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Holiday gifts to inspire the traveller in your life

A pop-up book and a smartphone prop. A pretty little poncho and a sturdy, stylish tripod. A comfy new pillow and a little lamb that lulls you to sleep.

A pop-up book and a smartphone prop. A pretty little poncho and a sturdy, stylish tripod. A comfy new pillow and a little lamb that lulls you to sleep. These are some of the finds that just might wind up on your wish list — or your shopping list for the traveller in your life. Happy shopping.




• Know when to fold ’em

Many women lust after handbags. Fewer lust over luggage, but can you really have too many suitcases? You can, especially if storage space is an issue. That’s where the Biaggi Contempo four-wheeler comes in: You can collapse it so it fits under a bed. Useful for a cruise or for a cramped home, this bag comes in a variety of sizex from 50 centimetres to 76 centimetres and weighs in at approximately three kilograms, thanks to its nylon exterior and aluminum frame. It comes in a range of colours, as well.


• Packing it in

More and more, our work travels with us. We’re not saying that’s a good thing; it’s just a thing. And here’s a nifty way to take along all the things that let you get the job done. Genius Pack’s High Altitude Flight Bag is a contemporary take on an old-fashioned briefcase. It wraps around the upright tray table in front of you so that your papers, magazines and electronics are within reach during your flight. For cyclists, it wraps around the bike’s centre bar, out of the way for commuting but still safe. It also hooks nicely on your carry-on luggage. In sky blue, coral red, plum and mint. Just think of it as a stylish pocket protector.


• Wild weekender

It’s time to ditch that frumpy old black backpack in favour of this colourful Allende weekender bag by Stela 9. Handmade in Guatemala, it features a finely embroidered exterior and rolled handles, with an optional pebbled leather shoulder strap. There’s a convenient zip pocket in back, and the zip top opens wide to a lined interior roomy enough to store all the essentials for your getaway.




• You’re getting sleeeeepy

It was love at first sight for me and Cirrus, SleepPhones’ super-cute aid for people who have trouble sleeping when they’re away from home. Although the plush sheep is a storage accessory for the company’s comfy headphones, the soothing power of a soft, cuddly toy is not to be underestimated, even for grownups. The SleepPhones headband is home to two felt-covered speakers that deliver a warm sound for their size. Bluetooth pairing is a breeze, and the headphones are a dream to sleep with. The volume can be turned up high enough for air travel, but don’t expect it to drown out that pesky chatterbox in the row behind you or silence snoring roomies. Be sure to order the correct size for the most comfortable fit.


• 3-2-1, chill!

If you’re the type of traveller who’s always being reminded to chill, HeartMath’s iOS Sensor is for you. It clips to your earlobe and feeds information about your pulse to the accompanying Inner Balance app, which in turn guides you through a training session that is designed to improve well-being and clarity of thought. Although we can’t vouch for the science behind the technology, we did find that the app was effective at keeping our scatterbrained self focused on relaxation for a few minutes. The sensor has a 30-pin connector, so if your device uses a lightning connector, you’ll need an adapter.


• Getting an earful

Ready to tune into Song for a Winter’s Night? British speaker manufacturer KEF enters the headphone market with the M500 over-the-ear headphones, so warm and comfortable you could use them for earmuffs. Even better, the soundscape ranges from deep and warm to high and clear. The handsome headphones offer sweat-resistant and breathable memory foam ear pads that rotate easily to adapt to different-sized heads. They fold up into a stylish carrying case, ideal for travel. High fidelity, low fuss. Works with most computers, smartphones and other mobile devices.



• Sound idea

You have a fine set of earbuds or headphones that you love, but now you need a mike (for Skype or other VOIP uses or gaming). The MoovMic by Headset Buddy can step into the breach. This lightweight boom mike can attach to a spot on your buds or phones using a small adhesive-backed plate. Then plug the mike part into the appropriate receptacle on your PC and Skype away. The sound on the test call was crisp and clear, superior to the sound on my smartphone earbuds.


• Steady there

One key to great travel photos and videos — often underappreciated by amateurs — is a steady lens. Menotti tripods can give you that, with portability and a dash of style. Most of its products come in eight colors (handy for spotting your sticks when it’s time to move on). The Day Trip tripod is the most compact — just 23 centimetres long when collapsed. The top-of-the-line Globe Trotter can support almost 12 kilograms, converts into a monopode and can be ordered in aluminumor lighter, pricier carbon fibre. The company also make monopodes.


• Props for you

It’s small, it’s smartly designed and it makes life easier. What’s not to love about an item like that, which is what Keyprop is. It’s a smartphone stand shaped like a key that you attach to your key ring. Why do you need a stand? If you’re watching a movie on an airplane tray tabletop or you’re shooting a selfie or you’re using Skype. One prong of the Keyprop fits in the earphone jack, which means it works in non-iPhone products. Another prong fits into the lightning connector on an iPhone5 and above, which means it can work two ways on the Apple of your eye. It will not work if your phone’s case is big and bulky. Your world won’t end if you don’t have a Keyprop, but it may revolve a little more smoothly if you do.


• Neat, neat, neat

Want to be the most popular kid in the class (or attendee at the conference)? Carry a power strip — one whose size is manageable as it is in the Pack and Plug, from GUS (Great Useful Stuff). When outlets are limited, you’ll have star power. That’s just one of the functions of the Pack and Plug, a roll-up home for that power strip and the other assorted lightning connectors and mini- or micro-chargers as well as a mesh pocket for that thumb drive, batteries and other assorted gear. It also keeps those various connectors neat and tidy; you plug them into the power strip and the power strip into your hotel outlet. No more snarls. Its blue protective case makes it easy to find in the recesses of your bag. Its sibling, the Cotton Cord Roll, does the same thing, minus the power strip. But this organizer, which is coated cotton, is lighter (no power strip) and has labels for the tablet, phone and computer cords. My bag no longer looks like Charlotte’s Web, which takes some of the bite out of travel.








• Zap those identity thieves

Ward off the unseen enemy with these protective passport sleeves, one of the most-interesting — and telling — stocking-stuffers of the season. These lightweight radio frequency-blocking sleeves purport to keep your information safe from cyber pickpockets. The simple cover, known as an RFID-blocking sleeve, looks just like another paper envelope, yet it’s water-resistant and tough to tear. And something special for those with a James Bond complex.





• Fanny pack, redux

To call Trabeca’s sash a fanny pack is a bit of a cheap shot. It’s a more fashionable alternative to the accessory that has room for everything but your dignity. With three styles to choose from, the sash is ideal for those who don’t like to carry a purse. A zippered pocket at the small of the back holds a smartphone, and a front pocket with Velcro closure has room for cash, cards or a key. Travelers no longer have to fumble with money belts that tuck under clothes; this sash keeps everything close at hand yet hidden from prying eyes.


• Slim slippers

If you need to make every centimetre of suitcase space count, consider the One Piece Camp Slipper Shoe, which lies flat in your luggage and weighs very little. This slipper is what you want if you’re staying in a dive hotel with a grimy shower floor or anywhere you don’t want your tootsies to touch the ground (or anywhere where the owner of said ground doesn’t want your feet scuffing up their lovely parquet, for example). To slip them on, you stick your foot through and flip them over. You don’t have to worry about width if your dogs are wider than usual; there’s enough neoprene to keep them covered. If you need arch support, these slippers aren’t for you; if that’s not an issue, these may be minimalist nirvana. In black, green, blue and red.


• As right as rain

This cheery polka-dot poncho by Reisenthel could brighten even the rainiest day in London. Made of tough, lightweight polyester, it has a drawstring hood and a zipper at the neckline, making it easy to pull on and off. Snap closures on the sleeves keep out the wet weather. And when the sun does shine, the poncho folds into its own pouch. Also in black-and-white houndstooth.


• Chill chaser

Is it a wrap? Or is it a blanket? Either way, it means you have one less item to pack. The multipurpose Wrapper Blanket by Chilly Jilly can be worn as a sarong-like beach coverup or as a wrap in a drafty opera house. Impromptu picnic? It’s a ground cover too. But I like it best as a blanket to ward off the arctic chill of a long-distance plane trip. The brushed

microfibre and spandex fabric is warm, lightweight and washable. In brown, slate and navy.


• Snuggle in

Even the sturdiest road warrior could use some TLC — tender, loving cashmere. This luxurious travel set from Ralph Lauren features a warm cashmere blanket and eye mask in a co-ordinating zippered bag that doubles as a pillow. Wrapping yourself in the blanket, which measures 81 by 140 cen- timetres, is like snuggling in your fave cable-knit sweater. In navy, gray, camel, black, red, Champagne and cream.


• You snooze, you cruise

You know those travel pillows that fit you like a collar? They’re a pain in the neck. You fall asleep, your chin sags and the next thing you know, you’ve tipped forward and drooled on your seatmate. Not a pretty picture. The J-Pillow stops that from happening. It can be used several ways. It weighs in at just over 225 grams, and squashes down to a packable size. Worth the weight for no crick in the neck.


• Help’s at hand

There’s no excuse for a droopy hemline or spinach in your teeth with this teeny-tiny tool bag. The Transportation Security Administration-compliant Minimergency Survival Kit is packed with 17 items — double-sided tape, dental floss, stain remover, mending kit and more — to help you cope with fashion, beauty or personal predicaments while away from home. The zip-touch pouch comes in glittery pewter or fuchsia, making it easy to find in your carry-on or tote bag.


• Man up

Men can keep their travel odds and ends organized with a lightweight pouch, detailed with playful graphics. The 20-centimetre-long pouch, from Flight 001, can handle most of your travel-related vitals — passports, cell chargers, keys, breath mints. In fact, they would make perfect cigar pouches for your next Vegas trip. Durable canvas topped by heavy-duty zippers for travellers who are looking for a simple pouch that just gets the job done.


• Get the message?

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a friend is to push them toward the paradise they might not otherwise explore. Use the power of suggestion to get them on the road with this luggage tag from Jonathan Adler. Also sold as a passport cover, the Take a Trip message gets the point across in a hurry. Both items are made of leather, with bold and colourful graphics. While you’re at it, maybe you can get them to take a friend along as well?




• Art of the matter

Maybe you don’t have that killer photo that shows the glories of San Francisco or the beauties of San Diego, but you can have a representation of these and other destinations beautifully framed. And they may evoke more oohs and aahs than your photos. offers prints that evoke the heyday of the picture postcard and can be framed to your liking. If you’re more literal-minded, check out’s Associated Press collection, which can also be framed. For the traveler in your life — and maybe that’s you — these are fitting reminders of the roads you’ve travelled and the memories you’ve brought home.





• Honk, honk

New York fans will appreciate this handmade 100 per cent wool needlepoint pillow, velvet backed with a hidden zipper. Emblazoned with one of the city’s ubiquitous taxicabs, this colourful pillow will elicit a smile from even the toughest cabby — just don’t forget to tip.


• Take a pass

Here’s a cool tool for the beaten path. If you know somebody headed to New York or another major North American city, a Citypass booklet can save substantial money on major tourist attractions. With New York, for example, $106 buys adult admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Guggenheim and several other major attractions, which otherwise would cost you $185 (and you’d spend more time standing in line). The booklets are typically good for nine days from your first use. Also covered by Citypass: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hollywood, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California and Toronto.