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Travel junkies are a tricky group to buy gifts for: Not only have they been there, done that, but they’ve also likely picked up some pretty unique things along the way. So this year, for our list of the best gifts for travelers, we’re spotlighting products that might spark wanderlust and inspiration (think gorgeous books celebrating global destinations), as well as useful items that help enhance journeys, from stylish pet carriers and portable UV disinfecting wands to the perfect tool for aerating wine while on the road. Because these days, anything that can help ease the stress and hassle of travel is really the biggest gift of all.
Great Escapes USA, The Hotel Book
Consider this the ultimate US travel guide—particularly for hotel junkies. Written by Angelika Taschen, this 360-page hardcover travel book spotlights various destinations across the continent via engaging images, lively text and practical info. Along the way, you’ll go inside a diverse collection of design-centric hotels. From a horse ranch, a former miners’ camp and a laid-back surfers’ motel to Southern belles in New Orleans and Austin, you’ll get to check in to an array of inns, each with its own story to tell.
Marc Jacobs x Four Seasons New York Downtown Sweatshirt
Celebrate the Big Apple and one of its top luxury hotels with this limited-edition sweatshirt designed by Marc Jacobs. Only around 250 examples of the sweatshirt are available, each made from 100-percent cotton and featuring a fully embroidered front emblazoned with the names of the designer and the Four Seasons New York Downtown Hotel, as well as a juicy red apple. The cozy item is available for purchase in the hotel’s Spa boutique or over the phone. Meanwhile, fans of the Four Seasons brand in general are sure to love something from the company’s recently expanded online shop, which is stocking new items like cashmere throws with the signature vine logo ($949) and plush, hand-stitched velvet slippers in colors inspired by Four Seasons locations like Napa, Hampshire and Anguilla ($299).
Leica D-Lux 7 Vans x Ray Barbee Edition
Snap your travel pics in style with this new, limited-edition camera from Leica, fashion label Vans and skater-musician-photographer Ray Barbee. Covered in Vans’ iconic checkerboard pattern, the compact camera has the same technical specifications as the serially produced model (like a large Micro Four Thirds sensor, a fast zoom, Bluetooth connectivity and a lens with a full-frame-equivalent range of 24 –75 mm), plus a specially designed carrier strap and other flourishes. Compact and just 12.7 ounces, the camera also comes with a matching dust bag emblazoned with a travel-appropriate quote from Barbee noting that “the joy is in capturing the journey.”
July Trunk Collection
Hardcover clamshell suitcases may be all the rage these days, but there’s something about them that doesn’t always work for us (it’s usually trying to get the case to zip up without things falling out from one side.) Which is why the Trunk collection from Australian luggage brand July is so great. In addition to sporting a retro-chic, steamer trunk-inspired design and a lightweight anodized aluminum frame, the cases—available in both carry-on and check-in sizes—have latch locks instead of zippers, covers for both sides and a signature compression system. The Checked version also has an 80/20 shape, meaning one side is deeper than the other for easy packing; the Carry-On, meanwhile, has an ejectable power bank that can charge both laptops and phones. Available in Deep Green, Light Sand and Slate Gray; personalization available.
The peak months of the pandemic are not ones we really want to remember, but for travel photographers, they afforded a rare opportunity to capture images of cities as we’ve rarely seen them before—and hopefully won’t see again. In this stunning, just-released collection, photographers from around the world spotlight 15 cities, from Tokyo to Tel Aviv, as they were in mid-2020. From an empty Times Square to a deserted Colosseum, the photos are at times eerie and unsettling, but also reveal the beauty beneath these usually bustling urban centers.
SurfaceSoap UV Wand
PhoneSoap’s line of products—which cleanse and sanitize your electronics, keys, credit cards and more using UV light—became best-sellers during the pandemic, and now the company is helping travelers take that tech on the road. The recently launched SurfaceSoap UV is a portable, easy-to-use wand that, when flashed over surfaces, kills 99.9-percent of bacteria and viruses in seconds, helping to improve sanitation and disinfect high-touch areas. Use it on your laptop after it’s been handled by TSA, on that hotel room counter or remote control, on your plane seat and anywhere in between.
Away Pet Carrier
Away isn’t just known for its handy, lightweight suitcases—it’s also a favorite for this pet carrier which, since its 2020 launch, has at times had a 1,500-person-long waitlist. Luckily, it’s back in stock in time for the holidays, making it the perfect gift for any jet-setting pet owner. Certified for the Center for Pet Safety, and made to FAA requirements, the carrier has removable, washable bedding, a water-resistant lining, a safety collar clip, ventilation and privacy panels and pockets that can hold things for both you and the furry traveler (like a collapsible water bowl). It will even strap on to an Away roller case for extra mobility.
CurrentBody Skin Dr. Harris Anti-Wrinkle Mask
On a red-eye flight from his home base in London, leading aesthetic doctor Steven Harris tried to sleep using the airline-issued flight mask, but was too aware of the tight muscles around his brow—which were both making it tough to unwind and, no doubt, causing wrinkles. Six years, multiple peer-reviewed studies, a patent and many celebrity fans later, Dr. Harris launched this next-gen face mask, which uses raised silicone dots to help relax muscles, lower stress levels, encourage sleep and prevent wrinkles. And there’s nothing to charge or even an on-off button—just don the silky mask and drift away.
Is your travel junkie giftee also an oenophile? Then this new gadget’s for them (and maybe you, too.) The ingenious one-touch wine aerator allows you to help your chosen bottle of wine to properly breathe, whether you’re on a hike, having a picnic or just heading to visit family for the holidays. Simply attach the included stainless steel tube to the compact aerator, then slip the Aervana over the top of an open bottle and press the button—and out comes the perfect pour. Not only does the Aervana provide six times the aeration as the traditional pour-through version, but it also will aerate over 150 bottles of wine on just one set of batteries—which should be good enough for at least one trip. The handy item also comes in a convenient case that easily slips into a purse or carry-on bag.
One of the great pleasures of exploring Paris is wandering its smaller streets and happening upon the tucked-away ateliers, boutiques and artisan workshops that have seemingly been there forever. In this charming book, which feels more like a travel journal, artist and designer Marin Montagut helps recreate that experience by taking us inside 19 such spots. Through photos, drawings, watercolors and collages, you’ll “visit” places like Maison du Pastel, which has been making hand-rolled, custom pigments since 1729; Ultramod, which has been supplying designers with fabrics, trimmings and buttons since 1832; and Herboristerie de la Place Clichy, a historic pharmacy that makes special tinctures and remedies. Also included are a few small specialty museums and other hidden gems.
The Galileo by Glamcor Portable Light Ring
Whether your travels include lots of WFH Zoom calls or you just like to keep your Insta followers apprised of your latest meal, good lighting is essential. Named for the pioneering astronomer, this useful gadget has an easy clip-on for your phone or other devices in its center, and a surrounding light ring that can be adjusted (via a remote) to your preferred brightness levels and color temperature. There’s also a Bluetooth feature, and the 18-inch ring folds in half (and the tripod folds down) for easy portability and storage in the included travel case.
Hyperice Hypervolt Go
While many gyms, spas and even wellness-focused hotels suites are starting to feature percussion massage tools to help guests work out tight knots, this handy tool from Hyperice allows you to ensure you’ll always stay loose while on the go. Light but still powerful, the Hypervolt Go fits easily into a carry-on bag, while its ergonomic design helps it fit comfortably into your hand. It’s also got patented QuietGlide technology for a near-silent operation, two adjustable attachments, three massage speeds and over two-and-half hours of battery life.
Since opening in the 1930s, the Carlyle hotel on New York City’s Upper East Side has been a favorite of both travelers—royalty, celebrities and heads of state among them—and locals who consider the iconic Bemelmans Bar their neighborhood watering hole. In this Assouline tome with a foreword by Lenny Kravitz, readers will learn about the history of the 90-year-old hotel (now a part of the Rosewood collection) via stories, VIP interviews and never-before-seen photos, and get a glimpse at the recent renovation by noted designer Tony Chi.
Adare Manor Sweet & Indulgent Hamper
Gift a taste of Ireland with this treat-packed basket from one of the country’s premier castle hotels. Known for its gourmet cred (its Oak Room is Limerick’s first Michelin-starred restaurant), the Manor has curated a selection of products that will bring the Emerald Isle to your holiday table. Tuck into decadent Christmas pudding, homemade marmalade and lemon curd, artisan chocolate bars (in Milk and Sea Salted Caramel) and Adare Manor Signature 1832 Tea, plus Champagne truffles. Many of the items—as well as others, like a strawberry and champagne jam and a fig and apple chutney—are also available to purchase individually.
Brentwood Home Crystal Cove Mini Charcoal Pillow
This perfect travel companion will help ensure you sleep soundly wherever you are—and whatever position you’re in. Made with breathable, charcoal-infused memory foam (which helps regulate temperature and keep moisture at bay) and a gel fiberfill, the eco-friendly pillow offers contouring support for the neck and head. While 30-percent smaller than a standard pillow, this mini version has a zippered inner chamber to which you can add (or subtract) filling for the ideal amount of support, plus a removable fabric cover that can be thrown in the wash after your trip. Best if all, it easily slips into a carry-on tote.
Airtag Passport Cover by Lighthouse Goods
Created by a Houston-based product designer—and inspired by his own loss of a passport—this was the first passport case on the market that was specifically made to fit the Apple AirTag device, which helps you electronically keep track of important belongings. Made of a durable and high-quality synthetic (and vegan) leather, the case has an integrated strap design and a small notch in the cover in which to slot in the AirTag. The bundle comes with a matching snapless luggage keychain (also designed to securely hold an AirTag) and a handy vaccine card protector sleeve that fits into the passport case, for easy accessibility at the airport. Available in black, blue and green.
Grown Alchemist Handcream
Packed with rosehip and camellia oils, this hand cream is a nourishing well of moisturization—and it does the job without leaving a layer of grease behind. Help a loved one in need by preventing the winter blues brought on by dry skin.
Porter-Yoshida Tanker Boston Bag
For years, Japanese brand Porter-Yosida could only be found in its home country. But, thankfully, its cult nylon bags have made their way stateside. This roomy duffel is hardy enough to lug gym gear or ferry his cargo for a weekend in the country and is guaranteed to attract approving nods from in-the-know menswear aficionados.
GoPro Hero10 Black
For the coming holidays GoPro released its most powerful model ever: the Hero10 Black. The brand synonymous with extreme filming loaded its new apex model with a GP2 processor (designed to deliver faster and smoother performance), advanced stabilization via HyperSmooth 4.0 technology, enhanced low-light capabilities and can live stream directly in 1080p. It can record in slow motion (up to eight times slower than actual moment) with improved 2.7k resolution, and can handle time-lapses at night and low-light environments. The Hero10 Black camera features 5.3k resolution video (93 percent sharper than previous 4k models) at double the frame rate, can capture still images at 23MP and grab hi-res 19.6MP frames from videos. All your extreme filming needs in an easy-to-use compact 71 mm x 55 mm body.
Sennheiser IE900 In-Ear Headphones
Most audiophiles like to do the majority of their music listening at home so they can control their environment. But if you’re looking for a premier sound option for the road, Sennheiser’s latest in-ear models should do the trick. Thanks to the brand’s new X3R transducer and XWB driver, these tiny headphones sound as powerful as much bigger over-ear models. You’ll have to plug them in—they come with three connectors so they’ll work on practically any device—but you’ll also never have to worry about your music cutting out.