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The Traveling Minimalist: Pure Wander’s Holiday Gift Guide

By November 27, 2019November 30th, 20194 Comments


We aim to celebrate and support all cultures and ways of life. Pure Wander hopes to offer some wonderfully sustainable, eco-friendly and fair trade options for gifts this year and all year round! Here’s our top picks recommended by our entire team to really make your holiday season special. And as always – also consider giving back to your local community. And giving the gift of experiences like travel to those you love, to cultivate memories that will last a lifetime. Happy holidays to you and your from Pure Wander!

PS – We’re working on our annual giveaways too, so bookmark this page to find some of these items below as PRIZES! 

Global Giving Gift Cards

Sometimes the best gift you can give is to pass the joy along to others. If you have someone on your list who has everything, this is a perfect option that’s sustainable and for a worthy goal. You can purchase a printable, e-mailable or physical card in any amount with a personal message. Tese cards can be redeemed by you or your loved on the the Global Giving sit to support different itiative. They run the gamut from therapy dog training and art classes for refugees, to planting trees in Sierra Leone and fighting malnutrition in Guatemala.You can also explore project by themes, including supporting women, health or environmental organizations in the U.S. and across the world. Everyone at my Christmas will be getting a card in their stocking this year from me for this awesome idea, opposed to cheap chocolate and trinkets! Don’t forget the reason for the season and do something good for the whole world. -Eileen

Pendleton Blankets

pendleton glacier national park blanket

The winter is settling in fast and we need something special to snuggle up with at home between adventures. Pendleton has been a treasured feature throughout my own home, from pillows and rugs to cozy flannels and accessories that often have an outdoorsy and classic spin. They also offer blankets and throws in a wide variety of styles and colors. For gifts, you can choose from bed blankets or living room throws to complete any rustic decor look throughout the home. They are also wonderful keepsakes for travelers who have explored national parks across the U.S. – which is a unique partnership to create truly beautiful keepsakes. I recently took home a great throw featuring patterns celebrating Glacier National Park to commemorate my trip to Montana this year. If you’d like to make your gift personal, you can have the blanket embroidered or stitched with a name or message for customization. In terms of sustainability, a royalty goes toward the National Park Foundation’s preservation and restoration projects for every one of these blankets sold. -Eileen

Suunto 3 Watch

Suunto 3 Watch

As you get more comfortable with the outdoors and activity, you’ll eventually want to diversify your activities. This is where the Suunto 3 shines, as it’s able to track a wide variety of exercises and hobbies, from swimming and rock climbing to running and hiking. Besides training modules synced to the app, the basic functions are also a treat. I can monitor sleep and heart rate throughout the day, as well as keep multiple time zones on the watch face and log time exercising. 

Compared to other fitness watches, my step count does seems a bit higher than normal, so I wonder if there’s an issue with the pedometer feature. But overall I’m thrilled to have the Suunto 3 motivate me to be more active while traveling and at home – not to mention inspire some new love of movement in new ways. -Eileen

Darzah Shoes

darzah shoes

I wear plain black and brown shoes most days to work and when traveling – but when I found the beautiful embroidery details on Darzah footwear, I wanted to find out more. These shoes are made my Palestinian women through a non-profit. They utilize the ‘tateez’ style of design with a deep-rooted history. Specifically, the women hail from the Zababdeh region, where unemployment is high and opportunities are more scare, especially for females. Leather and materials are also sourced from the area. 

On, you’ll find a wide range of shoes, including sandals, boots and saddle shoes. Not to mention, there’s gorgeous bags, headbands and even home decor featuring white, red and blue handmade embroidery. They’ll make custom colors for your special event as well with precision and a gorgeous, interesting look stitch-by-stitch. It’s lovely to know proceeds go towards empowering a community. And, you’re rewarded with a beautiful addition to your everyday wardrobe. -Eileen

Patchology On the Fly Travel Treatment Kit


Looking for a special gift for that frequent flier in your life? Patchology offers the perfect TSA approved travel size gift this season. The ‘On the Fly’ travel treatment kit is the perfect solution to keep your skin hydrated in flight or after landing. The kit includes two masques; one that will hydrate that dry skin and the other to provide you will a little post long haul flight glow. The flashpatch rejuvenating eye gels will soothe puffy eyes, tired eyes. Finally, don’t forget to moisturize your lips with the lip gel patch. Patchology also has many other kits that make for perfect stocking stuffers this holiday season! -Jeanne

Check out our Giveaway page to have a chance at winning some Patchology prizes!

Universal Standard Geneva Dress

Universal Standard Geneva Dress

As a big fan of inclusive clothing, Universal Standard is high on my list for gifts this year. They work hard to make sure all body types feel fresh and fun in their bold, soft and sensual clothes with flattering lines. This time I tried the Geneva dress, which is perfect  for long-haul travel and can be jazzed up in the evening too. Choose from long sleeves, v-neck or short sleeve styles, all made from Peruvian cotton. The best part is sizes are for the everyday body, so as a usual ‘large’ I enjoyed fitting comfortable in a small. No matter your size or age, you’ll find great pieces at Universal Standard. They have some interesting initiatives too I’ve not seen anywhere else, such as some special items you can purchase that they’ll replace for free if you size ever fluctuates due to weight (or a baby!) – it’s the gift that keeps giving. -Eileen

Beeswax Wraps

beeswax wraps

Single use plastic is a big issue when I’m at home and traveling. I wish I noticed it sooner – the amount of plastic wrap, cups and utensils, even on the flights alone, are too much. A few ways I’ve hoped to modify my behavior is by carrying my own metal straw, bamboo utensils and other things I may need to stay away from plastic. These beeswax wraps are another great way to combat waste with reusable tools. Wraps come in different sizes and easily fold/tie around your food. It’s especially great for cheese you might pick up before a picnic in France, or making some sandwiches for a long road trip. I’m finding lots of uses for them, and they only need to be hand washed or wiped down to have them last up to a year. -Eileen

Kris Nations ‘Get Lost’ Pendant 

I love wearing jewelry, but I often tend to lean towards subtle, timeless pieces. This is especially true when I’m choosing what to bring along on trips. We’ve been fans of Kris Nations style for some time and are thrilled to include the “Get Lost” pendant this year. Made from 18k gold and enamel, this necklace perfectly celebrates what it means to travel and the spirit of adventure. It comes in blue, green or white and is meant to last a lifetime. This can be a great conversation-starter and a fun statement to make when meeting fellow wanderers. The sister duo who created Kris Nations offers tons of beautiful pieces that are sassy and special. This pendant is ideal for that lady in your life who loves to roam. -Eileen

Hackwith Design House Jacket


We all need functional pieces that can work in any travel outfit. I’ve been working to have a ‘pod’ like packing strategy to use multiple pieces on various outfits. The basics that are so well made and classic from Hackwith Design House have completed my traveling wardrobe and work wardrobe too, especially the HDH Basics: Jacket in black. It falls nicely over any halter or blouse, and has pockets for functionality. The twill fabric fits loosely for all kinds of body types, perfect to wrap up in on the plane or dress up an outfit for a timeless look. Each piece from HDH is made by hand in Minnesota and they aim to create clothes that are sustainable and long lasting. -Eileen

Dr. Scholl’s Amara Block Heel Bootie

dr scholls brown block booties

Honest to goodness, these are some of the most comfortable boots with a heel I have ever worn. Like ever. I commute to work in them every week and took them on my recent trip to Buffalo to hit the pavement for a day of exploring. Comfort is very important, but so is style. The Amara Block Heel Bootie is the ideal brown boot for most casual and dressy outfits – in fact, its cut by travel shoes just to just two pairs because of its versatility. For my shoe-loving friends and family, this is what I plan to get them as gifts for the holidays and watch them also be pleasantly pleased with a comfortable heel to last the winter. -Eileen

Lotus Trolley Bags

Big confession time – I always forget my reusable bags. I’m good when I’m traveling and bring a few canvas totes for marketplaces and souvenirs, but I need a better system. Discovering Lotus has been something special, as they’ve developed a sorting and carry system of bags to help shop and stay organized. Each bag has various features, including insulation. They bags are also machine washable. Lotus is just a great company as well, as they offer a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics and donate a small percentage of all their sales toward conservation and environmental causes. -Eileen

Sonoma Set from Leimere

Sonoma set Lumeiere green

As I get older, I like to invest is wearable pieces for traveling that last and are timeless. The Sonoma set from Leimere is one of those outfits you can wear anywhere to dress up or down. Made with infused cashmere, its uncommonly soft and perfect for the woman in your life who loves to look classic and smart when she travels. The bottom is an interest wide leg pant with a skirt cut in front, paired with a sweater-like, soft top that is strapped like a halter. It comes ina  few different colors, but green is our favorite. Do plan to size up whether buying for you or your loved ones, as the clothes tend to rug slightly snug. -Eileen

Elyptol Sanitizer Kits

Avid travelers know the importance of having to-go sized products, whether it be moisturizers and deodorants or medicines and makeup. Sanitizer is no exception to this rule, and staying germ-free on the road is made so much easier with Elyptol’s sanitizing kits. This incredibly eco-friendly company makes sanitizing products that are antimicrobial rather than just antibacterial, which means that they kill a much wider range of germs. Elyptol sells gel, sprays and wipes that are a practical and sustainable gift for anyone on your shopping list! – Sara

Check out our Giveaway page to have a chance at winning some Elyptol kit prizes!

Cindy Karen Leggings

cindy karen leggings

Packing minimally for large trips is something I love to do. If nothing else, it leaves extra space for bringing home souvenirs! These Cindy Karen leggings serve multiple purposes, which I love. The stretchy fabric is perfect for a long-haul flight. But, the faux leather details works great with some cute heels and a top for a casual night out too. I can wear them by day and night for a compete look. Do take care when packing as the material seems a little delicate, but overall I enjoyed taking these leggings on a couple recent trips for multi-day use in a chic way. This cuts down on overspending and can add to a minimalist wardrobe. -Eileen

Tokyo Treat Japanese Snack Box

tokyo treat japanese snack box

The Japanese often celebrate their own minimal lifestyle – but not when it comes to their snacks! During a holiday to Japan this year, I became fascinated with the thousands of interesting snack and candy items for sale in the supermarkets of the densely populated capital, Tokyo. For me, it started with KitKats.  I’d seen green tea KitKats sold in Asian supermarkets in the US sometimes. But I’d never imagined the onslaught of flavors available all the time in Japan. Having tried sake flavored KitKats, I quickly wanted to go deeper – but I can’t read Japanese, and perhaps chickened out when it came to just blindly biting in!

That’s where Tokyo Treat really shines.  This monthly subscription box contains more familiar items such as chips and Pocky, but also strays into the weird, the anime snacks, and even comes with a beverage.  From Pikachu gummies to cola syrup stuffed marshmallows to Squid Legs – a fishy corn snack – this box contains a whole lot of fun. Our box came with a bottle of Pokemon-themed Ramune – a Japanese lemonade that becomes carbonated when you push a marble into the neck of the bottle!  The box also comes with a booklet each month explaining what’s included in that month’s box, as well as pictures and directions for some of the trickier snacks. Ours included directions to mix different fruit flavored syrups together that when combined would make entirely different flavors! It even came with a whole bag of apple pie KitKats!  The pumpkin flavored chips were amazing as well! The box is packed to the brim and waiting for those willing to try new things! -Christian

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Instagram @Pure_Wander.

More posts by Eileen Cotter Wright

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Sarah says:

    I’m not sure if I qualify as one, but I definitely *aspire* to be a traveling minimalist, lol! I love that all these gifts are useful, and you clearly use them yourself! I’ve wanted a cozy pendleton blanket for a while now, and I’m also looking for new boots to wear to work/formal events so I’m going to look into your suggestions!!

  • Brianne says:

    OK, I want all of these things! Thanks for putting together such a unique list. I particularly loved learning about Darzah Shoes – I bookmarked the page for later.

  • I love that you’ve included some things not normally found on gift guides. The blanket looks super cozy and I love that watch. Also, I would definitely wear that Get Lost necklace!

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