It's been an odd year for travel, to say the least, and most of us here at Traveler fell far short of ticking off all the places on our 2020 bucket lists. But with the holidays approaching, it's a perfect time to make up for some of the exploring we couldn't do with a few choice gifts that allow us to feel temporarily transported, from Florentine perfume to oysters shipped fresh from the West Coast. Of course, these trinkets aren't only making up for lost travel time; they're also getting us excited for the trips that lie ahead. We polled our travel-obsessed editors to find what they're eyeing to suit both needs. All of their choices are compiled below: keep reading for the gifts our editors are hoping to unwrap this year.
This article was originally published in November 2019. It has been updated with new information.
Cuyana Mini Jewelry Case
I’ve always found packing jewelry to be a fraught affair—either I end up with one clump of tangled necklaces, or I come home with broken pieces and missing earring backs. That’s why I’m putting this zippered jewelry travel case at the top of my list. It’s small enough to justify throwing in any carry-on or weekender and has a soft felt pouch inside that closes with a drawstring, ensuring delicate pieces are transported safely. On the case’s top is an adjustable belt for securing any rings or larger earrings. When it (hopefully) shows up under my tree, I plan to wind my longer necklaces around the outside of the pouch to avoid my usual detangling mission needed once I’m at my destination. The case is made of leather and comes in six colors, but I have my eye on the bright red. —Jessica Puckett, transportation editor
A.A.K.S. Lamé Ruffle Blue
I really wanted to get to Accra this year, but it just was not to be. I’m counting on this playful bucket bag by the fashion brand A.A.K.S. to hold me over until I can make it there. Handcrafted by local women artisans in Ghana, the bag is made of woven raffia, with leather detailing and a waxed linen lining, plus a cross-body strap—so it’s sturdy enough to tote around everyday essentials. But the fun little fringe and pops of salmon and royal blue make it a lighthearted investment piece that I’ll dream of toting around next year—hopefully, when I’m finally able to visit. —Betsy Blumenthal, associate editor
Jiggy Swim Club Puzzle
While I absolutely love puzzles, I don’t love taking them apart afterward and dumping the pieces back into the box. Jiggy solves this by providing glue and tools for displaying their art-worthy puzzles after you’ve completed the challenge. I love the Swim Club print, which reminds me of lazy days at a hotel pool. To make it even more travel-friendly, the puzzle comes in a reusable jar—so if you’re the type that likes to do your puzzles over and over again, each has its own chic glass container, meaning you don’t have to tote the box around if you’re headed to a lake house or a friend’s place. —Stephanie Wu, articles director
Palomar The City Radio
I found this while browsing the internet one night and can’t get over how cool it is—each of the buttons is tuned to a radio station in the labeled city, so you can hear what’s going on all over the world at any given time. After a year of very little travel, it’s the perfect way to bring bustling cities like Berlin and Beijing to me, and make winter evenings stuck indoors a touch more interesting. —Madison Flager, commerce editor
Bric's Milano Bellagio V2.0 27" Spinner Trunk
I’m sorely overdue for a new piece of larger luggage, the kind I take on trips of a week or more. The Bellagio, by Bric’s Milano, is just the thing. The 27” inch is a clamshell model, with zippered interior sections for clothes and shoes. I love the vintage steamer trunk design, but the large wheels and TSA numbered lock make it fully modern and functional. —Corina Quinn, director, city guides
Helen's Wine Club – 2 Dope Wines
I’d trust Helen Johannesen, owner of L.A.’s coolest wine shop, Helen’s Wines, with pretty much anything—but especially with wine. We had her on the Women Who Travel podcast earlier this year to talk about how our wine tastes have changed during the last seven months and every wine she suggested—like a cross between a cider and a wine from Burlington, Vermont-based CO Cellars—sounded positively delicious. Lucky for us, Helen’s ships across the U.S. and offers a variety of subscriptions based on your wine knowledge (or lack thereof). Newbies should go for the $55 per month “Step Into the Realm” club, which offers two drinkable bottles, while experts should shell out $150 per month for the self-described “mad serious” S&P club. I’m very much in the middle, with a $75 per month subscription called “2 Dope Wines.” You can choose a three, six, or twelve-month subscription. —Meredith Carey, associate editor
Marfa Stance Reversible Shearling Combo Quilt
I’m a huge fan of work jackets and quilted jackets, and this number from Marfa Stance falls somewhere near each; it also looks entirely different from anything else I own. With one side a water-resistant ivory quilted nylon, the other side part cream shearling and part sage nylon, the reversible style seems practical for wearing several ways on one trip (when I’m traveling again, that is). Until then, the cozy, not-too-structured vibe is easy to imagine snuggling into at home—and the West Texas style that inspires the brand is just transportive enough. —Megan Spurrell, associate editor
Paravel See-All Bundle
I own more Dopp kits than I care to admit, but I’ve still got my eye on this set from Paravel. The larger one is big enough to fit things like a hairbrush and a bottle of contact solution, while the smaller one is perfect for make-up and moisturizers. Plus, the clear sides mean I can sneak a peek at what’s inside without unzipping—helpful for someone who tends to triple-check what I’ve brought, to ensure I haven’t forgotten anything. —M.F.
Henry Howard Hotel New Orleans Toile Tote
I’m a sucker for a good tote, and this model from the Henry Howard Hotel in New Orleans’s Lower Garden District fits the bill and then some. The toile bag (which also comes in bubblegum-pink-and-cherry-red and blue-and-ivory combinations) is available by custom order only, and can take a few weeks to arrive, but I think it’ll be well worth the wait for the locally inspired print, which touts little illustrations of riverboats and trolleys and jazz musicians streaming by a columned New Orleans building that looks just like the hotel itself. —B.B.
Now that I have a stuck-at-home fitness routine I’m happy with, I’m determined to figure out how to make it work while I’m on the road or when I’m back home for the holidays. While packing my light weights doesn’t make much sense, I’m eyeing a pair of Bala Bangles as a travel-friendly fitness booster. They come in a carrier bag, and the one-pound bracelets are essentially a sleek-looking ankle weight that you won’t mind wearing on walks, for strength training workouts, or even just around the house while doing chores. I’ve heard that even though they’re light, they can add a real burn to most workouts, no matter where you’re doing them from. —S.W.
Fjällräven Kånken Water Resistant Backpack
Like a lot of people, I started biking as my primary form of transportation this year. I got a Cotopaxi fanny pack for short trips, since it magically fits my lock, wallet, keys, and a full-size Nalgene. But on rides to the park, where I needed to pack a small blanket, my book, snacks, and more, my humble belt bag just wasn’t cutting it. But the Kånken has just what I need: a water-resistant coating, 16 liters of room to fit a 13-inch laptop and my park essentials, a front zip for easy access to my keys, adjustable straps, plus a removable, cushioning foam insert so I’m not poked in the back. People have been buying this backpack for more than 40 years, so I know it won’t steer me wrong. —M.C.
Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella – Acqua di Colonia Zagara
As most of my Traveler colleagues know, the trip I was planning to Florence this year was early collateral damage of the pandemic. Along with touring the Medici chapels and taking day trips to Tuscan vineyards, one activity I’d been dreaming about was browsing the city’s famous pharmacy: Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. This isn’t your average shop, someplace you’d go to pick up NyQuil or toothpaste. It’s one of the oldest herbal pharmacies in the world—housed inside a 13th-century chapel—and is overflowing with all kinds of fragranced beauty products and skin-care remedies. As a stand-in this year, I’m asking for the brand’s Zagara perfume, which has notes of citrus, floral, and musk. —J.P.
Parks Project Hugging Tree Tee
I’m a big fan of pretty much everything the Parks Project—a clothing and accessories company that partners with preservation and youth initiatives in national parks—does. (Have you seen the tie-dye range?) I’ve had my eye on this T-shirt for a while, since it’s one of the more understated of the Parks Project’s offerings. A portion of its sales goes to the National Parks Conservation Association, which advocates for the parks system to ensure it’s around for generations to come—a gift that any true national parks lover will appreciate. —M.C.
Hog Island Oyster Co. Oysters
I think more than ever, this year I want experiential gifts more than tangible, lasting stuff. One of my favorite things to do is to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin and go for oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co., overlooking Tomales Bay. Hog Island has always been insanely popular, with few outdoor tables that are hard to score—and now, with party-size and occupancy limitations in place, it’s nearly impossible. (I just tried to book two months in advance and I can’t find any openings.) So, I want someone to send me Hog Island oysters instead. —Rebecca Misner, West Coast editor
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