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‘Tis the Season: A Shopper’s Cheat Sheet for Travelers

Christmas is just two-and-a-half weeks ago and you haven’t even started your shopping? Not a problem. But the more important issue at hand is what do you buy the chic jetsetter who has everything? Lucky for the last-minute shopper, we have a few suggestions that will meet all your gift-giving needs.

The Business Traveler: Never underestimate the necessity for a sturdy set of luggage. Those frequent fliers who spend more time in the air than on land will require a suitcase(s) that can stand the test of planes, trains and automobiles. Steer clear of basic bags (or even red, which is the second most common color in luggage); something bright-colored or patterned makes it much easier to spot when coming around the belt (and much more fun to travel with, because who wants boring ol’ black anyway?). Check out Lands’ End’s luggage section, which is offering some fabulous sets right now; if you don’t want to get multiple pieces, look into a single rolling carry-on that is perfect for weekend getaways. Macys.com is also having a big sale on items such as this stylish three-piece set by designer Diane von Furstenberg.

The Oenophile: What better present for the wine-guzzling road warrior than a row of vines in nearby Napa or Sonoma Counties? More and more wineries are offering non-wine-industry folks the chance to get involved in the winemaking process from vine to glass. Purchasing your friend or relative a plot of vineyard at somewhere like Sonoma’s Landmark (home to John Deere’s descendants) or Napa Valley Wine Reserve makes a great gift—not to mention an excellent excuse for a weekend getaway to the country.

The Student: If your giftee is college-aged and has plans to study abroad, guidebooks always make useful gifts. Rough Guides and Lonely Planet are more geared toward youthful backpackers and those traveling cheaply, while Frommer’s has a little bit of everything rolled into a single book and more in-depth reviews (though whatever you decide, put that Let’s Go back on the shelf!). If she is enrolling in an exchange program, she’ll likely be traveling frequently on weekends and school breaks, so you can’t go wrong getting her to a broader book like Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget or Lonely Planet’s Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (depending on where she’s studying). Or opt for a more specific guide to the country in which she’ll be residing. All guides can be purchased on Amazon.com or through most local book dealers, like Barnes & Noble or Borders.

The Techie: In a world where technology permeates our every thought, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options for your traveling fiend. If she doesn’t have a good quality, compact digital camera and you’re wanting to go a bit more high-end with the gift, invest in one of the trusty Canon Elph series. The Canon SD870IS and SD1000 are both great replacements for a clunky DSLR, and the pictures are still of an amazing quality. Make sure to add a memory card that is at least 2GB in size. Likewise an iPod always comes in handy to have when traveling. Choose something more discreet like the 8GB Nano–enough room for all of his favorite songs, yet small and sleek enough to tuck away in her pocket when traveling. For a phone that can be used globally, pick the iPhone 3G (AT&T), Blackberry 8830 World Edition (Verizon), or the brand-new G1 Google Android Phone (T-Mobile).

The Expat: If your loved one is moving overseas (or currently resides abroad), keeping in touch with those in all corners of the globe is easiest (and most economical) by using online phone service Skype. Set him up with a (free) account and purchase him some calling credit to get the ball rolling.

The Trendsetter: For the traveler who has everything, head to Flight001 for fun, frivolous tchotckes and stocking stuffers like the Mr. Sneeze Thermometer, Go Clean laundry kits, mint foot wipes, cashmere travel slippers and psychedelic eye masks. You’ll also find more practical gifts like high-end wallets, luggage, passport covers and the like. Flight001 has a location in Hayes Valley and another in Berkeley, and is currently offering 30% off all purchases of $50 or more made from the website through Dec. 10. Warning: You could do some serious damage to your plastic.

The Shopper on a Budget:
If you decide to go the more inexpensive gift-giving route, like so many people are choosing to do this holiday season, you can still let your creative juices flow: For the avid globetrotter, there’s no better way to keep a chronicle of your journeys than maintaining an online journal (or rather, blog). Simply set up and design a site for the gift receiver’s travels; you can purchase a domain through GoDaddy.com, or if you want to keep it simple, sign up for a free Wordpress account and get it all ready to go, so all he or she has to do is sit down at the computer and get those fingers a typin’.