Since I fly over 150,000 miles a year and spend more time on the road than at home people are always asking me what I travel with so they can get them for their frequent travelers or themselves. So here’s my ultimate traveler’s gift guide for Christmas. Note: I could easily list 100 items but to spare everyone time (and money) I’m only including 12.
Scottevest. You heard me mention them countless times but what can I say? Any jacket (and other articles of clothing) that has multiple hidden pockets and can act as a third carry-on, protect your valuables and still be stylish will always be on the top of my list. Their clothes are designed for both men and women and their state-of-the-art website make it easy to peruse and choose which products fit you best. Prices begin at $70.
Beats by Dr. Dre Executive headphones. Look out Bose… There’s a new sheriff in town thanks to Beats by Dr. Dre introducing their noise-canceling Executive headphones. The younger generation of business travelers will gobble these up since they are designed for cruising at 35,000 feet, and are lightweight and comfortable. $299
Wi-Fi In The Sky and Ground. Both on the ground and in the air. For the latter get a Gogo gift card since they are industry leader and their service can be found on Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, Fronteir, United, US Airways and Virgin America. Buying a pass in the sky is not that cheap but doing it on the ground when they have specials like NOW you can save 54%. For when they are not flying above the clouds get a subscription to Boingo. Their Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in airports, malls, stadiums, quick service restaurants and metropolitan hot zones – more than 600,000 hotspots worldwide. For a limited time you can get 50% off the first three months of service — just $4.98 per month!
Passport cover. Air France gave me a passport cover with a plane on it when I toured their headquarters earlier this year. Now every time I get on a plane the airline rep asks where they can get one. You can’t get the same one as me but there’s a small company in California that makes dozens of fun, thin and unique passport covers with all kinds of imagery by hand and they cost just $14.99.
Pocket umbrella: I do carry-on only so rarely do I have room in my bag for anything else let alone an umbrella. But after getting drenched in a rain storm I now found a really small one that fits in one of my shoes. When I’m in cities with unpredictable weather like London I pop it in my back pocket. I found mine at TJ Maxx for $15 but you can get them on Amazon for $9.
Wind-up LED Flashlight: Another handy tool that fits into my other shoe is eco-friendly with no batteries to replace – the Dynamo Illuminator Wind-up LED Flashlight. You never know when you will need one and all you do is wind it for 60 seconds and it will give you one hour of light $9.50 on Amazon.
Keen’s comfortable shoes. I have bad feet and was using orthotics until they started hurting so I tossed them. I wasn’t able to find a shoe that doesn’t hurt until I tried on a pair of Keen’s. I now have four pairs in all different styles but my favorite is their lightweight performance sandal ($100) that is designed for warm weather adventures and are waterproof.
MedjetAssist. I’ve been a member since 2000 and for anyone who travels, especially internationally, you will want to join. MedjetAssist is an emergency medical evacuation membership program for travelers. If you are hospitalized more than 150 miles from home—virtually anywhere in the world—Medjet will review your condition with the attending medical staff and your own physician(s) and provide a medically equipped and staffed aircraft to fly you free of charge to your hospital of choice. That’s right! So if you are in Kenya and get severely hurt, you don’t need to worry about spending months in some ill-equipped hospital or worry about footing the bill for a $100,000+ private jet. MedjetAssist will take care of it. Check to see if you are covered by your insurance or credit card. If not, this might just be the best $260 you have ever spent (that’s the annual fee). FYI: For regular travel insurance I use InsureMyTrip.com.
American Express Platinum card. Even though it has a hefty $450 a year fee it’s still a great deal for frequent fliers. First of all, it gets you into all of Delta’s lounges and others — more than 600 airport lounges worldwide. A membership alone to one of those would cost that much. The card also gives me a $200 airline fee credit towards incidental fees such as checked bags, in-flight food/drinks, and change fees. I also love the fact there’s no international transaction fees and when staying at some luxury hotels it can get you a room upgrade, free breakfast and a guaranteed 4 PM late check-out. As an added bonus for those who don’t yet have Global Entry (not sure what you are waiting for since it’s the best thing to happen to international travel– see my post), the Platinum card will reimburse you for your Global Entry enrollment fee which is $100.
Vinyasa Scarf: If you are following me on Facebook or Twitter then you know I asked my friends/followers for their best travel accessory. I received dozens of replies but my favorite was from Rebecca Jelfo of Qatar Airways. She says she doesn’t travel without Lululemon’s Vinyasa Scarf ($48) as it has multiple uses and keeps you warm on flights.
Surface by Microsoft: Can’t decide if you want a laptop or a tablet? The Surface by Microsoft is both! It has a “Touch Cover”—a unique pressure-sensitive keyboard that’s 3mm thin and doubles as a cover to protect your screen. There’s an integrated kickstand and widescreen HD display which is great for viewing TV shows and movies. And travelers will love the full-size USB, a microSD card slots. It’s available in a variety of colors and starts at $499.
Global Entry: The best thing you can get yourself or a traveler (offer to pay the $100 fee that’s good for five years) is a Global Entry card. You will never have to wait in a long United States passport control or customs line again. You won’t even have to fill out any handwritten forms. Just walk up to one of the kiosks, confirm your identity (photo and fingerprints) and answer the standard immigration questions and go! To apply, all you need to do is fill out a 15-minute online questionnaire, accept a background check and go for a 30-minute interview. It’s good at 29 US airports and eight in Canada. Global Entry membership is open to U.S. citizens and citizens of Canada, Mexico, The Netherlands and South Korea.
Obviously, there’s tons more travel gadgets/accessories that I could’ve listed but just didn’t have room for. Please let me know if you like this list and/or what you would’ve recommended.