A Few of My Favorite Things – Five Holiday Gift Ideas for Travelers

christmas new york city

I know it sounds corny, but I’m being absolutely honest when I say that not only do I love Christmas and the holiday season, but I also love buying presents. Throughout the year I constantly write down ideas for people based on innocent comments made or sudden flashes of inspiration. Then, during November and December I go a little crazy getting my friends and family the items I know they’ll love the most.

I don’t like to spend more money than I have to though, so I’m thrilled to team up with American Express this year to show you how you can use #PointsForPresents and hopefully not spend a dime.

There are many ways to do your gift shopping by using Membership Rewards points including the American Express online shopping portal– shopAmex® . I’m usually skeptical of online sites like these because I’m not sure that they’ll have the items I need, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the items I wanted to include in this post were available on shopAmex.

It’s not always easy for me to figure out what to buy my friends and family for Christmas, especially if they already ‘have it all.’ I’m sure many of you are the same way, so I thought I’d put together a brief list of items I think are great presents for the travelers in your life. Some of these items I use all the time and others are things that are on my own wish list this year. They’re all great choices though and I know that the travelers in your life would love to get any of these as a present.

These are listed by my own personal preference, with #1 being my favorite item.


5. Men’s Keen Newport H2 Sandals

I love being active when I travel; I am an adventure traveler after all. Part of the problem with enjoying time communing with nature though is knowing what to pack and wear. I love to pack and travel light, and that means I don’t have space for extra clothes and definitely not shoes. I’ve worn Keen sandals for years and they’ve been perfect, as I’ve explored some of the most remote places on the planet. These shoes are meant to be worn when you know you’re going to get wet, whether it’s white-water rafting or just walking along forest streams. Instead of ruining a pair of sneakers, these easy-to-pack shoes are the ideal footwear for when you need to get wet and they dry fast too. I’d be utterly lost without my Keens, and I know the active traveler in your life will love them.


4. Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones

This has been on the wish list for travelers since they first came out, and with good reason. Noise-cancelling headphones are a fun perk for the frequent traveler, drowning out the ambient engine noise of aircraft and enabling the user to enjoy high quality sound. They’re also very easy to travel with and come with their own carrying case. The sticker price may turn some people off, but as someone who has bought countless cheap imitations, I can tell you that it’s worth the money for a one-time purchase.


3. Antler 27″ Spinner Luggage

I travel a lot, but I am definitely not a backpacker. Instead, I almost always use a small suitcase when I hit the road, and earlier this year I found a new brand that I love. It was recommended by a friend and I decided to try it out even though I had never heard of the brand before. Antler is a UK-based company and has been making luxury travel luggage for more than 90 years, and I fell in love immediately. The luggage is attractive, sleek and lightweight – everything I look for in a suitcase. It’s also extremely durable and has fared very well even after being thrown, kicked and battered around the globe. If you’re looking for a new piece of luggage, this is the one I recommend the most.


2. Tamron 18 mm – 270 mm Lens

I first saw this last year while reading through a magazine’s top gifts section and I knew immediately that I had to have it. Don’t let all those numbers confuse you; this lens is a must-have item for the photographer in your life. If you have a DSLR camera then you know the need to change lenses depending on where you are and what you are shooting. I’m not a professional photographer, I just shoot when I travel and I needed something that could do it all for me. I needed a lens that would work well for close ups as well as extremely long distances. I once had to change out lenses in the dusty African bush and I vowed to never do that again. The Tamron B008 does it all and in a compact and lightweight size. This lens is ideal for the average traveler and really has made a huge difference in the quality of my own photos. The Tamron can be used with Nikon, Canon and Sony mounts.


1. Apple iPad Air

I’m a huge Apple fan; I love just about everything they produce. I have a MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV – you name it, and I use it. That also means I usually jump in line to get whatever new product they release and the new iPad Air is no exception. I’ve used iPads since they were first released and right away they transformed my travel experience. To be honest, I use it most of the time as an e-reader. I’m a voracious reader and on a long flight I go through at least a couple of books. Before the iPad, I was pretty limited to what I could carry, but now I can load dozens of books before I leave and not worry about it. I also use the iPad for movies, TV shows and of course to browse the Internet. When I don’t feel like taking out my laptop, I can quickly log on and check Twitter, email, anything really. I also use it to do some writing when a laptop just isn’t appropriate to use. This new iPad of course allows for all that functionality in a much lighter version. As someone who already has a very heavy carry-on, any opportunity to lighten the load is something I relish.

Honorable Mention – Gift Cards, available from MembershipRewards.com

Of course if you can’t decide what to get, there’s always the perennial favorite present, the gift card. Using your American Express Membership Rewards points, you can easily buy gift cards to dozens of different retailers to give as gifts, or keep for yourself.  To make it really easy, you can use the new Mobile Gift Cards feature “Pay with Points,” to snag those great gift cards instantly.

These are some of my favorite gifts this year for travelers–what are some of yours?


I was selected by American Express as to help educate consumers about how to use Membership Rewards points. As such I was paid for my services, but all gift choices selected and opinions about the gifts and American Express are my own. http://paid-po.st/3Nfrb0

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

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