Great Gift Ideas And Stocking Stuffers For The Travelers In Your Life

Whether you are looking for Black Friday sales or Cyber Monday sales, or just want some gift ideas for the travelers in your life, the following are either things that I use on every trip, or are things my Glam Italia Tour travelers have used and I have thought were pretty cool. Almost everything on this list is under $30.

Best Travel Gadgets

The absolute MVP travel gadget this past year was my Apple Air Tag. I actually have a few of them in different bags, but he peace of mind I got every time I landed and could see my suitcase was at the same airport as I was, was worth its weight in gold.

At the time of writing this post Amazon has AirTags at their lowest price ever.

You probably already know that in the post-Covid world airlines have been losing up to 10% of checked luggage. Travelers with Air Tags could at least tell the airline exactly where their bag was, be it in the wrong country or be it in the misplaced luggage room. Personally I flew 8 internationals and 16 domestics this year and breathed a massive sigh of relief when I could see my suitcase had landed with me. Available in single units for under $30 on Amazon

Travel Charger

You should always fly with a fully charged external power bank. Although many planes now have chargers in the seat back, they don’t always work. If your flight gets delayed/rerouted you need to be able to have phone/electronics access.

You also need an external battery for when you are out an about on your trip. Typically while traveling we take more photos and videos than usual, and that uses up your phone battery really fast. You can find portable chargers in a variety of sizes and weights, most of which are light enough to keep in your handbag and not weigh you down. See Portable Phone Chargers here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: Great Gifts For Travelers: 14 Fabulous Books Set In Italy

Travel Adaptor

If traveling to a foreign country, most of the time you will need a travel adaptor to not only configure that country’s different plug shape, but also to convert the electricity to their voltage. Without an adaptor, should they have a higher voltage than your home country, your electronics will fry the moment you plug them in. (The U.S. runs on 110 volts whereas Europe runs on 220.) Similarly, if your country runs on 220 volts and the guest country is 110, your electronics will operate at half speed.

I have used this travel adaptor for years. (Mine is in blue) It is compatible with 150 countries around the world, so it will no doubt work with wherever you are going! See it here on Amazon.

Electronics Case

I have been using a small packing cube for my electronics, but several of my tour travelers this year had these electronics cases. They come in several colors.

These electronics cases are quite a slim fit, so pack easily into your hand luggage/carry on bag. I always recommend bringing a back up charging cord and a back up charging block, as these both have a habit of disappearing/being left behind. See Electronics cases on Amazon here.

Handheld Fan

Like the electronics case above, this handheld fan is also on my personal Christmas list!

This past summer there was a heatwave in Southern Europe and it was very hot every day. Some of my travelers brought these handheld fans with them, and I seriously wished I had one! The fans are small enough to slip into your handbag, yet are surprisingly effective! I also like that they have a USB charger, so you’re not having to mess around with buying batteries. See handheld fans here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: Great Gift Ideas: The Best Online Italian Language Course

Flashlight

This one is also on my Christmas list. It doesn’t hurt to have a powerful mini flashlight with you when you travel.

Whether you’re walking home in the dark or whether someone has blown the electricity in your apartment, (happens all the time in Italy where I travel all summer!) it is definitely advantageous to have a more powerful light source than your cellphone. This mini flashlight measures less than 5 inches and only weighs 4 oz. It fits easily into a handbag, or clips onto a pocket. See it here on Amazon.

Travel Hairdryer

I have had this tiny hairdryer for several years now, and it is definitely another travel MVP. Although incredibly small it is also incredibly powerful. I have very thick hair and am able to blow-dry it in normal time, even though this dryer is tiny.

The Titanium part of the dryer gives you a smooth, quick blow-dry, and stops the crazy, static hair you can get from regular hotel hairdryers. At an average price of $35 it is a smoking deal! Check for Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday sales. Find it here on Amazon.

Kindle

This is another of my absolute MVP travel electronics, and is something I use every day of my life. It took me a while to move into reading digitally, and for the first few years I just used the Kindle App on my iPad. 2 Christmases ago I bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite (bought in the Amazon Black Friday/Cyber Monday for sale. (For $99).

Not only is is amazing for travel, it is has become indispensable in my daily life too. The Kindle Paperwhite holds around 5000 books, is waterproof and glare resistant (perfect if you like reading at the beach or by the pool). There are several different types of Kindles, but I have and love the Paperwhite, so that’s the one I talk about.

Kindles are so lightweight and slim, you can slip them in your handbag and read anywhere. You don’t need to have a light on to read with a Kindle, so can comfortably read without waking the person next to you. I don’t know how I ever managed without mine! See Kindles here on Amazon.

Kindle Unlimited: I bought the Kindle that didn’t come with Kindle Unlimited. (You can add Kindle Unlimited any time) Because kindle books have no manufacturing or shipping costs, most sell for $5 or less. Authors receive the same amount of royalties regardless of whether you buy a $24 paperback or a $4.99 eBook, so you can read very inexpensively with Kindle. You can read library books on Kindle via the Libby App – it connects to most local libraries.

You also have the option of joining Kindle Unlimited. This gives you access to millions of books for free, all covered by your monthly membership fee. All of my books are in Kindle Unlimited, so you can get them free too! Check out Kindle Unlimited here.

You can also get/give memberships to Amazon’s audio book program, Audible. Gift memberships can be for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months. Check out Audible Gift Memberships Here.

For more travel planning information join my monthly newsletter here.

How To Learn Italian And Speak It Confidently Before Your Trip!

This post contains affiliate links

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you will already know that I have written 4 best selling books about traveling in Italy. I also lead private tours of Italy every summer. So I have a vested interest in A) learning Italian and B)being comfortable speaking it with Italians while I’m there. I use multiple methods to improve my Italian language skills:

  • I watch Italian movies with subtitles on
  • I read Italian learner books like this one, this one and this one
  • I do an online course that I can keep repeating. I do this one.

Italian With Davide

If you belong to my newsletter you’ll already know that 2 years ago I bought my first Italian With Davide course. I love Davide’s program and have been telling everyone about it!

Davide is young and fun and lives in Milan. He totally gets it that the old-school way of teaching Italian doesn’t really work with the modern traveler’s needs. We really don’t need to learn to say things like “Mr. Smith walks his dog around the block.”

We need to learn things that we can apply while in Italy, that let us participate in local life.

So he developed a language learning program that is perfect for anyone traveling to Italy as well as for professionals going there for work. His courses are all online and are done in your own time, when it works for you. If you have a busy schedule it can be really difficult to get to a class at a set time each week. This makes it easy because you do it at your own pace, when it works for you.

The courses are broken down into small modules so that busy people can do 15 or 20 minutes at a time if that’s all they have time for. Some days I do more, other days I just get one 20 minute module in.

I have spells where I don’t do any, but then pick it back up when I have time again. I love this about the program! Once you’ve bought it, you own it, and can go back and re-do modules as often as you want. I find this incredibly helpful as it really gets you learning on a different level.

You Learn Really Useful Things

Learn More here

With this program I’ve learned all kinds of useful things I never knew I would need. For example, this past summer at the end of my tours I spent 5 days the beach in Abruzzo. It was fabulous!

One of the days I took a boat excursion out to the Tremiti Islands. I was the only English speaker on the boat other than the captain who knew how to say “Absolutely! Yes!!” He learned that when he asked me if I wanted a glass of Prosecco and I said absolutely – yes!!

One the boat trip to the Tremiti Islands. The girls behind me are the bridal party. This was one of the most fun days of my life. I told the whole story in one of my newsletters. If you want to know more just bounce me back a reply from any newsletter and I’ll email you a copy!

There were 2 groups of women on our boat. One was a group of local women who were about my age. The other were a bridal party doing a bachelorette day. I was only able to understand what they were talking about because Davide has a module about weddings in one of his courses!

I know I will have made tons of mistakes throughout that day, but everyone could understand me, and more importantly I could participate in conversations. I wasn’t sitting off to the side by myself, instead was included in the fun. Rather than my brain being full of useless phrases, I was able to apply things Davide taught me and more importantly have the confidence to just jump in and be a part of it all.

Course Registration Is About To Open

Davide only opens course registration a few times per year, and only for about 5 days each time.

The course is really popular, so the open spots sell out fast. You are able to interact with Davide (if you want to) so he keeps the numbers somewhat contained.

Italian With Davide is opening again on Cyber Monday. You can either register then, or get on the email list now, and you’ll be notified when the course opens. I had several of my Glam Italia Tour travelers try to sign up when they got back from their tours this summer, but they missed the registration cut off, so will have to try again this time.

I think he also offers one on one training if you need extra help, but I haven’t used this myself.

Check out the courses here

Italian With Davide comes in three different courses, marked beginner, intermediate and advanced, so there is something for everyone, no matter where you are on your Italian language journey. Several of my newsletter members bought the course for Christmas gifts last year.

If you are planning a trip to Italy in the future you will find it so much more fun being able to say even a handful of things with confidence. I heartily recommend at least checking out Italian With Davide.

If you want to learn how I’m able to get a free flight to Italy every year, and how I have been able to travel every year on a super tight budget for the past 12 years, check out this episode of the Untold Italy Podcast where I explain my favorite travel strategies: Untold Italy: How To Extend Your Italy Travel Budget With These Travel Hacks.

You can join my monthly newsletter (sometimes it comes out twice a month) for more insider tips about Italy travel, and places you may not know about, here.

I also recommend checking out my Italy travel guides, available worldwide in paperback and in digital form on Amazon.

9 Foods You’ll Absolutely Fall In Love With In Venice

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll already know I absolutely LOVE Venice!

In Burano this summer with one of my Glam Italia Tours

Venice is not only the most spectacularly beautiful city in the world, and the most unique city on earth, it is also an absolute foodie heaven.

Unfortunately most tourists who come here have no clue about the foods of Venice and end up ordering the wrong things at the wrong restaurants. My book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) goes into depth on how to choose a killer restaurant anywhere in Italy, and how to avoid dining at an overpriced, under quality tourist trap.

Today I want to tell you about 7 foods you MUST eat while in Venice.

Pastries

Venice is famous for its pastries. Which is handy when you consider the Italian breakfast is a cappuccino and a pastry. In my Venice book I tell you about specific places to go for a coffee and a pastry, and get into more depth on some of the really famous pastries of Venice. If you see frittelle (pictured below)in a pastry shop window you must try them. These are traditionally available during carnevale, but sometimes you can find them during the year as well.

Frittelle in Venice. Image via VeryEatalian

Venetian/Italian croissants come plain, whole wheat, or filled with jam, Nutella, cream or my favorite, pistachio cream. Most of my days in Venice start in beautiful Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo at Rosa Salva, with a cappuccino and a pistachio croissant.

Tremezzini

You will find these triangular crustless sandwiches all over Italy, but in most places I avoid them. Typically there are about 1000 other things in any eatery that are more appetizing than tremezzini. In Venice however, all of that changes.

Tremezzini at Rosa Salva in Venice

The food pairings of Venetian tremezzini are out of this world, even when they don’t necessarily sound exciting. The one in the photo above is asparagus and egg, which sounds meh, but is actually fantastic.

I get tremezzini at Rosa Salva all the time. The waiters know which are my favorites but also come over to tell me about something fantastic that’s on the menu that day. They recently had a porchetta and eggplant tremezzini that was to die for.

Breakfast at Rosa Salva, this time the porchetta and melanzane tremezzini.
It doesn’t look like much, but lord it was fabulous!

But trust me on this one – try tremezzini in Venice and you will be hooked! (Just don’t get them elsewhere around Italy.)

Related Post: 5 Ways To escape The Crowds In Venice

Cicchetti

I always recommend you bookend your Italian days with a killer coffee in the morning and an outstanding aperitivo at the end of the afternoon. Venice takes this a step further with their finger food snack culture, the incredible cicchetti.

Cicchetti at a foodie walking tour in Cannaregio

These delicacies are once again food pairings specific to Venice and designed to be enjoyed with an ombra of local wine from the Veneto. An ombra is a shadow of wine – I tell you the full story about it in my Venice book. I take all my Glam Italia Tour groups on a cicchetti walking tour with a foodie guide, so the photos here are from guided walks where we split items on the plate. 

Another cicchetti assortment on a cicchetti walking tour

Normally you would order 2 or 3 pieces of cicchetti (at about €1,50 each) and an ombra of wine for €2 or €3. Cicchetti are available most of the day and all evening, so they can be a very inexpensive snack, late lunch, or sometimes I’ll even have cicchetti for dinner. It’s fabulous!

Sard in Saor

This is a traditional Venetian dish that you may find in cicchetti bars and also on regular menus as a starter.

Sard in Saor on polenta with a balsamic reduction.

There are variations on the recipe, some featuring raisins and pine nuts, some served alone, others of slices of polenta. But at its core local sardines are floored and fried, layered with caramelized onions and pickled in vinegar. It can be an acquired taste and not everyone will love them (I love them!) but you must at least try them once while you’re here.

Octopus and Moeche

Octopus

My favorite dish in Venice is octopus on a bed of whipped potato, at Jonny’s.

Baked Octopus at Jonny’s in Castello

In the U.S. octopus generally resembles chewing on an old bicycle tire, but with less flavor. Not so in Venice! (Or anywhere in Italy) Here octopus is delicious and prepared to perfection. My tour group travelers tend to fall in love with it too – even those who cringe at the though of eating octopus! The texture is sensational, the flavor is amazing, and it’s hard to only order it one time.

Moeche

Moeche in Burano

This one is seasonal but if you’re in Venice when they’re on the menu you must try the local soft-shell crab. It too doesn’t taste like any other soft shell crab you’ve ever tried, no doubt because of the parts of the lagoon they’ve grown in, and the way Venetians prepare them. They tend to be expensive but are so worth it.

Related Post: 10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice

Seafood Pasta

Seafood pasta in Venice

Venice is of course the city on the water, in a lagoon separated from the Adriatic Sea by a series of long, thin barrier islands. That means seafood is king here. Everywhere you go there are amazing fish options on the menu. You can’t come to Venice and not have seafood pasta at least once!

Nero di seppia

One of the most famous pasta (and risotto) dishes in Venice is al Nero di Seppia, made from black squid or cuttlefish ink. It tastes delicious but does color your teeth and lips black while you’re eating it.

Risotto

Unlike much of Italy, pasta is not the main carbohydrate here. It is definitely on every menu but so is rice (risotto) and polenta.

Seafood risotto in Venice

Even if you don’t like risotto at home you must give it a try here in Venice, at a real Venetian eatery, not a tourist joint. Here in Venice risotto is cooked to perfection. Whether you opt for the delicate Go risotto in Burano or a seafood risotto (my favorite) or even a simple mushroom risotto, it just doesn’t get creamier, more perfect, more delicious than in Venice.

Gelato

Fig and Ricotta flavored gelato at La Mela Verde in Castello

You just cannot beat the perfect cup or cone of gelato in Italy. In all of my books I talk about why you should only ever eat artisan gelato. This is gelato made by hand using local, seasonal ingredients instead of mass made chemical laden ice cream found in the tourist shops. Just a heads up: Italians wouldn’t be caught dead eating the color added, chemical added fake stuff.

Related Post: How To Find The Best Gelato In Italy

Real, artisan gelato is out of this world, and Venice has multiple artisan gelato shops spread out all over the city. Typically they will only offer a handful of flavors each day, based on what is in season. When you buy a gelato at one of these shops you not only support the owner and the staff who made the gelato by hand, but also the local fruit growers and the local milk producers in the Veneto.

The gelato in the picture above was fig and ricotta

Everything You Need To Know About Venice

My newest book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Venice gives you an insider’s perspective on amazing things to see, do and eat in Venice. I take you away from the tourist crowds and into the Venice you’ve been dreaming of. I also point out loads of details you won’t find in any regular tourist guide book, details that will make you fall in love with this spectacular city. This book is available worldwide on Amazon.

Do you belong to the newsletter? Each month I send out insider info on secret places in Italy, places you may not have heard about before but will definitely want to know about and/or visit! You can join the newsletter here