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Fodor’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Travel-inspired gifts for everyone in your life.

It’s beginning to look a lot like gift-giving season! Why not put everything you want in one list and then buy your friends and family those exact items? If they’ve been good all year, treat yourself to the inspiration and opportunity to travel in 2019. They’ll forever associate you with the memories and experiences you encouraged. These gifts will inspire travelers, make traveling easier, and do some good in the world.

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For the Aspiring Charo

Anyone who’s traveled with a guitar knows it can be pure hell—as you check the case at the airport and watch it go down the conveyor belt you pray that it won’t get lost or mangled by the time your reach your destination. If it does end up in baggage claim, you have to search for it in that “land of forgotten toys”-esque area along with misshapen suitcases and neglected packages. Now your giftee can leave their beloved Fender at home and bring a Jammy on their next vacation instead. The digital, portable guitar (which has real steel strings) breaks down into four separate pieces and can fit into most backpacks. It even complies with airline carry-on regulations! How it works: the frets act as sensors that send a signal to a sound processor which generates MIDI signals. This all done via its companion app, through which you can also change the tuning. Anyway, here’s “Wonderwall.”

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For the Niece/Nephew

Finding the perfect gift for your niece and nephew can be stressful, but it shouldn’t be, especially if those gifts can inspire dreams of traveling the globe. Around the World in 80 Puzzles by Aleksandra Artymowska takes readers young and old on puzzling adventures past pagodas and temples, through jungles and mazes, and on boats and trains. Go West! by Pascal Blanchet brings a child’s love of trains to life with visits to great North American railroad cities like Denver, Vancouver, Omaha, San Francisco, and Montreal. James Brown’s A World of Cities uses illustrations reminiscent of travel posters to teach readers about the fabulous cities of the world with fun facts and history. The Hello board book series from Applewood Press runs the gamut of state’s east to west, north, and south with titles that focus on cities like Hello, Nashville! and states like Hello, Virginia! and Aloha, Hawaii! And, speaking of the globe, why not build your own with Discovery Globe, a build-your-own-kit that comes with a world explorer’s guide to fill little ones in on all the places they see in these books.

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For the Person Who Needs to Put the Screen Down and Explore

Need a gift that will inspire that special someone to get off their butt and explore the world? Or, perhaps you just need a gift for the person who has everything? The Ultimate Book of Adventure: Life-Changing Excursions and Experiences Around the World is the perfect choice for either person as it contains survival skills like how to deal with a venomous snake bite or how to survive falling overboard at sea.  It also includes details and tips for things like running a marathon or volunteering as a fire spotter. To complete the gift, add Spark Adventure: 50 Ways to Explore and Discover. Designed to look like a match box, the set has 50 “matches” with suggestions that are designed to help “spark” that wanderlust; ideas range from “Pick a spot at random on a map and go there” to “Take a risk: Say yes to something you’d normally say no to.” The final piece to the gift puzzle is this assembly-required Paper Globe. Constructed in minutes without glue or scissors, the colorful 7-inch globe will help determine where the adventure will be.

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For the Foodie

A wise person probably said that the way to a country’s heart is through the stomach, and that is most certainly the case when we travel and create lasting memories through food. Access Culinary Trips consistently offers a deep and authentic culinary experience on their many trips around the world through knowledgeable local guides and genuine relationships in the communities they visit. Their 5-day Tuscany tour explores one of Italy’s richest culinary regions with wine tastings and cooking classes, special dinners in vineyards and award-winning restaurants, and connections to the local farmers, cheese makers, and producers. Best thing about this gift? You get to sample all the new dishes when the recipient returns!

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For the Comfort Lover

If sleeping soundly on a plane was a gift, we’d give it–but the next best thing is a cozy outfit for long hauls. The Restore Travel Kit from Lunya has 5 super comfy travel necessities: a tank, long sleeve crew-neck shirt, leggings, sleep mask, and socks. They’re soft, yes, but the cotton blend also increases blood flow and oxygen levels for improved circulation, which is a godsend after hours on a plane (or for a post-workout recovery). Throw the mesh bag in your carry-on for easy toting.

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For the Stylish Traveler

Call off the search for the impossibly chic woman you know: Arno has made the perfect shoe for fashion-forward travelers. The Ellery Mule can easily be slipped on and off at security and are still stylish enough to wear on a city visit. Made from Italian leather, the croc-stamped shoes have a soft pointed toe. We like the black or neutral for an always-classic look, but deep red puts the cherry on top of an airport outfit.

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For the Language Lover

Lingo Playing Cards are a great stocking stuffer for the aspiring polyglot–or just about any traveler–in your life. The 52-card deck has essential vocabulary instead of faces, so they can brush up on or learn a new language while playing a hand of poker or rummy. Decks come in standard romance languages like Spanish, French, and Italian, as well as some lesser-spoken languages like Indonesian or Maori, and some entertaining English slang in British or Aussie. We particularly love that the foreign language cards have pronunciation guides on them, and that the phrases are actually useful (ex: Can you help me? Are there rooms? The bill, please). Plus, pro tip: a card game can be a quick way to make new friends on a solo trip.

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For the Independent Woman

A gift that helps women support women? We’re all about it. A trip from Wild Terrains, a company that specializes in women-only small group travel, is a great way for her to see the world while supporting female-owned and operated businesses. On each trip, accommodations are booked at female-owned hotels, meals are prepared by female chefs, and experiences support local women entrepreneurs. Their new trips for 2019 explore one of the hottest cities on our radar, Mexico City, and celebrate empowering themes like International Women’s Day and Mother-Daughter duos. She might see Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, check out the street food scene (at local female-run food stalls, of course), and hopefully proclaim “I am woman, hear me roar” all the way home.

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For Your Dad Who Refuses to Ask For Directions

It’s safe to say that the worst part about maps is the sheer incompetence you feel when trying to refold them. Although the sight of this Crumpled City Map from design company Palomar was just as anxiety-inducing to one of our editors, most of us are breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of scrunching up map and tossing it into a space-saving canister. A little bit of novelty, a little bit of practicality (if, say, your Wi-Fi isn’t working abroad), these make cute gifts for travel lovers. They can even customize their own!

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For Your Friend Who’s a Lush, But Also Chic

This stainless steel flask from Need Supply Co. will make your friend or family member feel classy, not trashy, when they tote it for some light, on-the-go sipping. Perhaps you can get matching ones for your next vacay. Advise your giftee to drink from their booze-filled travel companion responsibly.

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For Those Nostalgic for the 1970s

Tank Garage Wines are made in a 1930s former gas station in Napa Valley. Their 2016 “8-Track and an Open Road” will inspire travels, or at least drunken dreams of travel (just make sure to fully sleep it off before hitting the dusty trail). This smooth and earthy blend bursts with pomegranate and cherry flavors, and allegedly pairs well with loud music.

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For the Traveler Who Has Everything

What do you get that person on your list who has everything? Well, either nothing or something super rare and special—like peace of mind when they travel. Medjet global air medical transport and travel security membership program (with no adventure travel exclusions) offers exactly that. If a member gets sick, breaks a leg, and lands in the hospital, Medjet will arrange air medical transfer to a hospital of choice back home. If their security is threatened, they have somebody to call. Annual, short-term, collegiate (bonus peace of mind for the parents of kids studying abroad), and expat memberships are available to ensure the traveler on your list who has everything, now has everything covered.

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For Your Great Aunt

You might not have heard of Innisfree, the Korean skincare cult favorite, but now that the brand has come stateside, it should be on your radar. Made from natural botanicals sourced from Korea’s Jeju Island, Innisfree’s products can solve all of your dermatological worries. The super-giftable (and extremely affordable—it’s only $10!) green tea kit includes a hydrating cleansing foam, an intensive hydrating serum, an intensive hydrating cream, and a hydrating sleeping mask, all made with fresh-squeezed green tea extract. Bonus—all the products are small enough to bring on a plane! Grab a few kits to keep on hand for hostess gifts or emergency presents for somebody you forgot.

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For Your Friend Who Stays Up at Night Thinking About the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

If anything good came of 2018, it’s the year that society en masse decided it’s time for single-use plastics to be banished. Between horrific YouTube videos, alarming environmental reports, and footage of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s hard to even look at single-use plastics these days. Luckily, plenty of water bottle brands have stepped in to make reusable bottles downright chic. While you might think a water bottle’s a bit too utilitarian to make a great gift, S’ip by S’well has taken design to the next level, with insulated lava lamp-shaped water bottles in a variety of whimsical patterns and colors, like flamingos, palm trees, cacti, and cats.

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For the Daydreamer

Every traveler dreams of sitting at a café, pen in hand, sketching or writing in a beautiful leather-bound notebook. Moleskine is making those dreamy travel fantasies a reality with their line of passion journals—dedicated to life greatest pleasures, like wine, cooking, books, and of course, travel. The 400-page travel journal has special tabs for taking notes, along with theme stickers and that signature Moleskine back pocket, perfect for ticket stubs, postcards, or other travel ephemera.

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For Your Friend Who’s Always Losing Things

Staying organized while rushing through the airport can be hard, especially after emptying your pockets to go through security. This chic clutch from Jeff Wan will solve any organizational woes, and it’s the perfect size for just the essentials: wallet, phone, passport, glasses, earbuds, and chapstick. You can keep all of your important stuff handy and when you arrive at your destination, it’s the perfect size for a “going out” bag.

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For the Beach Bum

Here’s a thing you might not know: certain types of sunscreen containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate can be harmful to coral reef ecosystems. These ingredients are common in most sunscreens, which means that you have probably been inadvertently poisoning the earth for most of your life. With Hawaii’s suncreen ban, there’s been a push to find healthy alternatives and Honua Skincare has stepped up to the plate. Their reef-friendly SPF 30 is made with natural Hawaiian botanicals, making this a suncreen that your beachy friends will want to wear every day.

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For the Chocoholic

If you’ve got a loved one in your life who travels to eat, Jcoco chocolate has the perfect holiday gift for them. The women-owned company makes non-gmo, gluten-free, rainforest alliance certified bars that range in flavors from Bali Sea Salt Toffee to Cayenne Veracruz Orange to Agave Quinoa Sesame. Sure, you’ve got “traditional” flavors like Noble Dark or even Arabica Espresso, but the scents of Bohorat Middle Eastern Spice or Black Fig Pistachio are almost as good as the taste. Can’t decide which one to try? Buy the sampler pack: 10 1-oz bars that come in packaging so beautiful, you won’t even have to wrap it.

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For the Eggnog Connoisseur

It’s a well-known fact that rum is disgusting. It’s pirate-swill. It’s a booze used for the sole purpose of getting hopelessly hammered–that’s why it’s always a mixed drink. No one asks for Captain Morgan neat. But all that’s starting to change, with Copalli. Grown and distilled in Punta Gorda, Belize, Copalli Rum entered the scene only this year. The owners, Todd Robinson and Anya Fernald, are also the proprietors of the sprawling Belizean eco-hotel Copal Tree Lodge, and it’s next to these grounds that they lovingly grow rum’s key ingredient: sugarcane. Give the connoisseur in your life a bottle of Copalli’s double-distilled barrel-rested rum, which can be sipped on the rocks or (shockingly) neat. And to the friends who refuse to drink your vile eggnog because every year you spike it with too much loathsome Bacardi–give them (and yourself, frankly) the gift of eggnog mixed with Copalli’s white rum for a considerably more cosmopolitan holiday concoction.

Copalli can be purchased online through K&L Wine.

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