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2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Travellers Calculated Traveller

2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Travellers

Author Mary Chong
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Welcome to the 2nd Annual Holiday Gift Guide for all those travellers in your life! For 2014, we’ve done something a bit differently. We approached some of our past contributors and current staff writers to offer some suggestions of items that we have (or want) on our travel packing list. Hey, if WE travellers like these items for our trips – ya’ gotta know that the people on your list are gonna want them to.

Mary Chong recommends…

Lewis N. Clark Featherlight Organizing Packing Cubes

My favourite travel item must have of all time are packing cubes.

I’ve owned other brands in the past but since I’ve been introduced to the Lewis N. Clark Featherlight Packing Cubes, I honestly can’t go back. The large expandable one fits perfectly across the width of my carry-on and I love the versatility of the fact that I can keep it “slim” for a short trip or unzip and expand it for longer trips when I bring more clothes. The medium version is the perfect size to store my socks, underwear, etc. Having my suitcase and my belongings organised when moving from hotel to hotel is the key to my sanity! That organised or wannabe organised traveller on your list will love these and they come in lots of colours too!

Columbia Women’s Mighty Lite III Jacket

Travelling carry-on only is super easy when you are travelling to warmer climates. All you really need are bathing suits, shorts and t-shirts! But what if you are travelling from the cold of Canada to sunny Mexico in December? OR perhaps you are cruising and you’ll be experiencing different climates.

A Columbia Women’s Mighty Lite III packable thermal jacket is a fabulous gift for those world travellers in your life. Ultra-lightweight and water-repellant – It won’t keep you warm enough in the Arctic but I’ve worn mine in transit to Florida in January, around town at home in late fall and I plan to bring it with me on my next trip through Europe in the Spring. This jacket has the same Omni-Heat reflective lining as the base layer I reviewed last year. If you’d like to read a full review check out this article: Packable Down versus Omni-Heat Columbia Jacket. It can also serve as a pillow or lumbar support for the flight and comes in some great colours!

Ray Chong recommends…

Bluetooth speaker by iClever

When on the beach I like to have music playing – I enjoy the serenity of Zen music while listening to the waves of the ocean or even Bob Marley jams when in the Caribbean. I reviewed this portable Bluetooth speaker by iClever that can fit my musical needs. It’s lightweight, portable, has a lithium-ion battery for lots of hours of playing and is Bluetooth compatible. It also has a USB connector to charge other small devices and has a microphone so that you can wirelessly link it to your phone for hands-free conversations. For those who don’t want to use the Bluetooth, it also has an auxiliary input for those that want to stay wired. It’s a great medium-range speaker with moderate bass and a decent mid-range for voice; the treble is high enough that it doesn’t sound tinny. I’ve had it running for about 10-12 hours at medium volume and it hasn’t disappointed me. Don’t expect this to power a nightclub but it’s a perfect gift for that musical traveller on your list.

Universal USB Car Charger

We love our road trips. Driving 23 hours from Toronto to Florida is something that we’ll do once, twice, sometimes three times a year. With 2 or sometimes 4 people in the car at one time you need multiple USB charging outlets available so that everyone can charge up whatever electronic device they are using to keep them from getting bored. Tablets, cell phones, DVD players, mp3 players…sometimes with all your advanced planning you still can run out of juice when you are in transit for long periods of time on the highway. Whenever we are on a road trip we have the GPS plugged into the 12-volt dashboard socket (aka cigarette lighter) and this Universal USB Car Charger plugged into the armrest console outlet for any of the passengers to use. You can’t go on a long road trip without a car charger…

Michael Soncina recommends…

Cocoon Grid-It Organizer

Being organized is a skill that frequent travelers should try to master. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who need all the help he can get. Fortunately, while surfing the Internet I discovered a fascinating invention called “The Cocoon,” a carrying case with a series of organisational compartments centred on organisational elastics. I bought the medium-sized Cocoon organiser and find it perfect to organise all of my electronics since I have my adapters, iPod, external battery and all needed cables with me at all times. I intend to buy a small and large Cocoon case to organise my belts and ties, as I am often away for business travel. I will probably use the small one to organise gum, hand sanitizer and other necessities for air travel. Since using the Cocoon I am more organised, lose fewer things and travel easier.

Photojojo Cell Phone Lenses

Have you got a budding mobile photographer on your list? Last year I approached Photojojo about getting a set of their external lenses for my Nexus 3 phone. As I blog and am taking photos more and more with my smartphone, I thought the lenses would improve my work. The lenses are easy to use and connect to your phone via a magnetic sticker. All lenses come with lens caps and a magnetic key chain, making them easy for transport. I love the Fisheye and 2x Zoom lens, but I recommend the whole set (Fish Eye, 2x Zoom, Wide Angle, Telephoto, Super Fish Eye and Polarized) if you can afford it. The photo quality of the lenses is fantastic, but the adhesive sticker is not always the best. If you are having problems keeping the lens on your phone, e-mail Photojojo and they will share with you a tonne of user-created solutions.

Jamie Kwan recommends…

Timbuk2 Snoop Messenger Bag

I own this bag personally, and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants a bag that doubles as both a travel bag and a normal commuter’s bag. I use this bag every single day. You don’t even have to be a pro photographer to make good use of the Snoop bag. Aside from the very useful camera insert, tripod holder, and memory card pocket, as well as the durable material, my favourite feature of this bag is the ‘incognito’ look to a stranger passing by! I get so nervous when I have a very VERY obvious camera bag. The Snoop Messenger Bag barely gives any hints to it being a camera bag…so don’t travel and look like a tourist!

Ostrich Pillow

I know, I know…It’s kind of silly looking. BUT after my 16-hour flight to get to China (which felt like more than 20 hours with all the connections I made), this definitely caught my attention! Who cares how you look when you want to get some sleep! Don’t struggle with those neck pillows that weirdly make your neck sore after your flight! The Ostrich Pillow is cleverly designed to support various positions that you might need to sleep in while on a crowded flight. I’m dying to give this (innovation?) a try!

Kim Humphreys recommends…

Columbia Daypack

The number one reason I would recommend someone to buy a Columbia backpack? I have had my backpack for over 10 years! It’s not only durable, but it’s also lightweight. When you travel, you’re bound to have to carry things from water bottles, sunscreen and towels…who wants their backpack to add any more weight? Not this girl. I try to, as a general rule, avoid working when I’m on vacation, but there have been the occasional times that I’ve had to bring my laptop. This backpack easily fits a laptop as well. Lastly, it has lots of nicely organised compartments. The last thing you need on vacation is to be ripping apart a backpack to find something like your money or the keys to your rental car. My backpack has seen it all…from snorkelling in Cuba to walking the streets of Disney, I literally bring the backpack on every trip. The ability to attach my water bottle (and my next suggested holiday gift giving idea) is another great feature of this bag and something I couldn’t do without.

Nike Core Hydro Flow Water Bottle

When you’re traveling, buying drinks, including water can be very expensive. And, if you’re travelling right, you’ve worked up a thirst. I always bring along a Water Bottle to fill up. Of course, you have to be cautious where you are filling your bottle in places such as Mexico, but this handy item saves time and money–and of the bottles on the market, I think this bottle is also one sexy water bottle. The manufacturers also added a very necessary feature—a lock for the cap so you aren’t surprised when all the contents of the bottle had leaked out when you were travelling.

Lea Kuliczkowski recommends…


I challenged myself with ONE carry-on backpack for my Eurotrip: a two-month backpacking tour in six countries. With only so much room in my tiny bag, every inch was extremely valuable and many sacrifices had to be made, including leaving out an excessive amount of clothing. Now, this wasn’t such a bad thing I will only bring carry on for future trips like this due to less weight – with the exception of cleaning my limited wardrobe almost every week. Having to drop euros on laundry services pretty much everywhere I went was tough as a student with limited funds (thank goodness for couch surfing sometimes!). Honestly, I’d rather spend my 10 Euros on experiences and gelato than clean clothes! This is why Scrubba is on the top of my list for gifts for travellers. Perfect for your friend or family member who loves to travel longer than a typical vacation, hike, or camp where there is little to no access of Laundromats. Scrubba wash bag is a lightweight and portable washing machine! It’s all about saving time and money for backpackers who are always on the go. The washing process only takes 3 minutes for a thorough clean, comparable to a machine wash at home- and if you’re short on time, 30 seconds of scrubbing will do the trick! The convenience is you don’t even have to wet your hands since you scrub the clothes from the outside. Just hang your articles for the night afterwards for a dry outfit ready for the morning. Voilá! Giving the Scrubba wash bag as a gift also means supporting various water projects and funds through charitable donations to bring clean water to those who don’t have access to it. Where can you go wrong with that?! I’ll take two, please!

HIKPRO Ultralight Packable Backpack

My travel backpack is something sacred to me. In terms of what I use it for, it’s simply meant to carry my belongings from point A to point B. Usually to the next accommodation and then it goes straight into my locker. I prefer not to take it around with me when it comes to walking around for the day based on a couple of reasons: First of all, it’s too large for a walk around the city since what I only really need is my camera, phone, water bottle, and wallet. Secondly, I’m afraid of the thought my only bag- which carries ALL my belongings- may rip, tear, or break, because of too much wear, or getting it caught on something sharp. A portable and lightweight day bag is the perfect alternative, an invaluable item to have on the road. It’s space efficient in two ways: if it isn’t being used, the bag can be stored with no effect of taking up space (some fit the palm of a hand when packed up). And if it’s needed, the bag is easily accessible and becomes the ideal compartment for the days’ essentials, but also extra storage for souvenirs picked up along the way. Which is why a daypack is my other item on the gift guide for travellers. If your traveller is like me- only nooks and crannies remaining inside my main pack- this is the best gift out there. It’s also easy to find these types of bags with some water-resistance and lightly padded shoulder straps for maximised comfort. There really is no reason why your traveller doesn’t need one of these!

So there you have it, whether for the holidays or other occasions, Team Calculated Traveller’s gift guide suggestions for all the travellers on your list.

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