Shopping

Gifts for your favorite traveler

Fun and useful items for you or someone on the go

Courtesy Airportag

Pack light. Avoid jet lag. Stay safe; but choose adventure.

These are the oft-repeated mantras of frequent travelers and buying gifts for them is often a challenge.  

To get you started on your holiday shopping, we gathered some gear, gadgets and great ideas for gifts to help travelers stay on course and find new adventures this holiday season.

Our list posted first on CNBC.

Help track great ideas on the go

Courtesy Field Notes

Smartphones and tablets are great for taking pictures and notes, but what about keeping track of feelings, impressions, sketches, perfect one-liners, overheard snippets of odd conversations and great ideas that arrive out of the blue when you’re on the road?

That’s why frequent travelers usually carry some sort of pocket notebook and why new and cool ones are great gifts.

In addition to classic and themed planners and notebooks (many of which can be personalized), Moleskine has city-specific notebooks, passion journals and a line of limited-edition pop culture notebooks celebrating David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and others.

Inspired by the promotional memo books seed, tractor and agricultural companies would give away to farmers, the modern-day Field Notes line of small notebooks are loved by detail geeks and hipsters alike. Give a Field Notes e-gift card, a limited edition set celebrating National Parks, Space expeditions or the band Wilco, or a year-long subscription ($110) that delivers four quarterly mailings with the two-sets of the newest limited editions design and bonus surprises.

Daily travel inspiration

Books that inspire and inform travel or offer historical or political context for a planned trip are always great gifts, as are calendars that can serve as daily reminders of favorite destinations and those places still on “want to go” lists.

Two books to consider for frequent travelers: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders; 2nd edition (Workman; $37.50) by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, is filled with (even more) odd, entertaining and must-see spots around the world. Airline Maps: A Century of Art and Design, by Mark Ovenden and Maxwell Roberts (Penguin Books: $30), offers a richly illustrated and detailed story of the development of airline flight maps over a century.

E-calendars are useful, but for marking the days until the next trip, travel-themed calendars are far more fun. Look for the 2020 wall or page-a-day versions ($14.00 to $16.99) of “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” “Atlas Obscura,” and “Rick Steves’ Europe.”

Delight those devoted to travel

Many airlines, hotels and cruise lines offer plastic, paper or virtual gift cards and certificates that can be used towards booking flights, adventures and stays. The cards are super-convenient but be sure to check for restrictions and any expiration rules if you go this route for gifts.

Find special gifts for aviation geeks and travelers devoted to certain airlines on airline company store websites. Southwest Airlines may no longer serve peanuts, but it does sell a retro-style lunchbox with the airline’s peanut-pack image on the outside and two 10-oz bags of peanuts (honey-roasted and lightly salted) inside; ($29.00). And fans of the new custom-designed uniforms fashion Seattle designer Luly Yang created for Alaska Airlines can purchase Yang-designed socks, sunglasses, scarves, shoes and handbags and weekend bags online at the Alaska Airlines Company Store.    

Courtesy Airportag

Over at the Airportag aviation and travel gift shop, the choices range from travel bags and bedding to fashion, gear, gadgets, art and housewares that all have airport, airline and travel-related themes. Bonus: much of the gear is customizable.

Travel-sized gifting

Need to fill some stockings? Travel-sized versions of lotions, potions, snack-foods, personal care items and first-aid staples can do the trick. And a box or bag filled with a dozen or more hand-picked travel items makes a great gift.

Travel PAKT creates customized kits of travel-sized toiletries with an eye to sustainable sources, natural ingredients and recyclable or compostable packaging. Minimus.biz carries more than 2500 travel-sized items as well as pre-made sets, including an Eco-Traveler gift set, an Avid Traveler Essentials Gift Set ($65.48; 60 items) a Business Traveler Kit ($24. 24; 15 items) and a Carry-On Caddy for men ($16.72) or women ($16.10).

Interesting eating

Courtesy Traveling Spoon

Finding a great restaurant on the road is a treat, but a variety of dining-with-locals programs connects hungry travelers with amateur chefs. “These programs follow the Airbnb model of connecting travelers with locals worldwide,” says Seattle-based travel writer and Carol Pucci, “Not with a room but with a shared meal in a private home.”

Eatwith, Traveling Spoon, and (by December 15) Meal Sharing are among the programs offering gift certificates that will send your favorite traveler on a tasty new adventure.  

Gifts that do good

You feel good giving a gift. The recipient feels good getting a gift. But it doesn’t have to end there.

The World Wildlife Fund offers symbolic species adoption kits ($55 and up) that include a plush version of one of 100 animals (search by popularity or threat level: extinct, endangered or near threatened) as well as a photo, adoption certificate and a species information card. Gift a ‘virtual’ adoption of animals ranging from African Elephants and Hammerhead Sharks to honeybees and zebras and more of your funds go to saving animals travelers may get to see in the wild.

Gifts for Good helps companies and corporate gift-buyers find and create gifts that give back in some way to a wide variety of social causes. Travel-related gifts include everything from socks adorned with world maps ($14.95) to stainless steel water bottles ($25) and upcycled backpacks made from old vinyl billboards ($68). Some, but not all, items on this site have minimum orders.

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you

Earlier this week, we told you about a new Prince-themed store that opened recently at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Here are some more new shops to look for at the airports in Sacaremento and Las Vegas.

The folks at SouveNEAR, who place vending machines filled with work made by local artists at airports, are expanding their network.

Created to be “an indie craft fair in a box,” SouveNEAR fills these vending machines with an eclectic collection of art prints and originals, T-shirts and apparel, handmade jewelry, gourmet food items and other travel-sized mementos. Prices range from $5.00-$50.00. 

Right now they’ve got their art-filled machines in multiple locations at Kansas City International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Oakland International Airport and Cincinatti-Northern Kentucky International Airport.

In September you’ll be able to shop for local art from SouveNEAR machines in Sacramento International Airport (SMF) an in Las Vegas at McCarran International Airport (LAS).

Sacramento International Airport also has a new shop called The Well in Terminal A selling locally-sourced gifts in a “hydration-focused” environment.

In addition to selling gifts and gourmet foods from Northern Califorinia, the shop has a self-serve water bar and stocks a variety of reusable drinking bottles.

It came in the mail

Sharing today some of the tasty and useful items items that arrive in the mail at StuckatTheAirport.com.

These hand rolled, organic energy bars with sustainable ingredients from Kate’s Real Food were a hit in my house. We ate several (not at once..) before realizing that the calorie-count panel notes each bar is more than one serving. But these taste so good we weren’t likely to eat just half a bar and save some for later.

The StuckatTheAirport.com team visited Vermont recently and missed the opportunity to buy some real Vermont maple syrup. So we were pleased to find a bottle of organic Runamok Maple Syrup in the mail.

Their list of products includes everything from bourbon barrel and whiskey barrel-aged syrup to syrup infused with intriguing ingredients such as ginger root, Hibiscus flowers and cardamom.

We’re tasting the coffee-infused maple syrup, which is one of those “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” breakfast items.

And these no-show cotton and spandex blend Invisasox, with versions for men and women, arrived just in time for hot weather walking on the holiday weekend.

Souvenir Sunday at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

It’s Souvenir Sunday, a day to take a look at some of the fun, inexpensive and locally-themed items you can buy at airports.

You can’t go wrong with one of these colorful souvenirs from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Flowers – fresh, wooden, plastic or ‘future’ (as in bags of bulbs) – all look appealing.

And none of these souvenirs is anywhere near expensive.

And then of course, there’s cheese, stroopwafels and chocolate.

Have you spotted a great souvenir at an airport? If you do see something that’s fun, locally-themed and low cost, please snap a photo and send it along to StuckatTheAirport.com.

If your souvenir is featured on Souvenir Sunday, we’ll send you a travel-themed gift.

Closer look at Jewel Changi Airport

World’s tallest indoor waterfall at Jewel Changi Airport-photo Harriet Baskas

I’ve been in Singapore this week checking out – and experiencing – the new pre-security attraction at Changi Airport called ‘Jewel‘.

Housed inside a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) glass and steel structure designed by noted architect Moshe Safdie, the Jewel attraction sits next to Terminal 1 on a piece of land that once housed a parking lot.

Inside there’s a lush four-story tiered garden, more than 280 retail and dining outlets, a Yotel short-stay hotel, and a multi-screen IMAX theater. But the attraction’s centerpiece is without a doubt the 140-foot-tall Rain Vortex that is now the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

A few ticketed activities in Jewel’s ‘Forest Canopy’ will open in June, including a 164-foot-long glass-bottomed bridge, nets for bouncing and walking above the forest, mazes, topiary sculptures and more.

Shopping galore

In addition to global brands such as Adidas, Coach and Levi’s, Jewel’s many shopping venues include a good number of new-to-market shops.

There’s the first Pokémon Center outside of Japan, shops selling gift foods and plenty of Singapore brands, such as In Good Company (clothing) and Supermama (design and crafts items).

Gift by Changi Airport carries many specially-made Changi Airport-themed items, including the airport’s signature orchid, spice and plant-sourced scent and work by sought-out local artists.

From Shake Shack to fine dining

Dining options in Jewel Changi Airport range from fast-food to fine dining and include cuisines from Asian to Western. Singapore’s first Shake Shack (with unique to Singapore menu items) is here as are numerous cafes that offer ‘outdoor’ dining with a view of Jewel’s forest and waterfall.

Bonus amenities for travelers

Many passengers have long layovers at Changi Airport or have many hours to wait between hotel check-out time and late-night flights.

For those passengers Jewel has early check-in counters, bag storage facilities and a pay-per-use lounge.

But the best bonus amenity by far is the YotelAIR hotel.

The newest in the Yotel chain of “cozy” in-city and airport hotels, the YOTELAIR in the Jewel Changi Airport has 130 cabin-sized short-stay rooms.

Each room has its own shower and toilet, TV, WiFi and a space-saving ‘Smartbed’ that can change positions at the push of a button.

There’s a gym for guests, but during my four-hour stay I discovered that the best part of this YOTELAir is the patio that sits out front. It was a perfect, private spot to have a coffee, gather my thoughts, view the waterfall, the forest and all the shoppers going by.

Photo – Harreit Baskas

Opening rates at the YOTELAIR are S$140 (about $103 US) for overnight  stays in a Premium Queen Cabin and S$80 (about $59 US) for day stays of four hours. (Shower-only packages will be S$20 – about $15 US).