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HTL Travelers’ Gift Guide: 2015

December 11, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Gift time!! Just kidding — the holidays is one of the reasons we decided against the permanent nomadic lifestyle. We love evenings spent with friends and family, sipping whiskey in the warm glow of the fireplace and of course christmas tree (or as we call it — new year tree), reflection on the year past, and anticipation of new, exiting adventures. We love the coziness, the holiday parties, the pleasant errands that come with this all.

And, you know what else we are super excited about? Our gift to each other this holiday season — a month long exploration of Mexico in January. We are super pumped about this. With this trip in mind, we’ve put together our 2015 HTL travelers’ Gift Guide. This list includes special items that we already own and LOVE, and a few items that would complete our travelers’ packs…in case, you know, you are thinking of getting us a gift, ahem.

HTL Travelers’ Gift Guide:


Mobile Power Station for Smartphones/Tablets/Mobile Devices

Our smart phone is an essential piece of technology we would not travel without. Some would disagree, and we their point, but we love our iphones for giving us the ability to accomplish everything from navigating new city, to capturing the sights, to allowing us to communicate in a language we don’t speak, to keeping up with work and play while we are away, and many many other things. In about a 5 minute span. Yes, we are those people – feel free to judge. This is all a long winded introduction to the other essential piece of equipment we always pack: the extra charger for the days on the go. This one is by far the best value we’ve found — between the size, the energy it packs, and the price.

*we use and love this item very, very much.


NRG Premium Wood In-ear Noise-isolating Headphones with Microphone (Blue Stripe) 

These earbuds are pure magic. The sound quality is amazing, and the noise blocking function is essential for those times we want to tune out the loud Korean Mexican movie playing on the loop for 6th hour straight. Also, these come with a mic for all those skype and facetime video chats. ANNNNND, these things are super stylish. We be the coolest cats on that bus, in our matching earbuds. Will you?

*we use and love this item very, very much.


Polaroid 72 In 1 Reader Card / Writer

This guy is on the list, because everyone can use one. It’s small, versatile, and we always take it along, even on an overnight trip. In case we generate too much data to keep on the memory card — because that happens more often that you would think — better safe, than sorry! The big plus of this one is the price.

*we use and love this item very, very much.


USB Hub with Individual Power Switches and LEDs

As a traveler, you have gadgets. Most likely all of them are USB connected. This simple extension allows lighting speed of USB 3.0 and ability to turn on and off individual ports. Very handy gadget!

*we use and love this item very, very much.


Olio Clips for iPhone 

You know that saying: a picture is worth a 1,000 words? Well, a video must be at lest 10 times that amount. Maybe more. Even if you travel with dedicated video equipment, an iphone is often times the most convenient, spur of the moment option. However, if you’ve noticed, the lens for video are quite narrow. Olio clips help a TON. We shot a ton of material using these – and can absolutely vouch that they make a huge difference in quality. We lost ours and got replacement version which wasn’t Olio. It’s NOT all the same. More like, same same but different.

*we used and loved this item very, very much AND now, we would love to own this item again


GoPro HERO4 Session with Smart Remote

As mentioned, we love the magic of video. In fact, we took a video every day, for more than 365 days in a row. We did it with our iphone and our olio clips and that worked just great. We are weary of adding more than absolute necessary to our technology arsenal. BUT! on the video front, we are SO ready for an upgrade — for all those action packed adventures, when sticking out our most prized possession (our iphone, duh) into the wind isn’t a great option. Or just for ease of use.

*we would love to own this item very much


Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera (Black)

Back alleys of Pushkar, India. Sergey takes a quick snap of the doorway with his Cannon. Dozens of children swarm, asking for portraits. They don’t ask for money, or photos with us. They want their own pictures and that’s all. We decide to go for it. An hour later everyone is satisfied with how they look on the camera screen. A child runs up and hands us their address carefully written out on piece of paper. There was about 0.5% chance that we would mail these, anytime soon, and in fact ever. So Sergey edited the photos, transferred to memory stick, found a shop, ordered overnight prints, and dropped them off. Now, we won’t have to — thanks to this polaroid magic camera. We anticipate that this will become our super-charged tool for making new friends!

And to go with this guy — the necessary accessory – film! – Polaroid 2×3 inch Premium ZINK Photo Paper QUINTUPLE PACK (50 Sheets)

*We purchased, but haven’t yet used, this gadget 

HTL Travelers’ Gift Guide:
Packing Essentials

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Eagle Creek Packing Cubes Starter Set & Eagle Creek Packing Cube Set

The packing cubes are life-changing, as you will find nearly every travel blogger claim. And that’s the truth. The longer your trip, the more useful these guys are.  First of all, they help to maximize space. Second of all, packing and re-packing gets annoying — you can pack your warmer items in one, hot weather items in another. Or you can easily move items around your pack as you search for any one item. If a traveler on your list doesn’t have these — this gift will be their favorite. If they do — it’s always nice to have more options in rotation!

*we use and love this item very, very much.


TSA Accepted Cable Luggage Lock

The lock ins’t really a fun gift, but again everyone can use several, so you can’t go wrong with adding it to your shopping list. We always lock up our valuables if we leave them in storage, in our hostel room, or even when keeping them close at hand on an overnight journey. TSA enabled locks allows you to lock your stuff when glying for added versatility.

*we use and love this item very, very much.


Digital Luggage Scale

We don’t have one, and we NEED one. We like to buy things when we travel – from wine in France, to rugs in Morocco, we always come back with extras. And when we fly, it’s always nerve racking, because we never know when our luggage will be over the weight limit — and one thing we really don’t like is paying extra.

*we would love to own this item very much


BRICS Carry On Rolling Duffle 

This one is for Jenia, who doesn’t believe in backpacks for fashion reasons, and also for sweating reasons. For our year-plus-long RTW, she used Eagle Creek convertible backpack / rolling suitcase — worn as a backpack all of two times. Lesson learned: 95% of the time the backpack option isn’t necessary. Overall, EagleCreek is a great option — the reasons for the switch is that a) the bottom of the bag is worn down, b) it’s rather bulky, c) might as well choose a convertible option to duffel, since that should be easier to convert on the few occasions that becomes necessary. We already have a couple of BRICS luggage pieces, which are well loved for their durability and style. This wheeled duffel option looks just about perfect to be added to the collection

*we Jenia would love to own this item very much


Marc by Marc Jacobs Backpack 

Another Jenia item — a stylish daypack to pack technology during travels, to use on all day city walks and overnight hikes. This backpack looks to be the ultimate combination of versatility and style. The only hard decision to make is whether to get the gold zippers (too much for jungle walks? but a little sparkle is so nice!) or the more subtle monotone ‘faded aluminum’ version?

*we Jenia would love to own this item very much

HTL Travelers’ Gift Guide: 
Wardrobe & Accessories Essentials


Energizer 3 LED Headlamp

There are a few items that you ALWAYS pack. Doesn’t matter where you are going, you will NEED these, particularly if you don’t pack these this one time. One is a swimsuit, another is a headlamp. Trust. This headlamp piece lives in Sergey’s daypack, and gets used on about 50% of our outings — from exploring surprise caves, to climbing down from hilltops after sunset.

*we use and love this item very, very much.


Collapsable, Silicone Pour Over Coffee Maker

A day that starts without coffee is a bad, bad day. We’ve been into coffee for a long time, but travel made us addicted. You see — it’s not the coffee, it’s the routine. There aren’t too many routines in travel, so when you find one that works for you, you hold on very, very tight and don’t let go. Morning coffee is ours. Nescafe is ok, but we use a single cup pour over at home all the time, and I can’t believe we didn’t pack it on our last trip. We will be ready this time though with a collapsable piece that tales ZERO space in our luggage thanks to the carabiner hook!

*we would love to own this item very much


Travel Candle or Full Collection

Another item on the ‘travel routines are nice’ list. If we stay somewhere for longer than 3 days, and room starts to feel like home, even if its a temporary one. Local flowers and a nice candle help too. Its not a comfort that everyone seeks, but for those who do, its ultra-simple! We haven’t used this particular brand of candle yet, but Jenia was looking for a christmas like scent, so we will be trying out this trio on the trip to Mexico.

*we would love to own this item very much


Smartwool Socks 

Some of the items came into our life only because of travel, but now, we don’t know how we managed to live without them in any kind of life. Smartwool socks are at the top of this list. If you ever want to get us a present and just don’t know — give us these socks. We wear through them on the regular basis, and are always looking to replace and stock up. Because they are lightweight, warm but not sweat inducing, and do wonders for feet smells. Seriously.

*we use and love this item very, very much.


Uniqlo UltraLight Down Vest for Her and Him

A friend loaned Jenia the vest in frigid Moscow winter, and it’s absolutely brilliant as a warm layer. We aren’t bringing coats to Mexico, but will be packing these vests to wear under our windbreakers. These guys take almost no space, but provide a significant layer of warmth.

*we would love to own this item very much


TUSA Scuba / Snorkel masks 

We are both certified open water divers. Pretty exited to get back into the water once we get to Mexico’s famous beaches. We would love to bring our own mask and snorkel, well because, using rented ones is kind of gross. Plus, we will be snorkeling, like, every day when at the beach, so it’s time to invest. To be perfectly honest, we aren’t very knowledgeable on scuba gear. However, having done a bunch of research, TUSA products seem to be a good combination of quality and value.

*we would love to own this item very much

HTL Travelers’ Gift Guide: 


The Way of Wanderlust by Don George 

Don George is a brilliant travel writer — his stories are so vivid, you are literary transported in time and space via his short stories. His latest volume is a collection of his best travel short stories that we can’t recommend enough to anyone who likes travel – armchair or otherwise.

*we own this volume, and it’s been read front to back


Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman 

Full disclosure — Carl is a friend, and an absolutely fascinating person to chat with about travel. We loved reading Lunatic Express as we set off on our RTW adventure, but were way too timid to do it the ‘Carl Way’ – aka the full on dangerous, rickety, locals-only 3rd class all the way round the planet.

*we own this volume, and it’s been read front to back

Travel Health Insurance

When we did our RTW we got World Nomads Travel Insurance and it turned out to be worth every penny. We both ended up using medical services in Thailand — nothing serious, as it turned out, but quite expensive! We actually more than covered the cost of health insurance for the year with those expenses. But even if you don’t end up needing it — this will be the best peace of mind that you can give your loved ones when you set out to see the world.

*we recommend this item very, very much.


PS: Even if you don’t get us a gift this year, you can make a small contribution to our travel fund by clicking and purchasing any of the items above via the links in this post. A lot of these are affiliate links, which means that we will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Thank you, have a great holiday season, and may the next year bring you many, many travel joys!

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