We here at Foreign Policy know that coming up with thoughtful gifts for family, friends, and acquaintances can be a challenge. After all, there are only so many sweaters and pairs of socks a person can have. That’s why we put together this selection of gift ideas recommended by our very own FP staff.
ZUCA Pro Travel Case ($335)
Air travel these days can be quite a headache—and holiday travel even more so. But what if you had a suitcase that not only made packing and hauling your gear a breeze but also had a built-in seat for you to rest your weary bones while stuck in those endless lines and crowded terminals?
Meet the ZUCA Pro Travel Case: a compact, rolling suitcase that fits in most airplanes’ overhead compartments, comes with removable packing pouches that stack like drawers for organizing your stuff, and has a durable but lightweight aluminum alloy frame topped with a built-in seat rated to safely support up to 300 lbs.
I’ve had this suitcase for years now, and it is by far the best piece of luggage I’ve ever owned. It is immensely satisfying after walking miles through parking lots and airport concourses to have a suitcase you can plop down on when you’re stuck in a long line or waiting at the curb for your ride.—Jennifer Williams, deputy editor
For years, the Arctic region has been the canary in the coal mine on climate change. Today, as the region warms at a rate nearly four times faster than the rest of the world, it’s daunting to imagine what the impacts of climate change mean for the people who live there.
Enter I am Inuit, a photography collection that introduces readers to 21 Arctic communities through brief yet intimate first-person narratives alongside gorgeous, rare regional scenes. It’s a great gift for the artists or globally minded folks in your life.—Kelly Kimball, social media editor
Pentiment (available on PC or Xbox, $19.99 or included with Game Pass)
This beautifully illustrated 16th-century murder mystery video game takes the spirit of Umberto Eco’s famous novel The Name of the Rose and combines it with a multiple-choice, character-driven adventure. Manuscript-style illustrations and ingenious font choices drive home character points amid deadly intrigue in a German monastery at the start of the Reformation. Also, you can pet the cats.—James Palmer, deputy editor
Dakine Split Roller 110L Bag ($264.95)
For long or gear-intensive trips, there’s no substitute for a cavernous duffle bag. The Dakine 110-liter split roller offers the rugged flexibility of a duffle while its internal mesh dividers and built-in wheels ensure you can actually organize and carry your kit. With sturdy zippers and a robust retractable handle mechanism, I have stuffed my Dakine to the gills, and somehow it always has a little room left for more. Thick handles on the front of the bag make it easy to fling into the back of a taxi or onto luggage belts. Best of all: It comes in a range of colors and can be packed down to a fraction of its full size to be stored in even the most crowded of closets.—Amy Mackinnon, staff writer
NaTakallam Language Courses ($25-$750)
When I graduated from college, I was stressed about how I would maintain fluency in Arabic, a language I had taken courses in every semester for the preceding four years. I decided to try out what was then a relatively new start-up called NaTakallam (“We speak” in Arabic), which pairs language learners with refugee teachers from around the world.
The platform has always been virtual, and it boomed during the pandemic. NaTakallam now offers personalized virtual instruction in nine languages, having most recently added Russian and Ukrainian to its offerings. It is remarkably affordable—a 10-hour bundle of one-on-one sessions, for example, costs only $160, and you can do a single hour for just $25—and provides a stable source of income for those displaced by conflict and crisis, who often face bureaucratic hurdles to formal employment in host societies.
NaTakallam is the perfect gift for anyone looking to learn a new language—and push back against the national boundaries that so often divide us.—Allison Meakem, assistant editor
Peach & Lily Lazy Day All-In-One Moisture Pads Sample Pack ($5)
If you’re a traveler who typically sits in the single-digit rows of a jumbo jet, feel free to skip to the next item on this list. For long-haul travelers well-versed in the back of the plane, though, these ingenious shots of skincare are as essential as that plastic bottle of shiraz thrown to you at “dinner.”
Peach & Lily started as a website curating Korean personal care products for U.S. consumers; now, it’s also a K-beauty line of its own. K-beauty is known the world over as innovative and reasonably priced, and these cleansing moisture pads are both. I could tell you about the fancy ingredients embedded in each pad—ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and apparently even broccoli extract makes an appearance—but all you need to know is that nine hours into a recent crossing of the Pacific Ocean, a quick swipe made the passenger in 48D feel human again.—Amelia Lester, executive editor
Trtl Travel Pillow ($49.99)
Unlike the typical U-shaped travel pillows that tend to slip off while you sleep, the Trtl Travel Pillow wraps gently around your neck, and its built-in chin rest stops your head from bobbing while you nod off. While it does resemble a neck brace somewhat, it’s a small price to pay for a deeper, more restful sleep on your next red-eye flight. As an added bonus, the lightweight Trtl folds flat to slip easily into your carry-on.—Amy Mackinnon, staff writer
Nikon D7500 Dual Zoom Lens Kit ($1,396.95)
For those who like to see the world and take those images back home for friends and family to enjoy, it’s worthwhile to invest in a high-quality camera pack. The Nikon D7500 Dual Zoom Lens Kit consists of the D7500 DSLR camera along with two NIKKOR lenses.
It offers hyper-detailed image quality with beautiful background blur that is great both in low light and on bright days. Plus, there’s the ability to easily zoom in on views that may be just out of reach. This DSLR also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning it’s incredibly easy to share and edit your shots across digital devices while on the go.—Kelly Kimball, social media editor
REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack ($129)
I bought this backpack on a whim, and now I just can’t travel without it. I’ve taken it on every work trip and camping trip I’ve been on. It’s small enough to count as a personal item to go along with your carry-on for most airlines and big enough to cram in just about everything you might need for a weekend trip. It’s durable, water-resistant, comfortable to wear, and has a sleeve inside that fits laptops as well as hydration packs.
Another game-changer for me: It has zippers that run down the full sides of the backpack—so if you’re a terrible packer like I am, you can get that one thing you need that happens to be stuffed at the very bottom of the pack without taking everything else out.—Robbie Gramer, staff writer
imuto 20,000 mAh Portable Power Bank ($29.99)
A power bank is a must-pack for any trip I go on—even if I don’t end up using it, it’s comforting to know it’s there in a pinch. I have an older Xiaomi 16,000 mAh power bank that is capable of charging two devices simultaneously and has served me faithfully for nearly a decade. I wouldn’t say no to a nice upgrade, though, as the current models offer more ports, fast charging, and support for increasingly ubiquitous USB-C devices.—Rishi Iyengar, staff writer
Lost In Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words From Around the World, by Ella Frances Sanders ($10.89)
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there were a word to describe this mood/feeling/scene I’m experiencing”? Turns out there might be—it just may be in a language you never learned. Lost In Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words From Around the World is a beautiful, poignant picture book of words that have no direct translation to English (but maybe should): the Japanese word for the way sunlight filters through trees, the Swedish word for needing a third cup of coffee, the Brazilian Portuguese word for running your fingers through the hair of someone you love. This book is a perfect gift for foreign-policy wonks, globe-trotters, or even young kids who are just curious about the world.—Robbie Gramer, staff writer
Garmin inReach Mini 2 ($390.99)
If you’re an avid hiker or backcountry explorer, you’re likely already familiar with Garmin’s inReach satellite communication devices. Supported by the global Iridium satellite network, the compact inReach Mini 2 allows you to send and receive messages, track and share your location, and, if necessary, trigger an SOS to a global emergency response coordination center. Make sure to check where satellite communicators are regulated or prohibited (or blocked by U.S. embargo) before you travel.—Shannon Schweitzer, copy chief
Hotels of Pyongyang, by James Scullin and Nicole Reed ($64.17)
When North Korea is discussed in the international news media (including here at Foreign Policy), it’s almost always in the context of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs; its leader, Kim Jong Un; or its tense relations with the United States and South Korea. But, of course, the country is more than just those things, and I’ve always been fascinated to learn about what everyday life, culture, and society are like in North Korea.
That’s why the photography book Hotels of Pyongyang is such a treasure. Asia specialist and podcast host James Scullin and photographer Nicole Reed document the architecture, interior design, and employees of the hotels that cater primarily to foreign tourists who visit North Korea’s capital city. With more than 150 stunningly crisp, color-saturated photographs prefaced by four expert essays, the book provides an intriguing glimpse inside the so-called Hermit Kingdom and makes a captivating gift for anyone interested in peering into the less visible places in our world.—Jennifer Williams, deputy editor
Sea to Summit Adaptor Coolmax Liner with Insect Shield ($67.95)
Know someone who plans on traveling to a bug-infested area sometime in the near future? You may want to snag them a travel liner for sleeping, such as Sea to Summit’s Adaptor Coolmax Liner with Insect Shield. Treated with Insect Shield’s EPA-registered permethrin blend, the liner protects the sleeper from mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and fleas, whether they’re camping in the Amazon during the dry season or Alaska in the summer. It can be used by itself in warmer temperatures or as a sleeping bag liner when it’s colder.—Shannon Schweitzer, copy chief
Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable 20L Backpack ($15)
Whenever I travel, I find myself needing either a little extra space when I’m returning or a day bag for trips-within-trips without lugging everything I brought with me. I was given an older version of this Eddie Bauer backpack as a gift and used it incessantly until it literally split at the seams. My favorite thing about it is that—unlike some options out there—it folds back into one of its own pockets rather than needing a separate external pouch that’s easy to misplace. The folded version is small (and squishy) enough that you can stick it in any corner of your suitcase or duffel bag without worrying about it taking up too much space.—Rishi Iyengar, staff writer
The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, by Massimo Listri ($92.99)
This 14-pound tome is not for the faint of heart, but any bibliophile is sure to spend hours enchanted by Massimo Listri’s photographs of the world’s finest libraries. That old-book smell practically drifts off the page when you open up to Prague’s Strahov Library or the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura in Rio de Janeiro. It may be my favorite gift I’ve ever received, and, at least in my experience, perusing it may just inspire a few travel plans.—Chloe Hadavas, assistant editor
MUSICOZY 3D Bluetooth Sleep Headphones Eye Mask ($24.99)
Trying to get some shut-eye on an airplane, train, or bus can be a trial—unless, of course, you have a plush eye mask that not only blocks out most light but also has built-in Bluetooth-enabled headphones so you can listen to music, podcasts, or even just white noise to relax and tune out everything around you. And it’s not just useful for travel, either—I use mine at home all the time. It even has a built-in microphone so you can take phone calls if you need to!—Jennifer Williams, deputy editor
BAGGU Fanny Pack ($49)
Once, I claimed to be “not a fanny pack person.” That was until I saw one of my colleagues wearing this fanny pack. Now, at least three FP editors—myself included—use this as their daily go-everywhere bag. It also happens to be perfect for traveling and storing essentials, with a small inner zipper pocket that fits a passport.—Chloe Hadavas, assistant editor
An FP Subscription ($72/$144)
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