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Top-Rated Gifts for the Avid Traveler

This is part of the L.A. Times 2022 Gift Guide. See the full guide here. If you make a purchase using some of our links, the L.A. Times may be compensated.

Whether or not you are a travel obsessive, you know what one sounds like.

This is someone who’ll eagerly tell you which mileage-reward program to choose, when renovations will be done at LAX, where to sleep in San Diego, what pillow is best for a 14-hour flight, and how resort fees are the devil’s own invention.

Of course these friends would be delighted by gifts that play to these interests, but if you don’t speak the language, buying can be tricky. Whether you’re a nomad or not, here’s some help.

Trtl travel pillow

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Unlike U-shaped pillows, this one looks like a scarf or bandanna and relies on internal support (an adjustable plastic brace and Velcro strip) to keep your head supported while you nap. You will need to decide between leaning right or left. It’s thinner and lighter (5.2 ounces) than most travel pillows, and, simply put, it doesn’t look so dorky. Once aboard, “loop, wrap & nap” (Trtl’s slogan). Droolers, don’t fret — it’s machine washable.

$49.99 at Trtl

Zendure SuperMini portable charger

Zendure Super Mini portable battery charger

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

This device, the Zendure SuperMini, is a 20-watt, 10,000-mAh portable charger with USB-A and USB-C ports. (It comes with a USB-C-USB-C connector cord.) This critter, which fully charges in three hours, can charge two devices at once or replenish itself via USB-C (which is faster than USB-A) while charging another device via USB-A. (If you need a USB-C wall charger, that’s a separate purchase of $20 or so.) At 3.1 by 2.2 by 1 inch with curved corners, the SuperMini fits pleasantly in the palm of your hand. It comes in zippy bold colors, too, including blue, silver, black, purple, minty green and pink.

$59.99 at Zendure

Nidra Deep Rest eye mask

Nidra Deep Rest eye mask

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

This mask wears lightly yet blocks all light, thanks to the deeply molded eye-cup design that gives you room to blink. (Pay no attention to those loved ones who say you look like you’re wearing a bra on your head. They just envy the shut-eye you’re about to get.) An adjustable Velcro strap ensures the right fit. Be sure it rides low on your nose to keep light out.

$21.95 at Nidra

Grip All-in-1 wireless charger

Phone holder and charger by GRIP

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Unless you want to get your directions from the half-asleep friend or family member riding shotgun in your car, this is a crucial road-trip device. The charger (15 watts) mounts on your dashboard — or, if you prefer, your windshield or old CD player (see, that thing is still useful!). Instead of a cord connection, it has a pair of automatic arms that open and close to hold your phone snugly in place, allowing you to safely glance at directions while charging. Compatible with most Qi-enabled (wireless) devices. Fits phones up to 3.5 inches wide and 8 inches tall.

$25 at Grip

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Noise-cancelling earbuds

It’s eerie how well these work (and that was an unintentional aural pun). The process for linking to your smartphone is several steps but simple. The selection of earbud fittings (small, medium, large) gives you a comfortable fit, and somehow the sound is tailored to the shape of your ear. Also these earbuds are smaller and lighter than previous versions. In a room or yard with rival sounds, the magic of these things becomes clear: They do seem to screen out of the rest of the world — not perfectly but substantially. Whether my earbuds were delivering Beethoven or Chicha Libre, the voices from television — and my wife — were barely discernible. (It’s good that there’s a quiet mode and an “aware” mode.) And the way they recharge in their little box is cool too.

$299 at Bose

Airtag by Apple

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

AirTags make sense if you use an iPhone and worry about losing things. Attach one of these tags to your checked baggage, backpack, keys or car, and you’re less likely to misplace them. It’s two easy steps to link one to your iPhone. From a distance, the tags use Bluetooth technology and Apple’s Find My app to show location and, if you like, to make a noise. (But the noise is pretty quiet.) Once you’re close to your item, if you have an iPhone 11 or a more recent model, Apple’s Precision Finding is designed to guide you at closer quarters. (Even if your loved one is using an older phone, in my experience, the Find My app gets you within 20 to 30 feet of your target.) AirTags are 1.26 inches in diameter and weigh 11 grams (less than half an ounce). The battery is designed to last at least a year, and your iPhone will tell you when the power is low.

$29 for one and $99 for four at Apple

GoPro Hero11 Black

GoPro Hero 11 Camera

Released in September, this latest GoPro camera shoots 5.3K video, grabs 27 megapixel photos, works 33 feet underwater, has image stabilization and can shoot 60 frames per second — under some circumstances, 240 frames. Unlike early GoPros, it’s designed to operate in tandem with your smartphone, so you can post footage right away. It handles contrasty light well, and the lens coating repels droplets when shooting in and near water. It loads content to your phone wirelessly or through a USB-C cable. I wish GoPro weren’t so determined to force us into buying subscriptions for ongoing services, but that’s the way of the world now. Buying for a video auteur? You might want to lay out another $190 to $290 for the Hero11 Black Creator Edition, which comes with extras including battery hand grip, directional microphone and lighting.

$549.98 (or $399.98 if you agree to a year’s subscription) at GoPro

Riemot Luggage travel cup holder

Riemot travel cupholder

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

This device — handy for anyone who travels with kids or requires a steady caffeine drip — slides over the retractable handle of your rolling luggage. That way you have a secure spot to store one or two drinks. A third pocket can hold your phone or passport.

$29.99 at Riemot

HydraPak Stash 1 L compressible water bottle

Hydrapak Stash, a 1-liter collapsible water bottle

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

This plastic vessel collapses to one-fourth of its filled size when empty — a great advantage if your packing situation is tight. The bottle, which holds 32 ounces, is free of BPA and PVC — and using it means fewer throw-away plastic bottles in the world.

$26 at HydraPak

The Nori Press wrinkle remover

Wrinkle remover for travelers by Nori

Sometimes you want to look smart on the road — sharp creases and wrinkle-free. Enter the Nori Press, a travel iron that looks like a set of jumbo salad tongs. I was skeptical, but with it, you can spot-press and remove wrinkles by steaming, without needing an ironing board. (You will still need a flat surface, though.)

$120 at Nori

Rick Steves’ Europe gift card

A gift card for Rick Steves' Europe

Travel expert Rick Steves, who has spent more than 50 summers on that continent, offers guidebooks to dozens of European countries, along with maps and accessories (money belts, electrical converters and more). If you’ve got a loved one putting together a trip, one of these gift cards may help them decide some details.

Note: Steves sells tours and rail passes, too, but you can’t use these cards toward those.

$10 to $500 at Rick Steves’ Europe

Petzl Tikka headlamp

Petzl Tikka headlamp

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Yes, just about everyone’s phone has a flashlight. But what if your loved ones need both hands free and some light on the subject? That can happen on the road. So can power outages. This headlamp (350 lumens), marketed to campers, is part of the kit I take everywhere I travel. Beach at night, an inviting cave, a sketchy outhouse — I’m ready. It takes three AAA batteries (or a rechargeable battery, not included), has three brightness settings and, of course, the headband is adjustable.

$34.95 at Petzl

Columbia Bora Bora II Booney hat

A safari hat by Columbia

Officially, this is a Columbia Bora Bora II Booney hat. Unofficially, it’s my shadiest friend. This hat might be the most versatile thing in my standard packing array. I throw it in my daypack (it packs flat) and know that if the sun beats down, I will have relief. And if the wind kicks up, the chin strap keeps it from going anywhere.

$30 at Columbia

Tushy Travel portable bidet

Tushy Travel portable bidet

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

“Portable bidet” sounds more elegant than “plastic container you squeeze to spritz your bottom,” doesn’t it? That’s what this is. For your loved ones who are very serious about hygiene, this super-light contraption is collapsible and comes with a carrying bag and carabiner for your backpack.

$34 at Tushy

Briggs & Riley ZDX Domestic Carry-on Expandable Spinner

Briggs & Riley suitcase

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Zipped up tight, this soft-sided suitcase has four wheels for gliding through airports, a clever system for compressing your clothes and a guarantee for life — not a common offer. It’s pricey, but if you’re buying a young adult their first serious suitcase, this might be the only carry-on they‘ll need for the next 20 years.

$499 at Briggs & Riley. Also available at H. Savinar Luggage Co., which has locations in West L.A. and Canoga Park.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Quick Trip toiletry bag

Eagle Creek tolietry bag

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

This lightweight kit is thoughtfully designed: There are two interior compartments (good for keeping your toothbrush away from your hair gel) and a mesh pocket for those tiny extras like a couple Band-Aids and a packet of Advil. Made of recycled fabric, it’s also washable and water-resistant.

$20 at Eagle Creek

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