WMW's Gift Guide for Travel Lovers

Looking for some inspiration for the travel obsessed, wanderlust suffering globetrotter in your life? Well, speaking as one of those people, I'm sharing both my favourite things and what's on my wish list this year in hopes to inspire some ideas! Nothing listed here is sponsored in any way. Some things I own and others I covet, and they are all purely things that I love, think are great, and happy to recommend to others! 

 

For the Frequent Flier

Away Suitcases

Photo: Away via Conde Nast Traveler 

Photo: Away via Conde Nast Traveler 

One of the hottest, and most Instagrammable, suitcases on the block, Away is attracting people for its chic, minimalist style and embedded technology. Away makes what they call 'thoughtful' luggage, developed from hundreds of travel stories. Their suitcases feature unbreakable shells, interior compartments - and, one of the coolest elements - built-in USB chargers! The built-in battery can be easily removed, is TSA approved, and is compliant with all airline policies. You can choose from the popular carry-on luggage style through to large checked baggage sizes in a multitude of colours. While I normally pick sleek black, I just love this perfect pink shade. 

Away takes a direct-to-consumer approach. By doing this, the suitcases are made with the same high quality materials as other premium luggage brands but can charge less due to having lower overheads. And, importantly, Away guarantees their quality for life. 

On the other end of the luggage spectrum is the beautiful vintage inspired and designed Steamline Luggage. There are a variety of different collection styles and sizes to pick from. One of my favourites is the Sweetheart Collection, a selection of light-coloured cases (white and tan) on the exterior with a beautifully printed lining inside of foliage, flowers and birds, making a beautiful contrast. In the photos below is another collection I love called the Architect in cream. This collection is inspired by Art Deco prints for its interior lining. 

While the design may be vintage, the cases are modern in function with features like an extendable trolley handle, buckled leather straps, two TSA-approved locks, and silent-glide wheels. Inside, you will find zippered lid pockets and a detachable door-hangar washbag to keep your belongings organized. SteamLine has also included a new ripstop cover to protect the case. The carry-on size also meets the cabin luggage size requirements for most major airlines. 

SteamLine ships all over the world, and also provides a full refund if you are not happy providing the luggage is unused. 

Photo: SteamLine Luggage

Photo: SteamLine Luggage

I received a Coach passport case monogrammed with my initials a few years ago and it is one of my chicest travel accessories. It's a timeless gift and a lovely little luxury to give someone. If you have the time to have it monogrammed, it ups the luxury factor that much more through personalization. The quality of the leather is fantastic, contains multiple slots to carry various travel documents, frequent flier cards, and other important documents, and is durable. 

Photo: Lululemon

Photo: Lululemon

I have used Lululemon's duffel bags for years - purely for travel! I call it my 'Mary Poppins' bag due to its ability to fit an unbelievable amount of things in it and still look chic while carrying it. This bag is perfect for a city break or weekend away somewhere. I have found these bags to be very durable and last a long time. 

This particular bag is water-repellent, contains laptop storage (a padded pocket that fits a 15" laptop), a heat-resistant pocket (helpful for a hair straightener), multiple compartments and pockets, and comes in various colours and patters

Photo: Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Pillow

Photo: Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Pillow

Ok, so a travel pillow may not be the most exciting present but bear with me. After trying many different travel pillows over the years, this is now my most trusted one. This pillow is actually comfortable as it is made with high quality memory foam. When I fall asleep on planes, my head tends to bob all over the place so I put this on and it supports my neck properly with 360 degree support. It's easy to pack as it squishes and folds up neatly into its bag, you can tie it to your carry-on bag to save room, and it is washable. It also comes with a two year satisfaction warranty. Forget blow-up, down, or beanbag style travel pillows - this is a travel winner. 

Capture Memories

Olympus PEN Camera

Photo: Olympus PEN

Photo: Olympus PEN

On my wish list for ages has been the Olympus PEN camera. It is beautiful in design with its vintage style, portable so it is easy to carry around, and has high specs and top quality interchangeable lenses so it can produce beautiful images. I've been looking for a terrific camera that is more easily transportable than my DLSR, but produces better quality images than a standard point-and-shoot or smartphone. It's also got built in wi-fi so you can upload and share your images quickly. The other great thing about it that I love are the stylish accessories that you can pick from including leather neck straps, lens covers, body jackets, and bags. There is a more expensive, higher quality version which is the PEN-F, and a lower cost but still high quality version, which is the PEN-E. 

Photo: Olympus PEN 

Photo: Olympus PEN 

Create Experiences 

Eurostar E-Voucher

Photo: Eurostar

Photo: Eurostar

Is there a better gift than being able to jet someone off to Paris for the weekend? The Eurostar is chic and so easy to use - and often has terrific deals, including on Boxing Day. You can buy e-vouchers from Eurostar in either a pre-selected amount or amount of your choosing in GBP, EUR, or USD. I love this idea because it provides something to look forward to and creates a memory. 

Other Experience Ideas

  • Gift certificate from an airline to put towards airfare for a destination of their dreams, much-needed getaway, or upgrade. 
  • Pre-book tickets if you know they are going to a particular destination and their dates, such as museum tickets, tickets to a special exhibition, a hotel upgrade, special tour, or restaurant. 
  • Currency for the destination they are going so they can buy themselves something special, especially if money is tight or it's been spent on the logistics and accommodation! 

 

Wearable Memories

Jet Set Candy

jetset.gif

I first discovered Jet Set Candy in December 2015 when I visited a Christmas Market at NYC'S Grand Central Station. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful wanderlust inspired jewelry and charms representing all things travel. Launched in October 2014, Jet Set Candy is one of the first premium lines of travel souvenirs which are modern and wearable keepsakes. Many of the pieces are collectible, such as the fun airport code charms that can be put on a necklace or used as a charm on a bracelet.  The line was designed by Nicole Parker King, who wanted to design a thoughtful, stylish, and classic line of travel souvenirs to redefine what is available for travel lovers. The pieces are collectible and made in either sterling silver, 14k vermeil, or solid gold. 

In addition to a YYZ charm, I also picked up a silver ring with a plane on it, which was instructed by Nicole's mom to wear facing out on outbound trips and facing in on inbound trips. The packaging is also so thoughtful from the beautifully printed tissue paper with maps, beautiful navy blue suede jewelry pouches, and travel inspired quotes on the inside of the box. 

One of my all-time favourite shops, Canadian jewelry and lifestyle shop Bluboho, has grown from a lovely shop in downtown Oakville, Ontario to adding two additional shops in Toronto, Canada (on Queen West and Yonge and Eglinton). Everything about these shops is special from the thoughtfully curated pieces which each have a meaning to the warm and welcoming staff led by Cheryl and Maggie who make you feel like an old friend from the first time you meet. The name 'Bluboho' represents a connection to others, nature and unlimited possibility, with references to sea and sky, and evokes a luxurious, free-spirited lifestyle and lust for life. 

Among the treasures you'll find in their beautifully designed shops are pieces symbolizing travel, wanderlust, adventure, and freedom. For example, I love the silver bar bracelets and necklaces with engraved quotes to speak to your present or desired state of mind or feelings. Two of my favourite quotes read 'Not all who wander are lost' and 'Fortune favours the brave'. Or,  choose a beautiful feather bracelet or birds in flight necklace to symbolize freedom, flight, and exploring new places. 

Bluboho has a stunning Instagram account that will have you wanting to buy everything they post, as well as an online shop. If you're in the Toronto area, pop-in and say hi to Maggie, Cheryl, and the team and see their treasures in person!

Photo: Pottery Barn

Photo: Pottery Barn

Think of this as jewelry for your luggage. For a chic, yet inexpensive, gift, jump onto Pottery Barn's website to order a personalized luggage tag. You can choose from a dark brown or black leather strap which holds a silver plated tag. Monogramming is available for a small extra charge with up to 15 characters per line. This is a fantastic gift for a stylish traveler, a colleague or boss, or someone who frequently travels for business to up the professionalism and luxury factor. I chose to do mine and the ones I have given friends with name initials, such as the one shown in the photo above. 

I adore the concept of this jewelry line. Inspired by the line 'Every memory has a place', Coordinates Collection engraves the specific latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of a place special to you or the recipient of your gift. The pieces are modern, chic, and stylish, and are a unique, deeply personal wearable memory. Is there a memorable holiday that you took? Have they lived abroad? Are they an expat and want to wear a piece of home? The possibilities are endless. 

You can choose a selection of bracelets, bangles, cuffs, and necklaces in sterling silver and gold at a range of price points from the very affordable to much more expensive pieces that incorporate precious gems and diamonds. This will be a gift that will delight and touch anyone you give this to. 

The 36 Hours In... series by the New York Times is a classic gift to either inspire ideas for new travels and/or help plan an upcoming trip. You can choose larger guides that cover Europe or USA and Canada, or smaller guides focused on a smaller region or country. It makes a terrific coffee table book as it will no doubt inspire conversation about favourite travel memories or dream destinations. I use it as a critical guide in helping inspire places to go for a city break or what to do while I'm there. 

Home and Lifestyle Inspiration 

Mapiful 

I discovered Mapiful through coming across their beautiful Instagram account and fell in love with their products. Mapiful creates printed map posters of not only the big, usual-suspect world cities, but many smaller cities around the world. Even cooler, you can customize your own map through their online tool of your own city or town (or that of the person you are gifting it to) to really personalize this gift. Posters are printed on museum quality paper and shipping is free worldwide. The hardest part will be trying to choose which location(s) you want!

City Break in Paris

I absolutely adore Paris. I know that won’t be earth-shattering because let’s be honest – who doesn’t? One of the things I really love about it is that you can have a different Parisian experience every time you are there – an art focused weekend; girls weekend; romantic weekend; foodie weekend; shopping weekend; or a combo of any of those.

I want to share a few of my current favourite things to do, see, and eat in Paris that hopefully provides some inspiration for you!

Eat

First things first – where are you going to eat?? There are too many wonderful restaurants, cafes, bars, patisseries, and markets to name, so I’m going to share just a few of my current favourite places:

  • Start the day off right with doing as the Parisians do and stop off at a patisserie or boulangerie in the morning and grab a croissant or pastry to go. When I was visiting in the spring, I stayed in the Marais and stumbled across an amazing little bakery called Au Petit Versailles du Marais. Turns out it has been voted as one of the best bakeries in Paris!  It's tiny but wonderful, and regularly wins awards for best bread. I highly recommend their pain au chocolat, as well as one of my favourite pastries, Paris Brest.

 

  • Fish La Boissonnerie is a lovely restaurant in St Germain. I don’t usually do this when travelling, but the food is so good that I usually end up there more than once on a trip to the city of light. The food is seasonal, tasty, and never disappoints. It also has a fresh, regularly changing menu, and brilliant wine menu to boot. Across the street from Boissonnerie is its sister restaurant, Semilla, which is also fantastic though a bit fancier or more upscale. Expect a delicious, seasonal menu and terrific wine as well. 
  • I’m a much bigger tea drinker than coffee drinker, so if you’re with me on that (and even if you aren’t), my absolute favourite tea is Mariage Freres. I discovered it a few years ago and stock up whenever I’m there. My favourite flavours are French Breakfast and Vanille des Iles. There are various locations across Paris, including a few where you can sit in and have afternoon tea. 

 

  • A lovely brunch and coffee spot is called Claus in the Marais, close to the Louvre. It's always busy and I have never organized myself enough to book a table, so I've usually just grabbed some of their lovely pastries to go and eaten them with their coffee on one of the benches in the Louvre square (perfect for people watching and stunning surroundings).  

 

  • My best friend and I went to Le Marie Celeste for the first time together a couple of years ago and LOVED it. Tricky to find (thank goodness for google maps), it’s deep in the Marais, located on a corner, and tiny. It’s also absolutely wonderful. It’s got a young, cool vibe, with a menu to match. The menu is fresh, features seasonal ingredients, and changes regularly. It’s great to go with friends and try various things through small sharing plates. But the real star might just be the incredible cocktails they concoct.

 

  • Bistrot Paul Bert is possibly one of the most traditional French restaurants I’ve visited. Fantastic food but what really stands out in my mind is the dessert course. It may have been the enormous cheese plate they brought to the table (think a large cutting board with big pieces of cheese and a knife to cut off the amounts that you pleased!), the rum cake that came with an entire bottle of rum to pour yourself (incredible!), or the magnificent Paris Brest that I tried for the first time and fell in love.

 

  • If you’re looking for a great quick lunch or snack, pop into the fab food hall at Printemps! I stopped in while shopping on my last visit and sat at the counter of a Spanish tapas vendor enjoying sparkling wine and tapas. Lovely!

 

  • Mama Shelter is an excellent place for cocktails at night and is where cool Parisians hang out.

 

  • I have saved the best for last. Promise me that you will go to L'Eclair de Genie for life changing eclairs? Yes? Ok. Seriously though, these eclairs are out of this world good. There are a few locations now but the one in the Marais is my favourite.

See/Do

There are a million things to do and see in Paris that it would be impossible to list them all – especially as everyone’s interests and tastes vary. If I was to recommend a single thing though, it would be to just wander around the city without a plan and few glances at the map. Perhaps start wandering along the Seine and crisscross over the bridges, such as Pont Alexandre, Pont Marie, Ile Ste Louis, etc.

Here are some of my other favourite places to visit at the moment when I’m there:

  • Check L'Institut du Monde Arabe. Zaha Hadid designed the building, so it is not only stunning to see on its own, but it features an incredible free view on the roof terrace. The café is great to stop for sparkling wine, mint tea, and some baklava too!
  • Visit the parks in Paris as each are unique and beautiful in different ways. The Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Plantes are my favourite parks to wander through.
  • My current favourite museum is the Rodin Museum. Much of the museum is actually outdoors in their beautiful gardens, which is also a favoured location for Dior during Paris Fashion Week.
  • I’ll come right out and say that I'm obsessed with the Eiffel Tower. I think the best place and time to see it is at Trocadero super early in the morning - like 7.30/8ish when there are barely any people around. There's a wonderful little mobile coffee place there where you can grab a cappuccino and enjoy the view before wandering down the Champ du Mars. Alternatively, when it sparkles at night (each hour from twilight to 1am for 10 minutes on the hour each hour).
  • The Place des Vosges is lovely to wander and hang out in, as well as the newly re-opened Palais Royale. Cafe Kitsune is in the Palais Royale, so it’s a great place to grab coffee and sit outdoors when the weather is nice.
  • If you plan to do the Louvre, plan it carefully and have a game plan. It is enormous and overwhelming, so don’t put pressure on yourself to see everything. Do your research beforehand and pick a few things you’d like to see and focus on those areas. The best times to go are early morning when it first opens, or later in the day a couple of hours before closing to avoid crowds.
  • Walk up the steps to the top of the Arc du Triomphe as the 360 view is fab from the centre of Paris!

 

Shop

  • Bon Marche is a must! It’s personally my favourite place to visit and shop when in Paris. They have the best in beauty, contemporary fashion, accessories, and homewares - and the store itself is stunning! While you're there, take a break and stop in at the Rose Bakery inside and have one of their famous carrot cakes and coffee or tea.
  • Printemps is a fun store, though my favourite things about it are the food hall (across the road in a separate building from the main store) and the rooftop terrace where you can enjoy stunning views across Paris free of charge (one of Paris’s best viewpoints and little known to many tourists). There’s a great café up there to enjoy something to eat and drink while overlooking the city.
  • If you're as obsessed with toiletries like I am, you have to visit City Pharma in St Germain. For many in the know, it is an essential pilgrimage and I would happily take the train from London just to stock up. It has the best products, like Caudalie, Avene, La Roche Posay, Klorane, etc, at inexpensive prices. Be forewarned - it gets insanely busy I suggest going early on a weekday morning or later in the evening on a weekday if you can.
  • Shop some of Paris’s local independent shops as well as homegrown talents, such as Isabel Marant.
  • I can’t forget to add Colette to this list, possibly Paris’s coolest shop! You can find Colette and many other wonderful upscale stores to shop along one of Paris's most famous shopping streets, the Rue Saint Honoré.

 

 

Getting To Paris

Paris is easily accessible as a major transportation hub:

Paris for the Day with Eurostar

A couple of months ago, I had the exciting opportunity to visit Paris for the day with Eurostar, as a winner in their #ParisOnUs competition. This was incredibly exciting to me because not only do I absolutely adore Paris, but being able to go for the day has been a bucket list item of mine.

Being Canadian, it still amazes me that you can hop on a train in London, and be in a new city and continent in two hours, as it takes ages to get anywhere in Canada! The Eurostar is a much chicer, more comfortable, and quicker way to travel to Paris (and their other destinations, such as Brussels, Bruges, and Lille) than air travel. 

Our day in Paris was a blast - great food, great experiences, and meeting great new people. Eurostar took care of every last detail and made us feel like stars. 

Here are a couple of short videos from the day! Photos and full story to come. I share my Paris thoughts at 0.30 on the first video!