The Only Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers You Will Ever Need


It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love; every song you hear seems to say…buy shit for people. Buy shit for everyone. Your family, both immediate and extended. Your kids’ teachers. Your neighbors. The mailman. The dogs. The mailman’s dog.

It’s also that time of year when travel bloggers far and wide compile lists of likely-sponsored posts enumerating and annotating all sorts of gift ideas which are absolutely perfect for all of your traveling friends (and traveling dogs and traveling mailmen). A cursory Google search for ‘best gifts for travelers’ results in 588 million results. If you add ‘2015’ to that search, it narrows it down a bit–to only 20 million.

But this is the only post you actually need to read. Yes, folks–I’m just that confident that I’ve created the singular Gifts for Travelers list that you need to read this holiday season–or any holiday season. And as an added bonus, it’s not even a slideshow post. You’re welcome, interwebs. (Death to slideshow posts.)

So what’s on my list? Noise-cancelling headphones? Neck pillows? Smart luggage, TSA-approved martini shakers, miniature leather-bound journals? No. No. No, no, and no. (Though the travel martini shakers totally exist; I wasn’t making that up.)

In fact, there’s only one item on my Ultimate Best-Ever Guide to Holiday Gifts for Travelers list. Take that, 588 million posts.

My one item comes with a brief story…

I was on the road last week and I was window shopping. And I was finding all kinds of cool crap that I wanted to buy. Except I couldn’t buy it, because I’ve been mostly-not-working for the past far-too-long, and I can’t do things like ‘buy stuff’ anymore. And anyway, even if I’d had the money, I wouldn’t have been able to fit said stuff into my rather small carry on bag.

So I stood there and thought. I thought back on times in my life when I could buy stuff. And then I compared it to how I felt in that moment, knowing that I could not. And I realized: being unable to buy stuff did not bother me at all. I didn’t need the stuff, and carrying it would be more of a burden than a joy. So I ceased window shopping and walked out into the sunshine.

Do you know what would bother me? Not being able to be there, where I was, on that day. That would deeply bother me. Being stuck at home (lording over all of the stuff I’d previously accumulated, dragon-style) would bother me a  thousand–a million–times more than not being able to shop. Or buy gifts for others. Or receive gifts from others.

Thus, the one thing on my This Is All You Will Ever Need To Know About Buying Gifts For Travelers list is this:


The travelers on your list don’t want stuff. They want experiences. They want to stand in the sun on a beach, or alone on a rainy street in a new city. They want to climb mountains and board planes, trains, and busses. They want to sail, to fly, to drive really fast. They want to make new friends, either for a day or a week or a lifetime. They want to get lost. They want to get found. They want to be in the world.  And they don’t want to drag along a pair of bulky, noise-canceling headphones along with them. (Death to noise-cancelling headphones.)



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