Welcome to Day 6 of our weeklong gift guide extravaganza! Every day this week, we’re publishing a new post of travel-related gift ideas for the special people in your life. Today we’re showing you some gift ideas for the paranoid and/or travelphobic.
If you’re wondering what I mean by “paranoid or travelphobic,” I’m talking about those people who either A) freak out over every little thing when they travel or B) refuse to travel because traveling is scary and there are so many problems that they’d rather avoid, so they just stay home.
I’m sure you know people like that. People who say things like:
“Getting through airport security is impossible! It’s not worth the trouble.”
Or “I can’t handle trying to find my way in a city I’m not familiar with!”
Or “If I scrape my knee in a foreign country I’ll get some weird alien infection and die!”
(Okay that last one might have been an exaggeration.)
Your mission, travel lovers of the world, is to enable your paranoid loved ones to travel more. This holiday season, I want you to use your present to them as a passive-aggressive weapon against lame excuses to avoid traveling. (I give the best life advice.)
1. Maps and guide books.
I’m not going to get into the travel blogger wars of guide books vs. websites. I am going to say, though, that your average paranoid/travelphobic person will be more enabled with a physical guidebook they can hold, flip through, and carry around; the chances that they’ll willingly spend a few hours clicking through Wikitravel are pretty slim.
And for your paranoid loved ones who are afraid of getting lost wherever they go, get them some fuss-proof, waterproof, crumple-able city maps. Boom, done!
2. Travel first-aid kit.
The holidays are not the time to attempt to convince your beloved travelphobe that Band-aids exist in other countries and that other healthcare systems will still take care of you. Best to just give them peace of mind with a kit to cover their bases. For the mildly paranoid, a small first aid kit with the basics will put them at ease. For your super-imaginative paranoid friends, go big and get them the World Travel Adventure Medical Kit, which comes with the usual (bandages, medicine, whatnot) but also has a medical guide and a “visual communication tool” for communicating to doctors in other languages.
3. Dedicated liquids bag and containers.
Yes, this is a repeat from our gift guide for your parents. For some people, the TSA 3-1-1 liquids restriction is too complicated and scary to handle. Get your favorite travelphobe a dedicated quart-sized bag and some travel-sized bottles and jars for all their gel and liquid products. You may have to explain the 3-1-1 rule to them a few times.
4. Easily identifiable luggage tags.
This is actually something I worry about—whenever I have to check my luggage, or stow my carry-on away in the overhead compartment, I worry that some absent-minded traveler will mistake my suitcase for theirs and take my stuff. Going the other way, I also worry that I myself will have an attack of absent-mindedness and take someone else’s suitcase. This fear became very real for me when, for one trip, I bought a bright red polka-dotted suitcase solely for the purpose of being able to easily identify it and then found myself at the gate sitting across from someone with the exact same bright red polka-dotted suitcase. It was the stuff of recurring nightmares.
My modus operandi to fix this particular problem is always to make my luggage as obnoxious as possible. I’ve tied giant bright-colored bows onto suitcases and hung large keychains from them, but sometimes they come back from the netherworld of baggage handling with bows and keychains gone. One thing that never disappears though, is the luggage tags. So if you or your loved ones worry about luggage mix-ups, get brightly colored, easily identifiable luggage tags. If you are seriously afraid of lost luggage, get a GPS-enabled luggage tracker.
5. Movies set in foreign countries.
You can ply your loved ones with all the guidebooks and travel accessories in the world, but sometimes it’s all for naught if they haven’t gotten the travel bug. So be sneaky and give them some innocuous-looking DVDs that’ll give them the urge to see the world for themselves. For example, just a few minutes into “To Rome With Love,” I got a serious urge to drop everything and see Rome. Similar travel-bug-giving movies are “Stone of Destiny” (Scotland), “Midnight in Paris” (Paris, obviously), and “Roman Holiday” (Rome again).
The sky’s the limit when it comes to movies—you can get your wanderlust via musicals (Salzburg in “The Sound of Music” or Greece in “Mamma Mia“) or action movies (Dubai, India, and Russia in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” or Shanghai, Turkey, Macau, and Scotland in “Skyfall“).
Got any other travel-related gift ideas for your germ-fearing friends? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s gift guide!
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