Twelve Gifts of Christmas: Ideas for women with travel on their holiday wishlist
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Tis the season… to dream about 2021. We are all ready to move on from a difficult year and look ahead to the possibility of travel, perhaps later in 2021. What better way than giving or receiving a special gift, one that inspires us to dream about our next adventure.
Twelve Gift Ideas for Women Who Travel
Travel Jewelry Case by SAMARA $85
SAMARA was started by two sisters who wanted to create bags and accessories which were elegant and eco-friendly. The beautiful SAMARA Jewelry Case will keep your jewelry safe and organized on your travels, and comes in three gorgeous colours. I love the design – how easy it is to see everything when it’s open, like a petite version of a home jewelry box. (My mother is getting one of these for Christmas – shh!)
Doing good is part of doing business at Samara; every purchase supports their Soular Backpack project, which provides light to children in East Africa.
Kindle E-reader $89 and up
I’ve always schlepped physical books along on my travels because I preferred them to reading on a device. But things change and I am committed to travelling lighter, so I asked Santa for a Kindle E-reader this year and he granted my wish. I love using my Kindle Oasis to read in the bath at home – it’s waterproof! And I recently took my first trip with it. It was fabulous being able to lounge and read in the pool, and not worry about splashes.
Amazon sells several versions. The Kindle Oasis is also waterproof and has the option to switch the display to warm natural light. The reviews are as positive for the original models as for the upgraded ones so any E-reader is a lovely idea if you want to gift something to be enjoyed equally at home and away.
Monos Roller Bags $235 and up
My New Year’s resolution this year was to be able to lift my carry-on bag into the overhead bin – without the help of a taller travelling companion.
Luckily, I recently discovered Vancouver-based Monos and immediately fell for their durable and gorgeous luggage. The name comes from the Japanese word Mono, “a profound appreciation of the beauty in fleeting moments”. The Monos Carry-On Bag is 7.4 pounds and made of recycled material where possible. The telescoping handle has been re-engineered to be more durable and it has four height settings.
Perhaps my favourite thing about the Monos Carry-On is the eight attractive and unusual colours to choose from (yes, “colour” not color. I’ve lived in the U.S. for eight years but still spell like a Canadian.) The colours are beautiful, I chose the terra cotta (pictured above). They also make a slightly larger version: the Carry-On Plus and have medium and large-sized “checked luggage”.
(If you’d like to learn more, I’ve written a detailed review of my new Monos luggage here: Monos Carry-On.)
I also researched ultra lightweight carry-on bags (under 5 pounds). Overall I prefer the Monos as it’s more durable and better designed, if the lightest possible bag is what you are after, I recommend the Samsonite NeoPulse Spinner which weighs 5 pounds. My detailed review is here: Delsey vs Samsonite, Ultra lightweight Carry-On Luggage.
AWAY Carry-On $225 and up
AWAY’s smallest suitcase, The Carry-On is very similar to Monos; it’s a lightweight hard-sided bag that’s simple, stylish and built to last. My son has had this suitcase for several years and it has held up really well. It comes in nine colours, and a few wowza limited edition hues such as wine and copper (the latter is more expensive). Black definitely seems like a wasted opportunity here.
One difference with Away is their luggage has an optional built-in battery. Yes, you can recharge your phone or laptop via a battery in your luggage. (You can not check it however, without removing the battery first).
Like Monos, Away has a second size: The Bigger Carry-On, which should fit in the overhead bin of most airlines. It is 47.9L versus 39.8L, so provides 20% more packing space (if my math’s right). Remember that usually translates into a heavier carry-on bag.
Joby GripTight Phone Tripod $35
Capturing our adventures with beautiful photos enables us to enjoy our travels long after we’ve returned home, so gifts for travel photography are always appreciated.
I now take my Joby GripTight Phone Tripod on every trip. If I am travelling alone it allows me to easily take photos with me in them. If I’m with my family, it’s nice to be able to get a photo of all of us, without having to ask someone to help. We used the tripod to get a family photo at Under Canvas tent camp in Montana last summer (below).
Lo & Sons Waverley Convertible Handbag $126 +
Lo & Sons “The Waverley 2 is a stylish crossbody handbag that can be worn four ways: crossbody, as a shoulder bag, a wristlet and around your waist. It has an interior zipper pocket and an exterior slot. I bought the Saffiano, a textured leather specially treated to be scratch and weather-resistant. Mine is the black with gold hardware but the grey is also really pretty. It was the perfect bag for my recent Europe trip – I used it day and night. (Pictured here on a table at a Les Deux Magots café in Paris).
Helen Lo started the company with the help of her sons because she had back problems and wanted to create lightweight bags that were also stylish. I also own their camera bag and a tote. The quality is very good.
Scarf by Bloom & Give $50+
Scarves are my favourite travel accessory. They are light to carry around and ideal for covering shoulders on a chilly evening or when entering a temple. They add a hit of colour to a neutral outfit (perfect accessories to capsule wardrobes) and you can throw them over your head if you get caught in the rain.
Bloom & Give produces all of its beautiful items in India which is known for its gorgeous textiles thanks to heirloom traditions which have existed for thousands of years. Generations have passed down the art of embroidery, weaving and the dying and printing fine cotton. The result: stunning scarves of exceptional quality. I have purchased scarves on my travels in India and the cotton is truly exceptional. Bloom & Give donates 10% of every purchase to help send a girl to school. Educate a girl and change the world! Free shipping and returns in the US!
Packable Hooded Raincoat $72 -$150
I purchased a packable raincoat several years ago and although I don’t always need it, I love having it with me, just in case. It’s lightweight and fits in a small travel pouch, so it’s easily carried – where ever I’m exploring. My coat is Cole Haan and the exact same one is no longer available so here are two options:
The Land’s End Packable Raincoat has great reviews: it’s waterproof, windproof and comes in black and moss green. I also love pockets in a coat, which this has. It folds up so that it can be stored in its hood.
For a sportier style suited to active travel, I like Patagonia’s Women’s Torrentshell Jacket. It is double the price of the Land’s End jacket, but Patagonia items are made to last, so a worthwhile investment.
It’s lightweight (12.5 ounces) waterproof, and made entirely from recycled material. It self-stuffs into its pocket for easy carrying.
Fitness for Women Who Travel
You don’t have to leave your fitness routine at home when you head off on a travel adventure. These lightweight fitness tools are designed to make exercise convenient, anytime and anywhere. And they make great gifts.
Exercise Resistance Bands $15
I’ve stopped going to the gym because of Covid and most of my “ weight training” is now done with a set of three resistance bands. Resistance training strengthens muscles and improves mobility; resistance exercises helped me recover my fitness after an unexpected hip replacement a few years ago.
This set of three Pro-Tec Athletics Resistance Bands are ideal for travel. They are light, packable and come with a carry bag and instructions. And most exercises can be done in a small space, such as a hotel room. Perfect for home and travel.
Travel Yoga Mat $45 - $79
The Manduka eKO SuperLite Travel Yoga Mat enables yoga lovers to keep up their practice while travelling. The mat weighs just over two pounds and folds to fit easily in luggage. It’s made from biodegradable, natural tree rubber (non-Amazon harvested).
Keep in mind this is thin, only 1.5mm, so has much less cushioning than a standard yoga mat.
I also love Sugarmat’s Travel Yoga Mat. It’s more expensive but comes with beautiful travel-inspires designs. Their latest collection is Morocco themed (I was supposed to be in Morocco with my family this Christmas; a yoga mat is as close as I will get.) This is even lighter and thinner than the Manduka eKO and comes with a travel pouch.
Re-usable Water Bottles
Bringing your own water bottle on your travels allows you to stay hydrated and avoid plastic. In Southeast Asia last year, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to fill up my bottle. Purified water was available at all my hotels, as well as at some airports such as Singapore. I found Asia hotels to be well ahead of North America in eliminating single-use plastic.
And the environment isn’t the only reason to avoid plastic. Studies show that plastic can leach chemicals into our food and water – some of those chemicals have been linked to metabolic disorders and hormone disruption.
And reusable bottles come in so many fun designs and styles. Here are two bottles that also come with built-in purification systems – especially helpful for travel in developing countries, when water safety can’t be assumed.
LifeStraw Go Filter Water Bottle $39.95
The LifeStraw Go Filter Bottle filters 99.9% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli, and 99.9% of all protozoa (parasites) such as giardia. I once had giardia while travelling in Nepal. Not. Fun.
This bottle has a two-stage filtration system. A carbon filter purifies the water while it moves through the straw, and a micron filter physically removes impurities. Although the bottle is plastic, it is BPA free. The filter can purify 1000 gallons (4000 liters) of water before it needs to be replaced.
MONOS Kiyo UVC Water Bottle $70
Yes, the Monos Kiyo UVC Water Bottle is pricey but Kiyo means ‘purity’ and that’s what this beauty is designed for. With a finger swipe, the bottle’s UVC technology purifies drinking water, eliminating 99.9% of bacteria. For the woman who travels to more off-the-beaten-path destinations, the ability to filter drinking water is incredibly valuable. And the Kiyo comes in six gorgeous colours. This is one water bottle you don’t want to forget at spinning class, (spinning class, remember those?).
I hope some of these ideas might be a gift that sparks a pleasant dose of wanderlust in the women travellers on your wishlist this holiday season. And hopefully you find a little something for yourself as well. Happy travel dreaming!
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