Rewards that only encourage the traveler to do more
Have you been a good little traveler this year? No stinky foodstuffs brought onboard, no kicking the seat when the person in front of you reclines, no hogging the armrests? If so, treat yourself or a jetsetting loved one from a sampling of great gear and gadget gifts.
The bag of the future
Until shuttles to Mars become a reality, this is our fantasy gift. Funded by Kickstarter, Space Case 1 is luggage-gone-high tech, with a global tracker, internal and external USB ports so you can charge your device while it's in the bag, a Bluetooth speakerphone, fingerprint scanning to access the contents, and a digital self-scale, so you'll never get an unexpected overweight baggage charge again. Wowza. Expected to be available this winter, the bag will be sold in two sizes. From $329. planettravelerusa.com
The disappearing cardigan
Our friend Sue, who travels more than she's home, tipped us off to the stylish Poppet, which goes from classy cardigan to travel pillow. It can go from a chilly airplane to yoga to dinner without missing a beat. Available in four styles and several colors, this open-front, knit jersey cardigan has a concealed, undetectable pocket attached on the inside, so when you don't need the sweater, you can fold it into its pouch. From $69-$129. pocketpoppet.com
Exotic snackage, anyone?
Malteasers malt balls in Manchester, hot dried cuttlefish in Molokai — seems like everyplace you go, there's a cool local treat. Now it's possible to have those favorite international snacking moments at home. A subscription box service called UniversalYums.com will send a lucky recipient a box of snacks and candies from a different country each month. Prices start at $13 per month, and shipping is free in the United States. universalyums.com
The real slim shady
Whether his style icon is Harry Styles, Prince Harry, or Prince, he'll look sharp in a snappy chapeau from the Wallaroo Hat Co. They sell crushable, packable hats with a UPF (Universal Protection Factor) 50 rating, meaning the hat protects from 97.5 percent of the sun's rays. The Outback model, our fave, is a blend of urban and outdoorsy, perfect for tropical escapes. Wallaroo hats (also available for women and kids) are less pricey than the competition; plus, founders Stephanie Carter and Lenya Shore donate 1 percent of profits to skin cancer research. From $40. Available at gift and garden shops and online. wallaroohats.com
Get a charge out of this clutch
In the "wish we'd thought of this" category comes this vegan leather clutch (also available as a cross-body bag) with an ultra thin battery insert and USB cords that can charge your cellphone. You slip your phone into the bag, connect it to the cables and, voila! The 2600mAH battery provides a full charge. ( You do have to remember to charge your clutch.) There's also room for keys, a lipstick, driver's license, and credit cards. Carry the wristlet clutch alone or slide it into a bigger bag. Either way, this handy item — cute enough for a tween, nice enough for a professional — eliminates the constant search for an outlet. Clutchette Power, $49.99; Crossbody Power, $69.99. chicbuds.com
Hammock built for two
Nothing says "vacation" like a hammock stretched between two palm trees! A fun gift for couples who enjoy beaching, camping, and getting chummy in the great outdoors, the DoubleNest hammock from Eagles Nest Outfitters is made of breathable ultralight nylon. Its weight is a packable 19 oz. but it holds up to 400 pounds. Available in a rainbow of color combinations, the hammock compresses into an attached stuff sack and comes with aluminum carabiners. $69.95; straps (optional) $19.95; available at REI and other outdoor retailers. eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com
Soap + water = feel-good gift
This useful little gift — an excellent stocking stuffer — works on two levels: The four travel-sized bottles of argan oil-infused, sulfate-free products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion) from SoapBox Soaps are a welcome step up from most hotel brands. And, with every purchase of this kit, called Hope-to-Go, the company with its partner, Splash, will donate clean water to a community in need. Available at Target and online for $7.99. www.soapboxsoaps.com