The Best Travel Gifts We Received (or Gave) This Holiday Season – Condé Nast Traveler

Between Black Friday sales and holiday prep, November and December passed by in something of an online shopping flurry. But before that, birthdays, travel prep, various gift-centric holidays (looking at you, Valentine’s Day), and “just because” gifts had us shopping all year long. I asked Traveler editors to wrack their brains for the best gift they gave or received in 2019, with the one rule that it had to be somehow travel-related. Some were practical, like the travel shoe bags I scored at Christmas, while others were thoughtful, luxurious, or just plain fun. Senior lifestyle editor Lale Arikoglu received a cookbook from Dishoom, her favorite Indian restaurant in her hometown of London, so she can recreate the dishes here in New York. Read on for the team’s favorite travel gifts of 2019…hopefully, they’ll come in handy the next time you’re on the hunt for a great present.

All products featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Arlo Skye suitcase

“As an editor at Traveler, you’d think I would have splurged on a fabulous suitcase a long time ago. But honestly, I’ve spent a lifetime hauling around affordable, brandless, completely unspecial suitcases (my rationale: they get the job done, so why spend more?). Of course that all changed last month when I was given an Arlo Skye carry-on as a gift. I took it on my recent trip to Hawaii and, suffice to say, I get it now. I can’t imagine going back to the wobbly wheels, dirt-attracting canvas (at least, as I imagine it), and charger-free bags I used to haul around. Now, my clothes are sorted into sleek compartments, and the bag itself just looks good. For an avid—or stubborn—traveler, it’s the perfect go-in-as-a-group gift.”—Megan Spurrell, community editor

Buy Now: $375, arloskye.com

Dishoom cookbook

“Whenever I’m back home in London, I insist on dragging my family to Dishoom so that I can get my fix of the much-loved Indian restaurant’s Mumbai-inspired cooking. So you can imagine my dismay over the holidays when I was told it would be a two-and-a-half hour wait to have lunch there. I needn’t have worried: My dad—ever indulgent to my whims—had placed a wrapped copy of the Dishoom cookbook under the Christmas tree, ensuring that I can now eat the restaurant’s famous black daal, gunpowder potatoes, and fried okra whenever I want to in New York. No guarantees that my attempts will be half as good as the real deal, but all are welcome to swing by my tiny Brooklyn apartment to sample my lamb biryani in 2020.”—Lale Arikoglu, senior lifestyle editor

Buy Now: $30, amazon.com

Lunya travel set

“Without a doubt, the best travel gift I received last year was the Lunya travel set. My sister turned me onto it; it’s a complete, five-piece set of super-soft, comfortable items that make for the perfect outfit on a long-haul flight. I generally layer the pants and tank with a sweater or jacket for boarding, then add the pullover and socks for sleeping. In the morning, when I land, switching out pullovers and slipping on different shoes gives me a whole new outfit. It takes the work out of coordinating a plane outfit—while guaranteeing your comfort. Genius! ”—Corina Quinn, director, city guides

Buy Now: $298, lunya.com

Peak Design Dopp kit

“This sturdy, Mary Poppins-like Peak Design Dopp kit was kindly gifted to Traveler staffers by our director of operations Paulie Dibner, and I’m already obsessed. It’s not overwhelmingly big when closed up, but inside there are tons of mesh pockets and useful pouches, like the magnetic toothbrush pocket and outside razor compartment. Plus, it has one of those hooks that swivels out to hang on the back of a bathroom door or towel holder.”—Madison Flager, commerce editor

Buy Now: $60, peakdesign.com

Stojo travel cup

“I never realized I needed a collapsible cup until I got the Stojo travel cup. I’ve been using it daily to bring my homemade cold brew to work, but I’m looking forward to bringing it with me to the airport on early morning flights (and drinking my coffee in the cab, of course). And once I’m through security, I can fill it with water for the flight and then snap it closed when I’m done. I love how easy it is to clean, and it’s good at maintaining the temperature of drinks, hot or cold. It comes with a reusable straw, but I’ve been leaving mine at home, since it makes the cup (a little) less travel-friendly.”—Stephanie Wu, articles director

Buy Now: $20, amazon.com

Cuyana Belt Bag

“At the airport, I’m one of the people holding up the TSA line because I’m fumbling with my phone (which has my electronic boarding pass) and my passport. Somehow they always end up at the bottom of my carry-all tote that I use as a personal item on planes. That’s why I was ecstatic when I got this Cuyana belt bag for Christmas. It’s a hands-free way to keep all your travel documents easily accessible without sacrificing style. The circle design is so unique, and it can also be slung over a shoulder to be worn as a regular purse. A new travel staple for me!” —Jessica Puckett, transportation editor

Buy Now: $140, cuyana.com

Traveling shoe bags

“Oftentimes, the best gifts are things you don’t really need, and therefore are hesitant to buy yourself, but most definitely want. Such was the case with these thin, lightweight shoe bags my dad gifted me at Christmas—they protect the rest of my clothes and personal items from the (several) pairs of shoes I stuff into my carry-on. And since there’s no hard shell or thick lining, they don’t take up much more room in my bag, and are easy to roll up and store when I’m home. Buy them in black or grey, as shown, or a brighter color like pink or red.”—M.F.

Buy Now: $12, macys.com

Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Coat

“I have a hard time traveling in the winter. I never like to pack more than a carry-on so I rarely have room to fit my winter coat in my bag, but I hate carting around a bulky jacket through the airport. When I do manage to juggle a coat, carry-on, purse, and some Hudson News snacks, I spend my boarding time praying there will be enough room in the overhead bin for me to shove my coat on top of my seatmates’ luggage. But this Christmas, I got a gift that will solve all of that coat-on-the-go irritation: an Ultra Light Down coat from Uniqlo. The knee-length puffer has served me well in New York City’s below-30-degree temperatures, is water-resistant, and has a detachable hood. Best of all? It squishes down into its own pouch to about the size of a football. It’s already proven itself to be multi-purpose: on a trip from Los Angeles back to New York, I stuffed it in its pouch around a small Heath Ceramics bud vase I wanted to keep safe in-flight. The vase arrived unscathed. The coat really feels like a game changer: now I can overpack with a full winter coat for peace of mind, without sacrificing too much space. That’s a warm win-win.”—Meredith Carey, associate digital editor

Buy Now: $100, uniqlo.com

EPicka universal travel adapter

“It’s a cruel irony that I received the gift I needed most on my holiday vacation as soon as I landed back from it. Whenever I fly to London, I pack pretty casually, assuming that as I’m returning to the house I grew up in, there’ll be a back-up version of anything I forgot. Unfortunately, I never remember that for all its majesty, one thing England doesn’t have is American plug sockets. I spent most of my vacation juice-less, willing my laptop and iPhone to hold on to that final red bar of battery until I could borrow back my siblings’ charger. I received the EPicka Travel Adapter as a New Year’s Gift when I was back in the office, and beyond being a sleek joy to hold, it does everything the tech-friendly modern traveler needs. There are four (four!) USB sockets, a USB-C socket, as well as the standard place to insert an American plug. The plug works worldwide, and even works both ways: so if you buy some tech in Europe or Australia, you can still use it back home in the states. And all for $20.”—Louis Cheslaw, editorial coordinator

Buy Now: $22, amazon.com

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