Money can't buy you a lot of things in life - namely love and a painless airport experience. However, there are some things you can buy for someone you love who regularly braves TSA lines and $7,000 airport pretzels*. Here are our tried and true gift recommendations for your favorite traveler.
1. A super soft inflatable neck pillow
This year, I've flown to around the globe and made several cross-country trips to visit my family in Los Angeles. But before leaving the house for any flight, I triple check to make sure I have this super soft inflatable neck pillow. It comes in a small carrying pouch with a carabiner, so it doesn't take up any space in my bags, and your lucky gift recipient can adjust the firmness of the pillow based on their preferences. It's also machine washable, so if your giftee tends to drool when they sleep, it can easily be tossed in the washer for cleaning.
2. Headphones that drown out crying babies (and everything else)
I originally got these headphones for editing audio and video, but now I refuse to fly without them. They have a longer cord and aren't advertised as noise-cancelling, but I've sat behind a screaming baby on a six hour flight and I didn't hear a thing. Plus, they're the accepted as an industry standard in terms of audio quality, and it's much easier to tune out the world when your ears are filled with crystal-clear music.
3. A large scarf that does everything and then some
Everyone needs a big scarf when they fly, full stop. A lighter scarf may seem counterintuitive when flights get chilly, but viscose scarves tend to be great at retaining heat when you need them to and you can quickly unwind them when you arrive at a warmer destination. On top of that, larger scarves are great for pulling over your head when you're trying to block out the plane and catch some sleep on your flight.
4. A jade roller for de-puffing everything
You've probably seen jade rollers on Instagram, but it's also a handy tool to whip out on the plane or after some stressful travelling. Rolling the cooling gemstone over your face will help you de-puff, especially underneath the eyes, but it also feels extremely relaxing and luxurious - no matter where you are in the world.
5. Disposable cameras for unfussy travel documentation
I'm a full-time photographer and I absolutely love disposable cameras. They're unfussy and take away the need to constantly document travels on social media - meaning there's more time to focus on the adventure. In addition to being unobtrusive, they also tend to produce some fun results. Plus, they're surprisingly resilient - I took a disposable camera into a steamy hot spring in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, and the camera worked just fine before and after.
6. A backpack that can go from the airport to daytripping
It's tough to find a backpack that's cute, padded enough for a laptop, spacious, cute and still meets all the TSA requirements, but this SWISSGEAR option checks all the boxes. The structured top adds a surprisingly design-y element for the price point, but it's deceptively spacious - it can easily hold a light jacket, a laptop and some souvenirs - all while looking sleek and understated.
7. A cream that will save your face
My skin hates flying, unfamiliar shower water, cold climates, hot and humid climates and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Fortunately, Weleda Skin Food keeps my hands moisturized and my face flake-free, even in the arid airplane. The tube is already TSA-approved and it's a godsend when you wander into the airplane bathroom and start to wonder if your skin always looked so crocodile-like.
8. Earrings that can go anywhere and with anything
Whether your giftee is planning on taking a business trip or the vacation of a lifetime, a good accessory never goes amiss. Gold hoops are understated and can easily be dressed up or down. I especially love these sleeper hoops, which promise not to be bothersome, even if you're rocking the over-the-ear headphones.
9. Fashion-y sweats
There's a case to be made for dressing okay on flights, but if your gift recipient takes red eye flights or just likes being comfortable, splurge on the best sweats of all time. These ultra-durable sweats from the iconic Canadian brand Roots are cozy, understated and never leave you feeling overheated or too cold - in short, they've earned their cult status.
10. Cute compression socks (really)
Socks may not be the most exciting gift, but to the seasoned traveler, these ones will be. A friend turned me onto compression socks before a seemingly endless flight to New Zealand and my legs felt surprisingly unachey, even after falling asleep in what could best be described as a stress position. Although most compression socks look geriatric on a good day, Vim&Vigr have some genuinely adorable options that would make for a great stocking stuffer.
11. An adult coloring book
Coloring books are SO not just for kids anymore! Everyone needs something to pass the time during layovers or on the plane, and with this edition of the adult coloring book made my a local artist, you can always keep a piece of D.C. with you.. no matter how far you travel. The book itself is a great gift, or you can snag one for yourself, and if you stay within the lines, a framed coloring of a friend's favorite D.C. 'hood makes for a great hostess gift!
*Airport pretzels don't cost that much, but only barely.