Best Gifts Under $50 for Your Favorite Globetrotter

Being that it is Black Friday, some of us (i.e. those who don’t wait until December 24) are well on our way to making our Christmas shopping lists now that Thanksgiving has cleared and we are starting to be able to button our pants again. We would never forget that bottle of wine for Grandpa, that baking set for Mom, and that fancy watch for our boyfriend(s)… but what about the traveler in our lives?

Buying gifts for travelers isn’t very easy, mostly because those who are travel-happy tend to operate on the same t-shirt and jeans for multiple days at a time and are grateful to have a bar of soap for the next destination. However, get them something they don’t know yet that they want this here. Here are some of the coolest travel gadgets to score before December 25.

1. Scratch Map, $20 is a poster map for the wall in which you scratch off each country you have visited to reveal a rainbow beneath. Also hidden under the scratched off countries is geography trivia.

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2. Water Bobble, $10 is a reusable, self-filtering stylish water bobble that is great for avoiding those pesky tap water table charges in Europe if you’re good at sneaking off to the bathroom unnoticed. These bottles come in many colors, sizes, and styles, although I recommend the Bobble Sport because they still comes in the standard medium size but they are more colorful, dishwasher safe, and the cap is attached so you can’t lose it (unlike the normal bobble). Every month (or two, which is the recommended swap time), you purchase a new filter for about $5. Oh and you get to save the environment too.

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3. Apple World Travel Adaptor Kit, $39 includes a set of six AC plugs with prongs to fit outlets in North America, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Continental Europe, Korea, Australia, and Hong Kong and works with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple MagSafe Power Adapters (for MacBook and MacBook Pro), Portable Power Adapters (for iBook and PowerBook), and AirPort Express. Trust me – you just dumped big bucks into your Apple iPhone and Macbook. Don’t mess it up by using some poorly converting cheap plug in another country and then blowing the whole thing to pieces. Invest in a quality converter.

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4. Bentgo Bento Boxes, $15 are like handy little make-your-own TV dinners, just without all of the fake food. These cute, streamlined compartmentalized boxes make creating meals for the road a lot less messy than your standard cafeteria-style lunchbox.

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5. SearchAlert Locks, $20 are the kind of thing that you think you don’t really need until you’re in a hostel in Scotland sharing a room with a convicted felon. These handy resettable combination locks also change color from green to red if the locks have been opened outside of your presence.

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Don’t Forget Me!

So now that, even though I hate to admit it, I’m pretty settled back home in New Jersey, I guess I should start blogging about something other than how much I wish I was in Italy…

I’ve seen a lot of pretty extensive packing lists that are supposed to “help” us on our journeys across the pond, but in reality, I’m not going to forget to bring socks and who’s who to tell me how many pairs of underwear I need to bring?! Which is why I am putting together this short packing list that will hopefully help you out no matter who you are or where you’re going. DON’T FORGET THESE THINGS!

1. Guidebook and map. Can you buy a guidebook and a map in basically any place that you are going? Yes, yes you can. Will it be a quality guidebook? Yes, it probably will. Will it be cheap? No, no it will not. Which is why I’m telling you now that you should probably order your guidebook online (I like Amazon.com) because you’ll get it for like five bucks versus like twenty and you’ll get your pick of the litter. You can read some reviews, sample the pages, the works. Personally, Frommer’s are usually a solid pick. Also, if 2013 is $20 cheapest and 2012 is $5, just friggin get 2012. How much do you really think Florence-or anywhere else-has really changed in the past year.

2. Ear plugs and eye mask. When traveling, sometimes you don’t know where you’ll be staying, what it will be like, (or who you will be sleeping with). It’s always wise to pack an eye mask for those window-facing beds and ear plugs for those baby-ridden planes. And you also never know who of your supposed “best friends” snores. Seriously you’ll be glad you did.

3. Travel pillow. And I don’t mean one of those stupid neck pillows- what if you have an extra seat and you wanna lay on your side? What if you’re in a hostel and the bed feels like your best friend’s futon? Save yourself (another) $20 and steal the surprisingly soft plane pillow.

4. Refillable water bottle. I absolutely LOVE my Water Bobble, a plastic water bottle with a built-in filter you change every two months (the 34.5 ounce is a good choice). These bottles will save you money and possibly your life on one of the many unbearably hot summer travel days. With these, you can fill up your water from any sink and feel safe knowing you’re not going to contract some rare disease. You can get these from any department store really and they go for like $20 but are worth it. I know Brita makes them too but they kind of have a weird taste to them.

5. Flip flops. Your shoes break. The shower is nasty. Somebody finds a pool with an unlocked gate. The possibilities are endless for why you need a grimy pair of flip flops.

6. Hand sanitizer, lotion, and a chapstick. These are all tiny things that fit into your purse but come in handy when you get sunburned unexpectedly (whoops fell asleep on the beach again) or the airport is making you feel especially nasty.

7. A book. Even though I hate buying books (because I know I’m only going to read them once and that’s what the library is for) having them while traveling tight is not a bad idea because you never know how long it’s gonna take to stand in that line or how boring the tour is gonna be. It’s always kinda nice to leave your book behind for the next curious traveler that comes your way. Plus this way, you have less stuff coming home than you did leaving! Now how cool is that!

8. EXTRA Converter/ Charger. No, NOT one. Seriously just don’t. Especially when abroad, these babies burn out like it’s nobody’s business and then you are up the creek without a paddle. Just bring an extra they go for like $5 on eBay! SERIOUSLY HOW CHEAP ARE YOU 

I wanted to get to ten but this is all I got for now. CIAO!