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Travel Talk

Travel Talk: Best gifts for the travelers in your life

It’s that time again: gift giving! Time to find the perfect gift for the traveler in your life (even if that’s you). I always swoon over the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog ( for nifty items like my own personal submarine or a two-person hovercraft. It doesn’t take long to come back to Earth, though. Bud and I have found lots of things over the past year that didn’t cost a bundle but made our travels more comfy and enjoyable.

Electronics: You can’t really travel without at least a few things that need charging, and often your cruise cabin or room won’t have enough (or suitable) outlets. Bud found a three-outlet surge protector with overload protection (Simran SM-60 110v-250v, $14 at that saved our butts both in Myanmar and on our Transatlantic cruise. It’s compact and designed for travel.

Also, we have completely converted to Kindles for reading; it’s made a huge difference in packing and suitcase weight. No books!

My iPad also is truly part of me now, and I’ve found some great apps such as Packing Pro (iTunes), which generates suggested packing lists for everything from a three-day weekend to a monthlong safari.

National Geographic World Atlas App (iTunes) costs $1.99 but has magnificent info, including historical overlays. We have also just converted to smart phones (had to do it some time!) and went for Samsung Galaxy S4, which Bud discovered has the ability to translate your spoken words into zillions of languages. Wow!

Nonelectronics: Sometimes the most important things have no relationship to technology. Bud is always worried that we’ll get caught in a downpour. Lucky for us he found a great product called Granger’s One Step Wash and Waterproofer ($14 at We retreated our favorite old rain jackets and stayed dry no matter where we were. Think stocking stuffer!

If a traveler on your list likes reading, consider the Lonely Planet’s Better than Fiction: True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers. It’s a wonderful, eclectic collection (book or e-book from

For more stocking stuffers, consider braided elastic travel clotheslines (under $6 at – no clothespins needed. And getting right down to basics, the best underwear we have found is by Everywear ( – super comfortable and dries in a flash. Another basic for people our age is reading sunglasses, with a discrete magnifier insert. Sam’s Club has men’s and women’s versions: $20 for two pairs!

For the person who has everything, what about a donation in his/her name to an organization that reflects their passion. Perhaps the World Wildlife Fund or the Coral Reef Alliance. Or perhaps a Global Giving gift card ( and let them pick their own organization by location around the globe, theme or target population.

Going places: Then, of course, there is actual travel. If some of the travelers on your list focus on U.S. travel (near or far) visit for an amazing collection of small and larger “gift” trips: driving with NASCAR, schooner sailing in New York, something for everyone. If your gift budget is limited but you have mileage points on an airline, log on to their website and explore gifting miles to a friend or relative. Look for specials that double or even triple the miles.

Know someone who loves to cruise? Most cruise lines have gift options, perhaps a bottle of wine in the room, a sumptuous dinner in a specialty restaurant or a spa treatment. You’ll also find that most airlines and many resorts have gift cards. Do check details and restrictions such as expiration dates, though. Happy shopping!

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