Gifts For Travelers: Consider The Person, Place And Travel Trends

gifts for travelersWhen it comes to gifts for travelers, there are a lot of choices. Leisure travelers, those who commonly associate travel with fun, vacation time and new places have their needs. Business travelers are a different story, often looking at their frequent trips to the same place as work and a hotel room their office. Adventure travelers and others have their own priorities as well. Each has different needs. Knowing what they put a high value on can help us pick the perfect gift. To find out, we checked a number of published packing lists for a variety of travelers.

Universally common and high-priority advice includes packing a passport, travel documents like visa’s, hotel and flight confirmations, boarding passes and a list of critical phone numbers. Basics like appropriate clothing, personal care products, smartphone apps and money round out the list. Nothing really shocking there but that’s the point of a packing list, to jog our memory so we don’t forget something critical.

All of the above considered, a document organizer might be a good idea for a less-than-organized traveler on your gift list. Victorinox, the Swiss army people, has a Travel Organizer that features: a large stash pocket and full-length zippered pocket to store tickets, a passport and most sizes of currency; a zippered pocket for coins; dedicated card slots; and a micromesh ID slot ($32).

But say your traveler already has something like that or is the type of person that you know will not use it. If they have not traveled in a while, they may not know about the current trend to travel light. OneBag, a website dedicated to “the art and science of traveling light” has some ideas.”There’s no question: over-packing tops the list of biggest travel mistakes,” says OneBag on its website, which promises, “going pretty much anywhere, for business or leisure, for an indefinite length of time, with no more than a single carry-on-sized bag.”

Benefits of traveling light include increased personal security with just one bag; that’s less to lose due to theft, damage or misrouting. Traveling light means no checked bags and a more stress- and hassle-free way to go.

So maybe “things” are not what we should focus on for the traveler on our list. That leaves gift cards, arranging for an appropriate gift to be waiting for them at their destination and well wishes.

Just in time for the holidays, Carnival Cruise Lines has launched its first-ever gift card program, a pre-paid card that can be used as payment toward a “Fun Ship” vacation or a variety of shipboard purchases. Celebrity Cruises (with a double your gift card offer) and other cruise lines have a similar program, as do airlines, car rental companies and major hotel chains like Marriott, Best Western and others.

A gift card from TravelSmith or REI Adventure products would take the pressure off of gifting, allowing the traveler to pick what they want or need. A better gift card would be for places your traveler might visit on a planned itinerary or serve as incentive to book that trip-of-a-lifetime.

Someone traveling to Disney World in Florida, for example, might appreciate a McDonalds gift card. That may sound like a dumb gift but just outside the gates of Disney World where dining can be expensive, is a McDonalds and the largest McDonalds in the world is not far. Oh, all of the sudden “dumb” is “thoughtful” and absolutely used, rather than set aside with other well-intentioned gifts.

Need some other gift ideas? Check this video from US Airways:


OneBag offers some other guidelines that can steer us in the right direction too, focusing on three areas that can lead to some great gift suggestions:

  • Packing List Usage, abandoning the folly of lugging around too much stuff;
  • Weight Reduction, finding travel-friendly versions of the stuff you do carry; and
  • Bag Optimization, understanding what to look for in efficient & effective luggage.

[Photo credit- Flickr user tikigod]

Cruise survival kit: What you need to be totally prepared

cruise survival kitCarnival Inspiration finally docked in Florida at 8:30 p.m. last night after being held out at sea due to weather conditions. A bunch of other Carnival ships are sailing modified itineraries for weather-related issues. Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas was tossed around in bad Middle East weather.

News from the cruise industry lately has been all about weather-related delays, modifications of itineraries, disabled ships, braving storms and compensation to passengers for their troubles. With that in mind, cruise packing lists are being updated with a number of items normally found on lists for camping or backpacking. Start with these for your cruise survival kit:

Satellite phone
For as little as $24.95 a week you can rent global Iridium Satellite Phones from Satellite Phone.com. They can provide the lifeline you want when power goes out. Call rates of between $.99 and $1.59 a minute might sound expensive sitting on dry land but that will quickly be a bargain if you are the only one able to communicate with the outside world.

Lots of backup power
When the ship loses power the clock starts ticking on your cell phone or camera battery. What could be a timely call home (if and when you can catch a signal) to let friends and family know you are OK might not happen without plenty of backup power. iPhone users know Mophie.com is the place to go. Brookstone has a universal battery that works for phones and cameras.

Survival food
The passengers aboard Carnival Splendor, the ship by an engine room fire, have a lesson for us: Bring food. When lavish buffets and gourmet dining come to a screeching halt because the power got knocked out or the buffet lines thrown around by angry seas, some high protein snacks will come in handy. Think canned nuts, peanut butter, or other survival food high in calories that won’t take up a lot of space in luggage.

The right luggage
Now, more than ever, its a good idea to have only one piece of luggage that you can keep with you at all times. Cruise lines allow passengers to skip checking luggage if they can carry it on and off the ship without assistance. On Carnival Inspiration, held at sea for so long, guests who held on to their luggage were the winners. Durable Victorinox has some great choices.

The odds are you will have a totally safe and care-free cruise vacation. But savvy travelers know that being prepared for anything that might come your way is a good idea.

Victorinox Presentation Master – the Swiss Army Knife that reads fingerprints and controls powerpoint — Gadling review

Despite 2700 different booths, probably close to 50,000 new product announcements, and a whole assortment of 3D TV’s, the coolest product I came across at this years CES was a USB drive. Obviously not just any USB drive – imagine a USB drive with the strongest encryption possible, a fingerprint scanner, Bluetooth presentation remote, laser pointer and more.

Best of all, this product isn’t the result of someone taping together some components in their basement – it comes from Victorinox, the people behind the original Swiss Army Knife. It is called the “Swiss Presentation Master”, and it looks (and feels) like a Swiss Army Knife.

The product was actually announced at the 2009 CES, but this year, they finished development, and are getting very close to being able to sell you one.

Now, before you point out the logical flaw in flying with a Swiss Army Knife, remember that they also make “flight” versions of some of their products, like the SwissFlash Flight we reviewed last year.

The new Swiss Presentation Master is an absolutely amazing piece of technology. Inside a device not much larger than a normal USB drive, the Swiss designers were able to include a laser pointer, Bluetooth remote with 2 buttons (for presentation control), a removable 8GB, 16GB or 32GB flash drive WITH AES encryption and fingerprint scanner AND of course a knife, scissors and a nail file / screwdriver.

The USB portion of the Presentation Master can be removed. A USB extension cable is included.

If you own a SwissFlash USB drive – you’ll be happy to know that you can swap the drives out. This means you can mix and match drives and knives, which is especially handy if you’d like a version with, and without a blade.

The designers did not stop with the knife itself – on the flash drive is an entire suite of applications designed with travelers in mind.

The Victorinox Secure application allows you to create secure files on the Presentation Master itself or on your own hard drive, allowing access through a password or fingerprints. This means you can use your USB drive to secure files on any other drive.

Victorinox Secure also provides Outlook synchronization, file syncing and backup as well as a really cool browser security feature. This allows you to start your browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) and store cookies, temp. files and favorites on your secure USB key instead of leaving “cookie crumbs” on a public computer. And finally, it can act as a secure password storage device, only revealing your passwords when you swipe your finger.

The Bluetooth remote control is simple – you pair the Swiss Presentation Master with your computer, and the two arrow buttons can control Powerpoint presentations, or any other task that can be operated with the left or right arrow.

The final, and possibly most mind blowing feature is an actual self destruct feature. If the drive detects someone trying to hack their way into your files, it will physically blow itself up. Obviously, this doesn’t involve explosives, but the developer of the Swiss Presenter had a unit with him that had deliberately been blown up, and the memory chip really is blow to pieces inside its case.

Victorinox are so confident that they have developed the most secure USB drive in the world, that they were offering a $100,000 prize to anyone that could access the data stored on a drive at their CES booth. As the show came to an end, nobody had succeeded in hacking their way into the drive.

The Victorinox Presentation Master will be available soon, and prices have not yet been determined. A booth representative revealed that you’d need to bring about $300 to get your hands on one. There is no denying that this price is steep – but if you really value the security of your data, and you’d like a drive even the border police can’t access, then this may be the best option out there. The added bonus of a laser pointer and Bluetooth remote just make a great product even better.

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Gadling gear review – Victorinox Swiss Army SwissFlash Flight

The Victorinox Swiss Army “SwissFlash Flight” is a USB flash drive cleverly disguised as a Swiss Army knife. Victorinox developed 2 versions of the SwissFlash tools – one with all the bells and whistles (knife, scissors and nail file/screwdriver) and one without those tools (the flight lineup) – specifically designed for taking past airport security without being told to dump it in the trash.

The SwissFlash Flight combines a removable USB drive, ultra-bright LED light and a ballpoint pen in a single Swiss Army tool. The flash drive is available in sizes from 1GB ($34.95) to 16GB ($109.95).

I won’t pretend that these prices are in line with the normal price of a USB flash drive, but the tool does offer some features that make it worth(ier of) the high price. The LED flashlight is a handy inclusion, and something everyone should consider carrying on their keychain. The ballpoint pen is by no means capable of letting you write your next essay using your flash drive, but if you have ever been on a long haul flight without a pen, sitting in front of a stack of customs forms, you’ll appreciate having quick access to a writing instrument.

The USB flash drive itself is surprisingly decent – It tests about 30% faster than most of the flash drives I have here, including popular drives like the Cruzer Micro. The USB connector is protected by a folding/locking portion of the tool and you can remove the entire USB flash drive if you need to give someone some files without wanting to give up anything the tool is attached to (like your keys).

On the side of the USB key is a write protect switch and the tool comes with a small USB extension cable in the box.

All in all this really is a luxury product. Some retailers sell the 8GB SwissFlash for just under $60, which is 3-4 times as much as a generic 8GB flash drive. The Victorinox SwissFlash Flight adds some style and extra features to the otherwise boring USB flash drive market. The looks alone make this drive worth more than a generic flash drive, and the extra features and high quality make it a great option for someone who doesn’t mind spending a bit extra for travel gadgets.

Daily deal – up to 50% off outdoor gear at Amazon.com

My daily deal for today is for a large clearance event at the Amazon.com outdoors store. With summer slowly coming to an end for many of us, Amazon clearly need to make room in their warehouses for Halloween costumes and Christmas toys. Their loss is your gain, because there are some very nice deals to be found.

Some of the highlights include this heavy duty flashlight for $5.50, this highly rated Teton backpack with internal frame for $57.17 or this Columbia 3 person tent for just $51.58.

There is something for everyone in the discount aisle, including some pretty sweet discounts on Victorinox Swiss Army knives.

All purchases over $25 ship for free, and as always, Amazon Prime members can benefit from free 2 day shipping on most products.

For an overview of all the deals, check out their various discount departments:Cycling and wheeled, Camping and hiking and Exercise and fitness