Monday, December 9, 2019

Gifts For the [Fill in the Blank]: 2019

Dia de los Muertos ornaments, Mesilla, Las Cruces, New Mexico. November, 2012.

I've done some version of Gifts For ....  a few times:

Holiday bulb in leaves, St. Louis, Missouri. December 2007.

In 2015, I wrote my own list, and it still holds up well today. But let's see what other folks are suggesting this year:

There are more than a few pretty cool things on Thrifty Nomads' 25 Unique Gifts for the Travel Addict in Your life 2019

... 20 minutes later .... I've dipped in and out of a bunch of other lists and I didn't get excited.

Gutter sun, Oil Center, Lafayette, Louisiana. December 2013.

So I'm going to update the 2015 list I wrote for the frugal, minimalist travel-lovers in 2015.
  1. Write a letter with a pen and mail it to the recipient. Doesn't have to be lengthy or detailed. Might just be three sentences telling the recipient you were thinking about them, hope they are well, and that they have a wonderful year ahead.  
  2. Make a phone call. Express the same three sentiments as above: I was thinking about you, hope you're well, want to wish you a wonderful year ahead. 
  3. Cash. It fits everyone, is accepted everywhere (except Norway), and has no expiration date. Quantity unimportant. Five bucks- woohoo! There's a lot one can do with five bucks. 
  4. Whistle. For one, whistles are cool. They're small. They're useful for security (or at least a reassurance of security). They may or may not scare bears.
  5. Travel alarm. Sure, your recipient has a phone with an alarm clock app on it. But shit happens. The phone, for whatever reason is inaccessible or unusable. You inadvertently set the alarm volume to zero. (Not that I've ever done this. Not even three times.) You can get a perfectly serviceable, eminently packable travel alarm for less than 10 bucks. 
  6. Paracord lanyard. If you're crafty, you can make your own and distribute them as gifts. Otherwise, you can buy one. I like the idea of a paracord lanyard because of its utility, strength, and style. Search on "paracord lanyard" and you'll find lots of DIY instructions and also where to buy them readymade. 2019 update: I find a good lanyard is desirable for carrying my car's remote key fob, a whistle, and a flashlight when I'm camping or hiking. The trick is that the lanyard needs to have these qualities: adjustable length + sturdy carabiner or ring from which to suspend items. I don't care if it's made with paracord; in fact, I prefer something soft and non-chafing around my neck, and something strong, but not heavy.
  7. Drawstring bag (aka "sack bag"). I've come to appreciate my two cheap-ass drawstring bags, which I got free as promotional items from a booth at some event. They're lightweight, take up virtually no space in my car or apartment, and they attract no covetous interest by strangers. I use them on short hikes, at the grocery store as a plastic-bag substitute, and at dance venues, so I can take along a fan, bottle of water, and a few other items. 
  8. Small flashlight. Do some review searches for the best-quality small, budget flashlights. Sure, your recipient may have a camera with a flashlight app, but this assumes a charged phone when, where, and for how long she may need it. Besides, like whistles, little flashlights are cool.
  9. Duct tape. You can buy a travel-ready roll or you can create one for your recipient
  10. L-o-n-g clothesline. Cotton or nylon, whatever. Just the rope; no fancy-schmancy hooks or rigs. I say long (i.e. 20 feet) because it will still pack up compactly and offer maxium utility to the recipient: Camping, tying down trunk lid when transporting bulky stuff, hanging laundry in hotel rooms, etc. If necessary, the recipient can cut off a length as needed. I currently use my clothesline as a way to hang artwork on one wall in my apartment. The excess length is coiled neatly (kind of) in a corner. 
  11. 2019 update: Detailed state map for someone who has an interest in that state, or a good road atlas for the US, such as National Geographic or Rand McNally. I have a downsized national atlas that I bought at Walmart a few years ago. Next time around, I'll get a full-size atlas so I can see more details. Relying on Google or other internet maps doesn't offer a decent big-picture perspective for routing a trip, and the map applications also stubbornly resist trying out alternates to the routes they want to push on you. 
  12. 2019 update: Small electronic support gewgaws such as colorful (and long) charge cords or wall outlet converters for charge cords.

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