Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great Gifts for Travelers (or Would-Be Travelers)

Christmas ornament from the Washington Monument, Washington D.C. (photo by Simone Cannon)

There are lots of lists of gift ideas for the travelers in your life, but what to buy for the vast number of armchair travelers that you know and love (perhaps yourself included)? They are those many friends and family members who aspire to travel but just can't make the leap. They have the soul of a traveler but just need an extra push to get out there and see the world. Maybe all they need is a little spark of inspiration and you can be the one to provide it. The end-of-the-year holidays are a wonderful time to take stock and make resolutions for the new year. Here are some great gift ideas to help your loved ones add "Travel More" to their list of New Year's resolutions:     

1) Travel Books: there are so many possibilities in this category, from travel guides to travel journals to glossy coffee table books filled with gorgeous, colorful photos. All are sure to inspire, but here are a few of my favorites:

A wonderful gift for prospective travelers (photo courtesy of

2) Language CDs or Classes: perhaps a fear of having to communicate in a foreign language is holding back a potential world traveler. Berlitz and Rosetta Stone make excellent language CDs and DVDs, but you can also buy less expensive versions in almost every new and used bookstore or online. If your loved one is more of a face-to-face learner, consider buying a series of group or private language classes. The most popular, useful and easiest-to-tackle beginning languages for English speakers are generally Spanish, French, Japanese or Italian.

3) Travel Gift Cards or Certificates: Orbitz, American Express, most airlines, cruise lines, spas and hotels offer gift certificates in denominations as small as US$25.

Paper prayer knots, Gokoku-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan (photo by Simone Cannon)

4)  Travel Documentary DVDs: Globetrekker, National Geographic, the Travel Channel and PBS all offer excellent and informative travel DVDs of their regular TV series or specific destinations or themes. 

5) Movies: Roman Holiday; Out of Africa; Eat, Pray, Love; Seven Years in Tibet; The Motorcycle Diaries; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; City of God; The English Patient; Lost in Translation; Under the Tuscan Sun; Into the Wild; French Kiss; Shirley Valentine; Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Romancing the Stone; Thelma and Louise; The Talented Mr. Ripley; any Indiana Jones or Lara Croft movie...the list of inspirational travel movies is endless. Everyone loves movies and there are hundreds of DVDs available to inspire travel in general or a visit to a particular dreamed-of place in the world.  

6) Exotic Souvenirs: bring back holiday gifts from your next trip or visit local import shops for unique items such as Tibetan singing bowls, colorful Peruvian blankets or bags, Japanese origami ornaments, Murano glass, Finnish modern vases or terracotta pottery from Mexico...all will be appreciated and treasured and may even inspire a little globe-trotting.

What's your idea of the perfect travel gift? We'd love to hear from you!

Shopping for Peruvian handmade textiles, Colca Canyon, Peru (photo by Luis Bastardo)

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