Want to know what kinds of gifts Los Angeles Times Travel writers are getting their loved ones? Here’s a list of eight ideas.
You can show these ideas to your family and friends — in fact, we hope you do — but please don't show them to ours. That's because these will be under their trees from us. We see hundreds of ideas for travel products each year, and we've chosen these as items that we could give to our loved ones. Here, then, are eight great gifts for your favorite traveler.
Parcel & Journey's bold Surf Style Weekender Bag is roomy enough to hold a family's worth of towels and gear for a day at the beach — or several changes of clothes for you and your honey on a weekend escape. It's made of sturdy cotton fabric hand-woven in Guatemala, closes with a metal zipper and has leather handles and a detachable shoulder strap. Two large interior pockets help corral cellphone chargers or other small items.
Info: $195, www.parcelandjourney.com
— Anne Harnagel
Handy hang time
Kammok's Roo camping hammock might just be the solution for adventure-seekers tired of the cold, hard ground. It's a mere 24 ounces, tear-resistant, roomy enough for two (it can hold up to 500 pounds) and packs easily into its attached sack for a quick get up and go. It comes in five bright colors (red, turquoise blue, purple, green and gold, as well as a neutral shade) so it's hard to lose in the forest, but it also would look swell hanging in the backyard or on the front porch. Even better, for every Roo purchased, Kammok provides treatment to five children diagnosed with malaria in Africa through its partnership with Malaria No More.
Info: $99, kammok.com/products/roo
Sleep with a wink
These lightweight eye masks from Flight 001 make it possible for the frequent flier on your list to get some shut-eye — and they may even elicit a smile from a grouchy seat mate. A light-eliminating insert across the bridge of the nose, soft lining and wide adjustable elastic strap make for comfortable wearing. The cotton/polyester masks are available in seven styles, printed with cat's eye sunglasses, aviators or cheery bons mots.
Info: $16, www.flight001.com
The Wallet Ninja is a slick and skinny stocking stuffer for the Inspector Gadget on your list. The rugged steel device packs 18 tools into one credit-card-size gadget that slides easily into a traveler's wallet. The Ninja includes a can opener, letter opener, bottle opener, nail puller, box cutter, cellphone stand, fruit peeler, screwdrivers in four sizes, rulers and six hex wrenches. Probably most ingenious of all is the cellphone stand that lets you prop up the device so you can watch movies. The slim profile makes it attractive to backpackers looking for light tool options. Will security allow it through? Makers say it is TSA-compliant. Just in case, I'd drop it in my checked luggage.
Info: $9.99, www.walletninja.com
— Chris Erskine
Selfies a snap
Brookstone has come up with a clever solution to getting your entire gang into your school reunion selfies or capturing you and your friends in front of an amazing landmark. The Selfie Remote Camera Shutter uses a light stand that fits in your pocket and a wireless remote that doesn't require Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The remote works up to 33 feet away, making it a snap for travelers looking to put less of themselves and more of their surroundings into their selfies. With free downloadable app. Works with Apple or Android devices.
Info: $29.99, lat.ms/1s0wmq5
E-book's big thoughts
Here's a digital stocking stuffer for the thinking traveler: Doug Lansky's e-book "Travel: The Guide" (274 pages) is a text-light, illustration-heavy volume full of jarring facts, provocative questions and clever juxtapositions. Among the questions Lansky takes on: What's it like to travel blind? Deaf? With a colostomy bag? Among the questions he leaves in your lap: Is there more "travel" in listening to a hotel band in a foreign land or in listening to a foreign musician on tour in your town? Lansky says he was inspired by the irreverent, photo-centric approach of Colors magazine (founded in 1991), and that's our gain. Ideal reading while waiting to catch a plane, train or automobile.
Info: $4.99. Available from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and other online merchants.
— Christopher Reynolds
Two of my gift recipients won't be surprised on Christmas because they have already received — and used — their present: five years of Global Entry, the Customs and Border Protection program that not only gives you "fast pass" reentry into the United States through Customs but also gives you PreCheck, an expedited trip though airport security that means you don't have to remove your shoes, jacket, liquids or laptop from carry-on, although you will be screened. One caveat about the Global Entry form: I stayed on the phone with my giftees while they completed it (have your passport and driver's license ready) because it's not a particularly intuitive process. If you don't want the Customs "fast pass," you can get PreCheck alone through the Transportation Security Administration.
— Catharine Hamm
'Ocean' in motion
Love gifts that make you laugh aloud? Dare you not to at least titter when you see the yellow-banded sweetlips on the cover of "Ocean," written by Carol Kaufmann and created by Dan Kainen. What's so hilarious about a fish whose mouth the author describes as a "big blubbery piehole"? Well, this is a Photicular book, which means sweetlips moves, as does the octopus, shark, sea horse, sea turtle and more on subsequent pages. Whereas last year's "Safari" book showcased the beauty of animals — a cheetah, an elephant and more — and their grace, this year's book, although equally informative, makes the fierce-looking seem funny. Although I wouldn't want to cuddle a moray eel after paging through this clever book, I now understand why its mouth moves constantly, sort of like a relative that just won't shut up. Informative and entertaining? Put it on my list.
Info: $25.95, Workman Publishing, lat.ms/1zbzpA5, and at bookstores