“Um…it’s the end of June. Why is the second part of your Best Gifts for the Wanderlust-suffering Globetrotter series appearing now, six months after the holiday season?” you ask.
Because I forgot to post it before Christmas. That’s why.
With that blatant honesty aside, I figured there is never a bad time to discuss the best gifts for the traveler in your life – so I can keep posting installments all year-round. Who doesn’t need gift ideas, anyway?
Last time, I highlighted two pieces of equipment that I own and love. This time I will be discussing my own personal wish list. This article is also meant to generate discussion, and feedback (if you have any) about which name brands to go with – or even an alternative to the products I have listed. So please, feel free to voice your opinion!
Ideal for: Travelers who want to “stay connected,” bloggers, and most travelers who don’t need to run heavy programs or data processing
Best price: $475.00 (iPad 3rd Gen; 16GB) on www.ebay.com
Useful features: On-the-go Internet; access to millions of apps (and thus the versatility to be multiple devices in one: calendar, camera, reader, electronic map, etc.); light and compact feel
Why I want it: When I travel, I travel light. I want to bring as little as I can, but I have many needs when I travel – not the least of which include photography and blogging. For those two reasons alone, I need a solid, reliable, modern device that is preferably light and compact. I need to be able to upload and back up my photographs, use the Internet to access and publish on my blog, email my friends and family back home, and of course, update all my social networks to reflect where I am. (Not just to be annoying, but to utilize travel sites like Foursquare and Gogobot, share fun snapshots of where I am on Instagram, and keep a running commentary and news feed on Twitter.)
I am not set on the iPad label; I am open to a whole myriad of options when it comes to a tablet. But it needs to be a tablet. I generally bring my laptop with me, but I get nervous about hauling around a $1,200 Macbook Pro in a backpack everywhere I go. I’d be more comfortable with a cheap, small netbook – but then I run the risk of sacrificing quality.
A tablet seems to solve all of my problems. I can blog, email, remote update my family of social networks, check train routes and airport delays, book my next hostel or hotel, upload photographs (though I would transfer them to a mini portable hard drive instead of sucking up tablet capacity), and best of all – I can use the Kindle app to transform my tablet into an e-reader when I am on a plane or train bored out of my mind. This includes entertainment novels, newspapers, magazines, and, my favorite, guidebooks! Which means yet another physical item I don’t have to carry.
And the plus sides of using an Apple device are that I can sync and use my iCal, as well as Gogobot’s wicked app. (Because they STILL don’t have an Android version…ahem.)
Therefore, all of my various technological uses are wrapped into ONE device. It’s a laptop, a smartphone, a map, a newspaper, and a library of books at the same time. That is less weight on my back, and fewer things to haul around and worry about. It sounds like the golden partner for any traveler…especially a backpacking nomad.
Ideal for: Travelers who do a heavy amount of walking or hiking on a variety of terrain
Best price: $85.00 on www.endless.com
Useful features: interchangeable insole and removable padding; waterproof body
Why I want it: I think I speak for every traveler, backpacker, and nomad when I say we all want to bring ONE pair of shoes on our trip, and ONE pair only. We want to slip on a pair in the morning, then walk all over a city, hike a mountain, and eat in a sit-down restaurant without having to change shoes for each endeavor, and we want to get back to our bed at night without wanting to cut off everything below our knees. We want something that can withstand both rain and scorching asphalt. We want something that will hug the arches of our feet, not squish our toes, and let the air reach our skin – so we don’t all get Athlete’s Foot while traipsing around the world.
After a lot of research on a pair of shoes that fit all of the above requirements, I was led to Ecco Gore Tex’s Mid GTX Boot.
Again, I am not rigid on this exact model, but they fit the bill pretty darn closely. They are waterproof (I’d buy them for this reason alone!), they have interchangeable insoles for comfort adjustment and removable padding to cope with various temperatures, and they have breathable mesh siding to help prevent my feet from sweating to all-mighty hell.
Obviously, many shoes do this. And I am still researching comparable brands. But Ecco Gore Tex comes highly rated by many of my fellow travelers, and by my favorite guide Rick Steves himself. The ladies’ version of the hardy hiking boots is slender, supportive, and even somewhat trendy – so you aren’t stomping around cathedrals in Europe wearing giant ugly brown boxes on your feet.
If I have places to go, I want to get there comfortably, thank you very much.