A Nomad’s Holiday Gift Guide

Is there a frequent flier in your life, and you need gifts? Or maybe YOU are the frequent flier and you deserve the gift? It’s okay, treat yourself! When I go gift shopping, I’m all for the “2 for me, 1 for you” shopping. No offense! Mostly because the rest of the year, I shop for necessities not for fun.

Here are 5 things I pack when traveling and they’re all good gifts …

1. Travel Journal

Maybe I’m old school, but I think capturing memories in a travel journal is super important. The little snippets, things overheard, thoughts that pass through your mind … they fade over time. But not if you get them down on paper. That’s why journals like this Rifle Paper Co. travel notebook at ShopBop are a useful gift for the nomad:

Rifle Paper Co Travel Journal

Journals are good to have on hand when planning a trip too. You can write “things to do” ideas, addresses, phone numbers, draw little maps, everything you need is in your journal. I know we all have computers. But there’s something about writing on paper.

There are also classy leather-bound travel journals and I have more than a few of those full of travel memories. Here’s a leather journal from Amazon with a travel theme:

Classic Leather Travel Journal

At only 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, it’s small enough for light packing.

2. Lotion

Our skin takes a beating when we travel. I’m going to keep the solution simple. I LOVE Peter Thomas Roth All Day Moisture Defense Lotion. I’ve used it for years. I’ve used a lot of lotions, because I’m, hmmmm, 40-something, and my skin is drier. I hate most lotions, honestly. They don’t last more than an hour before you look dry again. They’re greasy. They leave a slick on your skin. Yuck! For me, the Peter Thomas Roth lotion sinks in, no greasy feeling, and they mean “all day” when they say “all day.” I don’t need to put lotion on again until the next morning. LOVE this stuff:

Peter Thomas Roth Lotion

I carry that lotion with me at all times just like I carry money at all times. It’s that great (at least for me it is). They have a smaller travel size but the 1.7 fl oz size has never been a problem for me to carry onto flights.


I like a pair of great big headphones on flights. Even short flights. I like the big cushy ones that cover your ears and surround you with sound. The earbuds that go in your ears feel uncomfortable and dinky. Noise cancelling headphones are great. Just plug in your music or movie and you’re ready for the travel time to fly by.

Now I’m not an expert on headphones. I have pricier Sennheiser headphones and they’re fine. I like them mostly because I can crank them up real loud and the people next to me on flights cannot hear anything. No sound leakage is important, because it’s really annoying to your fellow passengers. I do wish the bass was a little stronger. But I know I shouldn’t expect a concert hall in headphones. These look really cushy and comfortable for long flights:

Sennheiser Headphones

These are my Sennheiser headphones. They collapse small in a handbag:

Sennheiser Headphones for Travel

Bose is another often-recommended brand for travel headphones. You know Bose knows how to deliver big sound through small speakers. I don’t know about all the Dr. Dre headphones. But I’m probably not Dr. Dre’s target market!

4. Shawl or big scarf

A shawl is one of the most versatile accessories you can pack. There’s so many ways to use a shawl when traveling:

  • Layer of warmth on shoulders
  • Folded into a scarf
  • Blanket on the plane
  • Sarong at the beach
  • Dash of color and pattern for monochromatic capsule travel wardrobe
  • Tie over pants and t-shirt for different layered look

Here’s a few shawls from artisans at Novica …

By Novica artist Isha Jain in India, a cotton and silk shawl block printed by hand:

Novica Hand Block Printed Shawl from India

By Indian artist Sandeep Malhotra, this wool embroidered scarf at Novica is stylish and warm for winter travel. And at 70″ long and 26″ wide there’s plenty to cover:

Novica Wood Embroidered Indian Shawl

Okay this I might even grab for myself! See what I mean about “2 for me, 1 for you”! It’s another shawl by Sandeep Malhotra with embroidery on wool:
Novica Indian Wood Embroidered Shawl

Some of you may want more color! Well here it is, another wool shawl by Sandeep Malhotra – wild color florals:

Indian Wool Jamawar Shawl at Novica

When I travel, I pack mostly black – black pants and black tops – then I add shawls and scarves with colors and patterns and this makes the outfits less boring. I tend to not want a fashion show when I travel, I want to pack light, and that combo is my go-to solution.

It looks like Novica has more than 1,000 shawls to choose from!

5. Picture frame

We have pictures in our laptops, our phones, our Facebook, our Instagram. I think photos still belong in picture frames too. Print some out and keep them on your desk to motivate you for the next trip. I like really unique decorative frames, and I like to match the frame style to the trip.

This frame from Amazon might be good for someone who recently went on a European vacation:

Parisian Picture Frame

This is a special frame that elevates photos to another level. Literally:

Unique Picture Frame

For a frame that’s a gift, try to find something uncommon, something embellished, something in a different shape.

Something like this frame with embedded iridescent beads in colors is great for someone returning from an India trip, or Guatemala or Mexico, somewhere with colorful photos:

Iridescent Beads Picture Frame

What else is a good gift for travelers? Feel free to share in comments!

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