It's that time of year again. The "most wonderful" time of the year when you scramble to purchase things someone most likely doesn't need or want, while they graciously gush over how much they love the item when most often than not, they don't have a use for it. Aren't many of us striving to get rid of our things to live a more simpler life? The fact is, a gift is thoughtful and nice but if it's not useful, it's wasteful. Spending money for that person not to use it, as well as the production that went into making that item is wasteful. Anyway, you know what I mean.
Since everyone seems to love a list, I decided to put together a list of all the things I use on the road that I love, as well as a charity I believe in. In case you were wondering, I did not receive one cent of compensation from any of these companies that make the products I list and link to. They are products I love and use that I thought you might like as well. Feel free to share what you love the most. Without further ado, here are some gift ideas for a special traveler in your life:
1.) National Park Pass - Be a VIP to all of our National Parks and show your card at the gate to get a smile and a wave into the park. If they don't like or use it, know that you are giving money to keep our national parks alive. Plus, 2016 is the parks 100 year anniversary. There's a reason to celebrate with a hike.
2.) Collapsible Java Drip from GSI - I use this every day. In fact, when I misplaced it one time in Campy one morning, I started to panic a bit. That statement might give you a glimpse into my coffee addiction, I mean appreciation. Never wanting it to leave my side, I took it to New Zealand with me and it was the only thing left behind after I was robbed. Miracles DO happen.
3.) A Camera without a Phone - Yes, they still make cameras that you can't text from. I shoot with a canon so I would recommend any canon point and shoot camera. Also, I use a go pro 4 silver and a fuji film Instax mini for fun instant images. It's a gift to get someone outside or engaged with people. Take Photographs. Print them.
4.) Patagonia Down Sweater Vest - I'm not going to lie. I wear this almost everyday on the road. Well, until it gets about 80 degrees, then I will take it off. It's more or less my uniform/blankie wherever I go. I store all my essentials in the pockets so I don't worry about poop bags (for Max), lip balm, keys or hair ties. I also love the fact that it's a down vest that tracks the down so it's cruelty free.
5.) Lip Balm - Yes, it's ALWAYS in my pocket. Everyone on your list has lips.
6.) Donation to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary - Adopting Max has changed my life for the better. If you donate today, they will match your contribution. There are so many pets needing homes so if you are unable to adopt one right now, consider helping this wonderful organization.
7.) Beanie Hat - Along with my vest, I wear a beanie hat most of the time. Except in the summer since I am too old to be a hipster. My favorite brands are TurtleFur and SmartWool
8.) Max loves his Fleece Jacket from Ruffwear - He is not a fan of me putting it on but when it's on, he's much less of a statue in this coat compared to any other jacket. Some dog owners might understand this. When I put clothes on Max, he freezes and doesn't move. This jacket is one of the few that fits him perfect and keeps him warm...and moving.
9.) A good Headlamp - Great for reading at night but mostly to see if I can see any reflected eyes in the bushes when I go out to pee at night. It may or may not be a comfort to you that you're not all alone in the forest when you see several sets of eyes looking in your direction.
10.) Coin Purse - It's not what you think. I am not a purse girl. In fact, I wear a cross body bag from Freitag that I scored on ebay, everyday. I leave my "I love money" coin purse full of quarters in campy when I might have the chance to go on a spa treatment. When I say spa treatment, I mean putting coins in a slot for three minutes of hot shower bliss. I tell you what, hot showers are the best thing a quarter can buy when you're on the road.
11.) Gas Money - This, by far is my biggest expense on the road. Why not give your wanderlust friend an extra push to embark on that road trip they won't stop talking about doing.
12.) Inspiration - The book "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed - I laughed, I cried, I identified.
13.) Fire - How are you going to make coffee without some sort of heat? I have a stove in the van but I always carry a back up. I have a MSR pocket rocket fuel system, but a friend of mine used Jetboil when we camped together and I was impressed. It's rare that I will make a campfire, but if I do, fire starters and a "marshmallow holder" is key. I love my rolla roaster.
14.) Sunscreen - I prefer the pocket spray kind. I often spray on my driver side arm while I drive since it's in the sun 90 percent of the time. It helps to prevent the question I'm often asked, "Why does your left arm look so tan and old compared to your right?" (p.s. That's not really a question I get from people, just from my head)
15.) ENO Twilight Light String - Sometimes I don't want to have a bright light or light a candle, so this fits the in-between. It also helps locate your car/van/tent when you venture in the dark and forget where you are. It happens to the best of us.
16.) Wool Blanket - For the longest time I was searching for a winter sleeping bag that wasn't shaped like a mummy. My dream sleeping bag would be in the shape of how I sleep. More like a chalk outline of a dead body from a murder scene. Since I haven't found that perfect bag, putting a wool blanket on top of the sleeping bag holds in the warmth to keep Max and I toasty all night. We love the national park blankets, but our go to blanket is the Pendleton Camp blanket.
17.) A Journal - It may take some discipline to start writing but once you start and keep at it, it will be the best thing to do for yourself. The only thing I regret is that I didn't do it sooner. It's always nice to look back and remember where you were and how you were feeling. You know, because we get old and forget.
18. Bear Spray - You won't need it until you need it. If anything, it will give you courage to take a hike in bear country. Giving this as a gift is always welcome since most people won't buy it for themselves since it's on the pricy side. IT'S WORTH IT.
19.) Time - I know it's not something you can buy but it's something everyone can give to a loved one. Don't underestimate the value of spending time with someone. Most people forget gifts but they remember who they spent their time with and how they felt.
There you have it. My favorite things.
I wish each of you a peaceful holiday season.
Love, Alison and Max