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by Lillian Rafson, Founder & CEO of Pack Up + Go


Few things are simultaneously as fun and stressful as holiday shopping. Why does it feel like 11 months out of the year, you always stumble upon things that your friends and family would love, but suddenly December comes around and you draw a blank? Maybe next year we’ll all remember to keep a running list of the perfect gifts we stumble upon throughout the year. Until then, I thought I’d offer up 5 gift ideas for your loved ones who are as travel-obsessed as I am…without breaking the bank, so you can still save up for your next big trip!

Keep it classic

At Pack Up + Go, we’re big believers in old school style. That’s why we write you all handwritten notes, mail envelopes, and plan all of your trips by hand. In a world that’s constantly online, it’s nice to have something physical to hold on to. Every moment you’re not on your phone when traveling is another chance to live in the moment.

1.     A great notebook

Yes, you can take notes on your phone. But there’s something about scribbling down restaurants, shops, and cafes you stumbled upon and loved. After a trip, I love revisiting these handwritten notes to myself and reliving the trip. Other times, I’ve found myself at a concert, talking with locals who have great recommendations. Rather than handing them my phone to write things down, I always just pass them a notebook. And voilà! I have an amazing set of new, local recommendations for the rest of my getaway.

I always opt for a passport size notebook that will fit in my pocket or purse. Score a great notebook, and support public art education with a Public Supply notebook. Or, celebrate your adventure with a travel notebook from Rifle Paper Co.

2.     A disposable camera

Yes, yes, you can also take great, high quality pictures on your phone. Or, you can take great action shots on your GoPro. I get it! There are definitely some advantages to the digital age. But disposable cameras still have a place in my heart. When you finally remember to get the film developed (which you can still do at CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid, etc.!) months after your trip, it’s like an added surprise. The cameras themselves only cost about $10 at a drugstore, and are worth every penny. The perfect gift, in my opinion.

3.     Projecteo – Instagram Projector

Not sold on the disposable camera gift idea? For your Insta-obsessed travel friends who are always showing you their photos after their trips, help them out by giving them the Projecteo Tiny Instagram Projector. This little gadget allows you to turn your Instagram feed into a projection slide, so you won’t have to crowd over their phone to take a look at their jealousy-inducing photos.

4.     A great water bottle

Even though “water bottle” might not scream “happy holidays,” I think it’s the perfect gift. No matter where you’re traveling, you have to stay hydrated! Especially if you’re traveling on a budget, spending a little money here and there on plastic bottles of water can definitely add up. I swear by S’well, whose bottles keep your water (or white wine…!) cold for 24 hours, and hot drinks warm for 12 hours. They’re perfect for long road trips, hikes, flights, and urban adventures. It doesn’t hurt that they come in gorgeous colors!

5.     The perfect weekend bag

Now, the big question…what do you put all of this great stuff in when you travel? If you’re looking to give a bigger gift, a great weekend bag is a perfect solution. Especially if you know someone who already has a trip planned, this will make them even more excited about their upcoming adventure. Sure, you could opt for the motorized suitcase or a collapsible suitcase, or you could gift a really functional, simple bag.

For a weekend tote, I love Everlane’s Leather-Base Weekender. It’s the perfect size, with a beautiful clean aesthetic. For a rolling suitcase, I always recommend anything by Muji. Remember, your travel bag doesn’t need any bells and whistles. It just has to be sturdy, well-designed, and go with you from Point A to Point B.

So, as the holidays draw near, remember that sometimes the best gifts are small, thoughtful, and tap into your loved ones’ wanderlust. 

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? We’d love to hear!

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