By DIANE SLAWYCH, QMI Agency
The wonderful thing about giving gifts to the travellers on your list is, in most cases, they don't have to wait for a trip to start using them.
All-weather jackets, compact umbrellas, palm-sized speakers for electronic devices, battery charges, etc., are just a few of the items that can be used at home or abroad. And of course, travel books can be enjoyed before, during and after a trip.
Here are some suggestions:
-- Explorer's Guides Victoria & Vancouver Island: A Great Destination (The Countryman Press) by Eric Lucas: British Columbia has a lot of trees, and reading this attractive new 198-page book (with colour photos) you realize just how many have been incorporated into attractions -- at least on Vancouver Island.
There's the WildPlay Element Park in Nanaimo, where you can follow an obstacle course in the trees; the curious Shoe Tree near Port Hardy -- a piece of folk art that has hundreds of old shoes, boots and other footwear nailed to the trunk of an old cedar; and even a hotel in the trees, built by Free Spirit Spheres on Qualicum Beach. Chapters are divided into the five regions of the island and include practical information on lodging, dining and recreation to help plan your visit.
-- Great Journeys: Travel the World's Most Spectacular Routes (Lonely Planet): There are two types of trips -- the quick getaway you take for a needed break, and the journey -- an out-of-the ordinary voyage that often takes longer, involves an unusual itinerary, and advance planning. This oversized hardcover from Lonely Planet is a compelling collection of the latter, presenting more than 70 of the world's most spectacular routes, from Marco Polo's Silk Road to the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Expeditions are organized by theme including classic overland routes (Cairo to Cape Town), famous literary journeys (Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries through South America), great walks (The Great Wall of China), classic rail journeys (The Orient Express) and more. A description of each experience is enhanced with colourful images, practical information for planning, shortcuts, detours, and recommended reading for those who want to learn more.
-- The Not-for-Parents Travel Book: Cool Stuff to Know about Every Country in the World (Lonely Planet): This 207-page oversized hardcover book follows the style of many contemporary adult travel books that are crammed with bite-sized bits of fascinating information on various destinations. Give it to any young reader and they in turn may entertain you with a grab bag of facts you may not know: That Estonia (where Skype was invented) has more meteorite craters than any other country; that Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, liked to bathe in donkey's milk and supposedly died when she let an asp (Egyptian cobra) bite her; and that the world's oldest winery is in Armenia -- a wine press and grape-jars from 6,000 years ago were discovered in a cave there. The Not-For-Parents series also includes smaller single destination books (Not-For-Parents London, Not-For-Parents New York, Not-For-Parents Paris and Not-For-Parents Rome).
-- MEC Uplink Jacket: It's always wise to bring a jacket along on a trip, even to warm weather destinations in case of cool nights or unusual cold snaps. The MEC Uplink Jacket is a good choice because it's ultra light, and can squish up small in your luggage. I wore it on a recent trip to Britain, and was surprised a coat this thin could offer so much warmth. Sure enough, the tag claims it's as warm and soft as down, compresses like down, offers excellent water resistance and is thermally efficient. Available in black, red violet or moonlight blue for $125 at Mountain Equipment Co-Op (Toronto location at 400 King St. W. Call 416-340-2667.
-- My Airport Butler: This instant table-top is secured under your luggage handle (works best with low-rise handles, otherwise the table may not remain securely in place) and comes in handy while waiting at the airport or train or bus station. It's ideal for writing or holding your belongings, including a cup of coffee. Plus it folds up flat so you can easily store it in a suitcase front pocket when it's time to board. Price: $19.95 US plus shipping and handling from MyAirportButler.com.
-- Solar Battery Charger: Environmentally conscious persons might appreciate a solar battery charger. C.Crane's high output solar panel charges AA, AAA and D sized batteries for electronics such as cameras. The upside is it doesn't cost anything to use and it's easy, though you'll need sunlight and patience, as batteries will take longer to power up than conventional chargers. $29.95 US. Check ccrane.com or contact Durham Radio in Whitby (1-888-426 1688).
-- Sound Oasis Travel Alarm Clock: Any travel product that performs double duty is always welcome. With the Sound Oasis Travel Alarm Clock, you get a time keeper (to make sure you don't miss that early tour) and a sound machine with a choice of 19 soothing sounds (including ocean surf, summer night and spring rain) to block out noise and promote sleep. Wake to a buzzer, your choice of sounds, or record your own. Powered by dual voltage AC adaptor (included) or 4 AA batteries (not included). Price: $89.85 US. Magellans.com or call 1-800-962-4943.
-- Speakers: Palm-sized speakers that deliver great stereo sound are ideal for anyone travelling with a laptop, MP3 player, iPhone or iPad. Tweakers Mini-Boom Speakers have a built-in USB charging cord and audio-in cable that fits all devices with a 3.5-mm jack. A single charge will give you six hours of play time and retractable cables mean no tangled wires. Comes in black or red for $35.85 US. Magellans.com or call 1-800-962-4943.
-- Mighty umbrella: Have you ever unfurled an umbrella in a rainstorm, only to watch it collapse and bend out of shape when you need it most? Obviously you (and I) weren't using the Windpro Flatwear Umbrella, which has vents that allow wind to escape, preventing it from blowing inside out during gusty conditions. A flat frame construction makes it easy to pack. Navy, Khaki, Black or Red. $24.85US. Magellans.com or call 1-800-962-4943.
This story was posted on Mon, December 24, 2012
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