This guide is all about gifting inspiration for the (probably frustrated) frequent flyer in your life; that friend or relative who can’t make it through a lockdown anecdote at the dinner table without announcing their next long-haul destination.
From noise-cancelling headphones to Bluetooth trackers, power banks to tablets, these affordable, travel-savvy gifts will keep even the most restless souls happy as they finally, fingers crossed, set off in search of adventure in 2021…
Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones
You don’t need to be travelling first-class to get premium sound; these fourth generation Sony wireless headphones will work just as well in coach. A What Hi-Fi? Awards 2020 winner, they offer supreme comfort, natural, all-round sound quality, a 30-hour battery life (rising to 38 hours if you switch off ANC) and class-leading noise cancelling – ideal for isolating you from the person in front’s continual request for another glass of orange juice.
Tile Pro tracker tag
Picture the scene: they’ve checked into their capsule hotel in Tokyo, unpacked their bag and are just about to leave their little cubicle for a night in Ginza. Only, wait, where did they put their wallet and ID? Nobody needs a jet-lagged search for valuables in unfamiliar surroundings, so give them a hand by gifting them a Bluetooth tracker.
Tile makes the world’s best-selling device of such, and the Pro model boasts a seriously impressive 400ft range. It measures just a few centimetres wide and can be attached to anything – luggage, bag, keys, cuddly toy… – and then used to alert the owner to their item’s whereabouts with a ringtone activated by their smartphone.
If their luggage went missing, any Tile device within range of their missing item can notify them of its location, too.
JBL Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker
Another What Hi-Fi? 2020 Award winner and one of our top portable speakers. This brilliant wireless speaker is small enough to sling in a rucksack, but the sound and bass weight you’ll get from it belies its diminutive proportions. It’s rugged, it’s waterproof to an IPX7 rating (we actually sank it in a bowl of water to double-check. It was fine), and it has a USB-C charger and promises 12 hours of playback on a full charge. Beach day in Bali? They’ll bring it. Rainy hike? Yep. Camping in Dorset? Absolutely.
Anker PowerCore+ 26800 powerbank
You might have passed on gallivanting across the globe with them, but you still want to follow their every sunset, meal, beach day and cute cat on Instagram, right? Nobody wants that last, perfect holiday moment to go un-shared because they ran out of battery.
This portable Anker USB charger holds up to ten phone charges, can deliver fast-charging to three devices simultaneously, and doesn’t even need to be plugged in – so if they forgot to pack the corresponding country’s adaptor, it’s no biggie.
Sony NW-A55L music player
The Award-winners are coming thick and fast, aren’t they? Yes, this little Sony portable music player scooped up a 2020 gong too. And if you’re looking for another reason to purchase it (aside from its great sound quality and ability to play almost any file you throw at it, including FLACs up to 24-bit/96kHz and DSD up to 11.2MHz), here’s one: using a separate device for tunes will further save on their phone battery somewhere down the road.
Of course, other excellent portable music players are available, such as Astell & Kern’s A&norma SR25, but you’d better be feeling generous…
Apple iPad (2020)
You want Award-winners? The excellent 8th-gen iPad tablet marks the fourth in this little gift guide alone. To paraphrase Disney’s The Jungle Book: wherever we wander, wherever we roam, we couldn’t be fonder of our big home.
Slip this excellent iPad into their bag, have it loaded up with books and digital magazine subscriptions, plus their favourite TV shows downloaded from the likes of BBC iPlayer, and they’ll be able to take a break from exploring whenever they need a proper slice of home. Got an Apple device yourself? FaceTime video calling will keep you in close contact.
Bolatus (30cm) multi-charger cable
Do they have an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy Tab, a pair of true wireless earphones, a MacBook Air or a UE Bluetooth speaker? Chances are they have at least two devices that use different charging connectors, which is why this super-handy three-in-one (micro USB, USB-C and Lightning) charging cable will prove invaluable.
It means they won’t have to get annoyed with themselves for forgetting a particular juice-supplier for an essential device and then waste precious hours trying to beg for, borrow or buy one – worth its weight in gold to the seasoned globetrotter.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
On-ears are excellent for plane journeys, but what if your giftee in mind is backpacking, hiking or trekking? Something the size of a box of dental floss is vastly preferable to a larger case holding a heavier pair of cans, and Bose’s newest true wireless offering proves that downsizing needn’t mean sacrificing on sound quality or effective noise cancelling.
Class-leaders in their category, these earbuds offer an immense amount of sonic detail for the money, alongside brilliant noise-cancelling technology.
Incase Icon Pack rucksack
This design-conscious laptop backpack is made from patented Woolenex, abrasion-resistant fabric woven from two different thicknesses of polyester fibre.
It’s durable and weather resistant but still chic and within hand-luggage guidelines. The main compartment is large enough to carry a 15-inch MacBook, while the front pocket offers ideal dimensions for an iPad or tablet. A plethora of storage pockets and useful zippered compartments mean every little item for chapstick to charger will be protected. And there’s even a pocket with a headphone cable hole for easy wired listening on the go.
AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt DAC
Yes, it may look just like a dinky USB stick, but that’s the beauty of it. The AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt is a little bobby-dazzler of a digital-to-analogue-converter.
Its plug-in-and-play approach will vastly improve the sound from a computer or (with the included dongle) a smartphone or tablet. A more premium proposition to, say, the Cyrus soundKey, it’s probably one for the roaming audiophile in your life. But if you’re reading this list it’s probably because you know (or are) one…