It's a December tradition—and a labor of love—to bring you the annual Seat 1A guide to great gifts for your favorite travelers. Give 'em for Christmas. Give 'em for Hanukkah. Give 'em for Kwanzaa. Heck, give 'em to yourself.
Some of the gifts are artful - like intricately carved wooden maps (above), suitcases custom-decorated with your own photos or artist-designed titanium chopsticks. Others are why-didn't-I-think-of-that? practical, like a pocket-sized iron or a bicycle that folds away into its own suitcase. Priced from $20 to $500, there's something for most any price range.
This year, I received over 450 ideas for gift items this year; yes, it was a bear to comb through them. As always, after culling the ideas, I request samples (and return postage) and evaluate those items with frequent travelers. If this year's rejected pitches are any indication, there are plenty of compression socks, suitcases, duffle bags and backpacks, aromatherapy products, eye masks, noise-canceling headphones, sweatpants, neck pillows, tech to keep your pet company and water bottles out there.
If you're like me, you'd rather stay indoors reading than have to use smelly, chemical-laden insect repellents outdoors. Para'kito has the answer: wristbands with refillable inserts made from environmentally friendly essential oils that mosquitoes hate (citronella, rosemary, geranium, mint, etc.) and are actually pleasurable to humans - at least this human. Each waterproof, time-release pellet creates a barrier of approximately 3 feet around you and lasts up to 15 days, making it a pretty good deal compared to that bug spray. Available in sport wristbands and keychain-style clips. Sport bands $19.98, including two refills, www.parakito.com