Fantastic Gift Ideas For People On Your List Who Love To Travel

How is you rChristmas/Holiday/End of year shopping coming along? I am mostly done but am flying back to Italy in less than a week so am scrambling to get everything finished before I go. I didn’t do a Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping post this year because my own inbox was so bombarded with endless Black Friday shopping emails, I just couldn’t face being part of that circus this year.

So what I thought I would do instead is write a post after the event telling you about the MVP items I have used in my travels over the past year. I have traveled more months than I’ve stayed at home in 2023 so have had to use my travel items more than ever. This has really reinforced which things are indispensable and which are just space wasters in the valuable real estate that is my suitcase. Without further ado let’s check them out:

Conair Travel Steamer

best travel steamer for international travel

Small but mighty, this Conair Travel Smart Steamer was a lifesaver this year and is perhaps my favorite travel gadget and top of the most valued list. For more than one reason too. It is nice and powerful for steaming wrinkles out of clothes. I travel for about 8 weeks at a time so I used this to refresh clothes living in my cramped suitcase too. I also like the idea that you can steam pillows or anything else you might be concerned is holding bacteria.

It is quite compact, weighs next to nothing, and doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase. I bought mine at the beginning of the year, it has been on every trip with me, has been used half to death and still keeps chug-a-lugging along. Check it out here on Amazon.com

BaByliss Nano Titanium Professional Hot Air Dryer Brush

best travel hairdryer brush

I use a dryer brush like this at home but it is way too cumbersome to pack for travel. I have an enormous amount of hair so didn’t have particularly high expectations for the small travel sized BaByliss Nano Titanium hot air brush, but it is fantastic! It blows my hair out smooth and the nano titanium part makes drying even my huge head of hair, really quick.

You can see in the image above how smooth it gets my crazy curly hair. This was walking with one of my Glam Italia Tour groups up to Civita di Bagnoregio in October 2023. Left to its own devices my hair looks like a Dollar Store home perm, so being able to blow it out nice and smooth without any drama is a Godsend. Check it out here on Amazon.com

BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Hair Dryer

best travel hair dryer

If you’re not into the single item hot air brush type hair dryer, the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Travel Hair Dryer is incredible. According to Amazon I purchased mine in 2018, so if we take out 2020 covid year when none of us traveled, and exclude 2023 when I used the hot air brush from the same company, this little dynamo has had four years of hard core travel use, and is still going strong. Don’t be put off by how tiny it is – it is really powerful. Also the nano titanium part makes it dry hair more quickly and keeps your hair smooth. Check it out here on amazon.com.

RELATED POST: 9 Fantastic Book Series, All Set In Italy and France

Apple AirTags

I have an Apple AirTag in my suitcase and another in my carryon, and I can’t even tell you how much peace of mind it brings when I’m out and about in the world! Especially with the last two summers being so bad all over the world for lost luggage. It is a relief to board your flight and see your suitcase has boarded it too, and to arrive at the other end and be able to track your suitcase to the luggage carousel.

When I arrived to Rome in May I thought for a horrifying few minutes that my suitcase was lost. I turned on the AirTag and it walked me around the corner to where someone had taken it off the carousel by mistake. This makes the perfect gift for anyone who travels. Even if your suitcase goes to Dubai while you’ve flown to Madrid, your AirTag will locate it for you long before the airlines can. I won’t fly/travel without it. Check out AirTags here on amazon.com

The Paravel Foldable Duffle Bag

This little gem has bailed me out more times than I care to mention! The Paravel Foldable Duffle Bag zips down into itself into the shape and size of an iPad. It weighs nothing and takes up no space in your suitcase. Mine sees daylight when I’ve over-shopped or somehow can’t fit everything back into my suitcase at the end of a trip. (Which basically means I’ve over-shopped.) The bag has a surprisingly large capacity. I roll up loads of clothes and lightweight items using them to fill the Paravel bag, which comes on the plane with me, and fill my suitcase with whatever new things I’ve bought.

It makes a fabulous Plan B and prevents you from needing to buy a second suitcase/checked bag. I bought mine (years ago) in sensible but boring navy, but I wish I had the red one. These bags are really sturdy, can handle a lot of weight, and trust me – you’ll be amazed at how much you can fit in there! Check out the Paravel bags in all their colors here on Amazon.

The Jisulife Handheld Mini Fan

portable travel fan

We just had the two hottest summers on record in southern Europe and this handheld mini fan was a lifesaver! It’s super small and slips into your handbag needing almost no space, so is really convenient when you’re out sightseeing all day and don’t want to carry around a single extra thing. It is also surprisingly powerful and holds a charge for a really long time. I charged mine in May before heading to Italy and made it through a really hot few weeks without needing to recharge it. (It has a USB port, so no nuisance batteries to deal with). They come in multiple colors and at under $15 these make great stocking stuffers too. Check them out here on Amazon.com

Bagsmart Electronic Organizer Case

best electronics case for travel

These electronic organizer cases also cost under $15 and make great stocking stuffers. To be fair I thought mine was pretty ugly when I got it and wasn’t sure I’d use it, but I have used it to death! It’s a perfect compact size and is nice and slim, so doesn’t take up room in your carryon or handbag. (You should always keep all your chargers etc with you when you fly – don’t put them in a checked bag in case you need them.) Normally I would opt for something sleek and black but I have left sleek and black on planes and trains before, so opt instead for eyesore pink or any other color I will see and not leave behind. I like format of the pouches and zippered sections on this organizer. See it here on Amazon.com

Kindle Paperwhite

I was late to the party when it came to buying a Kindle. For years I read everything on the Kindle App on my iPad and it wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I finally bought a Kindle Paperwhite. Now I don’t know how I ever lived without it!

amazon prime day sale kindle

This is the travelers absolute best friend. Mine can hold somewhere between 5000 and 8000 books (!) and I don’t even have one of the souped-up models. I love that the Kindle is so slim and lightweight, so can slip into your handbag. They have low-light abilities, so you can be reading and not be blasting light into the eyeballs on the person trying to sleep next to you on the plane. I also love that I can be anywhere and still read, not needing a reading light. Again, I got mine in a color (sage green) rather than black, because I didn’t want to leave it behind on a plane or a train. There are a variety of different models and colors available. Check out Kindles here on Amazon.com

Audible Gift Subscription

This is kind of cool and is great for travelers. Audible is Amazon’s audio book service. They have gift subscriptions, so your travelers (or anyone else in your life) can enjoy listening to audiobooks courtesy of you. Statistics show that audio books are the fastest growing sector of the book market, and that readers/book lovers consume vastly more content when they can listen to books rather than have to find time to sit down and read. Personally, I am a voracious reader, but I love listening to audio books while doing housework, cooking, driving, doing things that prevent me from sitting down and reading. Check out Audible Subscriptions on amazon here.

Merino Base Layers

This really does have to be one of the best travel hacks around! I swear by merino base layers when I travel. In the summer I wear a merino cami under whatever I’m wearing to fly in, in the winter I wear a long sleeved merino t-shirt styled base layer. I also have several J Crew merino crew neck sweaters.

merino wool base layer

What makes merino so brilliant for the traveler in your life is this wool is super fine like a t-shirt weight. It’s non-itchy so even those of us who can’t normally wear wool (me!) can have this next to our skin. Merino is moisture wicking, so if you perspire it wicks it away from your skin. It’s also temperature regulating, so will keep you comfortable in temperatures from below zero up to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit/20 degrees Celsius, making it ideal when you are traveling from a cold climate to a warm one. It also is really helpful when you are moving from freezing cold outside into warm buildings/museums/homes/shops. And you don’t have to struggle with multiple heavy layers of clothing.

merino wool base layer

Merino is smell resistant, so you can go multiple wears without having to launder it, and it packs down super small so is ideal for travel. Winter travelers already know how cumbersome it is to pack thick sweaters when you travel! I buy Icebreaker Merino (see their store on Amazon here) but there are multiple other brands selling high quality merino products on Amazon too. In the photo above I’m wearing a black J Crew merino sweater in Rome when a very unexpected cold snap hit.

My Glam Italia How To Travel Italy Books

Best Florence Travel Guide Book

If you know anyone thinking about traveling to Italy, or anyone who already loves Italy, please think about gifting them my Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy books! All four books are best sellers and are popular worldwide. Rather than send people into the overwhelming tourist crowds like most travel guides do, my books show the reader loads of different, equally amazing and often more exciting places to visit. Most of the places I talk about are just down the street from where the crowds are, yet have very few if any other people there. There is so much more to see and do in these big Italian cities than just hang out where the tour buses go, and I want you to see these incredible places! All four books are designed to take a good trip to Italy and make it the best trip of your life.

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy teaches you how to plan and execute your best trip ever. It is full of fantastic information, tips, tricks and ideas. Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome will make you fall in love with the Eternal City and show you endless places the tour bus crowds don’t know about. Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence gives you insider secrets to places you’ve never heard of before, and tells you intriguing stories about some of the places you have heard of! This book will change the way you explore and discover the most beautiful Renaissance city in the world.

Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Venice is an absolute game changer. It will take you away from the tourist crowds, show you incredible sights you’d never heard of before, and will make you fall hopelessly in love with the most unique city on earth!

Do you belong to my newsletter? Join the thousands of people around the world who belong to my monthly newsletter and discover incredible places in Italy to add to your travel itinerary! Most of these places are well off the main tourist radar but all of them are fabulous. Join the newsletter here.

9 Fantastic Book Series For Readers Who Love Italy And France

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post with a new list of books for intrepid travelers. Over the past couple of years I’ve been reading a few new series (new to me anyway) and more books in existing series, all with a travel oriented theme.

I love reading books set in Italy (obviously!) and in France where I have also spent an enormous amount of time over the years. I was explaining to a friend recently that for the most part I tend to read two types of books. When my brain has down time I like to read complex, fast paced thrillers (like Mark Dawson’s John Milton series and L.T Ryan’s Jack Noble series. I also enjoy Patricia Cornwall’s and Kathy Reichs’ books, and anything that moves quickly and requires more thinking to follow what’s going on.

But when I am super busy, which this year has been most of the time, I use books to quiet my mind and relax, so look for a different type of book. Mostly books set in Italy and France and other euro-locales. I am a voracious reader and blow through books quickly, so love reading on a Kindle (I have the Kindle Paperwhite). You can borrow library books on Kindle, you can access prime reading (free books from the Amazon library), and with no manufacture and shipping costs you can access books very inexpensively too. Often authors with big series will make the first in series free, and from there the books run anywhere from 99cents on promotion to an average price of $4.99. Heads up: as an author I can tell you I make the same amount of money if someone buys my books in paperback or as a kindle eBook, so don’t be thinking an author loses out if you buy eBooks!

Anyway, in no specific order the following are book series I’ve been reading over the past couple of years. They make great holiday/anytime reading for you too, and also make fantastic end of year gift ideas. Enjoy!

RELATED POST: 21 Books To Inspire Your Wanderlust

The Department Q Series

The Department Q series is a police series with a twist, set in Denmark. A course of unfortunate events leads the police department to create a one man cold case squad in order to get this trouble maker (Carl Mørck, our protagonist) out of their hair. They then give him a quirky Syrian immigrant and a schizophrenic girl as assistants, and somehow the three of them build their department into a brilliant case solving unit.

The main characters are diverse and quite nutty, but incredibly compelling. These books are so clever and so well written, with intriguing subplots. I’m about to start book 7 on 9 and am dreading finishing the series. Book one is The Keeper of Lost Causes, pictured above. See the series here on Amazon. It is also available as a library book on Kindle.

Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Series

The Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Murder Series is a murder mystery series with a twist. Nathan Sutherland is a slightly bumbling British fellow living with his temperamental attack cat in an upstairs apartment on the Street of Assassins in Venice. He works as a translator of boring DIY manuals, and is the British Honorary Consul of Venice, an unpaid and only marginally interesting position that at least gets him into some interesting cocktail parties. Throughout the series he stumbles into one murder mystery after another, somehow managing to solve them in the end. These books are hard to put down and have the added advantage of being set in the most unique city on earth, Venice

The first book in the 7 book series is The Venetian Game . Check out the series here on Amazon. Also available as a library book on Kindle.

RELATED POST: 15 Fabulous Books Set In Italy

The Murder In Tuscany Series

T.A Williams’ Murder In Tuscany series falls into the cozy mystery category. These are fun, breezy murder mysteries that are easy to read and superbly enjoyable. In book one, Murder in Tuscany, we meet Dan Armstrong, a recently retired British detective who has come to Tuscany on a creative writing retreat for Brits. A murder transpires and as an English speaking ex-cop he is able to help the local homicide detective. The two form a friendship and Dan decides to stay in Tuscany, setting up the rest of the series.

If you enjoy books set in and around gorgeous Tuscany you’ll love this fun series. At the time of writing this post there are 6 books in series with book number 7 on pre-order. Check them out here on Amazon.

The Tuscan Vineyard Series

34 year old Chicago ad exec Olivia Glass finds her life crumbling around her so takes her best friend up on the idea of spending the summer in Tuscany. While there she gets a job in a local winery, buys a round down farmhouse, and finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery.

The Tuscan Vineyard Series makes for fun, breezy reading with the backdrop of beautiful Tuscany adding to the splendor. These books are enjoyable reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with Tuscany, dreamt about moving there or has wished they could fix up a rundown stone house in the Tuscan hills. The first book in the series, Aged For Murder, is free on Kindle, or 7.99 in paperback. Check it out here on Amazon. Author Fiona Grace has several other series including one set in Sicily which I have downloaded but not yet read.

Camilla Trinchieri Tuscan Mysteries

I recently started reading Camilla Trinchieri’s Tuscan Mysteries series and have been throughly enjoying them. Her protagonist is an ex NYPD homocide cop who relocates to Chianti to be with her family after his Italian wife dies. Of course he stumbles upon a murder, and then ends up helping the local carabinieri to solve it.

I am midway through this series and am thoroughly enjoying it. The first in series is Murder in Chianti, and is available on Kindle for 2.99. The series does seem to be available to borrow from the library on Kindle too. See the Tuscan Mysteries series here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 14 More Books For Travel Lovers, Set In Italy

Bruno, Chief of Police

Zipping over to my other great European love – France, we now get to meet Bruno, Chief of Police. This 16 book series is a glorious romp through southern France where our hero, Bruno, a small town policeman, solves murders while juggling village life, cooking French food and enjoying local wines. Bruno lives in a remodeled shepherd’s cottage in the hills, grows his own vegetables, and lives a simple but pleasurable life. This is a lovely balance to the complexity of the murders he solves. This is a fabulous series and I am hoping author Martin Walker will keep Bruno’s adventures going for many more books!

See bruno Chief of Police here on Amazon.

The MAGGIE NEWBERRY Mysteries

I couldn’t really get into the first book in this series, but you need to read it in order for the rest of the series to make sense. And once it gets going it is fabulous!

Maggie Newberry is an Atlanta based ad exec (I think she was in advertising?) who comes to the South of France to bring her murdered sister’s body home. While there she discovers her sister had a child the family knew nothing about. With the help of a local conman she works to track down the missing child and figure out a more complex and dark mystery along the way.

The first book in series, Murder in the South of France, combines murder, mystery, and romance, setting up the entire series to follow. This is a tremendous series, 24 books deep at the time of writing this post, with more books on the way. Check them out here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice

The Stranded In Provence Series

Before I discovered the Maggie Newberry books I read Susan Kiernan Lewis’s Stranded in Provence series, and then her American in Paris books. All three series are highly addictive!

All three protagonists in these separate series hail from Atlanta and wind up living in France. This time the initially ditzy Jules Hooker has booked a trip to Provence with her boyfriend, thinking he will propose to her. When he backs out at the last minute she decides to come alone anyway. She then discovers she has booked herself into a remote Provençal village, far from the glamor she had envisaged. She is about to give up and head back to Atlanta when a dirty bomb is dropped in the Mediterranean, knocking out all electrics and communications for the foreseeable future. Now she is trapped in a village where she knows no one, in a country where she doesn’t speak the language, where cars and phones and microwaves no longer work. To top it off she finds a dead body and has to solve the murder in order to save herself.

Parlez Vous Murder is the first book in this series. From the beginning the premise is quite clever, and sets up endless complications for Jules as the series progresses. These books are lots of fun and are wonderful for anyone who loves the South of France

See the Stranded in Provence series here on Amazon.

The American In Paris/Claire Baskerville Series

This series is also by Susan Kierman Lewis with another clever premise. Claire Baskerville is a 60 something American woman with a genetic brain anomaly that makes it impossible for her to remember faces. She travels to Paris with her husband, who is then brutally murdered. Alone in the City of Light Claire now has to not only figure her way around the city, but also figure out who killed her husband. Making matters worse, the local police are hopeless. Claire then discovers her husband had a whole secret life, a financial crisis is looming, and she is going to have to hide out in Paris for the foreseeable future.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable series especially if you enjoy Paris. It’s fun to have a protagonist in her 60s too! The first book in this series, Dejà Dead is free on Kindle or $10.99 in paperback. Check the series out here on Amazon. There are 12 books in the series, with book 13 on pre-order for 2024.