Ned’s 2012 annual holiday gift list for savvy travelers

Zyxel MWR102 Travel Router, photo courtesy Zyxel

Wow, the holiday season is already here. Friends and family have been asking me for gift suggestions. They know I’ve been searching for gift ideas for a few months. After attending some expositions and searching in favorite stores and catalogs, I checked out quite a few items, and have some gift suggestions for your favorite traveler.

Some of the gifts are expensive, but some can be used as “stocking stuffers” or “dreidel” game winners.

Here’s my 2012 annual top holiday gift list for your consideration. I have personally tested each one, and purchased several of the items for my personal use:

Bose QuietComfort 15 ($299.95) – This noise cancelling headset has been on my holiday gift list for some time. It finally has a worthy challenger. The Logitech UE 9000 ($399.95), is slightly better technically, and is wireless, but the Logitech headset isn’t worth its extra $100, in my opinion. The Bose has a comfortable, around-the-ear fit which aids its electronics in reducing airplane cabin noise. I even use it to help me sleep while flying. The TriPort acoustic headphone structure offers great sound when you’re watching videos or listening to music from your MP3 player, tablet, smartphone, or your plane’s entertainment system.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor – Large Bag ($12.00) – If nothing else, this bag is the greatest for traveling with dirty laundry. Dirty laundry literally stinks. Fold your laundry, place it in this bag and compress it, and it will minimize the room needed for your laundry, and keep its aroma from the rest of your belongings.

ZyXEL MWR102 USB Powered Travel Router ($39.99) – Today, travelers are taking many electronic devices “on the road,” such as smartphones and tablets which can access the Internet through cellular/WIFI services, but not via a wired connection. Unfortunately, many hotels still provide the Internet to their rooms only through wired connections. The ZyXEL travel router plugs into that wired hotel Internet connection and provides a secure Wireless N and G connection for your wireless devices.

SteriPEN Traveler ($49.95) – According to the US Centers for Disease Control, “Each year between 20 percent-50 percent of international travelers, an estimated 10 million persons, develop diarrhea.” The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes 80 percent of all travel diseases to contaminated drinking water and food. Careful choices about what you eat can help you steer clear of problems, as can using only bottled water, but sometimes bottled water isn’t available while traveling. The small, lightweight, battery powered, SteriPen Travel can sterilize a 16 oz glass of water in less than a minute.

RFID Shield for Passport ($19.99) – US passports, and those from numerous other countries, have RFID chips containing personal biographical data and the holder’s image. It’s possible for this information on the RFID chip to be read, even from a distance. While traveling, I store my passport in an RFID Shield passport sleeve, to prevent my passport from being randomly read, protecting my identity.

Travel Stub Diary ($14.95) – We all collect travel memorabilia, “keepsakes,” from ticket stubs and business cards to photos, postcards, brochures and maps, which help us remember our travels, and tell our travel stories. With Travel Stub Diary, and its protective sleeves, travelers can organize their mementos, and keep their travel notes, while on the go. The Diary, (6.5” x 9.75” x 1.5”) has acid-free pages to keep memories safe for years.

Magellan’s Travel Toilet Tissue 4 Pack ($7.50) – Okay, I admit it. Toilet paper may not be a great holiday gift at first glance, but the next time your favorite traveler enters an airplane lavatory at the end of an extended flight, with no toilet paper left, or a public lavatory without supplies, they’ll give a huge thanks for your thoughtfulness. Not just that. I’ll bet everyone has a good laugh when they open up the gift wrap covering this present. I never travel without a couple of these 21-foot compact rolls of soft, two-ply, biodegradable tissue.

Mophie juice pack powerstation duo ($99.95) – Electronic tablets have become ubiquitous in the hands of travelers on long flights and train trips, providing communication and entertainment. All too often, they run out of “juice” before travelers reach their destinations and a wall outlet for recharging. There are many portable battery packs capable of charging smartphones on the fly, but most lack the charging power necessary to charge many tablets. The Mophie juice pack powerstation duo, with its 2.1 amps charging output, and 6000 mAh battery, can even charge the iPad. It’s also compatible with just about any micro USB device. The Mophie can charge typical smartphones several times on a single charge, and can put about a 40 percent charge into the latest iPad’s 11,560 mAh battery.

Note: Ned Levi received no discounted or promotional price for any of the above items which he purchased, nor did he keep any items after testing without purchasing them.


  • Anonymous

    You forgot the Universal Plug Adapter.
    Question on Steripen. Do you need this if you drink bottled water?
    Travel size Charmin TP is available in Walmart (travel aisle, cosmetics).

  • Anonymous

    I would give a large package of Kleenex travel packs instead of the Magellan Travel Tissue. I took the Kleenex travel packs with us for our month long trip and found them easy to put in a pocket for both men and women plus they were easy to use as subsitute napkins for picnic meals, using on a dirty door knob to open, substitute towel when none were available in a restroom. I would also give sanitary hand wipes along with the Kleenex paks. I found the 15 count resealable package easy to store on the side of my backpack or in my special travel purse. Along with cleaning your hands, these are great to use to wipe down plane and train tray tables. I also bring the individual packets and keep one or two in our pocket with the Kleenex pak.

    I rarely come home with dirty clothes any more. We wash our clothes daily. A good gift to give are the plastic clothespin hooks. With most hotel having a blow dryer, geting clean, dry clothes daily is easy!

  • Anonymous

    There are many great gift possibilities for travelers available at great of little cost, but in any publication, journalists have a limited space to speak their mind, or report the news.

    As to the Steripen, you generally don’t need to sterilize bottled water in most locations, but it’s according to the water source, and if you feel you can trust it.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • Anonymous

    Ned, I just wanted to “share my frustration”. On some occasions OVERSEAS, I could not charge my phone, laptop, or camera batteries because I did not have an adapter. Made me mad at myself :-)

  • Anonymous

    All great suggestions B, but the Kleenex product you prefer, and I’m sure is a preferred product by many others, is not my preference for a travel toilet tissue. I also bring hand sanitizer packs when I travel.

    Your idea of plastic clothespin hooks is great. Another idea is a flexible clothes line which needs no clothespins at all. That’s what I use while traveling. My wife and I bring one each.

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  • TexasTravler

    Ned, after reading one of your earlier recommendations, I picked up the ZyXEL router last summer. It quickly has become one of my favorite, must-have travel gadgets. Many thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I looked at the product from Magellan and couldn’t see how you would carry it without a bag and I often don’t find places to put a bag that is clean when in a public restroom.

    I like that clothes line, too, but an added benefit to also having the plastic hooks is that they can put used discretely on the back of patio chairs. I find them invaluable and never travel without them.