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AK Monthly Recap: November 2019

Originally source of the media http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AdventurousKate/~3/bByyRCW-x3Y/

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So this is the month that I left New York. I didn’t know it would be coming this soon. It didn’t even cross my mind until I blurted out, “I’m thinking of moving to Berlin!” to my friend in Italy this summer.

I love this city so much. Beyond fiercely. And after so many years of travel, I still think it’s the best place for me personality-wise.

But just because a place fits your personality, it doesn’t mean it’s the best in every aspect. Particularly when it’s one of the priciest cities in the world. Particularly when you live in constant fear of getting hit with huge medical bills, even though you pay through the nose for health insurance.

I made my peace with leaving New York. And it’s not like I’ll be gone forever — I’ll be back fairly often.

Some of my friends who have left New York ran around doing their personal bucket list of New York experiences. I didn’t intend to do that because I know there’s still time. First for IMM in January, the biggest work event of the year for me. And then dropping in whenever I can.

Ideally, I’d love to spend 1-2 months per year in New York. Perhaps October. That’s a great month to be around. But until then…adventure awaits.

A row of fancy Beacon Hill brownstones in Boston beneath a bright blue sky.

Destinations

New York and White Plains, New YorkFairfield, ConnecticutLynn, Reading, Lynnfield, Beverly, Boston, and Cambridge, MassachusettsSalem and Portsmouth, New HampshireWells, Maine

Kate's sister Sarah runs the New York marathon with a big smile on her face.

Highlights

A brand new redesign on the blog. Check it out!! Doesn’t it look snazzy? Much more fitting to who I am these days. I hope you spend some time exploring it.

Cheering on my sister in the New York Marathon. This was her first time running the New York Marathon and she did great! And I found my FAVORITE new spot to watch — in Harlem on Fifth Ave. at 138th St. where people enter from the Bronx. There is music blasting and lots of runners stop to dance for a bit!

A food-filled week in New York. My boyfriend came to New York (his first visit to the city since 1998!) as I moved out, and we ate at so many great places.

Some of the highlights were finally eating at Nobu (INCREDIBLE, and do not miss the yellowtail with jalapeño or the edamame with choclo), diving into bao and ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar, enjoying a huge spread of bagels and cream cheese at the Russ & Daughters Cafe with our buds the 2FoodTrippers, a gorgeous porterhouse and corn crême brûlée at Quality Meats, and my favorite classics — tacos at Los Tacos #1, pizza at Joe’s, burgers at Harlem Public, Salty Pimps at Big Gay Ice Cream.

Seeing TINA on Broadway. I got the opportunity to see TINA, the new Broadway musical about Tina Turner’s life, as a guest of the show. I absolutely LOVED this show! I knew Tina was a survivor, but I had no idea just how much. The music was fantastic, I loved the costumes, and the entire cast was outstanding.

And the actress that played Tina, Adrienne Warren, was BEYOND amazing. She was so incredible that it took my breath away. How lucky I was to be able to see her to perform live! I read that Tina, now blissfully retired, has told Adrienne that she’s given her her onstage persona. I hope we see her win a Tony next year.

Also — sitting just six feet from me at the show was none other than Jonathan Van Ness! And I never recognize famous people in New York!

Going on a street food tour with Food and Footprints in Jackson Heights, Queens. I highly recommend getting away from the Pinteresty, well-manicured parts of New York, and this is a way to do so — Jackson Heights is home to immigrants from India, Bangladesh, Tibet, Mexico, Colombia, and way more. The food on this tour was SO good — I can’t wait to go back and eat more of it (especially Bengali fuchka, which I had never heard of before).

Taking a croquembouche class at the Brooklyn Brainery. The Brooklyn Brainery is home to all kinds of interesting classes and lectures, and my sister and I signed up to learn how to make a cone-shaped tower of cream puffs! I love that you can always learn new interesting skills in New York.

10 Year Challenge — 2009 vs. 2019!

Some cool work events. One thing I’ll miss about living in New York is all the cool work opportunities. This month I went to a swank launch event for ANA, whom I worked with on my Hokkaido trip last year, that included a concert by Steve Aoki! But the real highlight was getting to have dinner with the Atlantic Canada team, who were all visiting New York, including those who helped me with my Nova Scotia and Newfoundland trips this year. I’m glad you liked my Canada content because it looks like I’ll be going back to Atlantic Canada in 2020!

Sending some of my furniture to good new homes. While I planned to store most of my furniture, I knew I didn’t want to keep everything, so I sold a few of the pieces. I was especially happy to sell the dining set and coffee table to a cool girl who works as an ESL teacher. Other pieces went to friends. Facebook Marketplace is great for selling stuff these days!

Spending Thanksgiving with my family. After missing the holiday several years in a row, I’ve been glad to be home for the last few, and this time I got to introduce my non-American friend to the holiday.

Dropping into New Hampshire and Maine. Doing a bit of tax-free shopping in New Hampshire and of course enjoying my favorite seafood chowder and hot lobster roll with butter at the Maine Diner in Wells, Maine.

Challenges

Moving out. Moving is never fun. I’ll spare you the details. It did make me sad to throw away all my Playbills, but at least I wrote this fantastic post about Hamilton.

Dealing with the sadness and guilt of leaving New York. I know that moving out is the right decision for me, but I still feel awful about leaving the city. What I most hate is that if I had worked harder and made more money, I could afford to keep a home there while traveling and living somewhere else. It could be my pied-a-terre that I visited several times a year. And if I had worked harder, perhaps I would have been able to afford it.

Of course, I now realize how ridiculous that sounds. One thing I learned over the years is that there is no financial ceiling — you’ll always be hoping for more, more, more, even if it’s wishing you could just afford to buy your own yacht instead of renting them all the time.

Payment woes. Nearly a decade into professional blogging and I’m still struggling to get paid in a timely manner. I’m grateful that most of my income comes from automatic payments, but with one-off campaigns it can take months to get paid, especially if a government organization with accompanying red tape.

And I completely understand that it’s hard on my clients as well, who don’t make the rules, feel awful about it, and do the best they can. And I’m prepared for that.

But this month, four clients delayed my payment or missed my payment completely. FOUR.

While it’s bad missing one payment, missing FOUR AT ONCE can be catastrophic if you don’t have a financial cushion.

The worst part is that I confirmed and reconfirmed my payment date with one company that was already late paying me, and the payment never went through because they forgot to do it. After feeling so frustrated about the other three payments, this one broke me.

I emailed them back explaining that when you don’t pay a freelancer on time for whatever reason, that can often make the difference between whether or not they’re able to pay rent, buy groceries, or take care of their kids’ financial needs. I got an immediate apology and a promise to pay me in ten days. That was yesterday. They came back with “It appears they’re not in the office today” and offered an extra $300 credit to use on their site as an apology.

This isn’t a tiny company or even a government organization — this is a major travel booking website you have all heard of.

I still don’t know what to do about this. Yes, you can put penalties in your contracts for not being paid on time, and that’s great if you can manage to get them honored — but that still doesn’t solve the problem of what to do if you DON’T get paid on time. You can’t magically make money appear.

Kate wears a blue and white patterned scarf, available from Speakeasy.

Most Popular Blog Post

Best Gifts for Travelers — Updated with my favorite things I’ve discovered in 2019, including a brand new blue Speakeasy scarf!

Other Blog Posts

Two Weeks in the Caucasus: Travel Itinerary for Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan — I always wanted to visit the three countries in the Caucasus, but I had no idea how to fit in Svaneti and keep it under two weeks. Good news — it’s possible! This is how you can do it.

What’s It Like to Travel Armenia Today? — If you’re looking for an up-and-coming off-the-beaten-path destination, I highly recommend Armenia. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip.

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New look. New era. Why don’t you head over to the new AdventurousKate.com and tell me what you think? 😜

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Most Popular Photo on Instagram

I kind of fell off Instagram this month, but this photo from my session in Florence did well! For more live updates from my travels, follow me on Instagram at @adventurouskate.

What I Listened to This Month

I’ve gotten into a new podcast — American Girls. It’s all about the American Girl books! I grew up reading these books voraciously and it’s been fun to revisit them from the perspective of today. The podcast is done by two women in their early thirties who grew up to be historians.

Right now I’ve listened to podcasts about the Felicity episodes (who knew people were being classist to Jiggy Nye because he worked in a trade that smelled bad?). Coming up next is Josefina, and as her character was added as I was outgrowing the books, I’ll need to do a quick refresh before I listen. SO excited for the Addy podcasts — nothing tops the badassery of escaping slavery as a child.

What I Watched This Month

Finally I watched Fleabag. WHAT A SHOW. I can’t believe it took me so long to get into it, as there are only twelve 25-minute episodes in the whole series!

Fleabag, created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, tells the story of a thirty-something British woman who is having a lot of sex, having a family who doesn’t understand her, dealing with her best friend’s death, and barely financially holding onto the cafe they ran together. Despite that negative premise, the show is hilarious and very real, a glimpse into the loneliness we can carry into adulthood.

So I thought the first season was good — then I watched the second season and IT WAS SO GOOD I PRACTICALLY SCREAMED THROUGH THE WHOLE THING. Absolutely watch this one. It’s on Amazon.

A platter of smoke salmon, onions, capers, tomatoes, and cream cheese.Bagels and Lox at Russ and Daughters Cafe

What I Read This Month

This month I broke my record! My previous record for books read was 72 within one year. I’m now up to 76 and just received four off the library waitlist at the same time, so I’ve got a ways to go! This was a great month of reading.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee (2018) — This collection of essays by novelist Alexander Chee focuses on writing and identity and the role that they play with each other. Before you’re ever able to write conclusively about your life, you’ll need to examine your life closely and make peace with who you are. Starting from a teenage summer spent in Mexico and achieving fluency in Spanish, he tells stories of his life that brought him to where he is today, all of them with theme of growing up a queer biracial Korean-American.

After coming across his Vulture column about “writing the other,” I was entranced by Chee’s writing and borrowed his latest book from the library. What a wonderful read — one of my favorites from 2019. I find that most essay collections are a mixed bag of strong and weak offerings, but this is a rare exception (as are Lindy West’s Shrill and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist). I think every budding writer should read this book — it’s packed with valuable lessons and touches you at the same time. I want to write about my life the way Chee does.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman (2018) — They are the couple you wish you were friends with. They’re hilarious, they’ve played iconic characters, they’ve been partners on-screen and off. They’re artists. And she’s twelve years older than him. But what exactly makes this couple tick? Told in back-and-forth banter, they share stories from their childhoods through the present day, showing what shapes them as a couple. I listened to this as an audiobook and would only recommend listening as an audiobook because the format doesn’t work as well for print.

I thought this would primarily be about how to have a good relationship with your spouse, but it’s so much more than that — I found it most useful to hear about how Mullally and Offerman make art a major part of their lives. While both entertainers, they are involved in so many different areas — from singing to comedy, woodworking to acting. And not all of them make money — some are done purely for joy. I loved hearing their perspectives on their art (another of my favorites that does this is Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up).

Something else I appreciated was how they talked about how they tried to have kids, it didn’t happen, they decided to be happy with the life they had, and pointed out that they had lives full of art that they never could have done if they had had children.

So Close to Being the Shit, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta (2018) — Best known for playing Donna on Parks and Recreation (and tweeting prolifically about everything) — Retta is a comedian turned actress who made it big as a plus-sized black woman in Hollywood. From growing up poor in Newark to immigrant Liberian parents to getting accepted to Duke and eventually moving into stand-up comedy, she shares her journey and its most memorable moments.

Retta is hilarious — and I had no idea she was a stand-up comic before getting cast on Parks and Rec! This was a great book to listen to as an audiobook, as hearing it in her voice makes it a million times better. There were lots of stories in how she made it in Hollywood, how she lived as a comedian traveling college campuses — oh, and the memorable time that KFC ran out of chicken.

Finally — Retta is a huge Hamilton obsessive. The final chapter is all about the musical and how she became one of the biggest Hamilton superfans, even getting to become friends Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original cast! If you’re a Hamilton fan in the least, you need to read this chapter.

High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life by Tiffany Jenkins (2019) — This memoir opens in prison, where 22-year-old Tiffany Jenkins is spending 120 days after committing 20 felonies as the result of her addiction to opiates. She talks about the days leading to her “shocking” crimes of stealing from her cop boyfriend and his family, then the days in rehab and working toward starting her life over.

I thought this book was terrible. I enjoy addiction memoirs, and when I saw the title, I assumed it would be about a straight-A student turning to pills to get into an Ivy League college and it snowballed. Not at all — she was just a party drug user who kept upping the ante. Worst of all, she has ZERO self-reflection to this day not least because she commits 20 felonies, including STEALING GUNS FROM HER COP BOYFRIEND AND SELLING THEM TO DRUG DEALERS, and doesn’t acknowledge that her 120-day sentence (!!) is paltry for what she did, when if she were black she’d be looking at 20 years minimum.

The only thing this book is good for is getting into the mind of an addict — completely selfish, rationalizing everything, without accountability. THAT is valuable in itself.

A bowl of ramen with noodles, pork belly, bamboo, and an egg yolk at Momofuku Noodle Bar.Ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (2019) — Elwood Curtis is a teenager growing up in segregated Tallahassee, Florida. He works hard, stays out of trouble, and is set to attend a black college when a mistake gets him sent to Nickel Academy, a juvenile reformatory where boys are abused, sexually assaulted, and even murdered behind the scenes. While Elwood tries to remain positive and invoke the spirit of Dr. King, his friend Turner is more pessimistic. The novel is based on a real juvenile reformatory in Florida that operated for more than a century.

Colson Whitehead is one of my favorite authors, and The Underground Railroad was my favorite book of 2017. While I appreciated this book, and realized how well written it was, and how important of a story it was to tell, it just didn’t do it for me personally. I feel like the narrative didn’t build in a way I wanted to, but perhaps that was intentional — the long, slow dread was like what the boys faced throughout their stays at Nickel Academy.

We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories that are Funny, Complicated, and True by Gabrielle Union (2017) — Gabrielle Union is one of those reliable actresses who has been showing up since you were a teenager. In this book, she shares stories from her life — essays on fame and race, covering the racism and colorism she faces in Hollywood; all the tea on her first disastrous marriage and how she found love with Dwyane Wade; and how she survived a horrific rape during a robbery at a store where she worked as a teenager.

Count me a big Gabrielle Union fan now — even more so because she’s raising hell at NBC about Simon Cowell being allowed to smoke everywhere and the show rejecting talented black kids in favor of “people America can get behind.” I also appreciated that she talked about the racism and white-centrism of Friends when she played one of the two black love interests ever on the show’s decade-long run (and she pointed out that the two of them had the same plot — Joey and Ross fighting over them). I really enjoyed this book and recommend listening to it on audio.

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West (2019) — “Yes, this is a witch hunt. I’m a witch and I’m hunting you,” wrote Lindy West in her New York Times column, further galvanizing the anger wrought by the #MeToo movement. Built on her last collection, Shrill (which has since been turned into a GREAT Hulu series), these essays examine modern misogyny, social media manipulation, and how these have coalesced in life under Trump.

West is one of my forever favorite writers, and I will always stop what I’m doing to read her work. And these essays are great — you know exactly what you’re going to get (I particularly enjoyed “Is Adam Sandler Funny?” and the essay set at a bizarre GOOP convention). That said…I hate to say this, but it all felt so familiar. I don’t know if I was expecting something new and different from her writing this time around. That said, still one of the best essayists around.

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gillum Segal (2019) — In this Young Adult novel, two girls from two different backgrounds navigate an emergency together. Campbell, a white girl new to her school, and Lena, a black girl who knows the city like the back of her hand, are thrust into danger when a race riot erupts at their high school and later takes over the surrounding neighborhoods. Knowing nothing about each other and having preconceived notions about each other, they’re forced to work together to escape the violence.

This was a quick, easily devourable read and I know it will be popular with teenagers everywhere. The book particularly benefits from having two authors, one black and one white, and having each of them writing the narrator of their own background. It’s exciting and goes to places you don’t expect — and, unusual for American books, it leaves some issues unresolved at the end. I liked that. Definitely worth a read if you can find it or grab it from your library.

People gathered on a cobblestone square at Nuremberg Christmas Markets, surrounded by booths selling Christmas crafts.

Coming Up in December 2019

Christmas markets in Europe — and Cuba!! I’m going back to Prague for 12 days this December, and I will definitely be heading two hours north to Dresden, Germany, home to one of the best Christmas markets in the world (if not THE best). I’m curious to see how it compares with Nuremberg’s legendary market.

I love Christmas in Europe — it’s exactly how I think Christmas should be. It’s all about going out with friends, enjoying mulled wine and delicious food, and wandering the different markets. There’s no pressure to do anything but enjoy yourself, and it’s far less shopping-driven and child-focused than Christmas in America.

I’ll also be checking out Prague’s Christmas markets, and if there’s time, I might check out another Czech city like Brno or Český Krumlov.

I’ll be spending Christmas and most of the month with family in Massachusetts. (And if I have time, I might head up to New Hampshire to attend a political event or two.)

Then in late December, I fly down to CUBA! Brand new country for me — #83. I’ll be spending a week mostly in Havana with a bit of Viñales. (Yes, you can visit Cuba as an American. My friend Norbert has a comprehensive guide.) I’m excited to finally visit this intriguing island.

While Cuba’s internet has improved in recent years, I don’t anticipate being online much. I’ll probably resurface on January 4 in Mexico.

What did you get up to in November? Share away!

The post AK Monthly Recap: November 2019 appeared first on Adventurous Kate.


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Two Weeks in the Caucasus: Travel Itinerary for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Originally source of the media http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AdventurousKate/~3/HKComhmKa9o/

What’s up? vacationer, Happy Travel Day! We are always on the search for new info to show you. have a glance at this info we found for you. Here’s something you might believe to be interesting. post that we found. Take notice of this treasure we were able to find, hope you will certainly appreciate this info that I’ve stumbled across. We thought that you to might appreciate it

If you were going to spend two weeks in the Caucasus, what’s the best itinerary? I recently visited the Caucasus for the first time: first Armenia, then Georgia, then Armenia.

First off — the Caucasus is such an interesting place that you could spend months there without seeing all the points of interest. But most people don’t have months to spend here. If all you have is two weeks, you can definitely make a sizable dent in the region’s highlights.

The Caucasus is home to incredible natural beauty, interesting cultural hotspots, and fantastic cuisine. Georgia is home to gorgeous mountains, outstanding wine, and a unique culture in the region of Svaneti. In Armenia you’ll find stunning monasteries built beautifully in canyons, almost as if they grew out of mountains. Azerbaijan has geothermic activity pushing flames from the earth. And the three capitals — Tbilisi, Yerevan, and Baku — are stunning and enthralling and incredibly different from each other.

Best of all? All three countries in the Caucasus are very affordable to travel.

I traveled in the Caucasus as a hosted guest of JayWay Travel. But this itinerary would work whether you’re on a trip with them or planning an independent journey of you own! I look forward to going back to the Caucasus for some solo journeys. Here’s how to spend two weeks in the Caucasus.

Table of Contents

Looking for an overview?How to Spend Three Days in Baku, AzerbaijanWhy You Should Travel to Georgia As Soon As PossibleWhat’s it Like to Travel in Armenia Today?All About the CaucasusHow much time do you need in the Caucasus?Two-Week Caucasus ItineraryDays 1-3: Baku, AzerbaijanDays 3-5: Tbilisi, GeorgiaDay 6: Imereti and Kutaisi, GeorgiaDays 7-9: Svaneti, GeorgiaDays 10-12: Yerevan, ArmeniaDays 13-14: Dilijan, ArmeniaAlternative Two Week Caucasus ItinerariesOne Week in the CaucasusTips for Visiting the CaucasusVisit Azerbaijan Before ArmeniaHow to Fly to the Caucasus from the United StatesTravel the Caucasus with JayWay TravelHave you traveled the Caucasus? What would you suggest?

Looking for an overview?

How to Spend Three Days in Baku, Azerbaijan

Why You Should Travel to Georgia As Soon As Possible

What’s it Like to Travel in Armenia Today?

All About the Caucasus

What are the countries in the Caucasus?

Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are the countries that make up the Caucasus region.

Is the Caucasus part of Europe or Asia?

Some people consider the Caucasus part of Europe; others claim it’s part of Asia. Culturally, Georgia and Armenia feel much more like Europe, while Azerbaijan feels more like the Middle East.

Where are the Caucasus mountains?

The Greater Caucasus mountains are in the far north of Georgia and just beyond the border into Russia. The Lesser Caucasus mountains range from southern Georgia into Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

When is the best time to visit the Caucasus?

You can visit the Caucasus year-round, but if you want to hike in the Caucasus mountains (especially Svaneti), aim for June through August.

Is the Caucasus safe?

Traveling the Caucasus is often as safe as staying in your hometown. Crime is low. The one issue is that Georgians often drive recklessly. While some of the countries have conflicts with each other, there is no violence and travelers will not be affected.

How much does it cost to travel the Caucasus?

Generally speaking, all three countries are quite inexpensive. Backpackers staying in hostels can live on $40 per day. You can have a meal with wine for under $20. Four-star hotels in the capital cities will usually run you $100-150. Prices are on par with much of Eastern Europe.

Do they speak English in the Caucasus?

English is spoken in touristy areas in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The local languages are Georgian, Armenian, and Azeri. Many older locals speak Russian, as all three countries were once part of the Soviet Union. The Georgian and Armenian languages each have their own alphabet.

The temple at Ateshgah: a sand-colored temple set against a blue sky with a flame burning inside.

How much time do you need in the Caucasus?

If you want to visit all three countries — Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan — I recommend having a minimum of two weeks to travel. If you have less than two weeks, I would recommend axing Azerbaijan and just visiting Georgia and Armenia. See below for more on specific itineraries.

If you wanted, you might also enjoy spending two weeks in one country. If you’re looking to spend in-depth time in one country in particular, I would recommend Georgia — it has a lot of variety and you can pack a lot into two weeks without being bored.

In the bottom right corner, Noravank monastery; in the rest of the background, a hazy blue view of Mount Ararat.

Two-Week Caucasus Itinerary

I’ve taken my own personal itinerary and slightly finessed it into the perfect two-week Caucasus itinerary for Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

This itinerary is for fairly energetic travelers — you’re going to be seeing a lot in a fairly short amount of time. Here’s where you’ll be spending your days:

Days 1-3: Baku, AzerbaijanDays 3-5: Tbilisi, GeorgiaDay 6: Imeriti Wine Region and Kutaisi, GeorgiaDays 7-9: Svaneti, GeorgiaDays 10-12: Yerevan, ArmeniaDays 13-14: Dilijan, Armenia

One of the metal Flame Towers of Baku curls in the background; in the foreground is the traditional sand-colored Old Town.

Days 1-3: Baku, Azerbaijan

For your two weeks in the Caucasus, start in Azerbaijan. Why Azerbaijan first? I recommend Azerbaijan before visiting Armenia (see more on that below) and you can get direct flights to Baku from the US.

Spend your first day exploring the best of Baku: explore the UNESCO World-Heritage-listed Old City, stroll the streets and check out the cool cafes in the city; pose for photos at the modern, curvaceous Heydar Aliyev Center. At night, get dinner with a view at Panoramic Restaurant (tip: go in the afternoon and reserve their table that has the best view of the Flame Towers at night) or head to the edge of the Caspian Sea to dine on fish at Derya Fish House.

Kate wears overalls and a pink shirt and poses with her hand behind her neck while sitting on a Soviet-era Russian Lada car. She's in the middle of the gray-brown dessert beneath a pale blue sky.

On your second day, explore the sights surrounding Baku. Be sure to head to Qobustan, where you can ride in a Soviet-era vehicle to see the gurgling mud volcanoes. Qobustan is also home to UNESCO World Heritage-listed petroglyphs and an accompanying museum. Back in Baku, visit Ateshgah, the Zoroastrian fire temple, and Yanar Dag, where the fire bursts from the earth. They’re interesting sites in a unique city.

Make sure to have some local tea and buy some local macadamia nuts before you go. Try to get a flight to Tbilisi on the afternoon or evening of Day Three.

Alternative option: If you’re up for an adventure, consider taking the overnight train from Baku to Tbilisi. It won’t save you money — the flight takes an hour and often costs around the same — but it can be a fun cultural experience.

Where to Stay in Baku: While I had a good stay at the mid-range Deniz Inn Boutique Hotel in the Old City, I recommend staying in the hopping neighborhood just east of the Old City instead — two top-rated places around here are Passage Boutique Hotel and Hotel Hale Kai. Check out more Baku hotels here.

A gorgeous view of Tbilisi underneath a blue sky, buildings with orange roofs, the green river snaking through the city, a few of the modern glassy buildings poking up in the photo.

Days 3-5: Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi is one of the most beguiling cities I’ve visited in quite some time. The city is stacked in gorgeous layers — monasteries atop mountains, cable cars flying through the air, modern bridges of metal and glass, patterned ancient baths, rocky cliffs dropping into a turquoise river.

While in Tbilisi, dive into Georgia’s food scene — I recommend eating at two of my favorite restaurants, Shavi Lomi and Bina 37. Spend an evening at Wine Factory, where you can order bottles of wine at cheap prices, and dive into khinkali. Check out the baths and walk through the Peace Bridge. And don’t forget a cable car ride to the top of the city! But most of the fun of Tbilisi is just wandering and see what you find.

Where to Stay in Tbilisi: I absolutely ADORED the Communal Sololaki hotel in Tbilisi. It’s has gorgeous, modern-but-warm design and one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had in a hotel. This was my favorite hotel of 2019. Get the bathtub room if it’s available! Check out more Tbilisi hotels here.

A table covered with plates of Georgian food: khachapuri (cheese pie), tomato walnut cucumber salad, roasted chicken, and lots of wine.

Day 6: Imereti and Kutaisi, Georgia

Georgia is one of the oldest wine-producing nations in the world. Visiting a winery is one of the quintessential activities of Georgia, and the Imereti region is home to some up-and-coming wine producers.

Start your day by driving to Gori, the hometown of Stalin, and take a walk through his train car, which has been preserved as is outside the Stalin Museum. Next up, the Imereti Wine Region just south of Kutaisi is an up-and-coming international wine destination.

One winery that I recommend is Baia’s Vineyard, a woman-owned winery where she and her sister make qvevri wine in the ground. Their food is sensational, too! Call ahead and book a whole meal.

Image by Bára Sedláková via JayWay Travel

Once you’ve had your fill, finish the short drive to Kutaisi. Kutaisi is Georgia’s second city, home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gelati Monastery. Kutaisi isn’t as exciting as Tbilisi, but it’s worth a few hours.

Tip: Khinkali, or Georgian dumplings, are a delicious (and dirt-cheap!) specialty — but don’t waste time ordering tons of them in nice restaurants. Instead, go to a casual restaurant that specializes in khinkali. One that I loved was El Depo in Kutaisi.

Where to Stay in Kutaisi: My top pick is the sumptuously comfortable Hotel Argo, just a short walk from the center of town. Check out more hotels in Kutaisi here.

The Georgian flag and the Svaneti flag, both red and white, flying side by side with the mountains and stone towers of Ushguli in the background.

Days 7-9: Svaneti, Georgia

Hidden high amongst the Caucasus mountains is Svaneti, a fascinating region unlike anywhere else in Georgia. Thanks to their geographic isolation, the Svans have maintained their own language and culture for centuries. Svaneti is home to stunning mountain scenery, world-famous stone towers, and villages so isolated that you feel accomplished just for surviving the trip there.

Get an early start on Day 7, driving from Kutaisi to Mestia via Zugdidi — the drive should take around 4.5 hours. Upon arrival, spend the rest of the day chilling out and exploring the mountain-surrounded resort town of Mestia, filled with mountain lodges, cafes, and bars with traditional music.

People eating outside at tables on a patio overlooking the mountains of Svaneti.

On the morning of Day 8 in Mestia, check out the Museum of Ethnography to learn about Svan culture. Next up, take the cable car to the top of Zuruldi Ridge, home to the highest restaurant in Georgia. Grab lunch here and enjoy your food with a view!

In the afternoon, set off on the epic two-hour drive to Ushguli.

Tip: the road to Ushguli is extremely rough and ABSOLUTELY MUST be driven by a local driver with experience on this specific road. Do not attempt driving this road on your own. We witnessed drivers who attempted it and had to turn around halfway through. There are plenty of regularly scheduled 4×4 journeys from Mestia.

A distance view of Ushguli, with the stone towers of the village towering over the green landscape but not the surrounding green mountains.

Visiting Ushguli feels like reaching the end of the world. Just getting there is its own reward — but you don’t need much time there. Explore the villages (including UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chazhashi) and marvel at how the colors change in the valley depending on the time of day.

Have dinner at your guesthouse and spend the night in Ushguli, then get an early ride back to Mestia, stopping to see the famed Tower of Love en route.

Later on Day 9, if you’re able to, fly from Mestia to Tbilisi on Vanilla Sky Airlines, then fly from Tbilisi to Yerevan, Armenia. Keep in mind the Tbilisi flights will arrive and depart from two different airports.

Tip: Vanilla Sky Airlines flights cannot be booked online. You’ll need to call or have a local travel agent secure them for you. If you travel with JayWay Travel like I did, they’ll handle getting these tickets for you. Keep in mind that tickets are limited and sell out quickly — book as soon as possible.

Small kiosks along a cobblestone path in Mtskheta, Georgia.

If you have a few hours to kill in between flights in Tbilisi, visit Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. This city is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Jvari Monastery, Svetitstkhoveli Cathedral, and Samtavro Monastery. This is a popular spot for Tbilisi residents to get married — if you’re lucky, you might spot a wedding!

If you can’t fly, drive instead, but know it takes a long time. The drive from Mestia to Tbilisi takes about eight hours; from there you could grab a flight to Yerevan from Tbilisi (one hour) or drive the rest of the way (five to six hours). You also have the option of breaking up the journey by overnighting in Kutaisi, Tbilisi, or even Mtskheta.

Where to Stay in Svaneti: In Mestia I highly recommend Chalet Mestia, a centrally located mid-range hotel with the comfiest beds and pillows I experienced in all of Georgia! In Ushguli I recommend Hotel Panorama, with basic ensuite rooms (and nice food). Know before you go that the internet is generally poor in Svaneti — hotels will have frustratingly slow internet or none at all.

A couple sitting at an outdoor cafe in Yerevan, surrounded by leafy trees.

Days 10-12: Yerevan, Armenia

Welcome to one of the coolest cities you know nothing about. Spend your arrival day acclimating to Yerevan and strolling around, enjoying the wide, clean streets; the fountains that light up at night; and the chic cafes.

Spend one full day exploring Yerevan. Don’t miss the Yerevan Cascade, Republic Square, the Vernissage, and the Armenian Genocide Memorial. If you drink, a visit to the Ararat Brandy Factory is a delicious and interesting experience!

One of the pleasures of Yerevan is exploring all the cafes and bars, especially in warmer weather. Two of my favorites are Temurnots, home to the absolute best bread I had in Armenia (don’t forget to stuff it with thick matsoni yogurt, cheese, and fresh herbs). Gouroo Club and Garden has a beautiful outdoor setting and terrific international food.

Armenia is a small country and you can see quite a bit of the country on day trips from Yerevan. I recommend reserving at least one day for day trips from Yerevan.

My top day trip recommendation is to visit Khor Virap monastery (don’t miss the view from the road with Mount Ararat in the background), Noravank Monastery, and the town of Areni, where you can stop for lunch and perhaps some wine tasting.

Where to Stay in Yerevan: I recommend the Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel. It’s centrally located just off the Vernissage, the rooms are large and comfortable, and they offer a great breakfast. Check out more hotels in Yerevan here.

A smooth, glassy lake in the mountains of Dilijan, underneath a gray sky, mountains rising in the background. There is a swan on the lake.

Days 13-14: Dilijan, Armenia

Wind down your trip in a chilled out town. Dilijan calls itself “the Switzerland of Armenia,” which I think is a bit overly laudatory, but it is a beautiful, quiet, peaceful region with mountains, lakes, and evergreen forests. If you’re visiting in the summer, it’s cooler here than most of Armenia.

On the way to Dilijan from Yerevan, you can stop at Lake Sevan and/or Geghard Monastery — both excellent spots for photos. In Dilijan, don’t miss Cafe Number Two (where they train teenagers to work in the hospitality industry!) and Papanino House.

Where to Stay in Dilijan: I enjoyed my stay at the Tufenkian Old Hotel Complex, located in one of the beautiful wooden buildings. It’s a central and comfortable place to stay, but do keep in mind it’s a popular Instagram spot and you might get crowds coming up to your balcony to pose. Check out more hotels in Dilijan here.

A street scene in Tbilisi's Bath District, with an ancient bridge on one side, people taking photos from a modern iron walkway, and buildings rising up on the hills on each side.

Alternative Two Week Caucasus Itineraries

If you’re not a fan of this two weeks in the Caucasus itinerary, that’s totally fine! Feel free to modify it to fit your needs. That’s the beauty of travel — we do what’s right for each our travel needs. I wouldn’t recommend reducing time in any of these locations, but you can absolutely strike certain locations altogether. Here are three suggested modifications:

Remove Baku from the itinerary and add more three more days in Georgia and/or Armenia. This would be my top suggestion — Azerbaijan was interesting, but Georgia and Armenia were more beautiful, more fun, cheaper, and had more variety to offer.

Replace Svaneti with Kazbegi. Traveling to Svaneti requires a lot of time on the road and I understand if you’d rather not do that. Instead, plan 2-3 days in Kazbegi, which also has spectacular mountain scenery and is a much easier three-hour drive from Tbilisi. Kazbegi is more developed than Svaneti and has a greater variety of accommodation options.

Skip Kutaisi and Imereti and fly from Tbilisi to Mestia and back. Be sure to book these flights on Vanilla Sky Airlines in advance, as seats are limited. This is another way to see the mountains without the long drive to Mestia.

Spend more time day-tripping from Tbilisi. If you axe either Baku or Svaneti, Tbilisi makes a great base for day-tripping around Georgia. You can add day trips to Mtskheta, the Kakheti wine region, or Davit Gareja monastery.

Add some beach time in Batumi. This resort town on Georgia’s Black Sea coast is spectacularly set among palm trees and mountains. It’s a popular party spot, especially in the summer.

At dusk, the village of Ushguli looking purple in the evening light, surrounded by hills, purple mountains covered by clouds in the background.

One Week in the Caucasus

If you only have one week to spend in the Caucasus, spend it all in Georgia. You won’t regret it.

The flame towers of Baku, Azerbaijan, at night: the sky is dark blue and the towers illuminate with red and yellow flames snaking up the building.

Tips for Visiting the Caucasus

Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are developing countries with little tourism infrastructure. Traveling in these countries is much more challenging than traveling in Europe. You’ll find fewer tourists, limited travel resources and service tends to be at a lower standard. This is why I recommend with a company like JayWay Travel if you’re not used to traveling in countries like these.

The driving in Georgia is terrible. Georgians drive recklessly and the roads are often in poor condition. Be sure to always wear your seat belt. Don’t be afraid to tell your driver to slow down. I urge you not to drive in Georgia unless you are a highly skilled driver who thrives in rough, unpredictable conditions.

Cover up when visiting churches in Georgia and Armenia. Women must cover their heads and must wear long skirts (even if you’re wearing pants). Men must wear long pants. Many monasteries will provide a box of scarfs at the front for women — small ones for your head and large ones with ties to tie around your waist.

Azerbaijan requires a visa for most visitors and you must get it in advance. There are lots of imposter sites that charge you sky-high fees — get it direct from evisa.gov.az. The correct price is $20. If it’s more than that, you may be on an imposter site.

Read up on the Armenian Genocide before you visit. While it happened 100 years ago, the lingering effects affect so much of Armenian life today. I wrote about it in depth here.

Piles of spices and dried fruits in perfectly conical piles in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Visit Azerbaijan Before Armenia

If you’re planning to visit both Azerbaijan and Armenia, I urge you to visit Azerbaijan first. The two countries do not get along at all, borders are closed, there are no flights between the countries, and each country will interrogate you about your visit to the other country.

One of their conflicts is over Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, a region of southwestern Azerbaijan that is currently occupied by Armenia.

You can absolutely visit both countries — it’s not like visiting Israel, where an Israeli passport stamp will deny you entry to several Muslim nations. But anecdotally speaking, I’ve heard that Azerbaijan tends to give you a harder time about visiting Armenia than the reverse.

Additionally, if you ever visit Nagorno-Karabakh, you will automatically denied entry to Azerbaijan, both on your visa form and at the border.

No matter whether you visit Azerbaijan or Armenia first, be prepared to answer a lot of questions about visiting the other country at immigration. The easiest way is to be truthful and simply say, “Tourism.”

Noravank Monastery, a small sand-covered church surrounded by mountains.

How to Fly to the Caucasus from the United States

It’s not easy to fly to the Caucasus — another reason why it makes sense to plan to visit Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan all at once on the same trip. You may need two layovers.

As of press time, the only direct flight from the United States is from New York to Baku on Azerbaijan Airlines. I’ve taken this flight myself and while it’s nice to fly nonstop, it leaves at the early hour of 4:00 PM, which means you’ll struggle to get any sleep and arrive early in the morning.

Other popular flight routes from the US to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul (not to Armenia for obvious reasons) and via Kyiv on Ukrainian Airlines.

You may want to consider booking a flight to a European hub, then booking a cheap budget flight to Georgia or Armenia. WizzAir has cheap flights to Kutaisi, Georgia, from several European cities, and RyanAir is adding cheap flights to Yerevan and Gyumri in Armenia in 2020.

Kate stands in between lines of a vineyard, wearing cropped black overalls and hanging onto a wooden post and smiling as she holds a glass of wine in the other hand.

Travel the Caucasus with JayWay Travel

I traveled throughout the Caucasus as a guest of JayWay Travel, a bespoke travel agency specializing in Central and Eastern Europe. I’ve worked with JayWay Travel for trips to Ukraine in 2017 prior to this Caucasus trip in 2019. JayWay added all three Caucasus countries as destinations in 2018.

JayWay builds custom trips to destinations and organizes your trip in full, arranging hotels, transportation, special experiences, and guides along the way. They also give you a SIM card or even a cell phone so you can stay in touch easily.

Not all travelers need that amount of trip planning — but the best thing that JayWay does is make developing, low-infrastructure countries like Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan easier to handle. For example, public transportation in Georgia is mainly by marshrutka, or shared minibus, but JayWay will arrange a private driver to take you from sight to sight.

JayWay also sets you up with excellent local guides throughout your trip, including a local contact who runs your trip. If you get to meet Gio in Georgia, you’ll love him!

The guides handle so much of the day-to-day in the Caucasus. They’re accustomed to what Americans expect for customer service — and standards here are very basic and not typically American.

Some of the other advantages of traveling to three different countries with JayWay: they handle things like adding in stopovers between destinations, making local recommendations, showing off the local food specialties, and handling any troubleshooting you need along the way.

Let me put it this way — someone like me can travel independently in the Caucasus, but most casual travelers I know would have a harder time. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone new to traveling in developing countries, like my parents, traveling here independently, but I would feel very comfortable if they were traveling the Caucasus with JayWay.

Have you traveled the Caucasus? What would you suggest?

The post Two Weeks in the Caucasus: Travel Itinerary for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan appeared first on Adventurous Kate.


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Best Gifts for Travelers: 2019 Edition

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Happy holidays, everyone — it’s time to unleash the best gifts for travelers in 2019 and beyond!

This year I am publishing a new version of my classic travel gift guide, keeping lots of favorites but adding in some new items in several categories.

This list was last updated in November 2019.

Why this guide? Because most bloggers’ gift guides are unrealistic, featuring items they don’t actually use, filled with high-ticket items that most people can’t afford. Sad but true. I love my blogger friends, but seriously — who has a thousand dollars to casually spend on a drone for someone?!

Guys, we are all privileged as hell, but at the same time, I don’t expect you to spend thousands of dollars on gifts. Or hundreds, for that matter. Your trust is important to me, so I’m not going to push things on you that I know are out of reach for most people.

But I will say this — I know great travel gear. I know what works, what doesn’t, and what’s a waste of money. (Most “travel clothing” is unnecessary and those scratch-off maps look much worse once you put them up, for example.)

So I decided to put together a list of things that I use, I love, and I think you would love, too.

Nothing on this list is ostentatiously expensive. All but a few items are under $100 and most are under $50.

Nothing on this list is ugly. Looking good is important to me, and you’ll never find me in an ugly “travel hat” or zip-off pants (unless hiking). Please kill me if you ever catch me wearing hiking gear in Paris.

Nothing on this list was thrown in for crap purposes. No filler here — I believe in every product on this list.

Here we go!

Table of Contents

Best Travel Gifts for 2019 (New Items)Safety Gifts for TravelersInsanely Useful Gifts for TravelersBest Luggage Gifts for TravelersDigital Gifts for TravelersGifts for Travelers Who Have Come Home

Kate wears a blue and white patterned scarf, available from Speakeasy.

Best Travel Gifts for 2019 (New Items)

Each year I choose several new gifts that either came out in the past year or I discovered in the past year. Here are my pics for new travel gifts for the 2019 holiday season:

Adventurous Kate Speakeasy Travel Scarfs — NEW Portugal Scarf

I’ve been a longtime fan of Speakeasy Travel Supply, the scarves with a secret pocket for your passport, and I always recommend them as one of the best gifts for travelers. For the past few years I’ve partnered with Speakeasy and chosen several scarves to be added to their collections.

We recently added a brand new Adventurous Kate signature scarf to the 2019 collection: the Portugal scarf! When I saw this blue and white pattern, it reminded me of the blue and white tiles of Portugal.

This soft pattern works equally well in warm or cold climates. I’m modeling it in Armenia in the photo above, and it was nice to have a scarf on hand to cover my head in monasteries in Armenia and Georgia!

Kate wears a black and white abstract patterned Manhattan scarf, available from Speakeasy.

Also available is the Adventurous Kate Manhattan Scarf, perhaps the most versatile style in the Speakeasy collection. It’s an abstract black and white in a stretchy, spongy bamboo fabric that is great in all seasons. I named it Manhattan because it’s as classic as the city itself! This is the perfect scarf if you’re not sure of someone’s style — black and white is perfect for everyone. It looks and feels expensive.

Best of all, the hidden pocket allows you to stash your valuables in a place where no thief will ever think to look.

Not a fan of these two styles? Fear not — the Speakeasy scarves come in tons of different colors and fabrics, perfect for everything from the tropics to the Arctic.

Most importantly: the Adventurous Kate signature scarves sell out QUICKLY. Three of my signature scarves have sold out permanently. If you’re interested in one of these scarves, I recommend buying them ASAP.

Available from Speakeasy Travel Supply here.

Kate wears a long black dress and sits on a bright red Vespa scooter on a street in Florence, Italy. Kate is looking down and smiling and there is a wooden door behind her.

Airbnb Experiences Photography Shoot

Have you ever wanted to have professional photos of yourself taken in a place you’re visiting? (This is especially for you, the women who take great photos of everyone else but barely have any good shots of you!)

When Airbnb introduced Experiences a few years ago, this gave a platform to locals who wanted to give tours. It also allowed photographers to do simple, affordable photo shoots for tourists. You just book an hourlong session and they shoot.

This is THE best way to get photos for your Instagram! And if you’re a blogger or content creator, even more so. This is one of the best gifts for travelers today.

This past year I did photo shoots in Florence (pictured above) and New York. Each of them cost less than $100 and netted me around 20-30 photos each, 15 of which were usable for the site, and five or so that I truly loved.

I recommend buying an Airbnb gift card. You can do so through Amazon.

Four photos of Kate in front of the same mountaintop with different kinds of skies behind her.

Quickshot Photo App Subsciption

The single best photo app I’ve discovered in the past year is Enlight Quickshot. It’s better than any other app I’ve found for changing the sky.

I’ve been on a lot of trips where a flat white sky ruined what would otherwise have been a great scenery shot. I’ve edited a nice blue sky into a few of them — not EVERY sky, that’s a bit excessive, but it’s a lifesaver when you need it!

It goes beyond — it also changes the light and colors of the landscape to fit. And more — you can add crazy side effects like the Northern Lights, lightning storms, blood-red sunsets, and more!

Kate and Cailin standing under a fake Northern Lights view in the Dolomites

We totally tried to fool our friends into thinking we saw the Northern Lights in the Italian Dolomites.

This app is so FUN. An app this good doesn’t come free — it’s subscription-based (or expensive for a one-time fee). But an annual plan will cost you just $19.99. It’s easiest to gift the app in the form of an iTunes gift card.

Six pairs of colorful Bombas ankle socks.

Bombas Socks

I received a pair of Bombas ankle socks in a swag bag at an event I attended recently and I have been OBSESSED with these socks ever since. Seriously. I throw them on as soon as they’re clean and I wish I had a ton of them.

Bombas socks are soft and snug but they also have extra support in the mid-foot, just where you want it. And they’re particularly good gifts for travelers because they’re made of breathable merino wool and cotton, keeping you dry and less smelly for longer. Also, for every pair they sell, they donate one to someone in need.

They aren’t cheap — which makes them a thoughtful holiday gift. I recommend buying during the holiday season because they have lots of sales.

Get them here from Bombas.

ExpressVPN VPN Subscription

I’ve used other VPN services over the years because they disguise your internet and protect you when online, but I started noticing that they wouldn’t always work when I wanted to watch Hulu. Over and over again, I’d get that message of, “We see you’re outside the United States.”

Enough. A less-than-stellar VPN wasn’t worth the subscription fee. The one I used might have cut it for online banking, but it wasn’t strong enough for streaming video.

I did some research and soon learned that ExpressVPN was one of the absolute best — and one that would ALWAYS work with Hulu.

I’ve signed up and it’s been perfect ever since. Because I absolutely need my new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, Saturday Night Live and This is Us! And, you know, the keeping your banking information private thing. This is one of my best purchases of the last year.

Get it here from ExpressVPN.

A Tinggly gift card reading "Merry Christmas" on the beach, next to the water.

Tinggly

This is a sponsored listing for the 2019 holiday season.

“Give stories, not stuff.” Tinggly is a company that creates gift boxes that your recipient can use around the world. You send them the gift box and your recipient chooses exactly what to use it on!

For example, the $119 Premium box could be used for a shotover jet boat experience in Queenstown, New Zealand; a 4×4 winery tour in Barcelona; a horseback riding experience on lava in Iceland; or a night tour with dumplings in Taipei. Those are just some of the options!

This is a great gift for someone who loves to travel, but you’re not sure where they’re going in the next year. There are so many options.

Tinggly ships to 110 countries, it’s valid forever with no expiration date, there’s an instant delivery option via email, and there’s a 30-day refund policy.

PacSafe CarrySafe 200 Camera Strap

While I’ve always had this product, my old camera strap wore out and I made the full-time switch to the PacSafe CarrySafe 200 this year — and I am absolutely LOVING it.

I always like having an extra layer of security by having a hard-to-slash camera strap, and PacSafe makes the best safety products. The PacSafe CarrySafe 200 is padded, comfortable, and lined with mesh, which keeps it from being slashable.

Get it here on Amazon.

Cheap Gifts for Travelers (Under $25)

You don’t have to spend a ton of cash to give someone a meaningful travel gift that will help him or her on her upcoming trip. Here are several great options.

Point It

Point It: Traveller’s Language Kit

Ever tried a wordless dictionary before? They can be extremely helpful if you’re in a region where English isn’t widely spoken. The Point It book is full of pictures that you can point to when you’re having a hard time communicating. (I really could have used this when searching for electrical tape in Saranda, Albania!)

Get it from Amazon here.

Hot Hands Hand Warmers

Know someone planning a trip somewhere cold? This the kind of travel gift you’d never pick out for yourself, but you use it, you’ll be in love with it!

In 2018, I planned some hardcore cold-weather trips to Hokkaido, Japan, and Antarctica. Even after growing up in New England, these destinations were a rugged kind of cold with no easy or obvious escape. These hand warmers kept me sane and warm. I would put one on my toes in between my sock liners and socks, and one in my hands between my mittens and glove liners. You shouldn’t put them on bare skin.

If you know anyone planning a winter trip, give them a big box of these — they’ll be eternally grateful. Just not having frozen toes immediately elevates your trip.

Get them from Amazon here.

Whistle

All-Weather Safety Whistle

I know you’re thinking of that scene in Titanic. And it’s the truth. Boat engines sometimes fail, and sometimes you’ll need to send a signal through darkness. A whistle is a cheap and useful gift for travelers. Above all, it attracts attention when you need it the most.

This one in particular is LOUD. AS. HELL. You can’t beat it for that price.

Get it from Amazon here.

Manatea

Manatea Silicone Tea Infuser

I love to try different kinds of tea while traveling — but the tea is almost always loose, not bagged. Most places don’t provide infusers, so you need to carry your own.

Enter the Manatea. Not only is it an easy way to get my tea fix, it’s an adorable conversation piece! This company makes a few different animals (I may also own the sloth), but the Manatea’s shape is easiest to fill and clean.

Get it from Amazon here.

Mini Power Strip with USB Slots

What happens when you have limited time and need to charge your phone, laptop, Kindle, and phone battery? With a mini power strip, you can charge them all at once.

You’ll also become everyone’s best friend when staying in a hostel dorm with only one outlet!

Note: NOT all mini power strips are created equal. This one is good because 1) Its plug is attached to a long cord, rather than part of a block (block-style power strips often don’t fit if an outlet is next to furniture or a wall), 2) it has three outlets, which is the minimum you should have 3) it has an on/off button 4) it has USB slots.

Get it on Amazon here.

Mini Portable Power Bank

I travel with two portable power banks: a mini and a big one. I’m putting the mini in this section because it’s cheaper.

A mini power bank is essential for travelers — it fits into my purse for a night out (and if you don’t carry a purse, it fits easily in your pocket). I also consider it a safety device, as my phone lets me summon an Uber or call a cab if I’m in an uncomfortable situation.

This BAITER Power Bank is tiny yet powerful — it can charge the average smartphone twice (which is a LOT for a mini power bank)

Get it here on Amazon.

Gluten-Free Restaurant Cards

My friend Jodi of Legal Nomads writes about eating her way around the world as a celiac, and she has created excellent gluten-free dining cards that let celiacs eat safely in different countries. Why are these cards different from others? I’ll use Jodi’s words here:

You may have seen other gluten free restaurant cards, and many are great for those following a GF diet. As a celiac who is extremely sensitive, I got sick using them. I very much appreciate the work and effort that went into the freely available cards — but sadly they were not enough.

In contrast, the Legal Nomads cards are:

Researched by a celiac who loves to eat.
Written with the traveler in mind.
Use local dish names, based on what’s eaten in that country not just a translation.
Clear mention of cross-contamination and contaminated oil.
Double checked for accuracy with two translators familiar with food, who speak the local language.

The cards are available in the local language for France, Greece, Morocco, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, Italy, Portugal, Germany, and for Spain there are both Spanish and Catalan versions. This is a very thoughtful gift for a traveler with food allergies.

Get them from Legal Nomads here.

Headphone Splitter

Headphone Splitter

If you’re traveling with a friend or partner, you must bring a headphone splitter! But even if you’re traveling solo, you never know when you might meet a cool friend and want to watch a movie or listen to a podcast together while in transit.

Headphone splitters are simple — you simply plug the end into your device and you suddenly have two headphone jacks.

Get it here on Amazon.

Wifi Extender

Wifi Extender

If you work while traveling, one of the most annoying things is to find a good place to work in a new city. Very often, the place with the best coffee and environment and plugs has terrible wifi. (Hell, I struggle with this in my own neighborhood in New York!)

For that reason, a wifi extender helps you access wifi from further away. So maybe you can sit in the funky coffeeshop while accessing the much faster wifi from McDonald’s a few doors down. This Netis extender plugs right into your USB slot and is one of the better models on the market.

This is one of the best gifts for travelers who work from the road.

Get it here on Amazon.

Travel Towel

Travel Towel Set

What makes a good travel towel? It’s small, it’s light, it dries very quickly. I highly recommend getting one large enough to wrap around yourself; it will make your life a million times easier!

This one is large enough to wrap, comes in a million colors, and is anti-bacterial. BONUS: It comes with a separate hand towel, which is great for taking along with you on sweaty or athletic days.

Get it here on Amazon.

Airportag LHR London Mug

Quirky Airport-Themed Mugs from Airportag

Airportag has a variety of airport-themed accessories for your home, as well as t-shirts. My personal favorites are the mugs and refrigerator magnets. I think these accessories work best when they’re a casual touch rather than the primary focus of the room. Good things come in small packages!

Get them here on Airportag.

Burt's Bees Wipes

Facial Cleansing Towelettes

Did you know that a Thai guesthouse once charged me extra because I got mascara on a pillowcase and they couldn’t get it out? Make sure this doesn’t happen to you! Believe me, the last thing you want to do when coming back to your hotel after a fun night out is a complicated skin routine — but sleeping in your makeup is bad for your skin.

Facial cleansing towelettes are the way to go, and I love these ones from Burt’s Bees. They are good at getting mascara off and the white tea scent is delicious.

Get them here on Amazon.

Contour Eye Mask

Contoured Sleep Mask

If you can sleep with the cheapie eye masks that airlines give you, good for you! I find that I need something a little extra, however.

This contoured sleep mask is much better — it’s soft, blocks more light, and isn’t as tight on your eyelids. This is a thoughtful travel gift for your friend who needs blackout curtains.

Get it here on Amazon.

Padlocks

Pair of Padlocks

Small padlocks are essential — they lock hostel lockers and your own bags.

I recommend getting 1) a combination lock where you can choose the combination, 2) a pair of locks, 3) TSA-approved locks.

(Are they impenetrable? No lock is 100% impenetrable. But the vast majority of thieves are opportunists who grab whatever’s easy to snatch quickly. A lock dissuades opportunistic thieves.)

Get them here on Amazon.

Safety Gifts for Travelers

Being a blogger who specializes in solo female travel, I get a lot of questions about staying safe while traveling.

One of my top tips is to invest in quality gear that protects your belongings. This is something you shouldn’t scrimp on. At the same time, every travel gift on this list is under $80.

Pacsafe Travelsafe

Pacsafe TravelSafe Portable Safe

This is the #1 item that I recommend travelers buy. One of my proudest moments was when I was leading my first tour in Central America and I walked into the bathroom and saw three of these locked around the base of the sink! “You guys listened to me!” I said through tears.

You fill this safe with your belongings, pull it shut, and lock it to the sturdiest thing in your room. Sometimes that’s the base of a sink; sometimes it’s a large, heavy piece of furniture. This way you don’t have to carry your valuables with you everywhere you go, which also puts you at risk.

This is one of the best gifts for travelers you love and want to keep safe.

Get it here on Amazon.

Drybag

Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bags

Dry bags are the other item that I recommend every traveler pack. When I was shipwrecked in Indonesia, I was able to rescue my phone, debit card, and point-and-shoot camera because I had a dry bag with me. Dry bags also protect my electronics when on crazy boat rides, like the panga ride to Little Corn Island that sprayed water everywhere.

You need these. Even if you don’t plan on traveling by boat.

These days I travel with two at all times: a small one (10 liters) and a large one that can fit my day bag (30 liters). And they come with a smartphone protector as well!

Get them here on Amazon.

LifeProof Case

LifeProof Phone Case

Let me be honest: if it weren’t for my LifeProof, I would have destroyed my phone when I accidentally dropped it in a toilet in a remote part of South Africa.

No, it’s not the sexiest looking case out there, but it is the absolute best phone case out there — one that will protect your phone as best as possible. You can even go swimming with it (but I wouldn’t recommend that). I don’t know what I would do without it (wait, I do know — I would pay constantly for screen repairs).

LifeProof also has excellent customer service and they will often replace your case for free if something goes wrong.

It’s a good idea to pick up a three-pack of headphone adapters if you use plug-in headphones because it only comes with one. You don’t need them if you use wireless headphones.

Get it here on Amazon. 

Personal Alarm

Personal Alarm

I have not needed to use this yet, but I’m glad it’s there. Using a personal alarm has the same use as a whistle: it attracts attention when you need it. Maybe it’s when you’re lost or stranded; maybe it’s when you’re threatened by another person. Maybe a stray dog is scaring you. Either way, there is no way this alarm won’t get you attention. This is a gift for travelers that will give you peace of mind.

Get it here on Amazon.

RFID Wallet

RFID-Blocking Wallet

When traveling with a wallet, I always bring one that is RFID-blocking to protect against thieves. Your credit cards can be scanned remotely through your wallet, but RFID-blocking fabrics prevent this from being able to be done.

I suspect that my credit cards were scanned in Portugal back in 2012 and traveling without them was a nightmare, so I truly hope it never happens to me again — or any of you! (Be sure to hide an extra debit card in a different place.)

I hate most “women’s wallets” and it took a while to find one I like: this one is sleek, it’s made of leather, it comes in lots of colors, and it folds up small.

Get it here on Amazon.

Pacsafe Camera Bag

Pacsafe Camera Bag

Before I went to Central America in 2015, I was concerned about theft and knew I needed to get a day bag that locked. My day bag is what holds my photography gear, tech gear, and valuables, and it always stays with me, unless I’ve got the valuables locked up in my portable safe at home.

This is my bag and it’s perfect: it has a laptop slot (easily fits a 13″ MacBook Pro), room for three lenses, and everything is lockable. All that and it fits underneath the seat in front of me when I fly.

That said, some people might prefer a larger bag, especially if you’re carrying several lenses (the giant lens I rented for safari was pushing it). You can find a slightly larger model here. These bags are one of the best gifts for travelers heading to a region known for pickpocketing.

Get it here on Amazon.

World Nomads

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance could save your life or your financial future. I use and recommend World Nomads, and never go on a trip without it.

Get a quote from World Nomads here.

Note what is not on this list: a money belt. I don’t use one and have no desire to. They’re uncomfortable and thieves are well aware that they exist. Get a Speakeasy Travel Supply scarf instead — they’re comfier, more practical, and much prettier.

Insanely Useful Gifts for Travelers

If you want to get someone a travel gift that he or she will use every day while on the road, here are some great options!

PowerBank

EasyAcc Monster Portable Charger

If there is one item that people should travel with but they don’t, it’s a portable charger. I know this because people are always asking me to borrow mine, even my full-time traveler friends!

I recommend traveling with two portable chargers: a large one that is perfect for long flights, long days out, or days when you’re away from electricity; and a small one, which I throw in my purse for a night out (and mentioned above).

This charger is just as much of a Monster as its name claims. You can charge an iPhone SEVEN times with this thing! It was invaluable when I spent a few days in Guyana without electricity earlier this year.

Get it here on Amazon.

Quip Toothbrush

Quip Toothbrush

If you listen to podcasts, you may have heard of Quip — they advertise on tons of them and I found out about them thanks to Pod Save America. I ordered one last year, just thinking it would be a cool toothbrush, but honestly, this is the best possible electric toothbrush for travelers!

Do you want to travel with an electric toothbrush, but don’t want to lug all the gear? The Quip is a battery-operated toothbrush that is the size of a normal toothbrush and has no charging station. It pulses every 30 seconds for 2 minutes so you brush each quadrant of your mouth sufficiently. Every three months they sent you a new brush head and batteries. No excuses!

I love that I can actually travel with an electric toothbrush without using a ton of extra space and weight.

Get it from Quip here.

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I devour at least one book per week. The truth? The only reason why I’m able to read this much is because I have a Kindle. I take it everywhere with me.

Getting my first Kindle in 2011 reignited my love of reading, which had faded off in years. It’s rare that you can credit an inanimate object to making you a better person, but every book I read makes me a better person.

I’ve used multiple Kindles, but the Paperwhite is a million times better than the basic — it has a touchscreen, it’s illuminated from within (perfect for reading in a hostel bed, while your partner is sleeping, or while breastfeeding at night), and it feels amazing in your hands.

Get it here on Amazon. 

Diva Cup

DivaCup

Travelers who menstruate, if you haven’t made the switch to a menstrual cup yet, now is the time. It’s better for your wallet, better for the environment, gives you more space in your luggage, and it saves you from the hassle of trying to find tampons in Sri Lanka (which is…not easy). It changed my life for the better in so many ways.

Don’t be intimidated — it’s actually a lot easier to use than most people think. It just takes a few practice tries and you’re golden. See my full review here for more information.

Get it here on Amazon.

TaoTronics Wireless Earbuds

After going through several kinds of earbuds, I finally found my holy grail — a pair that lasts a long time and stays in your ears while at the gym, even if you sweat like crazy. It takes a bit of an adjustment to get used to charging your earbuds regularly, but you get used to it. I love not being connected to my phone.

Get them here on Amazon.

LifeTek Umbrella

LifeTek Travel Umbrella

Rather than buying cheap umbrellas that break apart in the first storm, invest in a small, quality umbrella and you’ll be a million times happier. LifeTek makes awesome, wind-resistant umbrellas that fold up tiny and have a two-year replacement guarantee.

Get it here on Amazon.

S’well Water Bottle

Probably the best way to reduce your waste is to bring a reusable water bottle on your travels. It eliminates you from buying single-use plastic bottles and most countries are not good about recycling. Even with recycling, we should reduce anyway.

S’well water bottles are beautiful, well-crafted, and slim enough to fit into a bag. Mine is bright metallic blue but I love their wooden patterned bottles. This is one of the best gifts for travelers that also makes a positive impact on the places they visit.

Cost: $35 on Amazon.

SteriPen

So a water bottle is good, but what happens if you go to a country where you can’t drink the tap water? Enter the SteriPen. All you do is put it in a water bottle or cup, turn it on for less than a minute, and thanks to the UV light, the water is purified and safe to drink.

Between a SteriPen and a reusable water bottle, you’ve massively reduced the number of plastic water bottles that are going to waste in the world.

Get it here on Amazon.

Packing Cubes

Flight 001 Packing Cubes

Packing cubes make packing a million times easier. You throw your clothes in there and then pack the cubes themselves. There are a lot of brands out there, but I happen to love Flight 001’s Spacepaks because they’re high quality, incredibly durable, and you can unzip the other side and fill them with your dirty laundry!

Trust me — these are one of the best gifts for travelers because as soon as you use them, you’ll fall in love. I personally use just two of them: the blue clothes bag and the lavender lingerie bag.

Get the pack of three here on Amazon, or just the blue clothes bag, or just the small lavender bag.

Travel T-Shirts from Adventurous Merch

Last year, Cailin and I created our first travel t-shirt line! Adventurous Merch features travel t-shirts that we would actually want to wear (and do enjoy wearing while out and about!). These are currently available to ship to the US, UK, and Germany.

The two that are the bestsellers so far? The one pictured above (Passport & Camera & Suitcase & Tickets & Phone), and the one that says Wanderer, Adventurer, Explorer, Nomad, Vagabond. And we’ve got plenty more!

Get them on Amazon here.

Rent the Runway Membership (Update or Unlimited)

Most people know about Rent the Runway for renting nice dresses for weddings. But now that I have a RTR Update membership — four items per month — I wear more casual items and FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS. Seriously. I can’t tell you how good this makes me feel. I love that I’m not contributing to the “fast fashion” industry. And my Instagram account always looks fresh as a result!

Do you know someone who likes to look good in travel for photos on Instagram? This is one of the best gifts for travellers like her.

From left to right, that’s a Derek Lam 10 Crosby dress in Vienna; a Jason Wu dress in San Francisco, and a Milly dress in Williamsburg. Each of them cost upwards of $300. It also saves me money when I have to order something fancy for a formal event, which happens about once a month.

RTR Update is four items per month. There is also RTR Unlimited, where you get unlimited items. However, they almost always have discounted rates for the first month.

Get RTR Update here.

Travel Pillow

Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Traveling with a pillow is nothing short of life-changing. Suddenly sleeping on planes becomes possible — and that alone is a valuable gift for travelers.

This is another case where you get what you pay for — no matter what, a travel pillow should be about strong neck support more than anything else. This model from I’celus Comfort is ergonomic, made of memory foam, and comes with a free sleep mask as well.

Get it here on Amazon.

UE Mini Boom

Portable Bluetooth Speaker

I didn’t realize how useful a portable speaker was until my friend sold me on them. They are the best for playing music while sitting around a pool with friends (this brings me back to lazy pool afternoons at Papaya Lodge in El Tunco, El Salvador!).

They’re also good for impromptu dance parties, picnics or outdoor gatherings, or even just listening to podcasts while in the shower.

My UE Mini Boom is Bluetooth-enabled, the battery lasts for so long, and it’s durable as hell.

Get it here on Amazon.

External Hard Drive

Durable External Hard Drive

When traveling, you should back up your photos in two places: online and on an external hard drive. And because slow upload speeds can be an issue while traveling, it makes it all the more important to use a high quality external hard drive.

The Transcend 2 TB StoreJet drive has 2 TB of storage and claims to be military drop-tested. I wouldn’t go for a swim with it, but it’s badass all the same.

Get it here on Amazon.

Best Luggage Gifts for Travelers

A good piece of luggage is worth its weight in gold. Luggage can be expensive, but if you have someone special in your life and can afford to spend a larger chunk of change, it’s one of the most appreciated and best gifts for travelers. For that reason, I thought I’d share with you the three bags I like very much.

One thing to keep in mind — a backpack should be measured to a person for the best fit. If you buy a backpack for someone, make sure it’s returnable in case it isn’t a good fit.

Secondly, I recommend not buying bags in black if you can help it (even though I wear all black, all the time). I’ve got a few black bags and it drives me crazy trying to pick it out of a carousel full of black bags.

Best Carry-On Luggage for Travelers: The Carry-On from Away

I received a complimentary “The Carry-On” Away luggage as part of the campaign I did with RXBAR in 2017, with no obligation to write about it, but I fell in love with it and it’s still my go-to luggage. This is my essential carry-on bag and I highly recommend it.

What makes this different? It’s designed beautifully and efficiently — it’s how I imagine the Japanese would design a carry-on bag. One side is designed for clothes, one for shoes and hard objects. It comes with a mini laundry bag so strong, it can hold a wet bathing suit without getting the rest of your clothes wet. It’s got a compression belt that lets you pack more into less space. The wheels rotate 360 degrees and it’s such a smooth ride.

All that and it has a battery in it so you can charge your phone with your bag! Very helpful when you’re unexpectedly delayed. Do know that some airlines may ask you to remove the battery before boarding. It’s easy to do in the later models.

And if you buy more than one Away bag, they stack into each other so neatly that it won’t take up too much space, which is especially important if you live in an apartment.

Get it from Away.com, with $20 off your purchase with this link.

Pacsafe Backpack

Backpack Gift for Holidays: Pacsafe VentureSafe 45L

Once again, Pacsafe makes the best safety-conscious travel products, and I love my VentureSafe when I choose to use a backpack. It’s smart to have a soft-sided bag in your collection because you might need it if you fly on tiny planes — like I did in Kenya last year. I also prefer to use a backpack in less-developed regions like Central America and Southeast Asia because dragging a rolling suitcase over broken pavement gets old very quickly.

My favorite thing about this backpack is that every compartment locks onto the same bar, which you can lock onto another object. That’s the ideal way to protect your luggage on an overnight train.

Get it here on Amazon.

Pacsafe Luggage

Best Suitcase: Pacsafe TourSafe AT29

One more PacSafe bag to round them out! This is what I travel with most often. It’s a soft rolling checked suitcase and it has survived a lot of crazy trips.

Get it here on Amazon.

The Travel Hack Pro Carry-on Suitcase

I love when my friends design their own products — and this year my friend Monica from The Travel Hack now has a custom suitcase! She designed it to have all the things that we want while traveling, while still looking good.

It fits as a standard carry-on bag, it has a padded laptop pocket, and it’s a light-yet-durable collection of faux black leather and 600D PU material (plus rosé gold zippers and a hot pink interior!). Best of all, there is a compartment on top designed for your purse when the airline makes you consolidate your carry-ons into one! (They force me to consolidate my bags EVERY time I fly through JFK or on a budget airline in Europe, which is frustrating, so it’s great that Monica came up with this solution!)

Get it from Amazon here.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Digital Gifts for Travelers

Take it from me — travelers like to carry as little stuff as possible. Digital gifts for travelers allow you to give a travel gift without taking up any luggage space.

Travel Ebooks or Kindle Books

If your recipient has a Kindle, a book makes an awesome gift. And if not, Kindle books can be read on a smartphone as well!

Here are some of my other favorite travel and destination reads:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt — Perhaps the best book about a destination I’ve ever read, this nonfiction novel is about the weird and twisted city of Savannah and its many characters.

The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran — Two comedy writers (who went on to write for 30 Rock!) race around the world without airplanes. Definitely the funniest travel book I’ve ever read.

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman — The French raise their children differently. This American expat living in Paris tries to figure out what makes French parenting so different. Absolutely fascinating.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway — My favorite book of all time. A novel about the Lost Generation of the 1930s drinking and wiling their days away in Paris and Pamplona.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed — A woman struggling with a divorce and addiction decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, with absolutely no preparation.

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer — The riveting account of the 1996 expedition to Mount Everest that killed several people.

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche — Another memoir written by my friend Torre, who decided to sail across the South Pacific with her boyfriend despite a crushing fear of drowning.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell — The Danes are often listed as the happiest people in the world. A British expat living in rural Denmark tries to figure out why.

The Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante — This is one of the most epic series I have ever read, and one of the best things about it is its depiction of a rough neighborhood in Naples, Italy.

Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim — A fascinating and heartbreaking account of an undercover Korean-American journalist posing as a teacher at a university in Pyongyang.

Euphoria by Lily King — One of the best romances I’ve ever read, based on the life of Margaret Mead and taking place in Papua New Guinea.

The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World by Torre DeRoche — A sweet memoir and a study of traveling for healing, through heartbreak, grief, and anxiety, my friend Torre decided to walk her way across Italy and India on pilgrimages. This book inspired me to do a pilgrimage of my own someday!

Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well by Lola A. Åkerström — Do the Swedes do everything better than we do? After reading my friend Lola’s book, you’ll think so! Lagom is the Swedish ethos of “not too little, not too much” and this book lays out how the Swedes choose to live in blissful moderation.

Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles — A novel depicting Odessa, Ukraine, in the 1990s, as everything was controlled by the Mafia and the only way out was to become a mail-order bride. This book was the reason why I went to Odessa in 2017 and I fell in love with the city. Out of print but you can buy it for Kindle.

This Is My South by Caroline Eubanks — A book by my friend Caroline, published in 2018, about traveling the Southern United States — a region on which she is an expert! Perfect for your South-loving friend.

New York Times

Subscriptions to Online Publications

Good journalism will only exist if it’s funded, and the traveler in your life will appreciate being kept in the loop on what’s going on at home.

For newspapers, check out the New York Times (I love it because it has the best comment management on the web) and the Washington Post (which regularly breaks major stories). Keep in mind that the Washington Post is free for several months to Amazon Prime subscribers, then cheap thereafter.

For magazines, check out Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Economist.

Crashplan

Crashplan, Dropbox, SmugMug, Private Internet Access, or Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription

These are all web services that can help travelers.

Crashplan is a system for backing up your computer and external hard drives to the cloud. It works automatically in the background. If your computer is stolen, you can virtually recreate your old computer on your new machine.

Dropbox is cloud storage. You get a small amount for free; Dropbox Pro gets you a lot more storage.

SmugMug is backup photo storage. You can also use it to sell your photography.

ExpressVPN is a VPN service, meaning a place that lets you mask your location when using the internet. Not only does it protect your safety (and you should when doing things like banking online), but it allows you to access sites like Netflix and Hulu when outside the US. I’ve tried several VPN providers and now only use ExpressVPN — it’s the best, it has an app on your phone, and it’s the only one that works reliably for Hulu.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud gives you access to programs like Lightroom and Photoshop, which most amateurs and pros use to edit your photos. There are lots of plans, but the basic should be what most people need. I do this for a living

Spotify

Gift cards to Spotify, iTunes, or Apple Music.

Extra music is always appreciated. Find one which one your gift recipient prefers first — I’m definitely a Spotify girl. I swear those algorithms know me better than I know myself.

Gifts for Travelers Who Have Come Home

Maybe you know a traveler who has come home after a long-term trip away. Maybe you know a traveler who balances her home life with travel. Even if you have a home somewhere, it’s nice to bring your love of travel into your cozy home.

Framed Travel Photos from Framebridge

If you have a photo from your trip you’d like to display, Framebridge does absolutely gorgeous framing. And the whole process is easy — you put in your info, find a frame and mat you like (they can also choose for you), they send you either a tube or a flat mailer to send the print in (unless it’s a digital photo you send), and they frame it and send it back complete with the mounting supplies and instructions.

It’s definitely on the pricey end, but your best photos deserve to be framed beautifully, not in a cheap generic frame.

And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a photo. I’ve got a map framed by Framebridge in every room of my apartment! A Harlem map in the living room, an antique Northern Italy map in the bedroom, and a Bangkok map in the bathroom, a hand-drawn Savannah coffeeshop map on the way to the kitchen.

(In the photo above is a Holding On To Love print by artist Chelsea Victoria that I found on Society6, framed by Framebridge in their rose gold Rosemont frame. I find that rosy shades of gold warm up my white-and-gray rainy day-inspired bedroom!)

Get a quote here on Framebridge. Get $20 off your first order with this link.

Ugg Slippers

Ugg Suede Slippers

It’s nice to have something you can only enjoy while at home. For me, it’s the Ugg Ainslay Women’s Suede Slippers. They are completely impractical for the road but one of my favorite indulgences whenever I come home from a long trip.

Mine are in bright purple (to the surprise of absolutely no one); they also come in several different colors!

Get them here on Amazon (women) or here for men.

Yucatan Cookbook

Cookbooks From Destinations Your Traveler Loves

A lot of my foodie friends miss having a decent place to cook when they travel. Even if you book a rental rather than a hotel, chances are the knives are terrible. Let your friends revel in their cooking with these books.

Here are some of the best regional cookbooks available:

If they love Italian food: Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is the holy grail. (And her butter tomato sauce is one of the best things that I made this year.)

If they love Thai food: Pailin Chongchitnant’s Hot Thai Kitchen is one of the best and most comprehensive.

If they love Mexican food: David Sterling’s Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition got a lot of praise.

If they love New York or the South: Marcus Samuelsson’s The Red Rooster Cookbook. Red Rooster is the restaurant that convinced me to move to Harlem!

If they love unusual or emerging cuisines: Naomi Duguid’s Taste of Persia, Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baeta’s The Ghana Cookbook, Gunnar Karl Gíslason’s North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland, and Gastón Acurio’s Peru: The Cookbook are all splendid choices.

I also want to throw in a shout-out to Chrissy Teigan’s Cravings — seriously, everything in this cookbook is amazing. Her jok moo (Thai pork rice porridge) is rhapsodic, and her Thai pork-stuffed cucumber soup is as healthy and yummy as it is hilarious.

Italy Food Map

Legal Nomads Food Map Prints and Accessories

My friend Jodi who created the gluten-free travel cards has also created beautiful maps featuring food from Italy, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Japan, and Portugal. They are perfect to have in your kitchen as prints; you can also get them on tote bags and t-shirts.

Jodi has been ill for the last few years and unable to work, so if you’re looking to buy a beautiful travel gift while also supporting someone who could use a helping hand, the Legal Nomads shop is a great place to spend your money.

Get them here on Legal Nomads.

Poolside with Slim Aarons

Travel Coffee Table Books

Coffee table books really pull a room together and give you a chance to show your personality. And because coffee table books are on display, this is one case where you should judge a book by its cover.

My dear friend Kash Bhattacharya published The Grand Hostels, a guide to the coolest design hostels in Europe. This has been his passion project for years, one I’ve been involved with, and I’m thrilled that he finally has a gorgeous book.

My friends Mike and Anne Howard published Ultimate Journeys for Two: Extraordinary Destinations on Every Continent. It makes a great coffee table book but it’s also chock full of information on unusual travel destinations, many of which I hadn’t heard of (and for me to say that, that’s a BIG deal). It’s great even if you’re not part of a couple.

Some other coffee table books I recommend are Eighty Four Rooms (gorgeous boutique hotels), Poolside with Slim Aarons (or anything Slim Aarons — amazing luxury travel photography from the 1950s-1970s), NY Through the Lens (beautiful New York photography), Living in Style: Scandinavia (Nordic design), Havana, the New York Times’ 36 Hours In US and Canada or New York Times’ 36 Hours in Europe, and Steve McCurry: The Unguarded Moment.

What do you think are the best gifts for travelers? Have a happy holiday season, everyone!

The post Best Gifts for Travelers: 2019 Edition appeared first on Adventurous Kate.


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