Gifts for the happy travellers in your life

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What every traveller really wants for the holidays is to go back to the days when nobody had to think about the volume of liquids and gels in their carryon. Maybe if we all write letters to Santa Claus…

Here are some more practical gift ideas for the travellers in your life—both armchair and out-there varieties.

JetBag
Since you’re prohibited from carrying that souvenir bottle of Pinot Noir on the plane, you may be tempted to stuff it in your checked baggage. But who wants to risk a glass-and-wine mess? This bag provides a bit of insurance: it zips shut around your bottle and pads it against impact. The lining promises to absorb up to 780 millilitres of liquid, should the worst happen. ($5.95 each, Wanderlust [1929 West 4th Avenue])

Solio Classic 2 Solar Charger
Even those venturing way off the beaten track appreciate a fully charged cellphone. Fold out three solar panels on this funky charger, stick a pencil in the hole to prop it up, and aim it at the sun. It will gather enough juice in eight to 10 hours to give your smartphone three complete charges. (It also works for most USB-chargeable devices.) ($90, Mountain Equipment Co-op [130 West Broadway; 212 Brooksbank Avenue, North Vancouver])

Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street
Rick Antonson’s book is part travelogue, part reflection on the social and historical significance of the iconic American road. The Tourism Vancouver president and CEO chronicles his 12-day journey driving a Mustang convertible with an old friend the more than 3,800 kilometres from Chicago to L.A. This “tale of two boomers at the wheel” will inspire those who are still putting off their own epic road trips. ($26.99, Dundurn)

Replogle Globe 4 Kids
The whole world lights up when you plug in this colourful globe, which not only spins but features drawings of people, landmarks, and animals. Pandas in China, oranges in Spain, and camels in the Sahara make geography more interesting. ($59.95, Wanderlust)

Lonely Planet Food Lover’s Guide to the World
Anyone who makes a predeparture list of “must-eats” for their destination will appreciate this hardcover reference, which highlights regional and national specialties. With beautiful photography, it also covers markets, food fests, and cross-cultural topics such as breakfasts around the world. The restaurant recommendations are useful for the road, and recipes bring it all home. ($44.99, Lonely Planet)

Austin House Motion-less anti-nausea bands
While not a gift that screams romance, these bands will be much appreciated by loved ones who are prone to queasiness when the road gets windy or the cruise ship sways. These elasticized wristbands work on acupressure principles to fight nausea, and many people swear by them. ($9.95, the Travel Bug [3065 West Broadway]; at drugstores as well)

Tilley leather money belt
It never hurts to split up your cash stash on the road, and local travel company founder Alex Tilley likes to hide most of his in this traditional leather belt. Tilley folds his bills in thirds lengthwise, stacks them, and tucks them into a zippered compartment on the inside of the belt. It looks like a regular pants belt from the outside and comes in multiple lengths in black or brown. ($65, Tilley Endurables Western Inc. [2401 Granville Street])

Bucky 40 Blinks Ultralight Sleep Mask
If you’re going to pass out on the plane, you might as well look good doing it. This contoured foam eye mask is aimed at women with its claim that it won’t smudge eye makeup. It comes in a range of vibrant pink, purple, and teal patterns that make it easy to find in your carryon. ($14.95, the Travel Bug)

The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down
While a certain generation will always associate Andrew McCarthy with Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire, believe it or not, the actor has moved on. He’s now a travel writer who has gone through some serious soul-searching about love, family, and responsibility. He did this, naturally, on the road—through Patagonia, Austria, Tanzania, and more. ($29.99, Free Press)

Travelon Compact Travel Toiletry Sheets
Neither a liquid nor a gel, these dry sheets eliminate the carryon hassle. They come in six varieties, including shampoo, conditioner, shaving, and laundry soap. Just take one out, add water, lather, rinse, and repeat. ($4.95 per pack of 50 sheets, Tilley Endurables)

Lewis & Clark RFID Waist Stash
This updated money belt is designed to block radio-frequency identification data embedded in ID such as B.C. enhanced driver’s licences and credit cards and alleviate concerns about fraud. The quick-drying nylon pouch is meant to be worn underneath your clothing and has two zippered compartments. ($18.95, the Travel Bug)

Mug o’ vacation memories
Yes, a personalized mug is kinda cheesy, but the retro results of printing digital images actually do delight people. Plaster your loved one’s favourite photo of themselves in Hawaii on a coffee mug and they may just find the will to live through those dreary Vancouver winter mornings. Pay $3.99 extra to put one image on the front of the mug and another on the back. ($14.99, London Drugs photo labs [various locations])

Follow Carolyn Ali on Twitter at twitter.com/carolynali

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