The Best Gifts for Travelers (Awesome AND Affordable!)


Kate at the White House at Christmas

Guess what, guys — I’ve been running a variety of blogs since 2002 (!) and this is the first time I have ever published a gift guide. 


Why start now? Because, frankly, I’m sick of reading out of touch gift guides written by other bloggers. I find that they’re often stocked with ostentatiously expensive items that the vast majority of people would never actually buy for their loved ones, or items that they don’t actually use but think would earn them high affiliate commissions.

I mean, who reads a blog that says, “You should buy someone a MacBook Pro for Christmas” and says, “Hmm, by golly, you’re right! A MacBook Pro, you call it?”? Come on.

Guys, we are all privileged as hell, but at the same time, I don’t expect you to spend thousands of dollars on gifts. Or hundreds, for that matter. Your trust is important to me, so I’m not going to push things on you that I know are out of reach for most people.

But I will say this — I know great travel gear. I know what works, what doesn’t, and what’s a waste of money. (Most “travel clothing” is unnecessary and those scratch-off maps look much worse once you put them up, for example.)

So I decided to put together a list of things that I use, I love, and I think you would love, too.

Nothing on this list is ostentatiously expensive. All but a few items are under $100 and most are under $50.

Nothing on this list is ugly. Looking good is important to me, and you’ll never find me in an ugly “travel hat” or zip-off pants (unless hiking). Please kill me if you ever catch me wearing hiking gear in Paris.

Nothing on this list was thrown in for crap purposes. No filler here — I believe in every product on this list.

This guide is going to have seven sections:

  1. Under $25
  2. Safety Gifts
  3. Insanely Useful Gifts
  4. Luggage Gifts
  5. Digital Gifts
  6. Gifts for Travelers Who Have Come Home
  7. Kate’s Pie in the Sky Never Gonna Happen Wish List 2016

Here we go!

Gifts for Travelers Under $25

You don’t have to spend a ton of cash to give someone a meaningful gift that will help him or her on her travels. Here are a dozen great options.

Point It

Point It: Traveller’s Language Kit

Ever tried using a wordless dictionary before? They can be extremely helpful if you’re in a region where English isn’t widely spoken. This book is full of pictures that you can point to when you’re having a hard time communicating. (I really could have used this when searching for electrical tape in Saranda, Albania, last year!)

Cost: $8.69 on Amazon


All-Weather Safety Whistle

I know you’re thinking of that scene in Titanic. And it’s the truth. Boat engines sometimes fail, and sometimes you’ll need to send a signal through darkness. A whistle is cheap and useful. Above all, it attracts attention when you need it the most.

This one in particular is LOUD. AS. HELL. You can’t beat it for that price.

Cost: $6.50 on Amazon


Manatea Silicone Tea Infuser

I love to try different kinds of tea while traveling — but the tea is almost always loose, not bagged. Most places don’t provide infusers, so you need to carry your own.

Enter the Manatea. Not only is it an easy way to get my tea fix, it’s an adorable conversation piece! This company makes a few different animals (I may also own the sloth), but the Manatea’s shape is easiest to fill and clean.

Cost: $9.74 on Amazon

Mini Power Strip

Mini Power Strip with USB Slots

What happens when you have limited time and need to charge your phone, laptop, Kindle, and phone battery? With a mini power strip, you can charge them all at once.

You’ll also become everyone’s best friend when staying in a hostel dorm with only one outlet!

Note: NOT all mini power strips are created equal. This one is good because 1) Its plug is attached to a long cord, rather than part of a block (block-style power strips often don’t fit if an outlet is next to furniture or a wall), 2) it has three outlets, which is the minimum you should have 3) it has an on/off button 4) it has USB slots.

Cost: $11.99 on Amazon

Mini Power Bank

Mini Portable Power Bank

I travel with two portable power banks: a mini and a big one. I’m putting the mini in this section because it’s under $25.

A mini power bank is essential for travelers — it fits into my purse for a night out (and if you don’t carry a purse, it fits easily in your pocket). I also consider it a safety device, as my phone lets me summon an Uber or call a cab if I’m in an uncomfortable situation.

This BAITER Power Bank is tiny yet powerful — it can charge the average smartphone twice (which is a LOT for a mini power bank)

Cost: $11.99 on Amazon

Headphone Splitter

Headphone Splitter

If you’re traveling with a friend or partner, you must bring one of these! But even if you’re traveling solo, you never know when you might meet a cool friend and want to watch a movie or listen to a podcast together while in transit.

Headphone splitters are simple — you simply plug the end into your device and you suddenly have two headphone jacks.

Cost: $5.99 on Amazon

Wifi Extender

Wifi Extender

If you work while traveling, one of the most annoying things is to find a good place to work in a new city. Very often, the places with the best coffee and environment and plugs have the worst wifi. (Hell, I struggle with this in my own neighborhood in New York!)

For that reason, a wifi extender helps you access wifi from further away. So maybe you can sit in the funky coffeeshop while using accessing wifi from McDonald’s a few doors down. This Netis extender plugs right into your USB slot and is one of the better models on the market.

Cost: $17.81 on Amazon

Travel Towel

Travel Towel Set

What makes a good travel towel? It’s small, it’s light, it dries very quickly. I highly recommend getting one large enough to wrap around yourself; it will make your life a million times easier!

This one is large enough to wrap, comes in a million colors, it’s anti-bacterial as well. BONUS: It comes with a separate hand towel, which is great for taking along with you on sweaty or athletic days.

Cost: $19.90 on Amazon

Diva Cup


Ladies, if you haven’t made the switch to a menstrual cup yet, now is the time. It’s better for your wallet, better for the environment, gives you more space in your luggage, and it saves you from the hassle of trying to find tampons in Sri Lanka (which is…not easy).

Don’t be intimidated — it’s actually a lot easier to use than most people think. It just takes a few practice tries and you’re golden.

Cost: $24.93 on Amazon

Banana Boat Sunscreen

SPF 50 Sunscreen

Really, sunscreen on a gift list? Really. Sunscreen is often exponentially more expensive outside the US, especially if you’re traveling to a resort town, and lots of countries don’t go very high up in SPF.

Even if you rarely burn, I urge you to go above the oft-recommended SPF 15. Skin cancer is a terrible disease and we could all stand to do better at protecting our skin. Plus, different climates and environments can affect you differently. I tend to burn more easily in high-altitude destinations like Colombia.

I use this Banana Boat SPF 50 sunscreen and it hasn’t failed me yet.

Cost: $6.36 on Amazon

Burt's Bees Wipes

Facial Cleansing Towelettes

Believe me, the last thing you want to do when coming back to your hotel after a fun night out is a complicated skin routine — but sleeping in your makeup is bad for your skin (not to mention the guesthouse owners who might make you pay extra if you smear makeup on your pillowcase).

Facial cleansing towelettes are the way to go, and I love these ones from Burt’s Bees. They are good at getting mascara off and the white tea scent is delicious.

Cost: $7.33 on Amazon

Contour Eye Mask

Contoured Sleep Mask

If you can sleep with the cheapie eye masks that airlines give you, good for you! I find that I need something a little extra, however.

This contoured sleep mask is much better — it’s soft, blocks more light, and isn’t as tight on your eyelids. Which I find helps me sleep better.

Cost: $8.99 on Amazon


Workout Headphones

When searching for good headphones for running and working out — a.k.a. headphones that would sound good and stay in despite a steady dripping of sweat — I came across these headphones on Amazon.

For cheapies, they are pretty damn fantastic. I can’t believe how well they work.

Cost: $14.99 on Amazon


Pair of Padlocks

Small padlocks are essential — they lock hostel lockers and your own bags.

I recommend getting 1) a combination lock where you can choose the combination, 2) a pair of locks, 3) TSA-approved locks. (Are they impenetrable? No lock is 100% impenetrable. Their goal is to slow down opportunistic thieves.)

Cost: $9.99 on Amazon

Safety Gifts for Travelers

Being a blogger who specializes in solo female travel, I get a lot of questions about safety and try to integrate them into all of my posts.

One of my top tips is to invest in quality gear that protects your belongings. This is something you shouldn’t scrimp on. At the same time, every item on this list is under $80.

Pacsafe Travelsafe

Pacsafe TravelSafe Portable Safe

This is the #1 item that I recommend travelers buy. One of my proudest moments was when I was leading my first tour in Central America and I walked into the bathroom and saw three of these locked around the base of the sink! “You guys listened to me!” I said through tears.

You fill this safe with your belongings, pull it shut, and lock it to the sturdiest thing in your room. Sometimes that’s the base of a sink; sometimes it’s a pipe or a large, heavy piece of furniture. This way you don’t have to carry your valuables with you everywhere you go, which also puts you at risk.

Cost: $71.96 on Amazon


Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bags

Dry bags are the other item that I recommend every traveler pack. When I was shipwrecked in Indonesia, I was able to rescue my phone, debit card, and point-and-shoot camera because I had a dry bag with me. Dry bags also protect my electronics when on crazy boat rides, like the panga ride to Little Corn Island that sprayed water everywhere.

You need these. Even if you don’t plan on traveling by boat.

These days I travel with two at all times: a small one (10 liters) and a large one that can fit my day bag (30 liters). And they come with a smartphone protector as well!

Cost: $18.99-31.99 on Amazon

Speakeasy Travel Scarf

Speakeasy Travel Supply Scarves with Hidden Passport Pocket

My friends Bethany and Randy designed these scarves and their company has become hugely popular! I get excited whenever I see them featured on Buzzfeed.

These scarves have a secret pocket that is just the right size to hold your passport, money, credit cards, tickets, glasses, lip balm, even a small guidebook. For that reason, I think these are far better options than money belts, which are inferior in just about every way.

PLUS — get an extra $10 off your first order when you sign up for their newsletter!

Cost: $102 for two, $200 for four, or $55 each on

LifeProof Case

LifeProof Phone Case

Let me be honest: if it weren’t for my LifeProof, I would have destroyed my phone when I accidentally dropped it in a toilet in a remote part of South Africa this summer.

No, it’s not the sexiest case out there, but it is the absolute best phone case out there — one that will protect your phone as best as possible. You can even go swimming with it (but I wouldn’t recommend that). I don’t know what I would do without it (wait, I do know — I would pay constantly for screen repairs).

LifeProof also has excellent customer service and they will often replace your case for free if something goes wrong.

I also recommend picking up a three-pack of headphone adapters ($8.49) because it only comes with one.

Cost: $43.99 on Amazon (may vary based on your phone model)

Personal Alarm

Personal Alarm

I have not needed to use this yet, but I’m glad it’s there. Using a personal alarm has the same use as a whistle: it attracts attention when you need it. Maybe it’s when you’re lost or stranded; maybe it’s when you’re threatened by another person. Maybe a stray dog is scaring you. Either way, there is no way this alarm won’t get attention.

Cost: $15.99 on Amazon

Pacsafe Strap

PacSafe Camera Strap

I always like having an extra layer of security by having a hard-to-slash camera strap, and PacSafe makes the best safety products. The PacSafe CarrySafe 200 is padded, comfortable, and lined with mesh, which keeps it from being slashable.

Cost: $34.95 on Amazon

RFID Wallet

RFID-Blocking Wallet

When traveling with a wallet, I always bring one that is RFID-blocking to protect against thieves. Your credit cards can be scanned remotely through your wallet, but RFID-blocking fabrics prevent this from being able to be done.

I suspect that my credit cards were scanned in Portugal back in 2012 and traveling without them was a nightmare, so I truly hope it never happens to me again — or any of you!

I hate most “women’s wallets” and it took a while to find one I like: this one is sleek, it’s made of leather, it comes in lots of colors, and it folds up small.

Cost: $42.95 on Amazon

Pacsafe Camera Bag

Pacsafe Camera Bag

Before I went to Central America in 2015, I was concerned about theft and knew I needed to get a day bag that locked. My day bag is what holds my photography gear, tech gear, and valuables, and it always stays with me, unless I’ve got the valuables locked up in my portable safe at home.

This is my bag and it’s perfect: it has a laptop slot (easily fits a MacBook Air), room for three lenses, and everything is lockable. All that and it fits underneath the seat in front of me when I fly.

That said, some people might prefer a larger bag, especially if you’re carrying several lenses (the giant lens I rented for safari was pushing it). You can find a slightly larger model here ($95.96).

Cost: $79.95 on Amazon

World Nomads

Travel Insurance

This gift could save your life or your financial future. I use and recommend World Nomads, and never go on a trip without it.

Cost: Find out a quote here.

Note what is not on this list: a money belt. I don’t use one and have no desire to. They’re uncomfortable and thieves are well aware that they exist. Get a Speakeasy Travel Supply scarf instead — they’re comfier, more practical, and much prettier.

Insanely Useful Gifts for Travelers

If you want to get someone a gift that he or she will use every day while traveling, here are some great options!


EasyAcc Monster Portable Charger

If there is one item that people should travel with but they don’t, it’s a portable charger. I know this because people are always asking me to borrow mine, even my full-time traveler friends!

I recommend traveling with two portable chargers: a large one that is perfect for long flights, long days out, or days when you’re away from electricity; and a small one, which I throw in my purse for a night out (and mentioned above).

I had to upgrade when I left my last portable charger in an Airbnb this summer and this one is just as much of a Monster as its name claims. You can charge an iPhone SEVEN times with this thing!

Cost: $32.99 on Amazon

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I devour about one book per week. The truth? The only reason why I’m able to read this much is because I have a Kindle. I take it everywhere with me.

Having a Kindle reignited my love of reading, which had faded off in years. It’s rare that you can credit an inanimate object to making you a better person, but every book I read makes me a better person.

I’ve used multiple Kindles, but the Paperwhite is a million times better than the basic — it has a touchscreen, it’s illuminated from within (perfect for reading in a hostel bed or while your partner is sleeping), and it feels amazing in your hands.

Cost: $99.99 on Amazon (Black Friday sale price — get it ASAP!)

LifeTek Umbrella

LifeTek Travel Umbrella

Rather than buying cheap umbrellas that break apart in the first storm, invest in a small, quality umbrella and you’ll be a million times happier. LifeTek makes awesome, wind-resistant umbrellas that fold up tiny and have a two-year replacement guarantee.

Cost: $26.95-29.95 on Amazon

Packing Cubes

Flight 001 Packing Cubes

Packing cubes make packing a million times easier. You throw your clothes in there and then pack the cubes themselves. There are a lot of brands out there, but I happen to love Flight 001’s Spacepaks because they’re high quality, incredibly durable, and you can unzip the other side and fill them with your dirty laundry!

I personally use just two of them: the blue clothes bag and the lavender lingerie bag.

Cost: $98 for a pack of three, or $46 for the blue clothes bag and $42 for the lavender lingerie bag, on Amazon

Travel Pillow

Memory Foam Travel Pillow

I didn’t travel with a pillow until this year — and I don’t know why I waited so long. It was nothing short of life-changing. Suddenly sleeping on planes became possible.

This is another case where you get what you pay for — no matter what, a travel pillow should be about strong neck support more than anything else. This model from I’celus Comfort is ergonomic, made of memory foam, and comes with a free sleep mask as well.

Cost: $25.99 on Amazon

UE Mini Boom

UE Mini Boom Portable Bluetooth Speaker

I didn’t realize how useful a portable speaker was until I saw my friend bring one out and realized how much fun our trip became. They are the best for playing music while sitting around a pool with friends (this brings me back to lazy pool afternoons at Papaya Lodge in El Tunco, El Salvador!).

They’re also good for impromptu dance parties, picnics or outdoor gatherings, or even just listening to podcasts while doing your makeup in your apartment.

My UE Mini Boom is Bluetooth-enabled, the battery lasts for so long, and it’s durable as hell.

Cost: $75-99, depending on color, on Amazon

External Hard Drive

Durable External Hard Drive

When traveling, you should back up your photos in two places: online and on an external hard drive. And because slow upload speeds can be an issue while traveling, it makes it all the more important to use a high quality external hard drive.

The Transcend 2 TB StoreJet drive has 2 TB of storage and claims to be military drop-tested. I wouldn’t go for a swim with it, but it’s badass all the same.

Cost: $89.99 on Amazon

Luggage Gifts for Travelers

A good piece of luggage is worth its weight in gold. Luggage can be expensive, but if you have someone special in your life and can afford to spend a larger chunk of change, luggage gifts are very appreciated. For that reason, I thought I’d share with you the three bags I’ve been using lately.

One thing to keep in mind — a backpack should be measured to a person for the best fit. If you buy a backpack for someone, make sure it’s returnable in case it isn’t a good fit.

Secondly, I recommend not buying bags in black if you can help it (even though I wear all black, all the time). I’ve got one black bag and it drives me crazy trying to pick it out of a carousel full of black bags.

Samsonite Rolling Suitcase

Kate’s Favorite Carry-On Roller: Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner 20

Samsonite — I was way off! Samsonite makes terrific luggage, and each of my Samsonite rollers have lasted years. This is what I use for short trips. It’s durable and it fits smoothly in the overhead compartment with no squeezing effort necessary.

Cost: $78-108, depending on color, on Amazon

Pacsafe Backpack

Kate’s Favorite Carry-On Backpack: Pacsafe VentureSafe 45L

Once again, Pacsafe makes the best safety-conscious travel products, and I love my VentureSafe when I choose to use a backpack. I prefer to use backpack in less-developed regions like Central America and Southeast Asia because dragging a rolling suitcase over broken pavement gets old very quickly.

My favorite thing about this backpack is that every compartment locks onto the same bar, which you can lock onto another object. That’s the ideal way to protect your luggage on an overnight train.

Cost: $199.95 on Amazon

Pacsafe Luggage

Kate’s Favorite Suitcase: Pacsafe TourSafe AT25

One more PacSafe bag to round them out! This is what I travel with most often. It’s a soft rolling checked suitcase and it has survived a lot of crazy trips. Now, if only I could get the red dust from the Australian Outback out of it…

Cost: $259.95 on Amazon

Digital Gifts for Travelers

Take it from me — travelers like to carry as little stuff as possible. Digital gifts allow you to give a gift without taking up any luggage space.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Ebooks or Kindle Books

If your recipient has a Kindle, a book makes an awesome gift. And if not, Kindle books can be read on a smartphone as well!

Here are some of my favorite travel and destination reads:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt — Perhaps the best book about a destination I’ve ever read, this nonfiction novel is about the weird and twisted city of Savannah and its many characters.

The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran — Two comedy writers (who went on to write for 30 Rock!) race around the world without airplanes.

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman — The French raise their children differently. This American expat living in Paris tries to figure out what makes French parenting so different.

Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles — A novel depicting Odessa, Ukraine, in the 1990s, as everything was controlled by the Mafia and the only way out was to become a mail-order bride.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway — My favorite book of all time. A novel about the Lost Generation of the 1930s drinking and wiling their days away in Paris and Pamplona.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed — A woman struggling with a divorce and addiction decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, with absolutely no preparation.

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer — The riveting account of the 1996 expedition to Mount Everest that killed several people.

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche — A memoir written by my friend Torre, who decided to sail across the South Pacific with her boyfriend despite a crushing fear of drowning.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell — The Danes are often listed as the happiest people in the world. A British expat living in rural Denmark tries to figure out why.

The Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant FriendThe Story of a New NameThose Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante — This is one of the most epic series I have ever read, and one of the best things about it is its depiction of a rough neighborhood in Naples, Italy.

Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim — A fascinating and heartbreaking account of an undercover Korean-American journalist posing as a teacher at a university in Pyongyang.

Euphoria by Lily King — One of the best romances I’ve ever read, based on the life of Margaret Mead and taking place in Papua New Guinea.

New York Times

Subscriptions to Online Publications

Good journalism will only exist if it’s funded, and the traveler in your life will appreciate being kept in the loop on what’s going on at home.

For newspapers, check out the New York Times (I love it because it has the best comment management on the web) and the Washington Post (which broke a ton of big stories in the 2016 election).

For magazines, check out Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Economist.


Crashplan, Dropbox, SmugMug, Private Internet Access, or Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription

These are all web services that can help travelers.

Crashplan is a system for backing up your computer and external hard drives to the cloud. It works automatically in the background. If your computer is stolen, you can virtually recreate your old computer on your new machine. From $6 per month.

Dropbox is cloud storage. You get a small amount for free; Dropbox Pro gets you a lot more storage. From $9.99 per month or $99 per year.

SmugMug is backup photo storage and you can also use it to sell your photography. From $5 per month or $40 per year.

Private Internet Access is a VPN service, meaning a place that lets you mask your location when using the internet. Not only does it protect your safety (and you should when doing things like banking online), but it allows you to access sites like Netflix and Hulu when outside the US. From $6.95 per month or $39.95 per year.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud gives you access to programs like Lightroom and Photoshop, which most amateurs and pros use to edit your photos. There are lots of plans, but the basic should be what most people need. From $9.99 per month.


Gift cards to Spotify, iTunes, or Apple Music.

Extra music is always appreciated. Find one which one your gift recipient prefers first — I’m definitely a Spotify girl, though I switch to iTunes when I want to listen to Prince.

Gifts for Travelers Who Have Come Home

In the past year and a half or so, many of the first wave of travel bloggers have settled down for the first time in years, myself included. Even if you have a home somewhere, it’s nice to bring your love of travel into your cozy home.

Ugg Slippers

Ugg Suede Slippers

It’s nice to have something you can only enjoy while at home. For me, it’s the Ugg Ainslay Women’s Suede Slippers. They are completely impractical for the road but one of my favorite indulgences whenever I come home from a long trip.

Mine are in bright purple (to the surprise of absolutely no one); they also come in several different colors!

Cost: $80-120, depending on color, on Amazon (women) or $83-140, depending on color, on Amazon (men)

Yucatan Cookbook

Cookbooks From Destinations Your Traveler Loves

A lot of my foodie friends miss having a decent place to cook when they travel. Even if you book a rental rather than a hotel, chances are the knives are terrible. Let your friends revel in their cooking with these books.

Here are some of the best regional cookbooks available:

If they love Italian food: Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is the holy grail. (And her butter tomato sauce is one of the best things that I made this year.)

If they love Thai food: Pailin Chongchitnant’s Hot Thai Kitchen is one of the best and most comprehensive.

If they love Mexican food: David Sterling’s Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition got a lot of praise.

If they love New York or the South: Marcus Samuelsson’s The Red Rooster Cookbook. Red Rooster is the restaurant that convinced me to move to Harlem!

If they love unusual or emerging cuisines: Naomi Duguid’s Taste of Persia, Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baeta’s The Ghana Cookbook, Gunnar Karl Gíslason’s North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland, and Gastón Acurio’s Peru: The Cookbook are all splendid choices.

I also want to throw in a shout-out to Chrissy Teigan’s Cravings — seriously, everything in this cookbook is amazing. Her jok moo (Thai pork rice porridge) is unquestionably the single best dish I made this year.

Italy Food Map

Food Map Prints

My friend Jodi has created beautiful maps featuring food from Italy, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, and Portugal. They are perfect to have in your kitchen as prints; you can also get them on tote bags and t-shirts.

I’ve been encouraging Jodi for years to do an Italy map (“I know exactly who would buy it — my college classmates from Long Island who would watch The Sopranos with an Italian flag hanging over the door then go outside and smoke cigars while singing, When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore…“) and she finally created Italy this year! This is the one I’ll be getting.

Cost: $24 on Legal Nomads

Poolside with Slim Aarons

Travel Coffee Table Books

Coffee table books really pull a room together and give you a chance to show your personality. And because coffee table books are on display, this is one case where you should judge a book by its cover.

One thing — I recommend you go a bit offbeat instead of obvious. Books like National Geographic’s Destinations of a Lifetime are pretty, and popular, but they’re a bit generic and say nothing about you, the owner.

Some coffee table books I recommend instead are Eighty Four Rooms (gorgeous boutique hotels), Poolside with Slim Aarons (or anything Slim Aarons — amazing luxury travel photography from the 1950s-1970s), NY Through the Lens (beautiful New York photography), Living in Style: Scandinavia (Nordic design), Havana, the New York Times’ 36 Hours In US and Canada or New York Times’ 36 Hours in Europe, and Steve McCurry: The Unguarded Moment.

My favorite is out of print but you can get it used: Where to Go When.

Airportag LHR London Mug

Quirky Airport-Themed Accessories from Airportag

Airportag has a variety of airport-themed accessories for your home, as well as t-shirts. My personal favorites are the mugs and refrigerator magnets. I think these accessories work best when they’re a casual touch rather than the primary focus of the room. Good things come in small packages!

Mugs from $19.90, magnets from $4.90, on Airportag

Kate’s Pie in the Sky Never Gonna Happen Gift Wish List 2016

Ha. I might as well put a few dream gifts on this list that are NOT going to happen because they’re too damn expensive!

DJI Quadcopter

DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

I’ve seen a few bloggers put a drone on their gift guides and every time I see it, I roll my eyes and think, “WHO THE FUCK IS BUYING A THOUSAND-DOLLAR GIFT FOR SOMEONE?!”

I mean, maybe they’ll sell one or two to the occasional oil sheikh…

I totally want a drone, though. Someday. And at the Video Summit in Leipzig, I talked to a lot of video people and the DJI Phantom 4 Drone was universally recommended as the best one you could get.

Cost: $1,111.53 on Amazon (Seriously, why the 53 cents? Do you think people will get excited to save 47 cents on this?!)

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

In the makeup world, 2016 has been the year of the highlighter! So many different companies came out with different, crazy highlighters. I’m loving them all.

This Hourglass palette, though, is so gorgeous — and it’s only available for a limited time at Sephora. But it’s really pricey, especially if you get the $46 brush to go with it.

Hourglass is a nice but somewhat overpriced brand, especially since their products tend to deplete fairly quickly (I think you get more bang for your buck with Urban Decay or NARS products).

Cost: $80 on Sephora

Dita Sunglasses

Dita Sunglasses

I love Dita von Teese’s line of sunglasses — they’re vintage, dramatic, sexy, and they fulfill the strong-and-feminine vibe that I love. These are the Stormy Flash sunglasses.

They’re also expensive as hell, even for designer sunglasses. Which is why these go on my Pie in the Sky gift list.

Cost: $550 on ShopBop

Tradizionale Aceto Balsamico di Modena

Tradizionale Aceto Balsamico di Modena

There are SO many impostors out there — but it’s not real balsamic vinegar unless it has the word “tradizionale” and the bottle looks like the image above. If it comes from your grocery store, that’s not the real stuff. The real stuff costs $100 and up.

I got to know this magnificent condiment while in Emilia-Romagna and it is nothing short of magical. Topped on some slabs of 36-month-aged parmigiano reggiano, it’s one of my favorite things to eat.

Cost: $100 for 12-year-aged, $180 for 25-year-aged, on Amazon

Alexander McQueen Dress

Alexander McQueen Cape-Back Mini Dress

I LOVE THIS DRESS SO MUCH. Like, I would get married in this. And it’s never ever ever ever gonna happen because HOLY SHIT, THAT PRICE.

Cost: $2,165 on Net-a-Porter

Best Gifts for Travelers 2016

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Have a happy holiday season, everyone!



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