Tag Archives: Gifts for Travelers

Gift of Travel: Put a Bow Around Wanderlust

Gift of Travel: Give experiences, like a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The gift of travel is the gift of life-enhancing even life-changing experience, lifelong memories, connection with family, friends and new friends. There are lots of ways to give the gift of travel:

Gift of Travel Experiences:

Gift experiences that come to mind include pre-arranging special experiences:

Arrange a cooking class for a couple going to Paris (cooknwithclass.com)

Arrange a cooking class in Paris (cooknwithclass.com) © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

A hot-air balloon experience over Cappadocia, Turkey (see tripadvisor.com)

Visit to museum exhibit (some now require pre-purchased tickets), attractions, like the recently opened world premiere of Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru, on its first stop of a worldwide tour at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, through March 6, 2022 (A/$29.95 C/$19.95, VIP Access: $100 https://bocamuseum.org/art/machu-picchu-and-golden-empires-peru).

The world premiere of the traveling “Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru” exhibit is at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida, through March 6, 2022. Capacity is limited and  tickets need to be pre-purchased.
 

Organize a spa/wellness visit (SpaFinder.com has a compendium of resorts and day spas and offers gift certificates)

The Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Manalapan on Palm Beach Island, Florida. You can book spa resorts and day-spas on SpaFinder.com © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Set up a walking tour (Context Travel provides private or small group immersive tours for travelers who love to learn, in 60 cities globally, contexttravel.com) or arrange for a local guide (https://www.toursbylocals.com/find_guide has access to 4,488 guides in 193 countries; also offers gift certificates)

Context Travel guide leads a private walking tour of Athens  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Book a rock climbing experience to get your special someone out of the gym and onto the real rocks (A day in the Gunks of the Mohonk Preserve, $350 for two for a full day program, 9 am to 4:30 pm, High Xposure Adventures, 800-777-CLIMB, high-xposure.com; Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School, acadiamountainguides.com, 888-232-9559)

Prearrange a food tour (Private Street Food Tour by motorbike with local students, Saigon Back Alley Tours, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).

Schedule a sea kayak nature tour in Van Damme State Park, Mendocino, (www.kayakmendocino.com) or Bar Harbor, Maine ( National Park Sea Kayak Tours, https://acadiakayak.com) or Albania.

Sea kayaking excursion in Albania © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tripadvisor.com and viator.com are excellent sources for finding and booking visits to local attractions, sightseeing.

Arrange a bike ride (Visiting San Francisco? Blazing Saddles, blazingsaddles.com) or in Budapest.

Rent a bike to see Budapest © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Pre-arrange special zoo and theme park experiences like Wild Encounters at the Bronx Zoo and Animal Encounters at Busch Gardens Tampa including Keeper for a Day tours, Australia Insider Tour and Gorilla Insider Tour (https://buschgardens.com/tampa/tours/).  Book an animal interaction at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to “Winter” of “Dolphin Tale” fame: Dolphin Encounter (you work alongside a trainer during a training and feeding session), Trainer for a Day (where you shadow a trainer), Feed Rufus (the actual movie star!), and Shark Encounter (SeaWinter.com, 727-441-1790).

Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of “Winter” offers special dolphin encounters and behind-the-scenes experiences © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Get tickets to iconic holiday experiences like the Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker (30 performances from Nov. 27-Dec. 26, washingtonballet.org); George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker by New York City Ballet, November 26–January 2 (www.nycballet.com/the-nutcracker/tickets, 212-496-0600; or the Philadelphia Ballet, at the Academy of Music Dec. 10-31, https://philadelphiaballet.org/2021-2022-season/nutcracker/0

Give the experience of special holiday events, such as the New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Can’t get to the wine tastings in Sonoma and Napa? You can still join their wine clubs and ship wine selections, for example, Imagery Wine, which we visited recently (877-550-4278, www.imagerywinery.com/store) and its sister winery Benziger (benziger.com).  Find more on sonomawine.com and napavintners.com.

You can gift favorite wines enjoyed at a wine tasting, like Imagery in Sonoma, which makes it easy to ship © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Arrange for a private chef to prepare a special meal in your home in New York City (Chef Omakase, 646-612-7790, info@chefomakase.com, www.chefomakase.com).

Memberships Have Benefits

These days, with capacity restrictions and advance-purchase ticketing requirements at major museums, zoos, preserves, conservancies, sites, attractions, ski areas, and organizations think about gifting pre-purchased tickets or better yet, memberships or season passes – these have the advantage of not only making the recipient happy, provide discounts and special access to events and experiences (campout!), but also do good by supporting important and worthy organizations.

Membership gives a sense of “ownership” and engagement, and encourages multiple or multi-day visits as well as giving access to benefits including magazines and discounts on gear and experiences and members-only events and access to their catalogs.

Not able to visit? Many of the great museums and iconic institutions of the world offer some of the most interesting, innovative and creative items in their gift shops and you can support their mission by shopping online or through catalogs (check out holiday specials, discounts). For example:

The Smithsonian Institution (si.edu),which just introduced Galactic gifts from its new  FUTURES exhibition in the Arts & Industries Building, “for all your past, present, and future needs” (https://aib.si.edu/futures/ — Shop Now, Smithsonianstore.com).  

Also, Sierra Club (they produce a catalog of trips, sierraclub.org); Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (also check out the trail shop for gear like jerseys, trail guides and such, railstotrails.org), Parks & Trail NY (ptny.org), National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA.org); The Nature Conservancy (nature.org) National Trust for Historic Preservation (savingplaces.org) which offers  Great Experiences & Tours, (nationaltrusttours.com); and its sister organization Historic Hotels of America, with some of most interesting and iconic hotels (www.historichotels.org).

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy celebrates opening of the Jim Thorpe bridge, linking the Delaware-Lehigh Trail. Programs, memberships and purchases of cycle gear support the mission of organizations like Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, which is working to repurpose obsolete rail trails into recreational trails, and ultimately connect 3,700 miles of trails to create the Great American Trail © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Members of the American Museum of Natural History enjoy free admission, special access with limited-capacity Member hours, exclusive previews of new exhibitions and galleries, and more. Get $20 off when you use promo code MEM21. (www.amnh.orghttps://shop.amnh.org/featured/holiday-gift-ideas). 

T. rex The Ultimate Predator at American Museum of Natural History, NYC. Members have benefits. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Membership at the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art brings free entry for members and one to four guests, private access to exhibitions outside of public hours and discounts on dining and store purchases (www.metmuseum.org).

Membership has benefits at iconic institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, like after-hours visits © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Wildlife Conservation Society members get free admission to Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo; other memberships add in the NY Aquarium, free parking and other special benefits like guest passes (https://bronxzoo.com/shop/catalogs/memberships; most popular is Family Zoos Plus Aquarium: $210 (2 adults, 4 children, 1 guest). You can also purchase gift certificates for Wild Encounters – in-person and virtual behind-the-scenes look at the Bronx Zoo and Bronx Zoo gift ticket vouchers ($39.95/adult, $29.95/child).

Zoos, aquariums and special attractions are fantastic to shop at, especially for kids: The Palm Beach Zoo (www.palmbeachzoo.org), for example, has eco-friendly items. There are also Adopt-an-Animal programs. The Bronx Zoo has similar programs and an online store (www.bronxzoostore.com). And you don’t have to visit the Kennedy Space Center, to get space-related items (www.thespaceshop.com), though visiting offers incomparable experiences.

Retail sales, memberships, special events sustain the mission of the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

National Wildlife Federation has a whole catalog of gifts you can buy (30% off with promo code 938800, but you can also make a donation to a particular cause that is symbolized by a stuffed animal or some other acknowledgement: Holiday Gift Guide (https://www.shopnwf.org/collections/shop-specialty-shops-holiday-gift-guide); Sustainable holiday gifts (https://www.shopnwf.org/collections/shop-cards-and-gifts-gifts-sustainable-products); Create a sustainable garden (www.shopnwf.org/collections/Shop-Home-and-Garden-Garden-for-Wildlife), You can give the “gift of nature” and sponsor a forest with Trees for Wildlife program, in which NWF partners with schools, local government and nonprofit organizations to plant trees (https://www.shopnwf.org/category/Shop-Cards-and-Gifts-Tree-Gifts-Trees-for-Wildlife).

Similarly, World Wildlife Federation has a great selection of gifts that support the organization’s conservation efforts: Gifts.worldwidlife.org/gift-center/gifts/.

Stocking Stuffers, Gift Cards, Travel Gear

Hotels, resorts, tour companies even cruise companies offer gift cards (great stocking stuffers) which can be used to pay toward stays or amenities and experiences (some, like Catania Hospitality give extra discounts during holiday sales and some give the giver a special gift as well), and can be purchased on line.

Xanterra Travel Collection, for the first time, is offering Xanterra Travel Collection Gift Cards redeemable across all its properties and brands for accommodations, tours, experiences, and retail purchases (Xanterra.com/GiftCard).

You can purchase gift certificates for Xanterra Travel Collection iconic lodgings in national parks such as Grand Canyon’s crown jewel, the El Tovar, and experiences such as the historic Grand Canyon Railway © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

You can purchase actual tickets or gift certificates for Broadway theater at Broadway.com. Gift certificates can be redeemed for tickets to any Broadway or Off-Broadway show currently playing in New York City. (www.broadway.com/gift-certificates)

You can purchase actual tickets or gift certificates for Broadway theater at broadway.com © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

SpaFinder has gift certificates for resorts, hotels, wellness centers and day spas (www.spafinder.com/best-of/resorts-and-hotel-spas), as well as gift cards can be used to buy gift sets (spafinder.com).

Skiers, snowboarders will really appreciate lift tickets (get discounted rates at liftopia.com; also EpicPass.com, IKONPass.com, Ski New York’s Ski3 pass, iskiny.com) or pre-paid lessons and rentals. Or if you feel really ambitious, purchase the season pass.

Skiers, snowboarders will really appreciate lift tickets or a lesson or rental, or even a season pass. I Ski NY offers the Ski3 which includes Gore Mountain as well as Whiteface Mountain and Belleayre com © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For stocking stuffers there’s no better than actual socks, so crucial for walking tours, hiking, biking, skiing, and packing, like Darn Tough (www.darntough.com) and Bombas (which come with a promise to donate a pair for every pair purchased, https://bombas.com/).

Darn Tough socks make great stocking stuffers and are really appreciated by travelers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Then you get into clothes, jackets and specialized gear and equipment for every interest imaginable: camping, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, fishing, outdoor stuff. Among our favorites (especially when you catch sales and closeouts):

REI operates as a co-op, and members have access to really excellent sales and discounts, plus earn credit toward future purchases. REI products have excellent quality (we love our tents) and allow no-questions asked returns for a year. Excellent customer service. Free shipping on $50 (including skis and snowboards). Also, when you make a purchase with a REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard®, REI makes a donation to the REI Cooperative Action Fund, which directly supports organizations that promote justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors, this year, REI will donate up to $1 million (www.rei.com/s/gifts-for-travelers, 800-426-4840).

REI makes it really easy to outfit for a camping trip or any outdoors activity © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Patagonia also has excellent selections, free shipping over $75, and has “Patagonia Action Works” to facilitate donations to worthy causes, contributing 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. You can also buy used, trade-in and fix your gear through Worn Wear (WornWear.com), and can purchase gift cards. (Patagonia.com);

Also: Eastern Mountain Sports, 888-463-6367, ems.com;  LL Bean, 888-610-2326, llbean.com; Sun & Ski, 866-786-3869, sunandski.com; Tennis ExpressTennisExpress.com; Bass Pro Shopswww.basspro.com. And of course, luggage (ebags.comLuggageonline.com).

As for travel wardrobe, baggage fees have presented a challenge for travelers to confine all their packing to carry-on luggage, and people like me who have trouble finding pants to fit poses an additional challenge. Red Thread makes clothes to order that are comfortable, versatile, stylish, and pack well (pants, the essential black dress,  jackets etc) and are tailored specifically to your measurements using 3D technology from your phone, and delivered within two weeks, and have a lifetime guarantee if they need to be re-sized to fit. I loved the Red Thread resort pants–with a Saint Tropez stylish flare (redthreadcollection.com, hi@redthreadcollection.com 800-710-0835).

 Photography & Camera Gear

What trip doesn’t involve photos! Yes, everyone has their cell phones but they don’t do for safaris, kayaking, biking, wildlife (though there are lens kits for cell phones which would make great gifts).

Cameras and photography gear are big on the wish list for travelers, with size and functionality among the key criteria. Some of the new smaller, lighter mirrorless cameras have as much functionality as the larger, heavier digital SLRs and use interchangeable lenses but tend to be fairly costly (over $1000). Take advantage of sales to purchase slightly outdated models that have great reviews (I love my newest acquisition, full-frame mirrorless Nikon Z5 with 24-200 mm lens for $1696; Canon EOS M6 Mirrorless Digital with 18-150 mm lens for $449, light and compact enough to use for hiking and travel, and for wet or harsh conditions, Olympus Tough TG6, which is very small, rugged, water, shock, dust and crashproof, and has a sensational macro feature and good zoom range, 25-100mm (now $50 off at $399). B&H consistently has best inventory, prices, and holiday specials, plus excellent customer service, delivery and return policies, www.bhphotovideo.com, 800-606-6969212-444-6615).

Photos rank high on travelers’ list of essentials. Cell phones only take you so far. For special trips like wildlife safaris, bird-watching, kayaking, more ambitious camera equipment would be appreciated © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are endless opportunities to satisfy photographer’s wish list, from memory cards (great stocking stuffer) and external hard drives, to backpacks, lenses (you can even get lenses for cell phones), lighting, the list goes on and on.

Another idea is to gift a photo album (Milkbooks, based in New Zealand, does an excellent job of reproducing high-quality photo albums and books, has excellent customer service and frequent sales, milkbooks.com.) Or consider high-quality professional printing and framing a photo that is particularly meaningful and memorable from their travels (bayphoto.com).

Or more spectacularly, what about a photosafari or a trip led by a master photographer, such as offered by Photo Workshop Adventures (150 carefully curated small group photo tours in 150 countries with “The Art of Seeing” approach” (www.photoworkshopadventures.com); Photo Safaris (www.photosafaris.com‎); National Geographic (www.nationalgeographic.com); ‎Back Country Journeys (https://explore.backcountryjourneys.com/photography-tours-workshops-safaris/landscape-wildlife/gs-l1); Lindblad Expeditions (www.expeditions.com/plan/expedition-photography); and Nomad Photo Expeditions (www.nomadphotoexpeditions.com).

I couldn’t get this photo of tigers in India’s tiger preserve in Khana without long lenses (300 mm) and an SLR (Nikon D500) which could accommodate the long distance, fast exposure and low-light of dusk conditions © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Gifts to Inspire

Give gifts that last the year, bring the world and the planet into their world and inspire wanderlust. For example:

National Geographic Kids magazine for 6-9 year olds ( $20/yr for 10 issues) and or National Geographic Little Kids designed especially for children ages 3-6 ($20/yr for 6 bi-monthly issues).

National Wildlife Federation produces Ranger Rick (age 7+), Ranger Rick Jr., (407) Ranger Rick Cub (0-4); Zoo books (7+); Zootles (4-7), and Zoodinos (5+); for holiday promotion, any title $12 – 76% savings. (rangerrick.org/magazines/)

For adults: Smithsonian Magazine is a treasure and also provides membership benefits and access to gifts. Subscribe for $34 and get a free gift subscription to share with someone else (smithsonianmag.com).

Another great source: PBS, which supports public television, which offers gift catalog and gift certificates (I’m loving the Mona Lisa “Women’s Fine Art” socks, $8) (https://shop.pbs.org/gifts, 833-565-0292).

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Novel Ways to Give the Gift of Travel, Satisfy Unrequited Wanderlust this Holiday Season

Fez, Morocco: Several travel companies including Road Scholar, The Travel Corporation and Butterfield & Robinson are have created a virtual bazaar to access the arts and crafts of the world and sustain the artisans when travel has been cut off to the marketplaces © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

This is a holiday season like no other, and with the routes for travel cut off for many, there are still ways to satisfy unrequited wanderlust and instill the hope and joyful spirit for a future when the thrill and enrichment of discovery will return.

If you can’t get to places, some popular destinations known for their distinctive artisans and boutiques, can bring themselves to you: 

Not-for-profit Road Scholar, renowned as one of the world’s largest and most innovative creators of experiential learning opportunities for adults has partnered with NOVICA, which works directly with artisans in Asia, Africa and Latin America, to create a “virtual” world bazaar (https://worldbazaar.roadscholar.org/).

“An important part of every history and culture that we learn about is recorded in the arts, crafts and traditions of its people. While travel is limited now, we have created a way for you to continue your discovery of the cultural creations found in the places we explore on Road Scholar learning adventures through our new World Bazaar.”

Similarly, The Travel Corporation (ttc.com), a family of 40 travel and hospitality companies, through its charitable foundation, TreadRight, is using holiday gift giving to benefit its project partners and sustainable initiatives around the world hard-hit by the collapse of international travel (https://www.treadright.org/holiday-gifts-that-give-back/).

Butterfield & Robinson also has a foundation that supports conservation and cultural projects as well as an B&R Artisan Marketplace promotes the small businesses and independent artists that you would otherwise encounter on trips (https://www.butterfield.com/br-artisan-marketplace/)

Fez, Morocco: Several travel companies including Road Scholar, The Travel Corporation and Butterfield & Robinson are have created a virtual bazaar to access the arts and crafts of the world and sustain the artisans when travel has been cut off to the marketplaces © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.comez, Morocco © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In this season when we think about good will, doing good and making a difference, use your gift-giving to support important institutions, destinations, organizations either with direct donations or actual purchases of subscriptions and items:

Get unique gifts and support favorite iconic museums and institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, by buying from their online stores © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Many of the great museums and iconic institutions of the world offer some of the most interesting, innovative and creative items in their gift shops and you can support their endeavor by shopping online or through catalogs (check out holiday specials): the Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org), the American Museum of Natural History (www.amnh.org,  https://shop.amnh.org/featured/holiday-gift-ideas);  Smithsonian (Smithsonian Museums, Smithsonianstore.com;  you can also get a membership & subscription to the fantastic Smithsonian Magazine with two gift subscriptions, so 3 subscriptions for $34, Smithsonianmag.com).

Also (but you can insert your own):

World Wildlife Fund (https://gifts.worldwildlife.org/)
National Wildlife Fund (www.shopnwf.org/collections/Shop-Home-and-Garden-Garden-for-Wildlife).

Zoos, aquariums and special attractions are fantastic to shop at, especially for kids: The Palm Beach Zoo (www.palmbeachzoo.org), for example, has eco-friendly items. There are also Adopt-an-Animal programs. The Bronx Zoo has similar programs and an online store (www.bronxzoostore.com). And you don’t have to visit the Kennedy Space Center, to get space-related items (www.thespaceshop.com), though visiting offers incomparable experiences. Indeed, you might also consider gifting special experiences, like Zookeeper for a Day or an Overnight Campout at a Museum.

Zoos, aquariums and special attractions are fantastic to shop at, especially for kids: The Palm Beach Zoo (www.palmbeachzoo.org), for example, has eco-friendly items © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Another gift idea is to purchase family memberships in your favorite museum, zoo, aquarium, preserve, historic site or attraction, which gives a sense of “ownership” and encourages multiple or multi-day visits as well as giving access to benefits including discounts, like the Smithsonian Institution, Sierra Club (they produce a catalog of trips), Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (also check out the trail shop for gear like jerseys, trail guides and such, railstotrails.org) Parks & Trails NY (ptny.org), National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The National Park Foundation’s Board of Directors is matching all gifts, dollar-for-dollar up to a total of $500,000, through Dec. 31 (https://give.nationalparks.org/site/Donation2)

Among the distinctive historic places for the holidays recommended by National Trust for Historic Preservation is Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I., Dedicated in 1763, Touro is the oldest synagogue building in the United States. “A structure of exquisite beauty and design, steeped in history and ideals, the synagogue is considered one of the ten most architecturally distinguished buildings of 18th century America and the most historically significant Jewish building in the United States.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Membership has benefits for National Trust for Historic Preservation (savingplaces.org) and its sister organization Historic Hotels of America (www.historichotels.org), National Trust for Historic Preservation offers Great Experiences & Tours, (nationaltrusttours.com) and a new program to make history fun for families: Distinctive Destinations. From grand homes to artists’ studios to working farms, these places across America can add memorable moments to your off-the-beaten-path road trip, create new opportunities for your next vacation, or even be your new favorite gift shop (https://savingplaces.org/distinctive-destinations). They even have created an online list of holiday experiences at its collection of historic holiday sites (https://savingplaces.org/collections/distinctive-destinations-historic-holidays). Members, donors, and supporters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation save up to 30% off best available rates at more than 200 participating Historic Hotels of America with offer code NHP when booking at www.HistoricHotels.org.

These days, with capacity restrictions and advance-purchase ticketing requirements at major museums and attractions, even ski areas, think about gifting pre-purchased tickets or better yet, memberships.

Stocking Stuffers, Gift Cards, Travel Gear

Resorts and hotels, tour companies, cruiselines offer gift certificates and gift cards (ideal stocking stuffers) that can be used toward accommodations but also dining, shopping, activities, experiences.

SpaFinder has gift certificates for resorts, hotels, wellness centers and day spas (www.spafinder.com/best-of/resorts-and-hotel-spas), as well as Gift Cards can be used to buy Gift Sets at its new shop offering skincare products from Sothy’s, Jurlique, Circadia, clothes, beauty products and has sales all the time (spafinder.com).

The world-class spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Beach, is geared for indulgent pampering and relaxation. Spafinders.com is a source for gift certificates for resort stays, spa visits and spa items © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And for stocking stuffers, there’s no better than actual socks, so crucial for walking tours, hiking, biking, skiing, and packing.

Darn Tough: Made in America socks for just about every purpose, that comes with a lifetime guarantee and the benefits of Merino wool (no odor; when hot, it wicks away moisture, when cold, it keeps you warm). Socks tailored to hiking, running, endurance, skiing, biking, hunting, work and lifestyle. Founded by Ric Cabot in 2004, a third-generation sock maker, the company operates out of Cabot Hosiery Mills, in the Sock Capital of the World, Northfield, Vermont. Colorful, a great stocking stuffer. (www.darntough.com).

Darn Tough socks make a darn great stocking stuffer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And my kids loved the Bombas socks I sent them last year – Merino wool all-season, everyday socks; hiking, skiing socks. Bombas socks come with a promise to donate a pair for every pair purchased, and now, a specially designed donation clothing item for every Bombas clothing item purchased (so far over 30 million items donated). (Get 20% Off by entering email for a code, https://bombas.com/).

Then you get into clothes, jackets and specialized gear and equipment for every interest imaginable: camping, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, fishing, outdoor stuff.

Eyeware is a fantastic gift. Smith Optics, rooted in Sun Valley, Idaho, produces high-fashion and active sunglass styles featuring their proprietary ChromaPop technology. The company was founded in 1965 with the invention of the first snow goggles with a sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam. It has grown into an industry leader that pioneered advancements in eyewear and helmets. Smith’s Eastbank line ofround sunglasses are designed with lightweight, bio-based frames:  ChromaPop™ lenses to enhance contrast and natural color to make the details pop, 100% UV protection, Megol nose pads provide nonslip grip so glasses stay put, Evolve™ bio-based frame material is lightweight and durable and autoLock hinges hold frames open for easy one-hand on and off. Check the gift guide (www.smithoptics.com).

HydraPak‘s brand new line of sustainable outdoor water bottles for every purpose (hiking, biking, skiing, running) are made with 50% recycled content in both the bottle-and-cap. RECON was born out of the collective belief that great gear for the trail can and should be lower impact on the environment. It utilizes Eastman Tritan™ Renew technology to transform plastic waste, from a variety of sources with a primary source being PET single-use bottles, x9 bottles to be exact, into upcycled outdoor water bottles. (HydraPak.com)

Ecco Outdoors creates ergonomic footwear that have their own version of natural motion, unique to each foot. The company owns its own tanneries and produces innovative leathers for performance, lifestyle and fashion brands, combining form and function, craftsmanship and technology. Developed by ECCO over three decades, FLUIDFORM™ is a technology to create ergonomically advanced soles. By injecting a resilient, shock-absorbent material directly into the shoe mould, the sole is bonded to the upper instantly and seamlessly, without the compromises common with glued or stitched assemblies. The result is a reliable and durable union between the upper and the sole unit, which offers a finely-tuned balance of cushioning and rebound. The shoes are produced in factories in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Portugal and sold in 90 countries from over 2,200 ECCO shops and more than 14,000 sales points. (www.eccousa.com).

Kuju is premium coffee you travel with – designed to be exceptionally easy. All you need is hot water – it has its own packet, filter in a single-serving. Kuju Coffee. The Pocket PourOver is pre-filled with specialty-grade coffee so you can make a really good cup of coffee from anywhere (small kitchen, while traveling, in the office, when you’re the only one who wants a cup, etc.) Two collections are notable – an Ethically Sourced collection with light, medium and dark roast coffees sourced from a farm that employs former victims of sex-trafficking as well as a Premium Single Origin collection with coffees from Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. During this summer’s camping trip in New York’s Letchworth State Park we thoroughly enjoyed the single-serve Kuju Coffee packets: just pour hot water over the cleverly engineered packets, and voila, we were transported to civilization. www.kujucoffee.com/pages/holiday-gift-guide

A new twist on chocolate that’s so good for you: Fx Chocolate is made with nutritional supplements, gluten-free, with 1/20 the calories from sugar. Some are made with Adaptogens -a class of herbs, mushrooms and minerals that work on a cellular level, acting like a “stress vaccine,” increasing cells’ ability to respond to stress;  Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens that are masters of immune support, energy and cellular protection; using every part of the mushroom enables max potency for a slow, steady & balanced energy reign. Some are made with CBD (also known as cannabidiol), a natural compound found in the hemp plant, that interacts with endocannabinoid system- which plays a role functions, including mood and sleep cycles, but is non-intoxicating (Fx Chocolate won’t get you high). (https://fxchocolate.com/)

DUER, based in Vancouver, creates apparel ideal for travel by fusing performance and style, fashion, function comfort and versatility. Jeans are designed as a hybrid across active lifestyles – five times more stretch and 30% lighter and stronger than traditional denim. “You can take a plane ride, wear to dinner; anti-microbial, you can wear every day.” The brand has now expanded to men’s and women’s pants, jeans, and shirts, all with proprietary fabrics that offer power stretch, moisture-wicking, breathability and durability, with the look and feel of premium streetwear. The company is debuting its Weatherproof Denim and fleece-lined denim for men, as well as denim and pants to launch its DUER Women’s collection (www.shopduer.com).

Lowa Boots, a Connecticut based company that is in partnership with a German company founded in 1923, is famous for four-season specialized outdoor footwear for hiking, backpacking, mountaineering and walking, as well as everyday use. The backpack boots are made in Germany; mountaineering in Italy; lighter weight boot in Slovakia. They are made with care – direct-attach polyurethane midsole, one for shock absorption and comfort, one for stability; invisible foot technology with Gortex; a backpack boot with lacing and rivets under tab so it flexes for mobility. “Everything for different level of outdoor fit, comfort and performance.” Available at Paragon, REI, Zappos and 450 independent specialty stores as well as online (www.lowaboots.com).

Camping gear like our tent from REI is much appreciated with the boom in outdoor travel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Among our favorite specialty retailers (especially when you catch sales and closeouts): REI (www.rei.com/s/gifts-for-travelers, 800-426-4840); Eastern Mountain Sports, 888-463-6367, ems.com;  LL Bean, 888-610-2326, llbean.com; Sun & Ski, 866-786-3869, sunandski.com; Tennis Express, TennisExpress.com, Bass Pro Shops, www.basspro.com. And of course, luggage (I love my Olympia USA 22 inch 8-Pocket Rolling Duffel for $25 purchased through homedepot.com of all places which I have taken around-the-world; another great site is Luggageonline.com, 888-958-4424).

Photography & Camera Gear

What trip doesn’t involve photos! Yes, everyone has their cell phones, but they don’t do for safaris, kayaking, biking, wildlife, etc. (though there are lens kits for cell phones which would make great gifts).

Cameras and photography gear are big on the list for travelers, with size and functionality among the key criteria. Some of the new smaller, mirrorless cameras have as much functionality as the larger, heavier digital SLRs and use interchangeable lenses but tend to be fairly costly (over $1000 range). But I was able to take advantage of a sale to purchase the Canon EOS M6 Mirrorless Digital with 18-150 mm lens for $449, light and compact enough to use for hiking and travel.

The Canon EOS M6 Mirrorless Digital with 18-150 mm lens for $449, is light and compact enough to use for hiking and travel © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For something like a safari, you would need a good DSLR with decent zoom lenses to cover the various focal lengths (I use the Nikon D500 with Nikkor 28-300), but for, say, a biking or hiking trip ( that is, what I can wear around my neck, shoot with one hand while riding a bicycle that gives excellent quality images, image stabilization, decent zoom lens, auto focus, is fast and responsive on/off/shoot, and is reasonably priced), I have found my Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS70 and ZS50 to be ideal for this kind of travel; thinking of weather and more rugged hikes and photo environments, my latest acquisition is the waterproof, shockproof Olympus Tough TG-6 Digital Camera, with 4x zoom lens (25-100mm, with an amazing macro feature for nature photography), on sale at $100 off at $349). B&H consistently has best inventory, prices, and holiday specials, plus excellent customer service, delivery and return policies, www.bhphotovideo.com, 800.606.6969212.444.6615).

There are endless opportunities on a photographer’s wishlist, from memory cards and external hard drives, to backpacks to lenses, lighting, etc.

More travel-inspired gifts:

Shou Sugi Ban House, a Hamptons wellness retreat and destination spa, recently launched an e-commerce site includinga line of signature ceramics made exclusively for Shou Sugi Ban House by New York-based ceramicist Stephanie Charlene. The collection includes bowls, dinner plates and tumblers made from a groggy white stoneware and finished with a sandy white glaze. Prices start at $30 available online at www.ssbhouse.myshopify.com or at their onsite shop in Water Mill, NY.

For the fashionistaWilbert Das, the former creative director of Diesel and owner of UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa, designed limited-edition sunglasses with local Trancoso, Brazil craftsmen. They are handcrafted from three different varieties of reclaimed wood as well as sustainably-sourced buffalo bonewith lenses by German supplier, Zeis. Each of the 150 pairs comes with an individually carved leather case by Artist in Casa Mark Inglis, an Irish designer who splits his time between Trancoso, Italy, Bali, and Tulum. Retail price is $360, and it is available via email to atelier@uxua.com, through www.uxuacasa.com or at Zerezes retail outlets in Rio de Janeiro.

For the next Bond, James Bond: Chris Blackwell – the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and owner of Ian Fleming’s former residence, GoldenEye – is celebrating the release of the 25th Bond film, No Time To Die, witha special 007 Limited Edition release of his Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum.A mainstay spirit at each Island Outpost resort, Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum is inspired by Chris Blackwell’s time-honored recipe as his family has been involved in distilling Jamaican rum since the 17th century. Available starting in November, the 750 ml bottle will retail for $35 and can be purchased online at www.blackwellrum.com/shop.

For the coffee connoisseur: When Nayara Springs launched its espresso bar, Mi Cafecito, they wanted to showcase the best of Costa Rica. They worked withlocal coffee farmers to plant organic beans which they roast on propertyto create super local and fresh coffee. Until the next trip is booked, the coffee is now available to purchase and have shipped home. A half-pound bag of coffee starts at $8 (www.navarasprings.com).

For the ‘it’s five o’clock somewhere’ enthusiast: Napa Valley Distillery was the first distillery to open its doors in the city of Napa since Prohibition. Cocktail aficionados will love an old school gift set of spirits, bitters, syrups and shrubs – from a Bloody Mary kit to a box of Rum n’ Kola. Or for someone extra special, gift a yearlong membership to The Distinguished Bar Club and they will receive a quarterly box of goodies in the mail, including limited release whiskies, rums, and brandies (www.napadistillery.com)

Can’t get to the wine tastings in Sonoma and Napa? You can still join their wine clubs which ship the orders, for example, Imagery Wine, which we visited recently © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Can’t get to the wine tastings in Sonoma and Napa? You can still join their wine clubs which ship the orders. For example, Imagery Winery, which we visited recently (877-550-4278, www.imagerywinery.com/store) and its sister winery Benziger (benziger.com),  Find more on sonomawine.com and napavintners.com.

Being here: the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid where we have enjoyed spending a Christmas holiday (shuttle to Whiteface for skiing and close to Olympic venues and sites), is promoting and facilitating shopping at its local shops and restaurants with resort dollars ($20 for every night you stay) that can be used in town (see site for COVID-19 safety precautions).  (888-974-6053, 844-209-8080, golden-arrow.com)

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