From RFID blockers to neck pillows, gifts for travellers add security, comfort

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      Bottom line: you don’t need a lot of stuff to travel. In fact, the less you haul around the better. When looking for gifts for people on the go, find out if they already own the basics: high-quality suitcase, inflatable neck pillow, sleep mask, travel locks, et cetera. If they need an upgrade, buy the best you can afford. Everything else is gravy.

      But, hey, the holidays are all about gravy. So in the spirit of excess, here are some gifts for travellers.

      Travel HoodiePillow
      For those who are just too cool for a regular neck pillow, here’s the hipster version. This inflatable pillow is covered in sweatshirt material and features drawstrings so you can pull the hood down over your eyes and shut out the world like a true slacker. The hood will keep you warm in cold airplanes too.
      ($20.99 plus shipping at

      The SECRID Cardprotector combats potential RFID credit-card scans

      RFID Blockers
      Since July, all new Canadian passports contain an electronic chip that stores your personal information. While Passport Canada insists the data can’t be scanned from afar by unauthorized parties, some travellers feel better placing their passport in a sleeve that blocks radio frequency identification scanning. Prices vary with how fancy you want to get, but a basic Lewis N Clark RFID Blocking Passport Sleeve costs $5.95. Other products such as the SECRID aluminum Cardprotector ($44.95) also combat potential RFID credit-card scans.
      (Wanderlust [1929 West 4th Avenue])

      Emails From India: Women Write Home
      Edited by Vancouverite Janis Harper, this book collects vignettes by 27 writers—many of whom are also from Vancouver—who have travelled on the subcontinent. The stories speak to the universal travel experience, such as dealing with red tape and transportation challenges, as well as gender-specific experiences and reflections on poverty and spirituality. A dollar from each copy sold will be donated to World Literacy Canada, directed at improving literacy for women and children in India.
      (Seraphim, $19.95)

      The PacSafe carry-on guards against bag slashing with its metal mesh layer

      Pacsafe Toursafe 21 Luggage
      This soft-sided, semi-collapsible carry­on bag has wheels and a sturdy handle for easy transport. It’s designed to guard against thieves with a light layer of metal mesh incorporated into the fabric to prevent bag slashing and special puncture-resistant zippers. The bag weighs 2.8 kilograms and packs 35 litres in volume.
      ($249.99, the Travel Bug [3065 West Broadway])

      Eagle Creek Cat Nap Travel Blanket
      Now that some airlines charge for blankets, this is a good option for carrying onto the plane because of its handy features. Two pockets sewn on the bottom provide a warm place to tuck your feet, and the zippered pocket in the centre is good for securing your phone, earplugs, et cetera. Cozy fleece keeps you warm.
      ($29.95, the Travel Bug)

      Aqualung mask and snorkel
      This makes a good gift for someone who’s planning a resort vacation, as it’s fairly light, fits reasonably well into a suitcase, and saves you from icky rentals. Aqualung also makes Trek Travel Fins if you’re willing to pack them, but you can always rent fins at your destination. This mask-snorkel duo comes in a kids’ version too.
      ($25 to $35, Mountain Equipment Co-op [130 West Broadway; 212 Brooksbank Avenue, North Vancouver])

      Apologies To My Censor: The High and Low Adventures of a Foreigner in China
      Canadian Mitch Moxley moved to Beijing in 2007 as a struggling journalist for a job at the China Daily. His book chronicles not only the transformation of Beijing in the years surrounding the Olympics but his post-university, coming-of-age struggle. He nicely captures the outsider expat experience, including bizarre quirks such as the “rent a white guy” phenomenon, in which foreigners are paid to act as business associates.
      ($16.99, Harper Perennial; $11.99 on Kindle)

      GE Door Stop Alarm
      A little peace of mind goes a long way, and this doorstop alarm helps some travellers sleep better in a strange hotel room. Like a doorstop, the battery-operated device slips under a door; if pressure is applied by an intruder trying to open it, a 120-decibel alarm goes off, which is intended to both wake the traveller and scare off the intruder.
      ($14.95, Wanderlust)

      Lightning to USB 2-Metre Cable
      Even at high-end hotels, it’s all too common to have to hunt for an electrical socket near the bed so you can charge your iPhone or iPad while you use it. (Do we have to choose between a lamp and our device?) This two-metre cord connects to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, giving you more leeway than the standard equipment. Plus, since it’s so easy to leave these cables behind at a hotel, it never hurts to have an extra one kicking around.
      ($35, Apple Store [various locations] and Boutique iStore [Vancouver International Airport])