Can’t believe Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means the season of eating, buying, and giving allll the things is upon us!
This holiday season I plan to do two series: one on holiday outfits for all different occasions and another full of gift guides to provide recommendations for amazing products that would make amazing gifts. Today is my first gift guide of the season, but right before Black Friday I will post ALL of my gift guides (if I can finish them 😬) so that you can have them while shopping Black Friday.
A NOTE ON HOW I DO GIFT GUIDES
While years ago I used to just round up a bunch of stuff that LOOKS good, about a year or two ago I switched to primarily recommending my husband’s and my favorite products. My husband is one of those guys that researches everything extensively, and he cares about really great products. He’s a product manager by profession, so he has a good sense of what makes good products both in utility and design. I feel like gift guides are so much more useful when you actually know that products are good quality or are gifts that have been given to others and have been well-received. A few products on each list are things I may not have tried personally yet, but they are usually things I’ve researched and are on my own wishlist for the year. However, the majority of each gift guide is stuff I can attest to being amazing and helpful to have in life!
Also, my husband and I tend to love receiving and love giving gifts that are on the more practical or utilitarian side. I personally hate stuff that looks good but isn’t good quality or doesn’t function well. You get a taste of that in how I review clothes, and it’s also true of how Benson and I review all other products in our lives. Yes, we care about design, but aesthetics are usually second to utility. The best of both worlds is ideal of course, but sometimes you have to give up a little of the aesthetics for much better utility. We’ve learned through a lot of wasted money that if it looks great but annoys us when using it, we will inevitably get rid of it for something that functions better. Those aren’t everyone’s priorities, but those are ours and I wanted you to know that so that you have some context for my gift guides and what or how I recommend items.
Lastly, a lot of items will repeat from previous years. Like I said, many of these are items that Benson and I believe in and that are good quality, so they don’t change year to year. They last through heavy use over multiple years and we don’t feel the need to replace things because they’re amazing!
TODAY’S TRAVELER GIFT GUIDE
This is my first gift guide because I figured that besides giving you gift ideas for others, it could also be a good resource if you are traveling in the near future. Between visiting family and traveling for work, I’ve traveled a whole stinking lot over the last 15 years, including both car and plane rides but primarily plane. For a good decade I was probably on trips at least 12 times a year, and thanks to that I have developed a great sense of helpful travel items that I’ve included in this gift guide. Not only do I use many of these items, but we have also gifted several of them to others and have gotten reports on how much they love the products. Read the paragraphs below to see which were favorites from recipients. You may be surprised!
1. Cardigan | 2. Leggings | 3. Tote | 4. Backpack
5. Water Bottle | 6. GoToobs | 7. Packing Cubes | 8. Packing Cubes
9. Cognac Weekender | 10. Weekender Backpack | 11. Twill Weekender
12. Toiletries Bag | 13. Dual USB Charger | 14. Steamer
15. Sleep Mask | 16. Eyelash Sleep Mask | 17. Plush Sleep Mask
18. Motherlode Luggage | 19. White Luggage | 20. Colorful Luggage
21. Jewelry Organizer | 22. Quilted Jewelry Bag
1. Thick Oversized Cardigan – I’m always cold on flights and therefore always make sure I have a layer. Oversized cardigans like these are my go-to cardigans in LIFE, and of course while traveling. Pair them with the leggings below (see Option 2) and some comfy sneakers (my favorites are THESE–memory foam footbed!) My absolute favorite oversized cardigans are from Nordstrom and are often sold out. There are several at H&M during this time of year like THIS one in 5 colors for $24.99 though I don’t know how thick they are. There’s also THIS one that has great reviews. Lastly, THIS one from Old Navy is good too though a little on the thinner side than my beloved Nordstrom ones. 🙂
2. Leggings – If you or whoever you’re buying a gift for likes being comfy while traveling, these leggings are amazing. They’re actually meant for working out, but people wear them for both working out and for athleisure (myself included). They are opaque, which is 🙌🏽 and have a wide waistband which I thought I’d hate but turns out it 1) keeps them up so you never have to tug on them, and 2) makes them extremely comfortable around the waist. These are expensive but definitely worth it. The same way I’d pay $50 for a pair of jeans, I felt this price for leggings that could be worn for both working out and as comfy bottoms for everyday casual athleisure looks was worth it. See my outfits with them HERE. I’m 5’6″ and usually size S/M or 6/8 and wear these in M.
3. Tote – My absolute favorite everyday tote is also my favorite travel buddy. When traveling I use it to hold my 15″ laptop, huge water bottle (see Option 5), small pouch that comes with the tote, small wallet, pencil pouch, cardigan and/or scarf for layering on flights, phone and computer chargers, and snacks. It’d fit more, but that’s all I usually need. Sometimes when I travel I bring my Lily Jade bag or other backpack if I have to bring even more stuff or want to be hands free, and then I pack this tote in my luggage since it folds up nice and flat. Folding up flat is another reason I love traveling with this tote! I have the black/cognac, and you can see me carrying it in all these outfit posts HERE.
4. Backpack – This doesn’t hold a whole lot, but several of our guy friends have received these as gifts and have used them for the last several years. They are a simple design but garner lots of compliments!
5. Water Bottle – I talked about this in multiple gift guides last year, and it will probably forever be in my gift guides. Benson and I are water bottle addicts. We had sooooo many water bottles, from Nalgenes to every different and new version of Contigo’s to other brands that are less popular, and this water bottle put a stop to all our water bottle hoarding. It comes in a ton of colors, a ton of sizes, and a few different types of water spouts (straws, normally screw top, flip caps). I have a 32oz, Benson has a 40oz, and we got an 18oz to keep Addie’s extra milk cold while traveling for long periods. They are pretty expensive, but they are SO. GOOD. Keeps water cold up to 24 hours and hot up to 6! We have given these as gifts to multiple people and years later, they’re still using them. When we first got them years ago we also told all our friends about it, and now our community is hooked on them.
6. GoToobs – I’ve used mine for at least 10 years (!!!) and they’ve held up. I just cannot express to you how much easier it is to get shampoo, conditioner, or lotion out of these than out of the cheaper ones from Target. Also, these are much easier to clean, and most importantly, they NEVER LEAK whereas I’ve always had problems with cheaper ones doing that. This is not a pretty or extravagant gift to get someone, but we have given them to our friends who travel as little as even just a few times a year and they LOVE them.
7 & 8. Packing Cubes – This is another gift we’ve given people, and honestly at first they’re like, “Ohhh, cool….thanks..?” But then after they finally USE them, we get texts like, “OMG THOSE THINGS ARE LIFE CHANGING!” They keep your suitcases sane and make it easy to find things. We’ve used our same set for at least 10 years and they are still going strong. They are also machine washable! When you’re done, just throw them in the laundry! We have one color for Benson’s clothes, one color for my clothes, and we recently got a third set for Addie’s. It’s SO nice to have everything so organized and easy to access! They come in a billion colors and a variety of sizes. One medium cube fits into half a carry on perfectly. Option 7 are the ones we own and the brand we trust. They’re not the prettiest, so I linked to Option 8 which has good reviews, but I cannot attest to them lasting for 10 years with loadssss of travel like I can with the ones we own.
9, 10, &11. Weekenders – I have friends who own Option 9 and Option 11 (some of whom we gave Option 11 to as gifts!) and both of them garner lots of compliments. I don’t really use weekenders, or else I’d own Option 9 in a heartbeat. (I’d rather use a rolling carry-on and my tote, even for car rides, and I try to limit what I bring to those constraints.) Option 10 is as big as a weekender but can be worn as a backpack to be hands-free. It has 688+ reviews and 4.3 stars.
12. Toiletries Bag – Another not luxurious looking gift, but SO useful, and SUCH great quality. I’ve used mine for 8 years, traveling AT LEAST 12 times per year, and it is still going strong! Someone gave it to me as a gift, and while I wasn’t really impressed or wowed by it initially, as the years have gone on I’ve appreciated how fabulous of a gift it was. It holds quite a bit while being more compact than stand-up toiletry bags I’ve had. Like I said, it’s also held up over tons and tons and tons of travel through yearsssss and it still looks new–for a very affordable price!
13. Dual USB Charger – Cannot even describe how helpful this is! When my husband and I travel, we want our phones and iPads charged up, but can take a long time for things to charge and takes even longer to charge multiple devices like two people’s phones or a phone and a tablet. This is a high-speed dual USB charger, meaning it charges super fast and can charge two devices quickly at the same time. We have an older one that my husband would rather replace with the one I linked because in his words, “Ours doesn’t charge as quickly when two devices are plugged in, but this one will charge both just as quickly as it charges one.”
14. Steamer – I’ve talked about steamers versus irons several times on Instastories in the last few months. Long story short: I loathed ironing and never did it, but for some reason steaming clothes is fun and painless! A travel steamer means you don’t have to worry about clothes getting wrinkled when packed.
15, 16, & 17. Sleep Masks – Helpful for long flights or car rides or sleeping in hotels. Found some with great reviews that are very inexpensive!
18. Motherlode Luggage – We have have this in two different sizes and love it for traveling as a family. (I don’t use it when I travel solo–only carry-ons for me!) We originally had a huge one, and when we needed a second one to lug around our kid’s stuff we got a size smaller. This has two main sections: a soft case top portion and a hard shell bottom. The hard shell bottom also has moveable dividers for extra organization. Plus there are other zippered pockets on the interior and exterior as you can kinda see in the picture. We store clothes in packing cubes in the soft top section and all of Addie’s little things in the bottom. Stuff like her video monitor, sound machine, books, toys, etc. We like that smaller random things get more organized while being protected by the hard shell. Also, these bags roll veryyyyy smoothly across airports!
19. White Luggage – I’ve been eyeing this luggage for a while but it’s regularly quite expensive. It can be found on major discount, and I’ve read that besides looking great, it is actually really well made. During a recent sale (on top of being already discounted), I finally decided to order it and try it. It arrives soon! Tons of people love it though, so if you are looking to gift someone a bigger ticket item, this is gorgeous and has good reviews and would make a fantastic gift! Comes in 3 sizes.
20. Colorful Luggage – This one is very cute, though not as upscale looking as the previous white one. However, it is currently on major sale and only $38!! Originally $122! It has over 430 reviews and 4.5 stars. It comes in a pastel purple that is also really cute, the aquamarine I showed in the collage, a baby blue, and black. This would be an amazingly budget-friendly gift that would seem like you paid way more for!
21. Jewelry Organizers – I’ve one similar to Option 21 for 10 years. Since 2007 I’ve been using the same one, if you can believe that! The shape is the same and overall it looks new, but the exterior style looks a little dated. This vegan leather white one is a great option! It kept earrings and smaller jewelry untangled and organized, and the whole thing lay really flat and compact. Sooo nice! I would just order Option 21 except that I’m now into larger pieces of jewelry that Option 21 can’t hold. I researched Option 22 for that reason and am putting it on my wishlist! (Or I might just buy it for myself because for some reason my family does not like buying off of people’s wish lists, haha!)
Any of these pique your interest?