As I mused over what to write about this week, my friend and co-worker Lisa suggested that I consider thinking about Christmas gifts that travelers would enjoy. After all, according to the calendar, Christmas is in just a couple of weeks.
I do have to confess that, personally, I’m done with my Christmas shopping. I’ve never been attracted to the idea of hitting the mall (or any store, even the grocery store) in the days leading up to Christmas, when everyone is frantically making last-minute purchases. Images in the news of people pepper spraying each other at Wal-Mart and the thought of being trampled in the name of sales only solidified my decision to avoid this year’s crowds.
If, however, you are still trying to figure out what to get for the traveler in your life, I did some thinking and tried to compile a list of possible gift ideas. Now, this is just off the top of my head, so I’m sure I’ve missed some–feel free to include your own suggestions in the comment section.
Here’s what I thought of after brainstorming for a few minutes:
–A world map with colored pins. My mother gave me one a few years ago, and I absolutely love it. It’s a framed map that hangs on the wall, and it comes with different colored pins for you to designate places you’ve been and places you’d like to go.
–A passport holder. They come all sorts of colors and styles, and they protect your passport while you’re out and about.
–A language book, language dictionary, or even language class. Giving the gift of knowledge is always a benefit to the receiver, and encouraging a traveler to keep up a language or learn a new one is no exception. This year Leon is thinking of giving me an English and Italian Bible (don’t worry, we decided to discuss our gifts to each other beforehand, so there was no breach of secrecy), and I told him that I thought it was a fantastic idea.
–A new piece of luggage or luggage accessory. Travelers tend to beat up their luggage pretty quickly, especially if they’re traveling to remote parts of the world. I’ve received several travel makeup bags, travel backpacks, luggage tags, and other luggage-related gifts over the years, and I have appreciated them all.
–A universal plug adapter. It’s not the most romantic/sentimental gift, but boy are they one of the best tools ever for travelers. I bought one a few years ago, and it takes the guesswork out of making sure you have the correct adapter for whichever region/country/continent you’re traveling to.
–A notebook (preferably small to fit easily into carry-ons or backpacks). I’m always writing things down when I travel, whether a new phrase I learned in Hindi or the name of a newly discovered coffee shop in Italy. Having a cute notebook handy is not only helpful, but you also have a written memento of your trip afterwards.
And last but certainly not least…
–An actual travel opportunity! This doesn’t mean you have to give all of your friends plane tickets to Bali for Christmas; a weekend getaway from Groupon, for instance, might be something to consider getting a spouse, close friend, or family member. When Leon took me to New York for my 29th birthday, it was an incredible time for us to take a mental break from D.C., eat some good NY style pizza, and have some quality time together. We didn’t have to leave the country (although we hope to do more international travel together soon) to have a travel adventure, and it was a birthday I’ll never forget.
To be sure, Christmas gifts are not the reason why we celebrate Christmas–we celebrate the birth of Christ. Presents, in their purest form, are simply a conduit through which we can show our affection and appreciation for loved ones, by gifting them with things that they’ll enjoy (hopefully–there is a reason why re-gifting happens frequently).
Not that our Savior wouldn’t have an appreciation for travel items. After all, He was a traveler Himself, from the time when Joseph and Mary escaped from Bethlehem to Egypt with baby Jesus during the reign of King Herod.