Increasingly year over year, the internet is flooded with gift guides promoting what to buy your loved ones this holiday season. I too participate in the annual tradition of gifting and think the act of expressing generosity to those you love is a beautiful gesture. But as easily as I'll admit to that, I'll also confess that this very practice has made me a bit of a cynic. Society's even-more-extravagant-than-usual push toward consumerism is about as subtle as a sledge-hammer and often robs the attention from where focus should be this time of year. And in a season where I've found so much richness in living more simply, I've really struggled with all the waste and frivolity that accompanies this time of year (buying people things they don't want or need, forests full of unnecessary wrapping paper… the list goes on). I don't mean to sound like the Grinch. In fact, I absolutely love the Christmas season and all the festivities that it brings! But I also feel compelled to speak out against this purely acquistional mindset that perpetuates materialism or steals from the things that bring us more fullness.
While I hope there are more simple moments of togetherness than there are “things” in your holiday season, hear me when I say there is absolutely still space at the table for expressing generosity through the act of tangible giving. Again, I participate in gift exchanges as well! And while I (personally) won't be making multiple gift guides for various profiles you might be shopping for (my area of expertise is travel, so that's what I'm going to stick to) if you're a frequent traveler or you're shopping for one, I do have some helpful input that’s worth speaking to.
For starters, I would love to help you plan a trip! I believe travel and the memories we gain from experiences together is one of the sweetest gifts life has to offer. If you’re interested in booking time with me (for yourself or as a present for someone you love), visit my Travel Planning page.
And if you’re looking for some great travel-related products? I’ve compiled a list of things I own and genuinely love. All of these are great quality and won't be throwaway clutter you're tired of a few months after Christmas (in fact, a lot of them are repeat mentions from the years past when I've done this same drill, which is proof that I'm still using them). It's my hope that if you're in the market for any of these things, this will be a helpful way to steer you toward products that are worth your money and will actually add value to your life. But if not? Direct your funds and energy elsewhere… because at the end of the day, it’s just stuff :)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR:
A GREAT PURSE FOR TRAVEL:
A classic black leather bag can do no wrong, in my opinion. I pretty much always have these three in constant rotation, depending on the occasion. If I just need a small bag for the essentials, this FashionABLE Menbere cross-body bag (which also helps fight generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women) is the perfect size and contains multiple compartments perfect for casual travel days. If you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated, yet hoping to avoid seeming pretentious, this Lipault Paris bag is chic, high-quality and looks a bit more polished. And if you need a roomy tote to carry on a plane or train? This Cuyana structured carry-all tote (and tassel!) is one of my all-time favorites.
If you’re looking for a wider-range of travel bags, be sure to check out my “Best Bags for Travel” post.
I’ve carried this Cuyana leather travel case set for almost 3 years now and both bags are still as good as new. You can choose from a variety of chic colors and add a monogram if you’d like to add a sense of personalization.
A PASSPORT CASE:
I have had the same Aspinal of London passport case for two years now and I love it! Unfortunately they no longer carry my color, however they do have several other beautiful options. Similarly, I recently found The Daily Edited and think their passport cases are also beautiful (Cuyana has some lovely ones as well).
I’ve had a variety of luggage tags over the years, but a few have really stood out among the rest. This classic pebbled-leather one by Cuyana will always be a favorite, along with this classic Leatherology one (which has an option for a beautiful hand-painted personalization). Again, The Daily Edited has some beautiful options (like this) and I also liked the chic simplicity of this one from Nordstrom.
COZY CLOTHES FOR TRAVEL DAYS:
Wrapping up in cozy layers is the best way to travel (see this post for a more extensive list of suggestions). Some of my favorite pieces I’ve worn for years now, like this cozy cardigan or these adidas superstars. Recently, I’ve fallen completely in love with these Cuyana ponte pants (I am embarrassed to tell you how many days out of the week I wear these here in London…) I also finally got this beautiful Alpaca cape that I’ve wanted for so long now, and it feels so luxe and cozy to wrap up in.
This Cuyana pebbled-leather travel wallet is honestly one of my favorite everyday items I own (I've pointed several friends to this piece and they're now advocates for it as well!) It's perfectly sized to fit in any purse or carry on bag without being too large and bulky. It neatly compartmentalizes your credit cards, travel documents, passport and spare change (plus there are plenty of other compartments where you can keep business cards, a lipstick or other essentials if that's all you want to carry out one night).
This external charger does NOT mess around. I can honestly charge this bad boy once and it will last me about an entire week of charging my phone and devices- whether I’m traveling or just roaming around London. After getting so annoyed by so many external chargers barely giving me any juice and just being an extra piece of junk I’m carrying around, I have recommended this gem to so many people because I love it so much.
I’m more committed than ever to reducing my environmental footprint and eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic from my life. I’ve loved this travel-specific Swell re-usable water bottle because it’s easy to wash by hand while on-the-go and holds a good amount of water without being too bulky.
These have been a game-changer for the way I pack! Not only do they keep me significantly more organized, I find that they really do save me space in my suitcase because they can compress bulky items down into smaller sizes.
Cuyana gifted me this chic little leather pouch that’s the perfect place to keep your headphones. Even though I asked for air pods for Christmas, I can still easily store those (or any other charging cords) in here to keep them from getting lost or tangled in my bag.
I tried these La Mer hydrating sheet masks earlier this year and was blown away by the difference I felt in my skin. While I’ve certainly tried products before that seemed to work, nothing compares to this level of how impressed I’ve been (truly hydrating without feeling greasy or gross). They’re definitely more of a splurge for a sheet mask, but worth every penny for the difference you’ll notice in dehydrated skin.
A WEEKEND TRAVEL BAG:
I am still carrying two of my Cuyana overnight and weekender totes from years ago that are no longer in stock, because I haven’t needed to replace them (similar options here and here). Additionally, this Leatherology weekend tote has been an amazing addition to my repertoire and has the option to add a beautiful hand-painted personalization detail.
For more items that are my “go to” favorites, visit the “Shop Travel Gear” section of my site. I try to keep my travel recommendations for shopping quite succinct, as I’m a believer in fewer, better things. If you want to do some additional browsing for an item you need that perhaps I didn’t speak to, here is a list of retailers (including some having sales/promotions) who I think provide high-quality items that will last you a long time:
& OTHER STORIES (Currently 50% off select styles)
ASPINAL OF LONDON (20% off)
ASOS (Currently 20% off everything)
CUYANA (Donating 10% of sales to California fire victims)
LEATHEROLOGY (15% off everything using code GIFTS at checkout)
NORDSTROM (Up to 60% off)
THE DAILY EDITED (20% off everything using code CYBERMONDAY20 at checkout)
Whoever you’re shopping for or however you choose to practice generosity this season, remember to not get too swept up in the things that don’t matter. Prioritize taking the time to write cards with meaningful words and share meals with people you love without looking at your phones. Focus on all the things you already have instead of making a list of the things you want to buy. Ask yourself how you can simplify your life to rid the unnecessary clutter and make make more room for the things you value most. Call me cliché, but I actually believe all the way to my bones that’s what will bring you the most joy this season.
Thanks for listening to my soap box and I hope you gained some helpful holiday inspiration in the process! As always, I so appreciate you stopping by.