Gifts for travellers just got a whole lot better with the introduction of the versatile and hassle-free Hotelgift card scheme.
In fact, even calling it a scheme makes it sound more complicated than it is.
Truth is, it's simple, sweet and brilliant and it's forced me to update my list of the top ten gifts for travellers. Really, if you're in any doubt at all, this would be my number one choice.
But if you're looking for (ahem) a more modest kind of gift then I've recommended some of those as well.
Updated July 2018.
So whether you're looking for inspiration for a business traveller, long term traveller or just want to treat someone to a well-deserved weekend away, here are my suggestions.
What it is: A beautiful voucher-style gift card that you can use instead of a home-printed IOU or (worse) a voucher that ties people into a place, hotel brand or date that might actually make life more difficult for them.
How it works: as the world's leading hotel gift card brand, the cards can be redeemed in over 110 000 hotels in over 170 countries. The program covers more than 140 different brands, including independent and boutique hotels as well as the bigger chains.
You pay the amount and the recipient gets to use the card through the Hotelgift website. You can either ask for a physical gift card or an e-version if you have left things to the last minute (as if anyone would...)
Using Hotelgift Card
The delivery options are:
I tested it out and it's really, really easy to use. And what I love about it, as I mentioned above, is that it's so flexible. No more surreptitiously trying to track down dates or panicking that you can't rearrange schedules to accommodate what was supposed to be a lovely, thoughtful gift!
Just the bit you wanted (the lovely gift) without giving someone a headache. Love it.
Yes, scarves are useful for travelling with anyway. You can use them as a sarong, loop together broken handles on a suitcase, swaddle a baby, build a tent and even use them to keep your neck warm if the AC gets over ambitious.
But these beautiful hand-made scarves from Speakeasy Travel step it up a notch. How? With their hidden zippable pocket, that's how. Passport, room key, cash. Hidden in the scarf.
WAY more comfortable than those down your pants money belts. And more stylish too. $49.99 (Made in America.)
Buying travel guide books can be tricky on a gift basis because the chances are someone's already bought the book if they've already bought the ticket.
Enter this gorgeous coffee table book, Where to Go When by Lonely Planet which breaks down the world into seasonal recommendations based on your personal tastes.
If it wouldn't be considered offensive to some people, I'd be calling it my bible... £19.99
For anyone who doesn't sink into blissful unconsciousness during long journeys, then the Sleepstream app may save the day. I've written about it before over on the How to Sleep on A Plane article but I've found it revolutionary (along with the other fairly straightforward tips.) Costs £6.99 - find in iTunes over here.
I've no idea why I battled with so many bags for so long! I love using my Samsonite SCure. It rolls easily, I can stack bags on top of it and everything inside is secure (perfect for when you can't check in to a room and you've a pretty good idea that your suitcase, complete with laptop and lenses, will be at the bottom of a colossal suitcase heap.) Costs £99 - 199 - find them here.
Now here's a gift idea I spotted over on D Travels Round. It's the only one I haven't tried out myself (yet) but the idea is soooo good that I have to share it here. The idea is that each locket has a different aromatherapy smell - perfect for when you're on a crowded tube, train, plane, automobile with someone or several someones who, well, are in need of a shower and a change of clothes...
And a longer life expectancy... Blame it on the doctor in me but we all need to protect our skin when we travel. Skin cancer's on the rise and while the application of said screens may not make us look as beautiful and blissed out as the girl in the photo, they may just keep us alive. Trouble is, as we all know, sunscreen can be gloopy and greasy and bring us out in spots. Not much of a price to pay when it comes to fending off cancer (and even wrinkles!) but annoying nonetheless. So, my happy discovery this year was Ultrasun which lasts a long time, feels nice and dry and is designed for those with sensitive skin. Costs £5-30 - find them here.
Love travel, love photos but don't love lugging around a full DSLR? (Or, ahem, does the person you're buying the present for think that way?)
Mobile phones are fantastic for snapping images on the go but more and more people are using them to create high quality videos of their travels or taking the chance to conduct a live broadcast while on the road.
The Monoshot tripod is the best I've seen so far for making that leap from quick holiday snap to serious image contender. It folds up neatly for travel but assembles quickly on the road and even has a bluetooth timer to help you activate your phone camera remotely. There's also (ahem) a selfie stick and a spike to help in muddy or sandy ground...
However hard any of us work, to be able to travel anywhere or even have the luxury of electricity and an internet connection in order to read this post involves privileges most of the world can only dream of. Some charities, such as Oxfam, offer the chance to "buy a goat" and have an e-card to send your friend or relative on the big day. Others, such as the Red Cross and Crescent simply accept straight donations. Then, there's the WWF Shop that offers everything from holidays to soft cuddly toys in order to raise funds. It's just a thought, particularly if you've read all of the other suggestions and nothing seems to fit.
What do you think?
What's the best present for travellers you've heard of?
Disclosure: Some of these items I paid for myself, for others I was sent review samples. All of these items made it onto the list because I believe they'd be great gifts for travellers. Clicking on some of these links may earn me a little bit of cash if you then go on to buy...but not the charity ones obviously ;-)