“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list,” the late Susan Sontag once quipped. Here are a few things we’ve discovered that will delight the traveler on your holiday gift list. Wishing you peace, joy, on-time flights, ample space in the overhead bin, and a plane full of happy babies.
Custom T-shirt quilt
“My parents went to Cancun and all I got was this lousy T-shirt,” and this one, and this one . . . Make the most of a drawer-busting collection of travel tees by stealthily collecting them and making a custom quilt. Sure, you can do this yourself if you’re crafty, or you can turn the tees over to Project Repat. The company, a Massachusetts startup, cuts out the graphic bits of t-shirts, stitches them onto a fleece backing (made of recycled plastic bottles), and voila! — a comfy quilt. It’s a great way to recycle those raggedy tees that are too holey to wear, but too special to toss. Sizes range from 4-foot squares to 8-foot squares. Prices start at $75. www.projectrepat.com.
Packable wrap dress
Who says dressy duds have to eat up a lot of suitcase (or backpack) space? This slinky, wrinkle-resistant wrap dress pops out of its own sewn-in pocket, so you can switch from sporty garb to dinner-worthy outfit in a flash. A concealed pouch is sewn into the back of the empire-waist dress, so nobody but you will know that you pulled your LBD out of your handbag and popped it on in the ladies’ room. (We’d recommend tights or leggings beneath it in unless you want to rock an Angelina-like flash of leg.) With its ruched sleeves and sweetheart neckline, this flattering black dress is a triumph of fashion-meets-function. Made in the US and machine washable, in sizes from XS to XL, it sells for $169. www.thepoppet.com.
Globes are cool. Globes that rotate all by themselves are wicked cool. MOVA globes are made with acrylic layers and contain solar cells. When the globe is exposed to natural or artificial light, the MOVA globe starts to spin. No batteries or wires are involved. For the techie on your gift list, or the traveler who seems to be in perpetual motion, it doesn’t get better than this. Vintage and modern world maps are among the choices available; sizes range from 4.5 inches to 8.5 inches, and prices start at $125. Minis (4 inches) start at $110. Available at www.amazon.com or www.movainternational.com.
The perfect bag
Luggage malfunctions are a bane of travel: just ask anyone who’s had to duct-tape a bag closed, or lost a wheel on a cheapie roller bag. A new company called Away, started in 2015 by two women from eyeglass maker Warby Parker, sells luggage directly to consumers. Their hard-shell carry-on bag hits all the marks: it has an unbreakable polycarbonate exterior, it’s lightweight (the smallest version weighs 7 pounds), plus, it has a built-in USB charger and a (genius) washable, removable zipper pouch for laundry. This luggage — available in four sizes — isn’t cheap, but it’s guaranteed for life. From $225; www.awaytravel.com.
The cutest backpack
Even the smallest of fry can help lighten the travel load, by donning their own toy-and-snack-filled backpack. Wildkin, based in Nashville, sells a range of colorful, sturdy backpacks and rolling backpacks, in a selection of whimsical prints, like horses, pirates, polka dots, monsters, and big fish. What’s great about this line is that they offer an assortment of sizes. Prices start at $30 for backpacks and $84 for rolling models. Find them locally at Little Bits Toys in Wellesley, and Green Planet, Newton Highlands. www.wildkin.com.
Coolest wearable charger
With the proliferation of portable battery chargers, there’s no excuse for running out of juice on the road. One that’s super-easy to pack, because it can be worn on the wrist: the cabelet. (Cable + bracelet.) Developed by a former PUMA exec, the cabelet is a charge-and-synch cable hidden within a braided leather bracelet. A stainless steel clasp keeps it closed. This compact connector comes in three lengths, from five- to eight inches, and a choice of colors and metal finishes. Models are available for Apple Lightning and micro USB (Droid and other smartphones) devices. From $99; available at www.kyteandkey.com and some Apple stores.
Touch-up for teeth
Would you skip the Turkish coffee in Turkey, the red wine in Rioja, or the chrysanthemum tea in China? As if. But nobody wants the evidence revealed every time they smile. That’s why the image-conscious folks on your gift list will appreciate the handy, lipstick-sized Everyday GLO Teeth Whitening Maintenance Pen, created by New York City dentist Dr. Jonathan Levine. Hydrogen peroxide, vitamins, and antioxidants keep teeth pearly white and breath minty fresh. $25 for a monthly supply (if used every day). For a list of local dentists who carry the product, or to order online, visit www.gloscience.com.
“Men Don’t Stink” beard balm
In a small town in Ontario, Canada, a farming couple has created a line of cheekily named body products for men and women. The stuff smells amazing, it’s sulfate-, paraben-, and dye-free, and much of it is super travel-friendly. What hirsute gent wouldn’t love beard balm ($22.95), made with soy wax, shea butter, and hemp seed oil, or a solid cologne ($36) that smells intriguing yet subtle. They donate a percentage of earnings to restoring farmlands and historic barns. www.waltonwoodfarm.com.
Personal alarm device
This is one of those gifts you hope they never have to use, but you’ll feel better knowing they’ve got it. A recently launched (2015) personal safety device called the Sound Grenade, touted as the world’s smallest SOS alarm, clips to a backpack or travel bag. Designed to repel aggressive wildlife, prevent assaults, and signal for help, the TSA-approved Sound Grenade emits a 120-decibel (thunderclap loud) siren for up to 30 minutes when activated by pulling a pin. (Re-insert the pin, and it stops.) Users have uploaded their stories to the company’s website; they include foiled muggings and even repelled bear attacks. Yikes. From $14.99; available at www.ROBOCOPP.com and www.amazon.com.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.