Souvenir Sunday: last minute gifts for travelers


Still puzzling over a gift for the road warrior or frequent traveler on your list? How about a plane ticket?

That’s what a recent poll from Switchfly discovered people really want.

More than half of those interviewed (65 percent) said they would be delighted to receive an air travel gift for the holiday. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they’d prefer a gift of a first-class upgrade, while 31 percent would rather have a plane ticket to a foreign country.

Buying plane tickets for your friends and family can be complicated – and costly – so consider instead one of the travel-related gifts on this list.

Some help travelers be more efficient on the road. Others may improve a travel experience, help someone out of a jam or just serve as a pleasant perk on a stressful travel day.

Best of all, the items here can be purchased on-line and delivered to an email inbox at the very last minute.

Because we know you’re a busy traveler too.

Words and pictures for travel

The classic DK Eyewitness Travel Guides were recently revamped and now have updated itineraries, new content, even better images and improved usability. The books are still a bit heavy for those who need to travel light, so it’s a good thing that most all the guides, along with the DK Top 10, Eyewitness Family Travel and the Eyewitness Back Roads series are now available as e-books.

Rosetta’s Stone’s courses in 30 languages can also be delivered as e-gifts and can help travelers with down-time on long plane rides learn how to order a great meal or close a deal in another country.

TSA-compliant conveniences

Day of Relaxation Gift Set from

Relying on hotel toiletries can be a hit or miss proposition, so most frequent travelers stuff their TSA-compliant 3-1-1 bags with tiny tubes and bottles of lotions and potions from brands they love or an assortment of items snitched from hotel bathrooms along the way.

The gift of replenishing those minis is made easy with an e-gift certificate from, a website that carries more than 2,500 travel and individual-sized items (including food) and a nice variety of gift and personal care travel kits.

Another option is a subscription to Birchbox, which will send your favorite traveler a box filled with five beauty and personal care samples for the next 3, 6 or 12 months. (Prices start at $30 for women and $60 for men.)

Birchbox chooses the grooming products in the amenity kits offered to travelers flying in JetBlue’s Mint premium cabin between JFK and LAX or SFO and has a couple of JetBlue discount codes out there that anyone can use for subscriptions and product discounts.

For the hassles

Just about every airline offers gift cards for travel that can delivered electronically. But for those days when a buddy is stuck at an airport due to bad weather, an ailing airplane or a canceled or just-missed flight, a gift certificate for a service at an airport day spa, such as XpresSpa, or a day pass or full year’s entry into a club lounge may be the answer.

“One option for e-gifting lounge access is — if a friend or family member is a frequent traveler, purchasing a lounge membership online for them could make a lot of sense. For example, United offers their United Club membership for $500 per year, while Delta offers their Delta Sky Club membership starting at $450,” said Lounge Buddy co-founder Brent Griffith.

The Plaza Premium Lounge, an independent all-travelers-welcome lounge with branches in London, Vancouver, Hong Kong and 15 other airports, offers e-certificates for gift cards that are good for a package of 5 to 10 visits that can be used by one person or shared around.

Need more ideas? In his Seat 2B column, Joe Brancatelli has a great list of tried and true gift ideas for road warriors.

(My story about last minute gifts for travelers first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior in a slightly different version.)

Souvenir Sunday: tiny travel items and free in-flight Wi-Fi

Free Wi-FI at airport

This weekend kicks off a great holiday promotion that provides travelers with a truly useful travel souvenir. Depending on when you travel, you’ll be able to get free in-flight Wi-Fi on four airlines: Air Tran, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Virgin America.

Domestic travelers on Air Tran, Delta and Virgin America will be able to use the Gogo Inflight Internet for free on all Wi-Fi equipped planes from now through January 2, 2011. (Thank-you, Google Chrome). Travelers on Alaska Airlines can log on to Gogo for free from now through December 9, 2010.  (Thank-you, Honda.)

While you’re up there poking around the Internet for free, please take a moment to look at the Passports with Purposes website.

A word-wide team of bloggers has banded together to try to raise $50,000 to build a village in India.

Last time I looked, the heart-shaped thermometer showed we were just $15,000 short of the goal.

The project on its own is quite worthy, but each $10 you donate gets you an entry ticket for one of a boatload of great prizes, everything from plane tickets and hotel stays to upscale travel gear, an iPod, an iPad and swanky vacation packages.

My prize partner for the project is, the popular website that stocks pretty much anything you can think of in travel-sized and single-serving sizes. hummus dip

They’ve donated a surprise box stuffed with essential, curious and luxury travel-sized items that I hope will include the organic Amazonian lip balm that comes packaged in a tree nut, TSA-friendly single servings of hummus and the Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo keychain. imperial duncan Yo-Yo key chain

Cushy in coach

The folks at Luxaholics are fretting a lot about air travel these days. At Thanksgiving they shared some of my tips for stress-free travel. This week, they wanted to know how I’d “lux up” a coach seat.

They didn’t have room for all my tips, so in addition to the amenities kit from Flight 001 mentioned in the feature, I wanted to make sure folks check out the Travel Treats kits and other pint-sized products offered by

Think stocking stuffers….