Well hello friends, and Merry Christmas!
I hope you’re enjoying the chaotic, joyous, holiday-filled weeks as we move on toward 2016 as I am! Derik and I been galavanting around in the good ol’ US of A this holiday season, and have enjoyed reuniting with family and friends along the way.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I make a New Year’s resolution every year to be good at buying gifts early…and it never happens. So here I sit, two weeks from Christmas, with a whole list of people to shop for. I actually enjoy getting creative gifts for others, so that’s not my problem…If I’m honest with myself, I’m just a gigantic procrastinator. You know that girl in college who didn’t have the 10-page paper started the night before it was supposed to be turned in? Yep that was me.
Back to the subject: I’ve been wanting to put together a gift guide for travelers the second we started moving around ourselves, but just hadn’t gotten around to it ehem, procrastination. A year or so ago, my sister exclaimed to me, “It’s SO DIFFICULT getting you gifts, because you guys move around so much, and I just don’t know what on earth to get you that’s both practical and thoughtful.” I saw her point, and her point was valid.
When you live out of a suitcase for four years, there are many items that you acquire along the way that never actually make the cut, and you end up leaving valued things behind in different countries, with different people, just because it isn’t physically possible to take them with you. Now I realize, not every traveler is living the same way, but this guide can still apply to them as well as expats living abroad for work!
I’m going to keep it real here and provide items I wish I had or items I couldn’t live without that I do have. Do I need a $695 dollar carry-on bag? No. You will not see ridiculous (but pretty) items like that in this list.
I will put a quick disclaimer in here to let you know that there are affiliate links in this post *gasp*. If it bothers the crap out of you that I’ll make $0.05 cents because you clicked on an item and then decide to buy something on Amazon, so be it — write down the title of the product and Google search it instead. :) Just know that $0.05 cents allows me to keep my blog/design business as my primary source of income, aka I work for myself, and I really appreciate it!
The Holiday Gift Guide for the Traveler and Expat
1. GoPro – Our little Gopro (we have the HERO3 Black, but the 4 is on the wishlist!) has seen a lot: Orangutans swinging through the jungle in Borneo, Manta Rays feeding on Plankton late at night in Hawaii (snorkeling tour…was kind of awesome), the countryside of Korea from the top of a motorcycle helmet, night markets in vietnam, and the interior of a Hobbit hole in New Zealand. He’s been around the block a time or two. I could not recommend buying a GoPro enough for those that decide to take the leap to travel the world, or those that are already out exploring! It’s been our lifesaver during the times I didn’t feel it was safe enough to lug around my DSLR, AND it’s an all-weather/underwater camera! The tiny little thing doesn’t take much space or weight, and can be packed anywhere!
2. This is Ground Cord Tacos – I love everything about this company. Not only has their cord tacos saved me endless hours trying to untangle my headphone cords, charging cables, and camera data cables, but they’re cute and leather! I also have a Mod from This is Ground that I store my travel documents, pens, passports, airplane tickets, and more in while we travel! It’s literally the best thing since sliced bread; I know The Mod is a bit spendy, but I couldn’t see myself traveling without it. Lastly, have you seen their website?! So many pretty things…yet all practical (especially this one…lol) and would make life 100% easier.
3. Toshiba External Hard Drive – I can almost guarantee you the traveler in your life takes a ton of pictures. I mean, why wouldn’t they?! It’s always nice to have a hard drive laying around to place the pictures from your camera or phone on…so you have space to take even more! I started our travels with a Passport External HD, but it crashed within the first year and I lost all my photos from 2010-2012. Disheartening to say the least. I then bought a Toshiba, and now I’m two hard drives in (I take a lot of pictures/shoot in RAW), and haven’t had a single problem. They’re reliable, resilient, and hold a ton of photos/movies/whatever else!
4. Luggage Scale – When you travel a lot, you get used to the feel of a bag that weighs 25kg or 50lbs. Derik and I have it down to an exact science, and usually end up with a bag that’s 48.9 lbs or dreadfully 50.4 lbs. That being said, when we move continents we pack as much as we possibly can, and end up being stressed out about the weight. When we were in Germany, my brother-in-law introduced us to a luggage scale, and our lives were changed. How have we traveled 4 YEARS without one?!?!?!?!?
5. Dry Bag – These are great when you aren’t sure if you’ll be using water transport, going on a tour that may or may not be near water, or if you’re traveling in a rainforest or jungle (spontaneous downpours are a thing folks)! Store all your valuable non-waterproof possessions in a Dry Bag, and you’ll be able to protect them from the elements. The plus side? Dry bags take little to no room!
6. Power Adapter – First of all, if you’re traveling from the US to almost anywhere, you need to watch to make sure the item (120V US standard) you’re plugging in to that foreign outlet is compatible 240V, or it’ll explode on you. Seems like a no-brainer I know, but you’d be surprised how you can fall into auto-pilot and plug something in without thinking about it. There ARE a few brands (ehem Apple) that are good to go worldwide, you just need the right adapter end. Instead of being like us at first and have a million different and duplicate adapters, why not get a universal block that has ALL adapter ends to use worldwide? They’re pretty awesome!
7. Jord Wood Watches – These watches are absolutely 100% incredible. Derik and I became proud Jord Watch owners before Thanksgiving, and I don’t think a single day went by without someone stopping us and telling us how amazing our wood watches were, and then asking where we got them. Beautiful and surprisingly lightweight accessories, Jord Watches are perfect for everyone! I always struggle with getting Derik a gift, and he pretty much wears his watch 24/7 — he loves it so much! Just in case you’re curious, Derik has this one and I have this one! #OBSESSED
Jord is providing LIAL readers with a $20 digital gift card to use with purchases. Click here to claim!
THE NOT SO PRACTICAL, BUT TOTALLY AWESOME
I couldn’t resist adding a few items from my wish-list. No, these aren’t needed for travel…but they ARE pretty, and I really, really, do want them!
8. Travel Stub Diary – I keep telling myself someday I’ll scrapbook again, but it’s been 10 years (procrastination again). Since we’ve been traveling for so long, my travel stubs and receipts have been lost along the way. How nice would it be to have something to put all those memories in? I love the idea of a place to keep all those tiny little scraps. :)
9. Carry On Cocktail Kit – Because, why not? Especially on those long flights. Take your pick of an Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, or Gin & Tonic. Also does anyone else besides me appreciate the gorgeous packaging?!
10. Gold Scratch-Off Map – This has been on my wish-list the longest. Although I have zero, absolutely zero luck with scratch-its, I still have a sense of child-like giddiness when I get to scratch something off. Could you imagine doing that with a MAP when it comes to places you’ve been? It would be like a giant visual checkmark off your bucket list.
If the gold foil isn’t your jam, don’t worry, they have Silver too!
OR for a more antique look (my favorite), check out this one!
11. Chalkboard Globe – I love globes, and I love chalk… the two make the most perfect pair! Once we settle down in a house someday, I’ll be making this purchase. Not only can you create your own custom world map, but you can write little notes about places you’ve been, or maybe mark the places you’ve lived with a heart? My ideas are endless with this one.