The Frommer's Travel Gift Guide
You'll notice that a lot of "travel gifts" out there aren’t really travel gifts at all. Tiny bottles of shampoo? You end up using them at home. Relaxation mist? Please. No, we think the best travel presents make life on the road smarter, better, or easier. As we do every year, we've combed the catalogs for the best and most intriguing items for your loved one on the go—and we found gifts at every price point, so no matter what you want to spend, you’ll find the ideal travel tool.
Introducing clothes that you don't have to wash for two weeks. You probably thought those already existed when you were in college, but this time it's really true. The manufacturers swear you'll be able to pack nearly nothing thanks to their lightweight, neutral-toned, durable, moisture-wicking, and wholly wrinkle-free and high-performance merino wool. They'll clothe you a la carte in this stuff from toes to torso, or they'll make it easy with one of their Packs ($200), which contain two crew or v-neck T-shirts, two pairs of underwear, and two pairs of socks, all made from their miracle fabric. It's a product designed for the most intrepid among us—and, yes, the laziest. $15 and up, UnboundMerino.com
Your entire wardrobe can't be made of miracle fabric, though. Wear most socks on vacation too long and the only miracle will be their sudden ability to walk around the hotel on their own. So do your duds on the go with Laundreez: open it, add clothes and detergent, pour in some water, and shake. After a soak, drain the water, rinse, and let dry. When the bag is empty, it folds flat. Now the locals won't be afraid to get near you! $30, Laundreez.com
We were skeptical of these at first—oh, gee, yet another pair of headphones on the market—but they swiftly became our favorites for travel. For one thing, and it's a big selling point, there aren't many noise-canceling phones that cost less than $200. There also aren't many others that have 24 hours of battery life, enough to cover the longest of flights. The Skullcandy Venue can plug into an airplane seat's audio jack or go Bluetooth when you're walking around. But their neatest trick comes when you're done using them: The ear cups twist sideways so the entire set fits in a flat, hard-sided case that's no thicker (or harder to pack) than the hardcover book you won't be reading now. $179, Skullcandy.com
Recent swab tests in Canada made the unsettling discovery of E. coli bacteria thriving in airline seatback pockets. How did an organism associated with fecal matter get in there? Ask the previous passengers, who stored their baby's dirty diapers and worn-out chewing gum in that pocket, which is rarely cleaned and sterilized by the airlines. Airpocket, the flexible neoprene carrier, organizes and protects your stuff while it's dunked in that gunky soup. Plus you won't lose little items in the seatback anymore. Airpocket measures 11.75 x 9.75 x 2.25 inches and comes with a detachable shoulder strap. $68, TheAirpocket.com
Vanity doesn't stay home when you travel. It tags along, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, because you'll need it when you appear in the treasured vacation photos that will follow you throughout your life. Rechargeable by USB, this flattering Selfie Ring Light is like the O.G. Instagram filter: It's just good lighting. Its pleasing, diffuse glow can be adjusted for brightness and crispness, and you can twist it all the way around. You can also use it for putting on makeup or reading after dark. Yes, the kitty ears are weird, but looking haggard in a Facebook post when you're trying to brag is far more humiliating. $14 on Amazon.com
Direct from the newly opened Globus Mundi, a travel shop you can find only at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, we bring you the ultimate passport holder for the Potter fan. Made of faux leather, this theme park exclusive has velvet lining, four slots for cards, and it was approved by J.K. Rowling, who personally vets all merchandise sold in the parks. This one is for Harry's house in Hogwarts, Gryffindor, but it also comes in Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff colors. $25, UniversalOrlando.com
Call it tangle creep. Year after year, as we add more electronic devices to our arsenal of travel tools, the insides of our carry-on bags have gradually looked more like bowls of spaghetti bolognese. Solve that with elegance. This practical case made of soft leather has three pockets for your various cords and chargers. To store it, just roll it up and tie the strap. The case comes in 16 colors; when it's unrolled, it measures 5.5 x 11.5 inches. Monogramming is free. $49, MarkandGraham.com
Many caffeine enthusiasts love pour-over coffee for the bold flavors and increased control over the brewing process. But it’s not exactly a portable morning ritual, given that it requires more equipment (funnels, filters, brewers, kettles) than you’ll find in some A.P. chemistry classrooms. But don’t force the traveling coffee snob in your life to resort to a barista-made or—perish the thought!—instant brew. These one-cup pour-over pouches, which feature ethically sourced grounds inside a pocket with cardboard arms to extend over your mug, are perfect for hotel rooms or campsites. Just pour hot water over the pouch until you’ve made the perfect cup. Unlike most instant coffees, the resulting beverage doesn’t taste watered-down or like ground-up pencil lead. Use a 10-pack for stocking stuffers or throw in a Kuju enamel mug ($15). Starting at $22 for case of 10, KujuCoffee.com
Traditional horseshoe-shaped travel pillows simply don't work for everyone because they still allow your head to flop around when you drift off. This newfangled version, called the Trtl Pillow, solves that with an internal skeleton that keeps your head upright. Yes, this one-size-fits-all invention is the equivalent of a neck corset, but it doesn't look that strange when you actually use it (this is a simulated cross-section image)—it looks more like you wrapped a scarf around your throat. It also travels well, because it's smaller than a classic pillow, its cushy-soft covering can be machine washed, and it comes in four colors. Besides, who cares what you look like as long as you get some sleep on the flight? $30, TrtlTravel.com
Travelers who do still appreciate the classic horseshoe-shaped neck pillow may love this souped-up version even more. It contains a spine of high-density memory foam that can be heated up in three different power settings (as seen in this simulation). The Heated Travel Pillow's 5-volt battery is rechargeable, and when you think the polyester fleece fabric needs freshening, just remove it and toss it in the washing machine. $50, Voltheat.com
In the stocking stuffer realm, give the gift that keeps on dreaming. Workman Publishing has a collection of page-a-day calendars that, once every 24 hours, unveil a new luscious photograph from your favorite places in the world. It's easy to put this daily visual inspiration on your desk, too—the double-sided pages are presented in a standing display case (6.3 x 1.6 x 7.4 inches, included). The travel-themed Gallery line—consider them the page-a-day calendars you won't forget to change—is devoted to Islands, Paris, Italy, or New York City. (If you prefer to see 365 small images of your favorite place on a classic wall calendar, Workman publishes those, too.) $18, Workman.com
Many light sleepers find their rest gets even thinner when they're in a new place. These ingenious little buds form a solid, comfortable seal in your ear to muffle any disquietude. But these are by Bose, so of course that's not nearly all they do. They have built-in active noise cancellation. Noise-Masking Sleepbuds can also play 10 pre-loaded ambient-sound "sleeptracks" (rain, wind, and so on), adding another layer to smother the din of jarring traffic, dogs, or snoring spousal throats. And the buds have an alarm to gently wake you in the morning. At only 1.4 grams each, they're so tiny in their cute little travel case as to be nearly negligible. And they can run for up to 16 hours on a single charge, which in the electronics world is something that, well, you never hear. $249, Bose.com
Of course, when it comes to making travel easier and better, nothing beats a Frommer's guide. We have been inspiring and empowering vacationers for more than six decades now, and our information is just as fresh as it always was. Our line of destinations is growing all the time. Visit our store, right here on this site, to find the titles that will inspire your loved ones. The Frommer's Store
Also check out our previous gift guide, from Summer 2018, by clicking here.