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Day Tripper Gives Picks on Handy Holiday Gifts for Travelers

These items are a must for anyone with the travel bug.

The holidays are just around the corner, but there still is time to pick up some last-minute gifts for your favorite traveler – or for yourself.

It always is good to have an extra blanket in the car for long road trips, impromptu picnics or emergencies. TravelSmith, one of my favorite go-to websites for travel accessories and clothing, has a great CoolMax blanket.

If you aren’t familiar with CoolMax, the company uses light-weight material that wicks moisture away from the body. When folded, the blanket is very compact, so it's convenient to take with you on a plane trip. At $30, it's also a good price.

Eagle Creek has a neat little gadget called the Backbuddy, a small, easily inflatable pillow that fits right into that spot in your back that needs extra support during long drives or plane rides. Retailing for about $25, it has a removable, washable cover.

Zip-off convertible pants, usually made from weather-resistant materials, are a favorite of my husband and me. As the temperatures rise, you can separate the bottoms from the rest of the pants and make shorts. They also are handy if you discover an area with poison ivy while hiking. At that point, you simply zip the pant legs back on.

All the leading outdoor clothing companies carry the the convertible pants, including REI, L.L. Bean and other retail websites. Prices range from about $30 to $70.

Depending on where your Day Tripper adventures take you, the SteriPEN Freedom from TravelSmith purifies drinking water in a matter of seconds. Greg Garcia, brand manager for TravelSmith, said it is the first rechargeable -- as well as the lightest -- water purifier on the market. The SteriPEN Freedom sells for $119.95.   

It's also wise to keep a towel in the car for unexpected rain storms, hot days or spills. The REI MultiTowel Lite absorbs eight times its weight in liquid but wrings out and dries much quicker than a typical towel. At $12.50 per towel, tuck some into your favorite traveler’s stocking.

As my husband can verify, I have drowned my cell phone and a small camera after falling in the water while kayaking. The Dry Pak Camera Bag can help prevent such mishaps. REI carries a couple of different versions with a starting price of $12. Similar bags also can be found in other local retail shops.

You can’t go on a Day Tripper adventure without food. A good cooler is needed to keep your drinks and your food fresh. Head to your favorite shop to check out the variety, including the tried-and-true outdoor icon Coleman. Its Xtreme coolers start at about $50.

My husband and I love CamelBak hydration backpacks for hiking and biking trips. You can choose from a streamlined version that is just the bladder with a bit of extra storage space or a full-blown pack that includes the bladder. Prices start at about $50.

Does your favorite traveler suffer from car or motion sickness? Pick up some Sea-Bands for his stocking. These natural, drug-free bands really work, according to my travel-weary friends. You can pick them up at many local stores or online at about $10 for a package of two.

I also am a firm believer in good socks. My feet always are cold and, with lots of walking on day trips, you need to spend a little more money for quality footwear. I love Smart Wool socks. Not only are they good socks; they also have some great prints, letting you look smart as well. Smart Wool socks start at about $10 and are available locally at REI, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom or online.

Smart Wool also has other quality products for your favorite travelers, including hats, jackets and gloves.

Don’t forget handy guides to help plan Day Tripper adventures of your own. A year's subscription to AAA includes roadside assistance plus maps and travel guides. AAA subscriptions start at about $50.

Three of my favorite books for planning our Day Tripper jaunts are Moon Handbooks Pennsylvania by Anna Dubrovsky (retails at $21.99); Moon Handbooks Pittsburgh by Dan Eldridge (retails at $17.99); and Rich/Poor Man’s Guide to Pittsburgh, produced by Know Where to Go (retails at $16.95).

Check local bookstores or Amazon for copies.

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