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Gifts to go: What our travel scribes never leave home without

Travelling can be frustrating experience, but we’re lucky enough to live in a world of creature-comforts and gadgets galore, all of which can make just about any travel hiccup or hassle more bearable. If you have someone who travels a lot on your holiday list, here are some ideas for any budget. We asked some of the Calgary Herald’s frequent travellers and freelance contributors what they abolutely cannot travel without.

Travel essentials

Size does matter. Especially when you spend so much time schlepping your gear in and out of planes, trains, automobiles and hotels. With ever-shrinking baggage allowances, every ounce saved is critical.That’s why I love my Kindle. Instead of hauling around pounds of printed material, I can cram thousands of books, magazines, newspapers and even personal documents into an eight-ounce gadget. And pay a lot less per item. Plus, its built in Wi-Fi means I can shop, buy and start reading in about the time it’s taking you to read this.

It’s E Ink screen reads like paper, with no glare. Battery life is amazing — up to a month on one charge.

And if it were ever lost, stolen or broken, everything is backed up online and can be downloaded onto a replacement Kindle.

Amazon Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6� E Ink Display, $109.

2012 travel wish list

I keep dreaming of Africa, even though I’ve already visited half a dozen times. In 2012, I hope to write about taking a flying safari over Namibia and volunteering at an African wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre.

– Mark Sissons is a Vancouver-based writer and photographer and has been published in numerous publications.

Travel essentials

A recent acquisition has converted me from being an over-packer to someone who now has a lot more luggage space for important things — like shoes.

Lauren Bagliore has made this possible with one of her brilliant designs. The Calgary-based designer’s Desiree “Endless� dress can be worn at least a dozen different ways. Made of weightless, washable Italian matte jersey which feels silky, the Desiree comes in black, cream or grey. I bought it in black. It’s basically a dress with long sleeves, but the beauty of it is that it can be worn as a halter (the sleeves become straps), off the shoulder or strapless (the sleeves tuck secretly inside the dress). It can be worn knee length with boots, shoes or sandals, or hiked up as mini or tunic and paired with tights or skinny jeans.

Now when I pack, I’m carry-on ready.

Available at DaDe Gallery in Inglewood or at Lauren Bagliore’s ( studio, by appointment only (info@laurenbag­ It’s pricey at $599, but I’ve worn it more than anything I’ve ever owned.

2012 wishlist

The new Kindle Fire and a long-awaited trip to Thailand.

– Lisa Monforton, Calgary Herald Travel Editor

Travel essentials

As a mobile media professional, I really can’t travel without my Tenba. The Tenba large messenger bag is the only gear bag I’ve found that can house both my 17-inch laptop and all of my camera gear. It has extra slots and pockets for things like my clutch wallet, sunglasses, tablet device and other incidentals like pens, tickets and press kits. It has a stable, water resistant bottom panel and heavily padded shoulder strap which is essential for long jaunts across airport terminals. The Tenba Large Engravable Messenger Bag on Amazon for $109.95.

2012 travel wish list

The women’s trench coat from Scottevest. Retailing at $150 through the Scottevest company, it offers a comparable price point to most other mid-range trench coats but with greater travel functionality. Eighteen discreet pockets and wiring channels allow storage of items that would otherwise need to be carried in a daypack. Smartphones, iPads, umbrellas and more can be carried inside this jacket. It comes in a variety of colours suitable for impromptu television interviews and video shoots, making it practically tailor-made for people in my line of work. Scottevest Women’s Trench, $150.

– Mysha Theriault, spends a lot of time on the road. She’s founder of and a syndicated travel columnist.

Travel essentials

* Cashmere or pashmina shawl — This is the most versatile piece of clothing/accessory you can pack. It keeps you warm on chilly flights, can be used as a pillow, can dress up any outfit and fits into a small purse. When I’m not wearing my shawl, I drape it over a chair in my hotel room to make it feel more like home. $298 at Holt Renfrew

* Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10K Digital Camera — For when you want DSLR quality and point-and-shoot convenience (which for me is always). The big selling feature is the high-quality Leica lens, but this petite camera also offers 14.1 megapixels, 16x optical zoom and a 3-inch Touch LCD. It shoots video and stills, does a pretty good job in dodgy lighting, has a rechargeable battery AND fits into an evening bag. Genius. $349.99, London Drugs

2012 travel wish list

* Gadget — I really want an iPad because I hate lugging so much gear around. The iPad combines the features of my laptop and e-reader in one convenient, perfect-sized package. And it just looks cool.

* Destination — Argentina. I’m intrigued by South America right now, especially the culinary culture. I’d love to taste authentic “asado� (barbecue) and sip a glass of high-altitude Syrah. Argentinean cowboys would be a bonus, of course!

– Joanne Sasvari is based in Vancouver and writes about cocktails, travel, fashion and food.

Travel essential

My LowePro backpack. The model is the Rover AW II.

It’s perfect in that it is the exact size I need to carry my camera, three lenses, filters, memory cards, plus it also has enough extra space to pack a book, a few snacks, a water bottle, a light jacket, and a toque and mitts if I’m working outside in colder weather.

It’s heavy duty with waistbelt, padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, and load-adjustment straps. If I need to access my camera gear I flip over the top part of bag and all my gear is right there in the second bottom compartment. It’s the perfect bag for me and easy to stash into the overhead bins. Extremely durable. I’ve taken it on hundreds of trips. It’s available at the Camera Store for $164.14.

2012 wish list

A round of golf on The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

– Andrew Penner is a travel and golf writer based in Calgary.

Travel essentials

The must have in my suitcase are my runners and a pair of running socks with the Canadian flag or the maple leaf wrapped around the top. They are only about $10 so makes for a great “stocking stuffer.�

I like to run off the beaten path where ever I go. Running the trails in Switzerland, the dusty roads in the Himalayas of India, along the beach in The Bahamas, laps around the outside of Disneyland, all show me a different side of the destination. If I have the Canadian socks on — especially at foreign races — other Canadians notice them and instantly I have a friend. I don’t collect fridge magnets or T-shirts. I collect runs.

Available at Gord’s Running Store on Centre Street for $10.

– Joanne Elves is a frequent contributor to the Calgary Herald travel section. She’s run in many races, including marathons since 1991 in more than a dozen countries.

Travel essentials

Apart from the ever-present MacBook and Canon compact-but-super-spiffy camera, I never travel without earplugs and my little travel alarm clock.

These basically represent two sides of the same coin: the cheap foam earplugs enable me to sleep anywhere without being disturbed by unfamiliar noises, while the clock ensures I wake up on time to hit the place I’m visiting. . . or to make my next flight.

I never trust hotel alarm clocks or wake-up call services and, after leaving a pricey clock behind in a hotel once and never seeing it again, I’ve learned never to spend too much on this essential “gadget.�

Timex Travel Alarm Clock, $34.99, available at the Bay.

2012 travel wish list

It’s almost time to retire my old matte-black MacBook and replace it with a MacBook Air — much less effort when it comes to lugging and tweeting while I’m on the road.

– John Lee is a Vancouver-based travel writer and has written several books for Lonely Planet.

Travel essentials

Here are several things I can’t travel without.

* Every little bit of suitcase real estate counts, that’s why the fold-flat, freezable and washable 500ml Vapur Anti-Bottle comes accompanies me on every trip to the airport, to the beach and sightseeing. Ladies, it’s also small enough to fit into your purse — filled or flat. Just remember to empty it before security. The Vapur Anti-Bottle sells for $13.99 and is available at

* Decant part of the 500ml bottle of Downy Wrinkle Realeaser into a 3oz or less spray bottle to spray and smooth the wrinkles out of clothes. Literally, it works like a charm and allows travellers to avoid using the hotel room iron. I’ve been using this item for over a year, and it has a permanent position in my clear toiletries carry-on case. It’s available at London Drugs in store and online for $3.99

* Ladies will like JOE Fresh Lip Stain. Dab on a little for a day look or layer it for a dramatic evening look. Stays on for hours. I currently have four in my purse. Available for $6 at Superstore.

2012 wish list

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mauritius, swimming with pigs in Exumas, Bahamas and a telephoto lens for my iPhone ($35 US)

— Trish Friesen editor in chief , of

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