I don’t do Christmas gifts. Since 2011, my family and I have put up a tree, enjoyed a good candy cane, donated to causes we believed in and almost never turned down a holiday party, but we just skip the mall madness part.
But don’t confuse us thumbing our noses at obligatory holiday commercialism with a lack of general gift enjoyment. While I’m not swayed by the fancy holiday commercials or the latest gadgets, I have dreams too. So should you feel like getting me a little (okay, big) something in the new year, here are some ideas. I’m confident any traveller would welcome them as well.
A plane ticket: I know how to get myself an inexpensive one using apps (try Kayak, Expedia and Jetto), or web browsers such as Google Flight. So if you’re giving me a ticket, make it count. I’ll take first class, thank you. In fact, I can save would-be gift givers some time browsing by pointing them to the approximately US$18,000 per person Etihad Residence Experience – a three room suite that includes a separate bedroom and private in-flight shower.
Good luggage: Carry-on or checked, I need a bag that will do its job. And that job is to require no struggle to get it into the overhead bin and to protect my overproof Jamaican white rum on the way home. A pretty bag is even better. I recently took the $1,250 Canadian-created Ebby Rane Quartermaster for a spin (Meghan Markle and her mom each have one too) and the looks I got from fellow travellers convinced me that better luggage makes you a better person. I want to be a better person.
Silence: Quiet space has become a luxury item. Want to wow a traveller? Find them a way to be alone with their thoughts. Spa zen will do but noise-cancelling headphones or hotel rooms where the walls are thicker than paper are even better. The best? A trip to Japan. Spots such as Hokkaido are away from the buzz of big-city Tokyo, and signs on the train over remind travellers that “loud typing may disturb other guests.” These are my people. Send me there.
Free WiFi everywhere: I get that you shouldn’t be so focused on a Facebook live stream that you miss the incredible moment happening in front of you, but connectivity is – like it or not – a big part of the travel experience. Video chats with family back home, looking up maps and transit timetables or trying to figure out which restaurant you should go to, all require it. Cities such as Wellington, New Zealand, that offer a free option are my forever friends. And simple plug-and-play sim cards such as Roam Mobility that let me connect quickly and inexpensively are a close second. Judge me if you must, just connect me first.
A traveller penalty system: Why can’t those of us who understand that nail clipping and barefoot bathroom trips have no business in an airplane have yellow and red flags like in soccer games? We could hand them out to violators on flights, rowdy hellions in hotel hallways or the group tour participant who is constantly late. No conversation, no argument, just the ability to tuck that yellow flag in their pocket and walk away. Too many and you’re out of the travel game. Racist or sexist? Immediate red card ejection. This isn’t strictly something you can give me, but if any of you have a direct line to the travel gods, I’d appreciate you putting a word in.
One free checked bag: I’m a carry-on only advocate, but it’s the airlines that made me this way. Paying money to check a bag and then paying in hours of my life to wait for it at the carousel weren’t worth the thrill of an extra t-shirt. If the airlines went back to one free checked bag and fixed their delivery systems, I could easily change my ways. Offer me the ability to skip the overhead-bin space fight on board and I’ll simply slide into my window seat in my in-air apartment, champagne in-hand while my shower warms up, like the people who love me intended.