airline that charges you for every single little extra pound you're carrying, whether in the cabin or below deck.
These may not be the most attractive of underwear but if you're headed on a long trip and need to travel light, this is the underwear you want to take with you. They're light, dry quickly, and you can wash them over and over without losing any stretch or shape. A single pair made it through an entire year in Africa.
Every world traveler needs an adapter at some point. This all-in-one version makes powering up easy and uneventful - it keeps you connected in more than 150 countries, and can charge up to 3 devices at once at high speed. And it's red, so it won't get lost in your luggage!
Most of us travel with at least a cell phone, and would be lost without our travel apps. This portable charger will eliminate tearful searches around airports for non-existent plugs or power points: just charge up and use! It's small, and easy to carry.
Whatever your mobile, this tripod will grip it tightly to allow you to shoot professionally (far better than resting your hand on a stone wall!) You can stand it up as you would a regular tripod, or use it to grip another surface, like a branch or a fence if no wall happens to be available.
If you hate the sound of music on your phone because it's tinny and flat, you'll love this little travel speaker. It's small and light and comes with its own little case (you can attach it to your purse with its metal ring). Just stick it on the counter wherever you go and enjoy the sound.
Heading off on a trip and need a journal to write things up? Here's one you can personalize with your own words on the cover. What's fun is that you can get a traditional journal with white paper, but you can also get it with black paper, if you're partial to having fun with metallic colors!
This is only one of a range of food maps, totes and T-shirts designed by my lovely friend Jodi Ettenberg, a superb food travel blogger who has stopped traveling due to ill health. Her fun creations are perfect gifts for travelers, and each purchase also helps Jodi get back on her feet.
Know someone who loves listening to audiobooks? An Audible gift membership is the perfect gift for those long flights or hotel rooms without CNN. The perfect way to take along favorite books anywhere - flying, of course, but walking, biking or just sitting on the bus.
Know someone who is trying to visit every country on Earth? (Me!!) My map arrived safely in a nice, hard cylinder and it's the perfect inspiration for further travel. It reminds me of where I've been, but more so of where I still have to go. Perfect for the gap year student, job leaver, recent retiree... or YOU.
I recently ordered one of these clever travel trinkets: A handy travel wallet that doubles as a keepsake. Tuck your passport, a travel notebook and your travel documents into the pockets, and map out your itinerary on the cover. When you get home, put the wallet, ticket stubs and other small mementoes into a keepsake box. Rifle through whenever you need a whiff of your travel memories.
If you're headed to Asia and care about the environment, this is the perfect eating utensil. So many forests fall to feed our chopstick habit (20 million trees a year in China alone) and this is easily avoidable. Take these reusable lacquered wood chopsticks with you (in their lovely cherry blossom box) when you eat out in Asia.
This is just about my favorite travel item. They come in plenty of colors and textures and have a secret pocket in which you can store your passport, credit cards and cash. It's a fashion item and easy to wear - perfect for when you don't want to carry a purse and want to keep your hands free. Wear it on the plane or out to a restaurant in the evening!
This is a rather nifty little device that allows you to hang your handbag wherever there's no hook - in a public restroom, for example, or on a railing or a ledge. The best use, in my opinion, is at a bar or café, when the last place you want (or should!) place your bag is on the floor, where it can get dirty or be stolen. Just open the Clipa Bag Hanger and hang your purse or backpack - it can hold up to 15lb (6.8kg). With several colors to choose from, this is an absolute perfect travel gift: light, practical and safety-conscious.
Keeping your cash and papers safe is essential when you travel and sometimes, the best way to do that is with a money belt. I particularly like this one, which I own and used recently in West Africa. The RFID blocking sleeves are so useful I'm actually using them without the money belt, at home, to store my credit cards. It's very well made, and built to last. The back is breathable so even in the humid tropics my valuables were well protected and I wasn't sweating. Use it while you sightsee or on the plane, if you want to make sure your papers are on you, safely, at all times.
Do you ever feel uneasy or anxious when you travel, at night, for example, or somewhere that's not as well lighted as it should be? Or perhaps you're in a city with a lot of stray dogs and worried about being approached by them? Or going hiking where there might be wild animals? A good whistle can do wonders to distance you from unpleasant encounters. Chances are you'll never need to use it, but it does provide a measure of comfort.
Here's one of the best gifts you can give a traveler in your life: a month's peace of mind when it comes to identity and data theft. Getting a VPN, or virtual private network, requires a simple sign-up and the download of an app - it should all take under five minutes and will prevent online thieves from getting to your private information. Too many of us are a bit cavalier about online security - until we get hacked or attacked. Wouldn't it be better to prevent that altogether?
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