Brian and I haven’t been home for the holidays since 2008. The past three years we spent Christmas in Germany, Vietnam and Mexico, respectively. Before that we stayed in Portland, far from family in Ohio, to avoid the expense of traveling over the holidays. It’s been way too long.
But this year is different. Not only will we be with family but we’ve got a house to decorate and a new daughter to start new traditions with. Brian has hung the lights outside. We’ve erected a tree in our family room. I’ve got plans for cookie baking and gift-wrapping and mulled wine brewing. We’ve been scouring consignment shops since October, stocking up on Christmas decorations so that we can deck the halls. It’s these traditions, the measure of a year in holidays and seasons, that I missed while traveling.
So in the spirit of the holidays I just couldn’t stop myself from putting together a little gift guide. Believe me, I’m the first to shake my head at overconsumption and Black Friday madness. Yet, I still love the tradition of giving gifts and I especially enjoy finding and giving the perfect gift.
So, here’s a small sampling of cool products I’ve come across recently. You’ll see they’re tailored to my own tastes: travel, creativity and the outdoors. (And no, no one has paid for or asked me to include their products here, this is just stuff I love. There are, however, a few Amazon affiliate links below. If you buy a product through the link I will make a very small commission at no extra cost to you- thanks for your support!)
I’m a day planner junkie. Buying a new planner is one of my favorite year-end traditions. I’m also a fanatic New Year goal-setter and year-round daydreamer. The Passion Planner is an all-in-one weekly planner, journal and goal setting guide so I can organize, daydream and goal-set all in one spot. My Passion Planner will be arriving in the mail shortly and I can’t wait.
It’s no secret that Brian and I are in love with the U.S. National Parks. One of these days we’ll be buying a campervan and setting out to see every one of them. But in the meantime we keep our wanderlust stoked by displaying this National Parks map by Hike and Draw in our family room. The company, run by two outdoors lovers and artists, also makes park specific maps and trail-specific maps like this Appalachian Trail print. I love them all.
Speaking of maps, Brian and I were gifted this scratch off world map and we now have it framed and hanging over our bed. I love that I have a place to display our traveling progress and I imagine that someday Juniper will get a kick out of scratching off the countries we visit with her.
Okay, a bit of shameless self-promotion here. Brian and I (mostly Brian) worked tirelessly creating our online e-course Travel School for soon-to-be world travelers or those just dreaming about seeing the world. This self-paced video e-course walks you through everything you need to know about long-term travel like how to choose the best banks and credit cards, how to file taxes abroad, how to choose the best travel route and what you really need to pack (and way, way more stuff than that. Take a look at the website for more information). It’s an affordable way to give the gift of travel to yourself or someone you love.
If there’s anything that I learned while working for Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out More Tour it’s that gearheads will never have enough gear. So if you know a gearhead who’s interested in the latest and greatest in outdoor products, the cairn subscription box makes a great gift. You can gift just a single box or a multi-month subscription and the box will arrive at the recipients door stocked full of outdoor goodies.
It is my personal belief that one can never have too many books. I love all kinds of books but am particularly fond of travel and adventure memoirs. These are a few I’ve enjoyed recently.
Girl in the Woods– Recovering from the trauma of rape the author walks the entire Pacific Crest Trail alone. It’s a story of growing up and gaining confidence set in the beautiful American west.
How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker– This book was written by fellow blogger Lauren Juliff of Never Ending Footsteps. Through a series of serious misadventures, Lauren overcomes anxiety and eating disorder, sees the world and finds love.
Fishing with RayAnne– A novel about a female fishing pro who finds herself as the talk show host of a public television show. This story is a funny, heartfelt account of embracing the crazy people in your life and discovering happiness in unlikely places.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry– Also a novel. A beautiful reflection on what can happen when one sets out on a long walk. I read this about two years ago and it has stuck with me. I still think of it often.
What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim: A Midlife Misadventure on Spain’s Camino de Santiago– A hilarious retelling of one woman’s walk on the Camino de Santiago.