The economy might have a tight hold on our wallets, but it doesn’t have to make gift-giving a chore.
Choose a mix of practical, fun, and affordable goodies, and make this a holiday season they’ll appreciate.
1. Playing Cards and Travel Game Sets
A deck from your local drugstore should only set you back a few bucks, and you can find travel-sized games at specialty toy and hobby stores for under $20.
Cribbage is an addicting pastime that combines a wooden pegboard (available in foldable backpacker-friendly versions) with card game strategy.
It’s particularly great for those long train rides or can’t-sleep-in-my-coach-seat red eye flights.
2. Journal and Pen
You don’t have to be the next Hemingway to appreciate these goods. Even the most amateur of writers will covet a nicely bound journal and functional pen. Great for taking notes, keeping track of friends you meet along the way, and obviously capturing all those wild stories.
Get it on paper, and make the memories last.
Outdoor chain stores like Sports Authority sell decent-quality, cheap small binoculars for less than $20. Bigger isn’t necessarily better in this case, and a tiny pair tucks nicely into a daypack.
Great for getting up close and personal with lions, tigers, and bears, while still maintaining a safe distance.
4. USB Memory Card Uploader
Designed to fit in a pocket, you can’t go wrong with this great item. Perfect for the photo hound in the family, or the newbie who can’t quite figure out how images on that memory card magically appear on Flickr while you’re sitting at a Cambodian Internet cafe.
5. Adaptor Plugs
Another sensible item, and critical for the jetsetter who plans to attack all seven continents. For space issues, you still might suggest they leave their hair dryer at home.
6. iTunes Gift Card
Those bus rides across Africa and Indonesia can drag on for double-digit hours. Keep the music fan in your life happy with legal downloads of their favorite songs. Budget-friendly $15 and $25 cards are available.
7. Travel Candle
Who says you can’t bring a little romance (and relief) into that stinky, cheap, bug-laden beach hut you just scored?
Travel candles come in handy tins, cost under $10, and stow away easily into a side pocket of a backpack. And they smell really good too.
8. Number-dialed Combo Lock
Help mom and dad deter nosy thieves from pirating their passports and other valuables from their luggage. These little gems slip easily into a stocking, and with prices as low as $7.95, you can buy one in every color.
You can never be too safe, right?
9. Travel Alarm Clock
While traveling for many signifies sleeping in till your heart’s content, there will be days when they’re grateful for that annoying buzzer, or they’ll literally miss that slow boat to China.
For about $10 or less, help ensure your best travel buddy makes that early morning plane, train, or bus to somewhere exotic.
10. Jag Bag (or Silk Sleeping Bag Liner)
Ah, the gift of protection from bed bugs and other people’s bodily functions!
This chic liner will help prevent another sleepless night in a sub-standard hostel or shady guesthouse.
Let’s face it, not every place you lay your head is going to be a match made in heaven. Great for overnight trains and camping trips, too!
11. Multifunctional Tool
Leatherman offers an impressive array of colorful, functional, don’t-leave-me behind multipurpose tools that fit nicely into a stocking. Sleek and stylish, these gadgets serve a variety of purposes on the go, not least of which is a handy dandy bottle opener.
Need we say more?
12. Travel Manicure Set
Even the most rugged of guys will no doubt need to trim those toenails after a few long months on the go. This isn’t his last big chance to set a world record for the longest fingernails either.
The little scissors alone are a serious score; the rest of the tools might just be icing on the cake.