At a loss as to what to gift your globe-trotting granny or your adventurous auntie this year? Our expert travel editors each shared something they'll be gifting (or getting. #selfcare) this holiday season. Even though we all might have fewer passport stamps this year than we had planned on, these eight gifts can be enjoyed wherever you are, whether that be at home in your kitchen, hiking at the nearby state park, or during a long layover in an airport on the other side of the globe.
Let’s face it: We’re probably not going to be taking international trips anytime soon. While I’m normally one to take my annual vacation abroad, I’ve been using this period of being grounded to rediscover the U.S.: to visit places that I had always wanted to go to but put on hold because I had previously assumed I’d have all the time in the world to do it.
As I’m out exploring my own backyard, I want to hold onto those positive moments in this 50 States Traveled journal: my boyfriend oohing and awing over a lobster roll and ranking it as one of the top three meals he’s ever had; scrambling my way up the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park for views so spectacular it was worth being sore for a solid week, and finally grabbing brunch at what is consistently ranked as one of the country’s best places for the late-morning meal in my hometown of Indianapolis.
The journal’s fun, short prompts (“Anything that would be better forgotten?” “Highlight of your visit?”) make capturing these memories super quick for busy travelers. As it’s easy to tote, this journal is sure to be my new road trip buddy when I’m socially distancing.
2020 was full of uncertainty, but if there’s one thing I can be sure of as this year comes to an end, it’s that the fever pitch popularity of the great outdoors isn’t going away anytime soon. With so many activities moving outside, I found myself feeling envious of the REI and Patagonia staples I would spot creeping into my friends’ wardrobe rotations during our outdoor hangs. Sadly, my closet was lacking in anything I could hike in, and most of the gear I came across seemed bland. I was looking for something more... me.
That’s why I was excited when I heard that one of my favorite brands, Austin-based athleisure purveyor Outdoor Voices, was releasing a collaboration with OG hiking brand Merrell. One scroll through the OV Outdoors collection, and I knew I’d finally found what I’d been looking for. The apple of my eye has been the Moab 2 hiking boots in Lava, a rich blend of bright raspberry, orange, and pink. I just know my friends will be jealous when they see how stylish they are. I’m also going to snag a pair in Galapagos Green for my younger brother, because I’m nice like that.
Unsurprisingly I’ve been feeling really nostalgic lately, so I’ve been going back through my old photos from past trips. I take a lot of (admittedly bad) pictures whenever I’m in a new place, and looking back at them reminds me of the smaller, almost forgotten moments of a trip—like getting lost in the deeply residential areas of Seoul, or eating ice cream with olive oil (it’s good, I swear!) amongst the rolling hills of Paso Robles, California.
Since I won’t be going home for the holidays and my family doesn’t really do long-distance gifts, I decided to make my long-deferred dream of having travel photo albums a reality this year. I especially love this hardcover album from Artifact Uprising because of how polished the finished product looks. The cover fabrics are all desaturated while the layouts are very minimalist, which are very much in line with my personal aesthetic. The final product is a gift, but so is the creation process where my crafty brain can go wild with layouts and even add in full pages of text. I haven’t started on the book yet, but I can’t wait to memorialize my travels, starting with my Seoul vacation that I went on almost one year ago to the day.
As a photographer that’s often on the go, GorillaPod's flexible, compact tripod has been one of my favorite gifts I’ve received. Whether I’m traveling the world or my own backyard, it's great in any situation.
It’s small enough to fit in a backpack and light enough that you can carry it around all day without it weighing you down, while the size and bendable legs give you the freedom that a more traditional tripod doesn’t. The legs can be twisted to whatever your environment calls for, including mounting your camera on a tree branch or turning it into a handheld mount to film yourself!
Arms can also be used to attach other devices like a light, a GoPro, or a mic. Don’t have a fancy camera? No problem. Some models come with a phone holder, so that camera in your pocket will do just fine.
Every trip I take, without fail, I come back with hundreds of photos, and I want to share them with friends and family somewhere besides Instagram. Rather than giving someone loose prints to make use of or yet another framed photo for them to find space for, a personalized photo calendar is a great gift option.
You can choose the photos that go into it, whether that’s an assortment of idyllic beach scenes from your island escape for your beach bum friend or a collection of photos from trips you’ve taken with the recipient. (I prefer the latter for a more personal touch.) As you put it together, you’ll get to sort through all your photos to choose the best options, allowing you to relive the adventures you’ve had; and a calendar is a gift that’s good all year long for your recipient as they uncover a new destination or memory each month when they turn the page. (Plus, who wouldn’t want a gift that also serves as a subtle reminder that 2020 is almost over?)
I love the Walnut option for its minimalistic aesthetic that fits into almost any decor, but there’s also brass, wood, or wall-hanging options. I’ll be ordering a few of these this year for my friends and family (and myself), taking the time to carefully personalize each one to the recipient.
Silk scarves have become a surprise wardrobe staple for me this year: They’re bright, sophisticated, and—crucially—work as backup face masks in a pinch.
No one wears scarves better than the French, so I’ve been scouring Imparfaite, a Paris-based online vintage shop, to round out my collection. The shop is an absolute treasure trove of cool old scarves at every price point, from practically every decade: A red-and-gold Hermes from the ‘80s is a true splurge at 200 euros, while this slim satin scarf gives off the same lux vibes for just 39 euros.
I’m already eyeing a few to give to the most stylish folks in my life. And, let’s be honest, I’ll probably pick up a couple for myself while I’m at it. After all, this one accessory keeps you safe, looks chic, and inspires future jaunts abroad—what else could you want these days?
The pandemic has kept me a lot closer to home this year, which has meant more time for one of my favorite activities: cooking. And while I consider myself pretty handy in the kitchen, a spicy discovery has really upped my game.
Burlap & Barrel works directly with small farmers worldwide to package and distribute heirloom spices that are otherwise tough to find. That might not sound exciting, but the first time you use the company's ground buffalo ginger (sourced from Vietnam), or the silk chili from Kahramanmaras, Turkey, you'll immediately notice the difference. (In fact, an editor at TripSavvy's sister food site, The Spruce Eats, told me that these spices are so good that they can't use them during recipe testing!)
Want your giftee to make good use of their new set? Pair the collection with Yotam Ottolenghi's newest book, "Ottolenghi Flavor." The new plant-based tome makes ample use of many of the spices Burlap & Barrel sells.
Many of my friends and family are traveling differently this year, myself included. Most of our trips have been closer to home and only last for a couple of days. To help make our adventures feel more special, I’m giving people on my list Away’s Weekender Bag.
This stylish bag comes in various colors to suit different styles and can hold a week’s worth of clothes. There’s also an internal padded laptop sleeve and a shoe compartment. It’s guaranteed to withstand many years of abuse, too, since the outer shell is made from water-resistant materials, and the bottom is lined with durable leather.
Whether friends choose to take road trips or plane rides throughout 2021, I know that this bag will be a welcome accessory that will make our travels easier and more unique. Away offers The Weekender in nylon or canvas and lets you personalize it with the receiver's initials.