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Best Travel Gifts 2011

Lucha Libre Luggage Tag $12; from Flapjack Toys;
/ Source: Travel & Leisure

Lucha Libre Luggage Tag

$12; from Flapjack Toys;

What makes a great travel gift? An all-expenses-paid getaway, sure—but rule that out, and it can be tough to shop for a jetsetter who’s racked up souvenirs from around the globe.

So we’ve done the research to seek out practical and inspirational gifts at a price you can afford. Some will feed a case of wanderlust until the next trip comes round, while other items make the actual travel experience simpler and more appealing.

“Traveling can be stressful,” says Travel + Leisure fashion director Mimi Lombardo. “The greatest gift you could give to a traveler is one that will make their life a little easier along the way—something user-friendly, with a utilitarian value. This year, over-the-top luxury is pretty old news.”

Instead, gift-givers are embracing small luxuries that also serve a useful purpose. After all, travelers don’t need to sacrifice style for comfort or for price point. Delman leather flats make security checks and a long day’s sightseeing a breeze, while a faux-fur throw feels immediately indulgent. Lombardo, who traveled to Milan recently for Fashion Week and needed to hit the ground running, relied on Skullcandy’s sleek noise-isolating earbuds for the flight—they give the gift of sound sleep.

We’ve got something for everyone on your list, however they roll, whether it’s with a step-through women’s urban bicycle, or a super-lightweight polycarbonate roll-aboard by Victorinox. You could even win that Victorinox for yourself when you enter our Holiday Gift Guide survey.

And don’t forget any armchair travelers you know; transporting reads range from the cheeky Hints to Lady Travellers: At Home and Abroad—with tips and commentary expanded from the 1889 edition—to Paula Scher’s MAPS, a dreamy coffee-table book.

With any luck, they’ll be rolling out a suitcase soon too. Travel market research company PhoCusWright projects that by the end of 2011, the U.S. travel market will catch up with its pre-recession rates. Thanks to you, the travel-obsessed could be ready and equipped for that next vacation with a cool new camera like the world’s smallest interchangeable lens model from Pentax (3.9-by-2.3-by-1.2-inch).

Christine Ajudua