Holiday Travel Gift Guide 2013: Top 21 Must-Haves

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Now that we’ve lost those extra few pounds that we gained on Thanksgiving and recovered from all of the sleep we lost on Black Friday, we can finally start finalizing our holiday checklist. Whether you’re planning on scoring big on Cyber Monday or spending a few long afternoons at the mall, here are some of my favorite gifts for any traveler – most of which can be purchased right from the comfort of your own home. So grab a blanket, cook some popcorn, cuddle up with the dogs, and… quit procrastinating. Santa will be here in less than 3 and a half weeks!

BedInflatable Bed: Any traveler who finds themselves consistently staying with family or friends who don’t have an extra guest bed will want to seriously consider getting the Essential EZ Bed from Frontgate. It sure beats having to wake up with an aching back and worrying all night about falling off the couch! Whether you choose to keep it in a spare closet or lug it around in the trunk, there’s nothing like having a bed that takes up very little space and plugs in and inflates in less than 3 minutes. Prices start at $199.

Water Filtration

Portable Water Filter: The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is a light weight filtration system that allows you to drink right from a lake! That’s right, you can drink water straight out of the closest body of water. No more thirsty hiking trips and no more annoyance from having to carry around a hefty water bottle, as the filter enables you to be able to drink straight from the source. Hikers and bikers should find this product to be especially useful. It’s available at REI for $24.95. 

SuitcaseMap Suitcase: The Heys Journey 26″ Spinner Luggage comes all decked out with a gigantic National Geographic world map across it’s surface. They have 3 different sizes to choose from, with the entire set combining to form the entire world map. The interior features a special lining and built-in divider with mesh pocket. The hard surface and 4-wheel design combine for a durable, yet stylish way to travel. It was featured in BuzzFeed’s list of 27 Suitcases And Accessories That Ease The Pain Of TravelingIt’s currently on sale for $144.97.

Orlebar BrownBull Dog Swim Shorts: Those of us who love to embrace our inner Orca are always on the lookout for a new pair of swim trunks that fit and look a little cooler than the pair that we already have – and besides, it never hurts to have an extra pair on deck. From the moment I first saw these, I knew that I had to have them, even after seeing the price! They are a work of art in and of themselves, as they are unlike anything I have ever seen before. Orlebar Brown also has over a dozen other similarly looking designs to choose from. They’re priced at a cool $345.

Tree TentTree Tent: If you’re like me, then you probably aren’t too big of a fan of camping. You may even be called a city boy or girl, every now and then at least. Giving up a warm bath and a hot breakfast just isn’t my cup of tea (Sorry campers, no warm cup of tea either)! But when it comes to sleeping in a 3-person Stingray Air Tent–that is like staying in a portable tree house–then things are a completely different story. You’ll feel a lot safer tucked away in the trees than you would on the ground, where snakes and ants could slither right in! It holds a maximum of 880 pounds and retails at $749.

GoProGo Pro Hero 3: The world’s most versatile camera is ideal for adventure travel activities that require keeping both hands occupied. It lets you take pictures and videos of activities like surfing or biking. They are often permitted on a roller coaster, while skateboarding, or even by attaching it to an animal (here’s 4 other ways to use one). With lots of great accessories to connect to everything from cars to helmets to clothing, you’ll be able to capture great video anywhere. I’ve seen these at nearly any place that sells electronics, even at Target. Prices start at $199.99.

DENYTravel Themed Decor: When I happened to stumble upon a beautiful DENY Designs San Francisco throw pillow last year on Pinterest, I was amazed at how good it looked! They also offer this design as a wall hanging, duvet set, pet bed, outdoor pillow, a throw blanket, and even as a shower curtain. They have a number of other similar designs by the same artists, including ones of Mt. Rushmore (as featured above), Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Seattle, Denver, and NYC. This delightful pop of color is sure to spice up any room! The pillow is $39.

The Traveler's HandbooksThe Travelers Handbooks: This collection of travel books comes from 8 of the biggest names in the industry, including Janice Waugh from the Solo Traveler Blog, who I recently interviewed. Whether your interest is food, adventure, volunteering or luxury on a budget – whether it’s doing it alone or with your family, taking a career break or a cruise, there is a Traveler’s Handbook for you. These handbooks are DIY travel guides. Each handbook follows the same format and includes inspiring travel stories amidst how-to advice and full-color photos. The Kindle version is $8.49, while the paperback is $15.33.


Touchscreen Gloves: Introducing the first leather crochet touchscreen gloves. Those who live in colder regions will especially want to consider splurging on these useful, yet beautiful, hand warmers. The gloves are made out of a combination of Ethiopian lambskin leather and crocheted Egyptian cotton. Nanotechnology is integrated into the leather of the gloves to mimic the conductive properties of the human skin, which means that you can use your phone with the gloves on. They’re retailing for $101.

NubrellaHand’s-Free Umbrella: While watching ABC’s Shark Tank, I couldn’t help but purchase the world’s only hands-free umbrella, The Nubrella, to try it our for myself. Whether you’re out mowing the lawn or out trying to talk on the phone while strolling through Central Park, the Nubrella always comes in handy. Another favorite, that happens to be much more light weight, is the Pocket umbrella, which is so small that it will actually fit in one of your shoes. The Nubrella runs for $59.99 (it’s currently on sale for $49.99), while pocket umbrellas can be found for $8.99.

FlipFoldFolding Board: Have you ever wanted your dresser to look just as good on the inside as it does on the out? Well now you can thanks to the FlipFold, which makes your shirts, pants, and towels all look just as nicely folded as they do in the department stores. Not only does it make doing the laundry fun, but it also saves a lot of time. If you won’t take my word for it, then you can take Readers Digest’s raving review or the average of 4.6 Stars that HSN buyers have rated it. It’s priced at an affordable $18.99.

Orlando 2014Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014: As a huge fan of, I could hardly wait to check out their very first guidebook, which turned out to be the most helpful Orlando guidebook that I have ever read. Find the theme parks, hotels, and deals that your family will love… with the help of the thousands of theme park fans and former employees who contribute to the popular website. I was so impressed that I asked author Robert Niles, who I interviewed last year, to appear on my podcast to discuss Orlando travel and I look forward to sharing the new episode with you next week! The eBook version is available for $5.99 and the print version will be available for $9.95.

AtlantisCustom Bobble Head: What better way to remember that Hawaiian luau than to have a bobble head made of you all decked out in your “Tiki attire.” Out of all of the crazy things I’ve purchased over the years, my custom bobble head is by far my favorite. I actually first saw the idea on ABC’s Shark Tank last year, but finally decided to breakdown and get one this past Fall and I just adore it! It’s something I know I’ll still have in 30 years and it’ll be fun to share it with my kids one day. The picture to the right was taken with my bobble head lying on my Atlantis mousepad! They’re only $64.90 and they make great gag gifts.

MophieMophie Juice Packs: Those who rely on their iPhone to act as a GPS will want to get one of these “juice packs,” which can be picked up at your local BestBuy. There’s nothing worse than getting lost after your phone looses it’s battery, and then having to hunt down and ask a stranger to use their phone. This new, ultra-thin, protective battery case provides your phone with 80% more battery life and it’s 13% thinner than previous versions. It’s available for $79.95 (they’re currently on sale for $55.95), and there’s also the Powerstation Mini for $59.95 (currently on sale for $41.95).

LensiPhone Lens: Looking for the quality of a DSLR with a size that will fit in your pocket? Well you’re in luck because the olloclip 4-IN-1 lens system includes a Fisheye, Wide-Angle, 10x Macro and a 15x Macro. All four lenses fit right in the convenience and safety of your own pocket. It can be used with all photo and video apps and it comes in black, silver, and red. It retails at $69.99, which sure beats spending thousands on a DSLR!


iPadDesigner Tablet Cover: Those who want to look like a big shot and don’t mind spending more than what they spent on the iPad itself (or more than the price of their last vacation), will want to be sure to get a Louis Vuitton iPad case. Protect your iPad in style with this classy, yet useful accessory, which props your iPad up for convenient viewing. The ultimate gift works perfectly for those who have it all. What’s not to love? It retails at a whopping $790.

ScottevestScottevest: This is another product that I first saw on Shark Tank and have been a huge fan of ever since. What makes these jacket or other article of clothing so unique is that they have multiple hidden pockets, some of which can even hold an iPad.  These jackets almost work as an extra carry-on, protecting your valuables while still looking fashionable. Their clothes are designed for both men and women and they have a wide variety of products to suit any travelers needs. Prices begin at $20 for a pair of boxers.

KeyboardBlueTooth Silicone Keyboard: This miniature lightweight keyboard is not only water proof dustproof, spill-proof, and washable, but also conveniently wireless. It even comes foldable, where you can curl it right into a little ball and stick it in the depths of your pocket. It’s compatible with a PC, as well as your iPad and comes in a variety of trendy colors. The keyboard has 85 little keys, offering a small, yet fun, surface to type on. Those looking to take in some sun can head to the beach with their LifeProof iPad case, to go along with this waterproof keyboard. Then you’ll really be set!
It runs at $16.98.

Vegas OrnamentPottery Barn Travelers Tree: When I got the latest Pottery Barn magazine in the mail and saw a “Traveler’s Tree,” I got excited and got one of everything. So far, I have been very impressed with the quality and aesthetics. Due to my obsession with Las Vegas, I got especially excited when I saw a replica of their iconic welcome sign. They also have an ornament of The Statue of Liberty, a New York City taxi, The Golden Gate Bridge, an airplane and a vintage camera. They even have a tree topper of The Eiffel Tower and ornaments of Big Ben, a red London-style telephone booth, and many more! This ornament is normally $10.50 but has been marked down to $7.50.


Eyn For iPhone 5/5S: Those craving simplicity will adore this multipurpose iPhone case, which packs a lot into a small package. Its hinged back has hidden storage for credit cards and cash and doubles as a kickstand on seat-back trays. Add on a hidden mirror and a wrist strap, and this gadget has the potential to turn an iPhone into your only accessory. All of those amazing features are hidden in the back of your phone. So hidden that you’ll almost forget that they are even there. It’s sold for $29.99.

 Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 7.57.21 PM Magnetic Travel Map: With all 5 star reviews, this Frontgate (US or world) magnetic travel map allows you to chart your journeys around the globe and help you start planning your bucket list. These current Rand McNally World maps are printed on parchment-style paper with rich, subdued colors that give each one a sophisticated old-world appearance. Personalize with a magnetic plaque to place in the corner. The beautiful frame is icing on the cake, with elegant mahogany and burled wood. It normally retails for $225, but it is currently on sale for $199.

Do you use any of these items in your travels? Are there any I left off? Please let me know, I’d love to hear from you!


Taylor Goldblatt

After years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.

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