It’s been a hell of a year. I’m sure many, if not all, of your travel plans have been put on hold. We are mourning a lost year of travel too. However, we’ve always supported travel inspiration through sustainable, thoughtful, and innovative businesses that offer great holiday gifts we hope you’ll love too. Now, this season, it’s even more important to shop small, shop smart, and keep the spirit of exploration alive. We’ve paired down our gift guide series this year to focus on what’s important — gifting more mindfully — as we look to the future of travel and prosperity in years to come.
Hoka One One’s Kaha Gore-tex boot takes a different stance (!) than the common hiking boot. For starters, the cushioned sole and base offer the most comfort I’ve ever felt in a hiking boot. Over the last three years I’ve struggled to find boots that I can backpack all day in on my creaky knees, but since finding the Kahas, I have become a believer in Hoka.
I’ve tried more sneaker-like boots but those tend not to hold up too well to rocky and scrambly New England trails. I’ve tried stiff, full-leather traditional hiking boots that would last for years – but those aren’t super comfortable for a long day, the weight penalty was massive, and the sweat in the summer months..ugh. I’ve tried zero-drop shoes that may make your knees feel better – but yet I could feel every stone under my foot like stepping on a lego.
Then I found the Kaha. It’s chunky, but weighs half of some other boots out there. And that chunkiness – it made me feel like I can dance over the rocks of Presidentials. There’s a slight rocking motion to the boot – as if the sole is curved slightly so that when you put your heel down it gently tilts your forward and keeps you moving. These two items combined with a wonderful ankle collar have made those last few miles of a Pemi Loop feel more like the end of a lovely stroll in the woods, rather than the burning, swollen hell it usually feels like. Seriously, I can’t reiterate this enough – these are the most comfortable hiking boots I’ve ever worn.
The features don’t end there though. The upper is real leather, and the gore-tex coating is exceptionally waterproof. I tested these in a two hour downpour with 4-5 inch puddles (Massachusetts in November) and my feet were toasty and dry (even the dog was asking to turn back before I was ready!) The eyes are reinforced with metal, and can accommodate thicker laces as necessary – though the stock laces are more than suitable. I found the traction to be more than adequate on bigger rocks and scree, while offering excellent stickiness on steep downhill sections. I can’t wait to try these out with some traction devices and in the snow!
These days I’m at an age that’s closer to ‘get the route done’ rather than seeing how fast I can do the route – but there is something for everyone in these boots. They’re durable, offer great protection, aren’t too heavy, have good traction – but most of all – are just incredibly comfortable – and that is what makes being outside enjoyable. That’s what these boots do for me – they allow me to enjoy the limited time I get to spend in the outdoors and I think that’s just brilliant.
When traveling in Japan last year, I noticed that many hotels offered little packs of coffee that you used ‘paper handles’ to attach to the outside of your coffee cup, tear off the top of the coffee bag, and pour hot water over directly. They call these pour-over packets – and as mentioned – I had little experience with these but it fits in with camping, backpacking and traveling so well! The only real issue I had with the hotel packets was that the coffee quality wasn’t very good, and the strength of the brew was rather weak. Enter Kuju’s PourOver pack.
So how does it work? You place the packet inside of your mug, and attach the paper wings to the sides of your mug, tear off the top of the packet, and pour hot or boiling water through the paper filter.
I love the ritual of it – sitting around my little stove making a proper cup of coffee – rather than tipping some powder into my mug and stirring relentlessly to get rid of the gritty-ness. It tastes much more like filter coffee would at home, rather than instant coffee – and you don’t need to lug around any other brewing equipment. While each individual packet may weigh more than the equivalent instant brew ones – the taste and quality of coffee is much better.
The Kuju packets come in six varieties, including three single-origin varieties from Ethipia, Papua New Guinea and West Sumatra. While these premium blends are a bit more expensive, they offer a bolder flavor that I quite enjoy. Kuju ethically sources all of their coffee by buying their coffee from farms that support as many local people and livelihoods as possible. On top of that – they donate 1% of all sales to national parks. They’ve certainly found a fan in me.
Now that the world is working toward a bit more stable outlook for the future, we can all make a pact to chip in to help. As I dream of running through airports to catch flights again, I have reserved the perfect pair of sneakers that will ensure a smooth journey. We’ve been fans of Dr. Scholl’s shoes for a while, and the new line of sustainable sneakers makes this brand even better. Each shoe is made from recycled bottles, reused scrap leather, sustainable rice husks and other eco-friendly materials for the ultimate comfort and green-supporting style. Dr Scholl’s will also donate a tree for every pair sold to Trees for the Future. Pack these sneaks for the dirty road, as the pair is machine washable and will last a long time.
What better present to give the traveller in your life than a curated hotel upgrade gift box? TABI Jet Sets has tons of great gift sets for those who are always abroad or on the road. I particularly love their hotel upgrade package! Complete with a portable mini humidifier, compact lint roller, easy-to-carry wrinkle removing spray, an exfoliating cloth and keepsake box with a handwritten card, it has everything you need to amp up your next hotel trip.
The lint roller and wrinkle removing spray are particular lifesavers when you don’t have your whole wardrobe to choose from and don’t have a full ironing board at your disposal. Plus, a mini humidifier is just the thing to fight off winter colds and dry, itchy skin on an upcoming trip!
Everyone needs a calming mantra to live by this year. Some can keep these positive affirmations and catchphrases in their minds, while others are more motivated visually. Either way, the beautifully simple and chic collection of jewelry by Kris Nations makes a statement while keeping you down to earth too. One of the most iconic designs is the “Chill Pill” enamel necklace, created from 18K gold vermeil. It’s dainty enough to wear everyday and adds just a touch of sass to your wardrobe. You can wear it alone or add it together with the complimentary enamel charms boasting ‘Good Vibes’ or ‘Optimist’.
While I do love the Chill Pill pendant, I also wore the now archived ‘Killing it’ necklace while in active labor with my newborn (which went swimmingly), so take that magic of mantras as you will.
Staying connected on the go is not only necessary, it’s vital to traveling. Running out of battery when it’s time to check your flight status or call an Uber is a thing of the past with these Anker gadgets. The Christmas music will NEVER stop on that playlist. The Anker Powercore lll can wirelessly charge your iPhone 12. No more hassles of untying the knots in your cords, no more cords at all. With a quick power pack recharging time of 4.5 hours, you’ll be able to leave it charging overnight and have days worth of power. Complete with a fast USB and USB-C port you can also connect to whatever device you have.
As a writer, buying beautiful stationery is one of my all-time favorite splurges. Naturally, I was so excited to learn about Papier and browse their gorgeous and varied selection of notebooks, notecards, planners, invitations and more.
They have tons of gift sets available, making holiday shopping for the writer or organization-nut in your life super easy. I was immediately drawn by the bold and vibrant colors of the Electric Beach notebook and notecard gift set. This hardback lined notebook is the sturdiest I’ve ever had, and I love how unique and playful the design is! You can customize each item you receive from Papier, making any of their products a wonderful, personable gift for your loved ones.
I spend way more time on my couch these days between travel on hold and my brand new baby! It’s way different than the vibe of 2019, but I still wouldn’t trade it for the world. While I dream of where me and my baby girl will explore in the future, I wrap up in my plush Puffy Blanket to stay cosy and get ready for a long, lazy winter. While the Puffy brand has some wonderfully chic linens, mattresses and other bedroom accessories, we really dig the blanket that is under the same lifetime warranty as all their products. It’s hypoallergenic which is great for the baby, and comes in three sizes to suit every need.
Holiday Flavors: Built Bars
Listen, worrying about your body during a pandemic is unnecessary – we’re all just working on managing our day. You treat yourself when you want and have as much fun as your can during the holidays! But balance is key, and it can be good knowing your fuel is something that’s good for you and will make you feel good too. Built Bars are for protein, but taste like a candy bar. The new holiday flavors such as candy cane brownie and white chocolate coconut are an easy way to feel spirited, especially when chilled in the fridge for something extra yummy. We love throwing a bar or two in our overnight bag as well for a weekender trip.
If you find yourself with a power outlet available while at the airport or rest stop, you can use the Anker Nano to decrease the charge time of your phone significantly. Clocked at 3x faster than your average wall plug, this 20w socket gives you the boost you desire without the wait time. No bigger than your stock plug, this lightweight gismo will fit in your pocket, purse or even cradled in the palm of your hand. The traveler or “on the go” person on your list this year will always be able to call and say thank you.