Great Gift Ideas for a Road Warrior
April 26, 2011 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Gift ideas for a friend who is on the road constantly?

My good friend is a campaign organizer with 15 mid-western states in her region AND she just got engaged to a fella in Holland, so she's on the road and traveling all the time.

I'm looking for gift ideas to let her know how much I appreciate her friendship, not specifically an engagement gift. Cheap is fine but I'm ok ponying-up for something really cool.
posted by willie11 to Shopping (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How much ponying up are we talking about? Because my first thought was iPad. Or a Kindle.
posted by hansbrough at 9:11 AM on April 26, 2011

Solar panel + mount for an automobile. How cool would that be?
posted by JesseBikman at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2011

I'm a practical lass, and I love coffee. So my first thought was a bunch of those Starbucks Via instant coffee stick packs.

It's incredibly difficult to get decent coffee when you're on the road. The coffee maker in your hotel room inevitably makes TERRIBLE coffee - when you even get one. A lot of hotels are pulling the coffee makers from their rooms, because people cook meth in them.

The Via stuff is really very good for what it is. I never travel without having a few tucked in my bag just in case I come up short.
posted by ErikaB at 9:20 AM on April 26, 2011

Has she read On the Road?
posted by ghostbikes at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2011

Like ErikaB I am also a practical lass. If she doesn't already have a great cosmetic bag (this can be used for so much more than cosmetics!) it is a godsend. The key is to get one that rolls up and has clear panels so you can see what is in them without having to unzip everything.

They sell them a ton of places; here is a sample so you know what I am talking about.

The hook or loop at the top is also great so you can hang it up in the bathroom.

It sounds so silly but having a bag like this makes my travel life way better.
posted by amicamentis at 9:32 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

I do a ridiculous amount of travel for work, and would second (third? fourth) most of the ideas already presented.

I'd actually suggest caution with the Kindle/iPad route though, as those kinds of gadgets tend to impose a certain learning curve if she's not already used to techno-jiggery being part of her travel routine. A lot of the stuff that I really treasure revolves around taking creature comforts with me in a way that doesn't dramatically increase my travel burden.

If your friend reallllly loves espresso, stuff like this or this can be nice -- they're little portable single-shot compressors that either let you hand-pump or use a C02 cartridge to spit out a nice espresso. The starbucks Via packets, while I'm usually a coffee snob, are also pretty good quality and almost ALWAYS outclass the stuff that's left in one's hotel room.

A nice pair of small but quality noise-canceling headphones can make life worth living on long flights, and if she is of the gadgety persuasion, I found things like very short USB charging cables and small travel power strips to be awesome.
posted by verb at 9:58 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I got this awesome power inverter as a gift and I love it. My mom even asked to borrow it for a road trip this weekend.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:02 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm trying to keep the gift below $150.00

I see my friend only once a year these days so I have no idea what she has or does not have. I should mention that she's been doing this for years and probably has a lot of the basics for living life on the road. THANKS!
posted by willie11 at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2011

Maybe dvds? Does she like the Simpsons, or Monk, something like that? Having something fun to watch, especially something you already know you like, and veg out on after a long, tiring day is stellar.
posted by clockzero at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2011

How's her Dutch? Commuting is a perfect time to learn a foreign language. MeFi is partial to Michel Thomas - the Dutch beginner course is very affordable.
posted by Dragonness at 10:26 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Has she read On the Road?

Travels with Charley, by Steinbeck is also excellent.
posted by electroboy at 10:34 AM on April 26, 2011

I would want a bunch of cool stuff to listen too - so in that vein, an itunes or amazon gift card, download a bunch of backlogged npr podcasts, an mp3 player (Cowon makes really nice ones and they have FM tuners built in which can be interesting in strange places). I would also really like a million little travel sized bottles of various goos that I need to fly with (contact solution, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste) and a pair or two of those cheap flip flops. I'd probably make some sort of gift basket with that stuff in it.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:45 AM on April 26, 2011

A solar charger for their mobile phone.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:37 AM on April 26, 2011

One of the best presents I was given at a time when I was travelling was a sarong-sized silk scarf. It weighs nothing, packs up to a tiny size, is a warm scarf in winter (in different colours depending on how it's folded) and has been used to cover windows and unwanted mirrors, worn as a sarong, and generally brighten anonymously dull places.
posted by Lebannen at 12:56 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

What about a gift card to her favorite road stop?
posted by radioamy at 1:08 PM on April 26, 2011

A Dreamsack. A silk sleeping bag that scrunches up into a stuffsack about the size of a beer can. GREAT for anywhere you have any doubts about the quality, cleanliness, etc, of the sheets - or even if you don't, because it's always a little luxury sleeping on silk sheets.

I was given one a few years ago. Since then I've taken it everywhere I've travelled, and used it every time.

Looks like they have a couples version if you want to get her one for her and her gentleman friend.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 1:27 PM on April 26, 2011

Cashmere travel wrap or pashmina. I have something similar (not cashmere, unfortunately), which I carry with me on all long-haul flights.

A good multi-plug adapter, such as the ones by Swiss Travel Products (I work in an industry where people travel often and we still have people wandering around the office on departure day looking for the 'right' adapter). This will be helpful on her international travels.

In the consumables area, an Aesop Jetset kit - I love their stuff, but it is a bit expensive for me to buy for myself.

Phone or other electronic device back-up battery. Sometimes you can find somewhere to plug in at the airport, sometimes you can't, and it sucks when you are out of juice. No idea which ones are any good, but I mean something like this Richard Solo one for the iPhone.

Magazine subscriptions - sounds weird for a traveller, but it means when you get home, there's something to read, or you have something to take with you.
posted by AnnaRat at 2:41 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you end up going with something coffee-related (like ErikaB suggests) this AeroPress coffee maker is absolutely perfect: light-weight, small, practically indestructable, and it makes an amazing cup of coffee in about 15 seconds (or more than one cup, if that's desired). It was created by the MIT folks who made the Aerobie (a better frisbee).
posted by PersonAndSalt at 3:57 PM on April 26, 2011

In do quite a bit of traveling for work, and I've had this Tumi Garment Bag for the last two years, and it is absolutely my favorite travel accessory I've ever owned. It's the proper size for carry on on every airline, you put your clothes in on hangers so they aren't wrinkled when you get there, there's a spot for your dirty clothes, and it has a barcode/tracking system to help it get back to you if it's lost. I've really, really beat it up and it s still in perfect shape. This would be a really amazing gift for a friend that is always on the road. There's nothing like arriving at your destination with wrinkle free clothes!
posted by EvilPRGuy at 5:13 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

My very favorite travel item is a silk bathrobe. Packs small and is super nice for lounging around in hotel rooms.

HOWEVER. Since you say that she has been doing this forever, I want to inject a note of caution about giving her something to pack and take with her places. It's highly probably that she's got packing down to a science and doesn't have room/want to add anything to her suitcase. If you feel like that might be the case, I think Dutch learning resources would be really thoughtful.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:13 PM on April 26, 2011

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