By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency
There’s always that one thing.
That one thing you wished you had brought — or bought — for the trip, but didn’t. So you don’t have a packable rain jacket or an extra layer, or a travel mug that really keeps coffee hot or water cold for kids who refuse to drink “warm” water. You don’t have socks that stay comfortable when they get wet or flip-flops that stay comfortable always. So, since it’s the gift-giving season, why not give your favorite travelers something that will genuinely make them happier and more comfortable on their 2017 travels? The best news: They’ll think of you, and your thoughtful gift, every time they travel.
After we got caught in a mountain squall with relatives who had to resort to plastic garbage bags for coverage, that Christmas, I sent them all rain jackets from REI that folded into a pocket.
Socks can also be a good bet — like those that wick moisture from Smartwool and come in cute patterns for men, women and kids. There’s nothing more miserable than traipsing around sightseeing or hiking in soggy socks. Consider compression socks in a fun pattern from Travelsmith.com for those anticipating long flights or long days on their feet exploring cities.
A gift card is always appreciated, of course, especially for teens that might prefer to choose their own gifts. Consider one from Crocs, makers of those clunky plastic clogs with holes in them. They now offer a wide variety of lightweight, waterproof and comfortable shoes, sandals and even boots that are great for travel. Another good bet for the adults on your gift list is a gift card from www.exofficio.com, which offers stylish travel duds that dry quickly and won’t wrinkle. (I love their travel underwear!)
But if you think giving a gift card is a cop-out and you want to gear your gift toward travel, consider something reminiscent of a trip you’ve taken, or plan for next year. For example, if you are heading to national parks, there are coloring books, T-shirts and calendars from Anderson Design Group (www.ADGstore.com) sporting iconic images; Camelbak has great water bottles in different colors with national park illustrations — purple for Joshua Tree, orange for the Grand Canyon, for example. You can always order online from the park’s nonprofit association like the Yellowstone Association, for example. Check out the selection of kids’ books that may be about the region, or the animals that live there.
Speaking of books, a children’s book set in a place you have visited or plan to visit together is always a welcome gift. Consider a classic like “Paddington Bear,” by Michael Bond, if you are taking kids to London. “Linnea in Monet’s Garden,” by Cristina Bjork, prompted our 7-year-old to lead us to Giverny outside Paris to Claude Monet’s home and gardens, which inspired his paintings. One of my favorite memories is of my two older kids jumping — as kids are invited to do — on Nancy Schon’s “Make Way for Ducklings” sculptures in Boston’s Public Garden. The sculpture of the mallard family is a high point for children who love Robert McCloskey’s classic tale of the family of ducks who made their home there.
For adults, search out books on an upcoming destination and present it along with a gift card and an ebook — maybe a mystery suggestion for that long flight, or a book about local food or wines?
FOR THOSE WHO HATE BUGS and are worried about contracting the Zika virus, give something that treated with insect repellent, like Insect Shield, which introduced the first EPA-registered insect-repellent apparel in 2003. I swear by my hat, but there are also socks, shirts and pants, which continue to repel insects, even after repeated washings.
FOR SUN LOVERS try anything that carries a UPF rating — the higher the rating, the better. Check Coolibar for clothes for men, women, kids and babies with UPF 50+ protection. These are safe for kids, pediatricians say.
FOR ROAD TRIPPERS: Get the kids a fleece throw with their names on it to keep cozy in the back seat from companies like www.llbean.com or http://www.landsend.com. Gift the family a month’s subscription to Audible.com so they can listen to an audiobook together on the road, rather than everyone being glued to their own device ($14.95 a month). A collapsible cooler for the car is always appreciated — filled with their favorite snacks for that first road trip. An emergency kit or first-aid kit, like AAA’s 63-piece Severe Weather Kit ($34.99 for non-members) or the American Red Cross First Aid Kit.($29). If you have time, of course, you can put together your own travel first aid or emergency kit for your favorite road trippers.
FOR THOSE DISORGANIZED PACKERS there are Pack-It Specter compression cubes (on sale for under $32 at www.EagleCreek.com ) and other organizer cubes and sacs, including quilted ones, which are my new favorite, and are great for electronics and jewelry. For totally hapless packers, www.TravelSmith.com has cubes labeled “underthings,” “socks” and “T-shirts” (on sale starting at $15 for a set of two).
FOR YOUR FAVORITE RUNNER: The AlpenGlo Dome hat ($30) made with luminescent yarn, so it’s visible at night. There is a recycled polyester microfleece lined ear band inside for comfort. Anything with reflective material will be appreciated.
Also odor-resistant clothes. I love the new Timberline flannel shirts from LL Bean that are lightweight, moisture wicking and stretchy. (On sale for $39.99 on the website.) Mountain Hardwear also has a men’s Stretchstone flannel long-sleeve shirt that has a moisture-wicking finish and a special stretch fabric. I’m a fan of the new reversible ZHANNA leggings from Exofficio ($85). They’re quick-drying, moisture wicking, wrinkle and odor resistant and even have Sun Guard 50+ built in.
If you’ve traveled with someone who falls apart when their battery conks out, especially teens, you know that’s not pretty. I can’t count the number of times I’ve lent my Powercell 3015c (Ventev, $44.99). It’s the size of a small wallet with built-in Apple Lightning or micro USB cable.
Another welcome gift for those traveling abroad is a charging hub that will be combatable most everywhere. The Global charging hub 300, a bargain at $34.99, works in 150 countries.
The best gift, of course, is a promise of a trip together, just as long as you discuss it all before plunking down a nonrefundable deposit.
© 2016 EILEEN OGINTZ
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.