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Travel stocking fillers

Travel stocking fillers
"On group trips — such as African overland adventures — you will instantly be the most popular person onboard if you pull out one of these puppies."

Buying Christmas presents for a traveller can often be a cinch — just get them a book about wherever they're going to next. But that's hardly original, and quickly becomes problematic when they already have the book. From then on, it's a case of sifting through the world of travel gadgetry. And most travel gadgets are just rubbish. But if you want to buy a genuinely useful gift, then the following options may be of interest.

Swiss Travel Products universal adapter

Working out which country has which plugs and which adapter you need to take can be a bit of a brain-ache. This brilliant piece of kit eliminates that problem — it converts just about any plug to any other type of plug.

It's particularly useful when you lose chargers abroad and need to buy an emergency one on the ground. It doesn't matter if your phone charger was bought in Mexico and your battery charger was bought in Singapore, you can use this adapter to convert to Australian, British, European, American and Asian plug sockets.

Price: $20 to $30.

Design Go Charge It

Speaking of chargers, this little beauty eliminates the need to fill your bag with them. It has a neat design, with the cable wrapping neatly around the charger itself, and it comes with interchangeable heads which can be used to charge most major brands of phone. This is obviously rather handy if two of you are travelling together and have different phones.

There's also an iPod head, so there's no need to bring an iPod charger as well. Best of all, there is a USB slot and lead, which means you can charge two things (say phone and iPod) at once in only one plug socket.

Price: About $40.

Canon SX200 IS camera

Okay, so this is more a major present than a stocking filler, but you'll be thanked for it. The trade-off with cameras is that quality generally means bulk, and once you get to a decent level, they're a pain in the backside to carry around.

The Canon SX200 IS is a brilliant halfway house. It has 12.1 megapixel resolution and a 12x optical zoom — more than enough for anyone but the professional photographer. But more importantly, it's tiny and can slip easily into a pocket or handbag. Which, of course, means you're far more likely to take it out and use it.

Price: Expect to pay around $319.

Key-ring compass

Compasses are always seen as a geek tool, only practical for trekking in the wilderness. But where they really come into their own is in strange cities — especially ones with subway systems. We've all been there, emerging from underground only to not know which exit we've gone up and which way we're facing. With a small compass attached to your key ring, it's simply a case of having a quick peek, getting your bearings, then heading off in the right direction with minimal confusion.

Price: Under $20.

Key-ring bottle opener

Perhaps more important than knowing where you are is being able to open a beer. The rest of the world hasn't joined the twist-top revolution yet and thus having a bottle opener at hand reduces the need for smashing caps on walls or attempting to remove them with your teeth.

On group trips — such as African overland adventures — you will instantly be the most popular person onboard if you have a bottle opener on your key ring.

Price: Under $20.

Design Go Cabin Approved backpack

More and more airlines are charging passengers to check in luggage, so those wanting to travel on a budget — particularly low-cost carriers — have got to start thinking about travelling with carry-on bags only.

Getting the right carry-on bag, therefore, can save a potential fortune in the long run. An excellent option is this backpack from Design Go. It's extraordinarily lightweight, has a whopping 39-litre capacity and measures 52cm x 35cm x 19cm.

This brings it in at comfortably under the maximum size for most full service airlines, and — more crucially — just under the maximum allowed for the sneakier budget airlines. Ryanair in Europe, for example, has a notoriously smaller size allowance than other airlines and charges a fortune to check in a bag.

This backpack fits within Ryanair specifications, has plenty of compartments (including ones suited to laptops and cameras) and can easily fit a week's worth of clothing — unless you tend to pack for a year and every occasion.

Price: About $70 — but it is probably best imported from a UK or US Web shopping site.

Coolmax socks

There's only so far you want to walk in thongs, whether it's hiking in countryside areas or traipsing around a big city for hours. But in hot climates, wearing shoes and socks can have a grim impact on your feet.

One solution is to wear walking sandals, but they instantly mark you out as someone who has minimal luck with the opposite sex.

A better way of doing it is to own shoes that allow plenty of airflow, and invest in suitable socks. Cotton is dreadful for your feet — sweat in cotton socks and you'll end up with a fungus frenzy. However, specially designed socks featuring manmade fibres, such as Cooltex, help keep feet dry and the inter-toe cabbage patch away.

Price: $15 to $35 a pair, depending on the brand purchased.

Got any other hot tips on stocking stuffers for travellers?

User comments
Better than a key ring bottle opener is the stainless steel promotional Heineken credit card sized bottle opener. Slides into your wallet and works great every time. Mine was a gift from my son - love it.

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