February is here, and that means Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. I know some people think it is just a Hallmark holiday, but I like showing my loved ones that I’m thinking about them. For my girlfriends, I sometimes send cards or girly trinkets, usually flowers for my mom, and something useful or experiential for my significant other. As this will be my fifth Valentine’s day with Eddie, we are pretty good at anticipating what eachother wants or needs. Most of our gifts end up being centered around something travel related, be it international cuisine, trips, or things needed for an upcoming trip. If you happen to be like us, you too may be interested in gifts for those who love to travel.
A Valentine’s Day Getaway
I love trips as gifts, especially when they are a surprise! I know I am not alone in this as when my brother and I surprised my mom with a trip to Montréal, she was over the moon. Because many people have Presidents’ Day off from work, it’s a great time to try a three-day trip out of town. Be it a flight away, a car ride away, or a staycation, you don’t have to spend much on one of these gifts for those who love to travel.
Play Tourist in Your City
Until recently, there were a boatload of popular activities in Chicago that I had never done. I hadn’t gone to the top of the John Hancock center, nor had I visited the Museum of Science and Industry as an adult. A day playing tourist at home is a gift for those who love to travel that allows someone to rediscover why he/she loves home.
If you plan on spending a single day exploring your city, consider waking up early to be one of the first in line at a major tourist attraction. If you plan on spending more than two days in a location, your best bet is to give the CityPASS a try. With partnerships in twelve major U.S. markets like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, you can save upwards of 50% on popular museums and attractions. You can read about my experience with CityPASS here, here, or here.
Visual Map Art
Walking into friends’ apartments, I can’t help but notice that the scratch off world map is having a moment. This large format map is one of the perfect gifts for those who love to travel. It’s simultaneously a piece of art, a memory, and a conversation starter. I’ve yet to walk into someone’s home and not comment on their map. Click on the photo above if you are interested in purchasing one of these maps!
Recreate a Favorite Meal
Eddie recently asked me what was my favorite meal that we’ve shared since we began dating. To be honest, I really struggled pinpointing anything in the city. After much thought, it was the Cotton Duck in Wicker Park, a restaurant that no longer exists. When we think about the meals we’ve shared on vacation however, it is so much easier to recall the details. Bacalao in Lisbon, pot de chocolat in Paris, even rabbit stew in Kohler, Wisconsin is so simple to remember. Each of these meals were so perfect in the moment, I’ve started trying to recreate our favorite vacation dishes at home.
Chefs always talk about how the best dishes start with great ingredients. I can’t tell you how much of a game changer this Greek EVOO is. It cuts out so much salt and flavor fillers in some of our recent fish dishes. It’s just divine.
As we have registered for various items for our wedding registry, one item we did not have to register for was an Anolon wok. I have had my wok for almost two years, and it comes in so handy when sautéeing vegetables or making stir fry. My favorite dishes are Asian so I love using my wok to transport myself somewhere exotic, right from my kitchen.
Real talk: I don’t particularly like garlic. It’s fine if I can’t pinpoint it in a recipe, but anymore than that is a dealbreaker. I love using different spices, but sometimes I experiment a little too much. Harmonious mixtures like these Asian spice blends and Herbes de Provence are perfectly balanced to incorporate compatible flavors. Consider something exotic as one of your gifts for those who love to travel.
Essential Gifts for Those who Love to Travel
There are some things that you can’t leave home without making sure they are in your bag. Snacks. Identification cards. Phone chargers. Four years ago, I began dating a man who really didn’t like to travel. Under my tutelage, he’s explored new states and countries, and along the way, had to pick up some travel essentials.
The Trtl Pillow is the biggest game changer for getting sleep on a plane. A velcro scarf with a cradle for your head, your head won’t bob forward as is common with many “u” shaped pillows. I use if on all of my long haul flights in economy class.
You could spend around $80 for the Apple branded battery charging case, but why? This $25 case makes the battery last for hours. My mom often used it all day in her chemo suite without having to plug in her phone.
I try to avoid bringing something that requires a charge on a plane. While many of the newer planes have electric plugs for charging, you can’t count on it 100% of the time. I like these small, wired headphones for noise canceling. I used to have a larger muff pair, but they would hurt my head and ears after a while.
We just came back from a delayed anniversary trip to Ottawa. It was a blast visiting over Winterlude, but my hands never felt more parched. After one full day outside in the elements, I ran to Kiehl’s to pick up extra hand cream as I’d quickly ran through mine. Trust me, if your special someone is traveling somewhere cold, he/she will need some extra salves.
Games that Travel Well
Bananagrams is a great game to take with you when you travel. Like Scrabble® without the board, it can be played anywhere, and it doesn’t take up much room in your bag.
Everyone has a deck of playing cards lying around the house, but waterproof playing cards? These are smart to have when traveling in the event that you are on a boat, in a hot tub…any number of situations.
Eddie and I really enjoy playing chess. We go on spurts of playing it weekly and sometimes bring our travel chess set to cafés and lounges around Chicago.
These are just some of my gift recommendations for those who love to travel. There are boatloads of others, but obvious items like luggage and winter coats are a little bit over budget so soon after Christmas.
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