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How to Create a Traveler Gift Basket

 Laura Kiniry   5 minute read

I can tell you that my desire for travel hasn’t diminished.

Dreaming of places far-and-wide has helped keep me sane throughout 2020. So much in fact, that I’ve put together the ultimate gift-basket selection for the travelers in your life.

A little bit of practicality, a lot of fun, these mix-and-match items include a range of budget-friendly options and a few splurges to make every traveler in your life happy, even if they have to enjoy the world’s beauty from the comfort of home a little bit longer.

How much or how little to include is entirely up to you. Have fun with it, and get inspired. The inspiration may be the real gift, after all.

First get a basket…

Or a metal bucket, market tray, or even a basket box, which is a fancier box perfect for packing together multiple items.

Think about how you’re going to arrange the gifts inside. Decide on how many gifts you’re planning to include, and how you’d like the finished basket to look.

Prefer everything to be on full display, and then wrapped together nicely in cellophane with a bow? Or would you rather place each gift alongside each other, into an open top rectangular box that tucks neatly up for shipping?

FYI, Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration for making your gift basket as eye-catching and droolworthy as possible.

Select the main items

Remember, although you’re creating a gift-basket with travelers in mind, not all of its items have to be things someone would necessarily take with them. Get ready to start mixing and matching!

Especially at a time when travel is sketchy at best, consider filling it with things they can use in the present. Think city-themed coloring books (and colored pencils to match) and regional food boxes. Travelogues by authors like Anthony Bourdain and Stephanie Elizondo Griest can also inspire weary minds.

Here’s a range of items for every type of traveler on the list.

Homesick Candles

I miss Socal. (Homesick Candles)

Homesick’s selection of natural soy wax blend scented candles includes all 50 U.S. states, as well as countries like France, Mexico, and Brazil. There are also city candles, too.

Nashville includes notes of musk, cedarwood, and tobacco, while Miami calls to mind beaches and blue skies with hints of lavender, coconut, and suntan lotion.

For instance, the New Jersey candle doesn’t smell like Superfund sites or Turnpike restrooms, but more like cranberry bogs and saltwater taffy. This holiday, this is how I’m bringing my childhood home to San Francisco.

COST: $34.00

Wanderer Bracelets

These bracelets are handcrafted in Bali out of upcycled materials, and can be customized with the coordinates of a favorite location (I have one with the coordinates of Altamura, Italy). You can choose among carved wooden beads and woven colors. The bracelets are also adjustable.

COST: $26 and up

The Wander Club

For all those stamp collectors, these are the gifts to zone in on. It’s another way to wear the world and keep it close by.

The Wander Club’s engraved tokens can be touted with the names of national parks,states and countries. They can even be customized with a favorite or home airport (like SFO or PHL) or roadway (eg. Route 66). Get as many as you like.

Then consider a “token holder,” such as The Wander Club’s colorful keychains or necklaces, for displaying.

COST: Tokens start at $6; keychains run $25, necklaces $20

Snack Crate

Snack Crate handpicks snacks for deliver from a different country monthly, like a box of Russian treats including Soviet Alyonka chocolate and salmon-flavored croutons, or a German box filled with fruity “dragon tongue” candies known as Bunte Drachenzungen and Nic Nac’s peanuts coated in BBQ flavoring.

Boxes come in mini, original, and premium sizes and each includes its own music playlist.

This one can slip into the gift basket easily, since all you need is a card saying that a monthly gift subscription is on the way.

And everyone can use a few snacks these days whether its for the WFH or digital nomad life.

COST: Starting at $9.99 per month

Noise-cancelling headphones

There are some great noise-cancelling headphones beyond Bose. My absolute favorite, for both their discount price and features, are Anker SoundCore Life Q20 Bluetooth headphones. They come with their own travel case, and the noise cancelling works so well that I often wear them to sleep. Seriously, at only $69.99 on Amazon, these are an absolute steal.

For other recommended brands, Shure is always a reliable buy. For a budget option, these Panasonic ErgoFit ones at under $10 aren’t quite noise-cancelling, but they are cheap enough to never have to worry about them and deliver exceptional value when it comes to sound delivery.

COST: $69.99

A good journal

Everyone can use one of these, whether to write in, sketch in, or simply jot down a note here and there. While there are tons of different styles and designs of journals out there, a perennial best is undoubtedly Moleskine. I mean, it’s the successor to the notebooks used by Ernest Hemingway and Vincent Van Gogh.

Moleskine are available with lines and without, specifically for drawing or as use as smart planners, and their website even sells matching pens.

COST: Ranging from $9.95 to $44.95

World puzzles

German game and toy company Ravensburger offers everything from challenging 2,000 piece world map puzzles (you’re literally covering the earth, one inch at a time) to slightly easier 1,000 piece offerings, include one detailing 99 Beautiful Places on Earth.

Not only are they engaging and therapeutic, but these puzzles can provide a needed bit of social interaction, even it’s just with your partner.

COST: $20.99

Travel adapter

If your traveler is anything like me, they likely end up buying another travel adapter nearly every time the get on the road. This may be because they buy them piecemeal, meaning each new continent or region they visit might require something entirely different. Or they are just absentminded.

Stop the madness with a universal adapter like the Epika Universal Travel Adapter. It has four plugs to cover most countries, and several USB ports to charge multiple devices at once.

(Check out our previous travel adapter reviews, and another favorite, the Satechi travel adapter.)

COST: $20.99

Scratchable maps

Should have been a little bit more careful around the Gulf and Toronto. Oops.

There’s almost nothing more rewarding than marking off the places you’ve been, whether it’s a national park or a customized bucket list. These scratchable travel maps from Etsy seller Kuulys are as fun to frame as they are to take a fingernail or penny to (you know, to reveal what’s underneath).

(For another option, check out this oldie but goodie review on this Luckies of London Scratch Map.)

COST: $24.99

Moment smartphone camera lenses

Moment is a one-stop shop for smartphone lenses (think macro and fisheye), cases, and one of the best accessories by far: wrist-strap attachments that tie right onto the cases, so that you almost never drop your phone.

I’ve been using one for years, and it’s changed the way I travel, adding a layer of security that’s so welcome when running from place to place. COST: lenses run between $32 and

The Moment system. (Moment)

$130; cases start at $20; and strap attachments at $9.99

Travel blanket

Remember being envious of the person on the plane that always brought a blanket? I do. Thankfully the Cabeau Fold ‘n Go Travel and Throw Blanket is soft, affordable, and comes with its own compact case. This means it can even double as a pillow.

COST: $19.99

National park guidebook

Road trips remain the way to go for many travelers at the moment, so why not get them a guide they can use?

Published in October, Moon USA National Parks is a guide to all 62 U.S. national parks, including favorites like Glacier, Yellowstone, and Joshua Tree. It also provides details on the best scenic drives between them.

COST: $25.19

The stocking stuffers for a final flourish

In our opinion, its often the finishing touches that make it..

Its impossible to go wrong with hand sanitizer, Wet-Naps, and travel-themed face masks like the handmade cotton masks by Etsy users MasksbyAnna and TyMoreByBaltimore (ranging in price from $6 to $12).

This tiny, handy Droplet Dry Bag ($15) by Matador fits right onto a keychain but expands into a three liter bag ideal for storing wet gear, protecting dry items from becoming mildewy. Gross!

How to Create a Traveler Gift Basket via @maphappy

Get Our Quick Guide to Road Tripping Like a Boss 🙂

 MH Staff   Less than a minute to read

Hi!

I think you should sign up for our quick guide to fall road trips.

GET THAT VACATION IN BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS.

It’s our best tricks for saving time and money, from planning the best route to getting the cheapest car rental possible.

Yes, I am laying it on thick 😉

Like, to be totally honest here, we’ll probably sign you up to our email list after that (though you can unsubscribe at at point, if you’re just not feeling it?).

In general, though, it’s awesome (trust us on this one! also, we don’t have time to email you with junk).

Erica

Get Our Quick Guide to Road Tripping Like a Boss 🙂 via @maphappy

The Transformative Role Travel Plays In Grief’s Wake

 Erica Ho   4 minute read
Editor’s NoteIn our minds, traveling has always been about looking at the world differently. Sometimes, there is so much fixation on getting there that we forget there are many ways to learn, do, and be; and this, we believe, is one of travel’s greatest lessons. Check out other great perspectives we have showcased in the past.

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.

Exactly a year ago, I was on a Boeing 787, en route from Dublin to New York. This was the final leg of my journey home, a trip originally supposed to last two weeks and had somehow morphed into two months.

I spent the majority of that trip laying on a beach in the U.K., watching the tide wash in, wash out. Sleeping, eating fish and chips. I had never seen sands stripped so bare at low tide; in California, there was little discernible difference as the tide came in and came out. It was a metaphor for my grief, the friend I was visiting and I had decided.

I never planned to be there. I had waited until my stepfather—really, my father of 20 years—died, and the day after he passed, I flew home to New York. I called my boyfriend at the time when I got back: he, a doctor, texted he would call back. In our relationship, where patients died left and right, that had become normal.1 Stressed, I messaged a friend in London, and asked, what if I came? Four days later, I was on a plane to Heathrow.

Tide out in Margate, England.

In movies and books, these trips get eulogized, memorialized, almost like the dead ones we seek to grieve. Perhaps, there is something about contextualizing it in a physical way that makes it concrete, real, easier to see, so we can ultimately let go.

For many, it isn’t the trip itself that matters, it is the journey of grief. These trips are singularly unique in their experience, set among a backdrop of many, even for the most experienced of travelers. At best, travel can be healing, and at the very least, it can function as a temporary shelter until it’s time to go back, to start the real work of healing.

The rationale was simple: I needed my happy place. My happy place was traveling. My stepfather loved traveling; we shared that (and food!) in common. It was the best way to honor his memory, I told myself: To continue living life as he had never died.

Even in his final months, he had asked that of me, not to shorten or cancel my trips for him, as it was becoming clear the end was approaching. (Ultimately, a decision still mired in mixed feelings.)

From the balcony in the place I mostly slept in abroad.

On a peripheral level, I can recount my time in the U.K. in intricate detail. I can name the places and towns visited (Kent, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Yorkshire, ultimately, passing through Wales to Dublin; and packing more tea in my suitcase than what should be suitable), the people I dined with, including a friend I had met in Portugal months prior, the spots where my rental broke down twice on the road, and the ensuing credit card disputes with Enterprise.

Mostly, I had no destination or end in mind. All I wanted to do was get in a car and go where I felt like going.

The ‘work sabbatical’ still serves as a tool in selective deflection for the times I choose in abstaining from explanation. The anonymity was a gift I embraced on the road; other times, I babbled to almost anyone—really, anyone—that would listen.

Looking for my happy place, it turns out, wasn’t even in the the question: On one plane, the world continued to operate, and I continued to operate. In reality, there was an impenetrable, invisible veil where nothing broke through.

Imperceptibly, there is an immediate acknowledgment that the person you were is gone. The door has closed shut. It may not even be the person you were that you mourn; it is the choice to return to that person you mourn.

At some point I decided that I would give myself the permission to be, well, depressed, unhappy, and an overall terrible dinner guest, if that was what was necessary.2 Maybe, intuitively, I knew that space was not available in my life back home. It would have to be a space, I created figuratively, and literally, for myself. To even, in the most basic terms, to exist.

There is a particular grief that happens when someone dies, another one when a parent dies, and another, final one when both parents die. I thought, because I had known he was dying, because I held his hand while his body started giving up, that somehow the process would be easier.

That turned out not to be true.

On one of the final legs of the journey in Whitby, England.

Months later, I ran across the concept of Buddhist sand mandalas and it became fixated in my mind for what seemed an indeterminate amount of time. For weeks, Buddhist monks painstakingly create an intricate, diagrammed layer of paintings, individually dying and coloring the sand granules. Its sole purpose for creation is so that it can be destroyed, in ritualized fashion. It’s a celebration of its beauty, its ephemera.

All of us spend weeks, months, years doing that with our lives, constructing and building our identities in that fashion. Maybe, I was already on my way, “trending,” if you will, to completely letting go of the deeper worries and fears that crippled me in daily life, to realizing none of it mattered. The death was a final release.

Eventually, later, I realized, there comes a point where you learn to release the grief too.

In my current life, everything has changed: Relationships, apartments, my self. Life is made up of turning points; none is quite so definitive as death. Travel can hold a separate, empty space in between all of that, when the only focus is being alive, when feeling alive can be even too much to ask for.

This is my favorite version of myself thus yet, most likely because it is constructed with compassion and love. Passing on the love to yourself that we were so privy to is sometimes the best eulogy that can ever be written.

The Transformative Role Travel Plays In Grief’s Wake via @maphappy