Travel Gifts: The Holiday’s 5 Best Travel Gifts

December 4, 2009 by

Places to Go

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to think about travel gifts for the people in your life who love to travel. These people won’t be satisfied with average gifts. No, they’ve seen too much of the world to be impressed with a fruitcake or pair of socks.

If you want to impress the travelers in your life, you need to think like a traveler. Here’s how:

#1 – Travel Pillow

My favorite travel pillow

My favorite travel pillow

Sleeping on airplanes is never easy, it doesn’t matter if you travel in business class or economy class. So if you can find a gift that helps travelers sleep better on airplanes, they will remember you fondly for years to come.

My personal pick is the SkyRest travel pillow for $29.95. The website is very 1990s, but it works. As does the pillow. It folds up small, blows up large, and has pockets for your hands so you can grab the pillow even while asleep. It works in any seat configuration.

#2 – Noise-canceling headphones

It’s amazing how well noise-canceling headphones work, at least in the white-noise rich environment of a jet airplane. Especially on long cross-country or international flights, these headphones make a big difference. You don’t haven’t to concentrate so hard, you can enjoy music of movies at lower volume, and the headphones don’t squeeze your ears or head – they fit comfortably.

There are many options here. My favorite are the Sennheiser 300 headphones, mainly because they’re good quality and not too expensive (about $100 on Amazon).

#3 – Melatonin

Reset the body clock with melatonin

Melatonin resets the body clock

For long-distance and frequent fliers, melatonin can help reset your body’s internal alarm clock. Melatonin is naturally secreted by the pineal gland, a small organ (the “third eye” in some cultures) behind and between the eyes. The pineal gland is the brain’s timekeeper, helping to govern the sleep-wake cycle.

If you’ve ever had a nasty case of jet lag, you know what a bummer it is when your internal clock is out of synch with the clock everybody else is using. Nothing worse than feeling 2am at noon, or vice versa.

Melatonin requires a prescription in some countries; in the U.S. you can buy it over-the-counter and online for about $12 per 100 pills. It makes a great stocking stuffer.

#4 – Lomo camera

A lomo camera

A Lomo Diana F+ camera

What is Lomography? It’s a style of camera that, for reasons explained below, delivers photos with amplified colors and where ordinary objects stand out, enhancing details that would normally go unnoticed. Lomography embraces the element of surprise and relies on analogue film (as opposed to digital images).

It was ‘discovered’, as it were, in the early 1990s when two students in Vienna discovered a small Russian camera, the Lomo Kompakt Automat. They started a new style of artistic experimental photography of unorthodox snapshots. In the blink of an eye the Lomographic message spread around the planet and people were screaming for Lomo LC-A’s.

You can buy different Lomo models for $125 – $400 at the official Lomography website. For travelers who love photography, this gift will earn you serious street cred.

#5 – Ultimate Book of Cards

The Ultimate Book of Cards

The Ultimate Book of Cards

OK, this is shameless self-promotion. I recently wrote a book called the Ultimate Book of Cards: A Comprehensive Guide to More than 350 Card Games. It’s cheeky of me to include it here, on this list of best travel gifts. But here’s the thing: travelers are one of the reasons I wrote the book in the first place.

As a veteran traveler on innumerable 4th-class trains and overland buses, as somebody who has spent way too many hours waiting at airports, waiting at bus stations, waiting at train stations… I’ve always wanted a handy compendium of the world’s best card games to keep me entertained on the road.

So I wrote one.

If you have travelers in your life, they may appreciate a guide to cards – everything from solitaire to two-player, three-player, four-player and multi-player games. Bridge to canasta to hearts to spades to cribbage to euchre to pedro to gin rummy… the list goes on and on. The book costs $14 at Amazon.

And that’s the whole point. When you’re traveling, it’s handy to have a long list of card games to keep you busy.

Of course, if you can’t decide, there’s a handy #6 option – buy a Viator Gift Certificate and give the gift of an amazing experience. Viator has Gift Certificates in five currencies, and they’re good for 5,500+ tours and experiences on

Happy holidays, and keep on traveling!

-Scott McNeely

6 Responses to “Travel Gifts: The Holiday’s 5 Best Travel Gifts”

  1. Joann Says:

    I have been using tart cherries to help me sleep for the past six months. I learned about them from my doctor. I recently discovered a free tart cherry book that tells how tart cherries can help with sleep since they contain natural melatonin. It is a good book and best of all it is free. It is called How to Get a Restful Night’s Sleep Naturally Report. You can get it from Traverse Bay Farms. They offer cherry juice, dried cherries and even fresh cherries

  2. Kevin Says:

    Good pillows on a plane are a life saver. I’ve also been using Bose headphones for my frequent trips to Cancun.

  3. surtrek Says:

    Lomo camera would be a nice gift for the travelers to capture beautiful pictures.

  4. Traveller Says:

    I want one of these cameras! Mum, are you reading this?;)

  5. c skog Says:

    noise canceling headphones are a lifesaver during the flight

  6. Explorandes Says:

    Lomo camera would be a nice gift for the travelers