ExperiencePlus! - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Travel Tips

ExperiencePlus! Staff Gift Ideas

by ExperiencePlus! - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Shopping for a tree in Copenhagen

It’s time once again for the ExperiencePlus! Not Really Annual Christmas Gift Recommendations. About every other year ExperiencePlus! staff put together a list of what they consider to be the best gift ideas and though we don’t require that they be cycling or travel driven somehow that’s where most of us immediately go. Take a look and get out there and save the economy one gift at a time!

Monica Malpezzi Price – ExperiencePlus! co-owner
Kindle

I never thought I would be an advocate for electronic books, but in the past few years I’ve grown sick and tired of traveling around with more and more things including my laptop and, if I wish to have some non-connected free time, several books. The alternative to not carrying several books is to carry just one or two and then hope you find reading material along the way…but being the voracious reader that I am I always worry about being left without. Though there are more and more options out there I was quite happy with my purchase of the Kindle last year—the most important reason being that it is one of the only e-books that is not backlit like a computer screen so it rests your eyes. I’ve found that after long hours spent dehydrating my eyes at the computer, they are very grateful to NOT spend another 1-3 hours in the evening looking at a backlit screen. I also highly recommend the kindle because it’s easy to download magazines, books or newspapers from any wireless connection (so even when traveling you can download more reading material). It’s lightweight and with a cover it feels like a book. The one drawback to any e-book is that you can’t “loan” or “borrow” books, you have to purchase them, so the expense can add up quickly, even if most e-books cost less than paper books….And I have absolutely not given up paper books, in fact, I only use my Kindle while traveling and stick to “real” books at home!

Maria Elena Malpezzi Price – ExperiencePlus! co-owner
Spokelights

Seth, my fiancé, and I adore these as gifts and have given them to just about everyone we know who commutes by bicycle.  These are the perfect small gift that will make your loved one’s wheels light up and sparkle and help keep them safe on the road at night.  Although they won’t replace your front or back lights these spoke lights make any cyclist visible from the side. Find them online or at REI.com!

Paola Malpezzi Price – ExperiencePlus! co-founder
When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from  1960 to the Present; by Gail Collins, New York: Little, Brown and Co.,  2009.

As a student of women’s history, I really enjoyed this book as it gives a detailed and in-depth description of women’s lives in the crucial period between 1960 to 2008. Collins describes the change from a time when women wearing slacks were frowned upon or when women wanting to do advanced study or research were considered ‘unfeminine,’ to the one we are living now, when a woman could aspire to become president of the US or lead a space mission.  Collins’ style is conversational and anecdotal and quite entertaining to read.

Rick Price – ExperiencePlus! co-founder
Stay Warm and Visible

In recent years I’ve been thinking more and more about safety and in winter, about warmth.  And now that winter is upon us I think about lights and visibility and warmth.

Here are a few items everyone should have to make winter riding safe and pleasant!
ExperiencePlus! pant strap – At $7 each get two!  Those fluorescent straps bobbing up and down shine right back into the eyes of the car behind you.  And they keep your pants out of the chain!

Class 3 bomber jacket with hood for winter riding and visibility.  Can’t beat this for safety and warmth.

Pearl Izumi or Bellwether Headband to keep those ears warm.

Warm gloves – look around in your sporting good stores and find the snow boarders gloves on sale – for $25 you should be able to find a warm pair of gloves.

A warm beanie or skull cap – just the ticket under the helmet when the ear warmer isn’t enough.  Headsweats makes some good ones:  I like wool but when it’s not too cold CoolMax or other wicking material works fine.  BE SURE to get one that covers the ears.

Jo Baldwin – Creative Sales Associate
Curvyman Cord Supervisor

Do you ever get annoyed with knotted headphone cords in your bag? Look no further; Sahalie has the Curvyman Cord Supervisor to solve your problems! Now when you’d like to catch up on the latest language or travel podcast, or just listen to some good tunes, you won’t have to spend time tediously untangling your cords from the other items in your bag! A perfect pair with noise-cancelling headphones or a snazzy little new iPod.  (I won’t get too greedy and put two (or three) items on the wish list…headphones and others will have to wait until Christmas 2012)

Joeann Gutowski – Business Manager
Socks

As a holiday tradition my mother and I donate to one of our community’s shoe drives. We start with our own closets, ask friends and neighbors to join in, and then take a shopping trip to purchase some new footwear to donate.  But, one of my overall favorite gift ideas is socks.  I love socks, love to receive them and love to give them.  One of my current favorite brands to choose from is Keen.  I suspect it is nearly impossible to be in a bad mood if one is wearing a pair of nice comfy socks.

Julie Horton – Purveyor of Cycling Adventures
A Down Sweater or Nano Puff  jacket

Either down or synthetic is the perfect addition to any wardrobe. I commute by bicycle year around here in Colorado and with my “puffball” and an outer wind/rain layer I’m set for almost every day of winter. I also do self-supported bike trips and these jackets weigh next to nothing, keep you warm, and make a pretty good pillow. If you prefer down (remember it won’t insulate when it’s wet) look for brands that have 800 fill goose down. Patagonia and Eddie Bauer, under the First Ascent label,  among others have options. If you prefer synthetic material, which will keep you warm when wet, have a look at Patagonia’s Nano Puff Jackets. You’ll look great and stay warm. By the way, I’d also like to second Igor’s recommendation for Brooks Saddles – toss those cycling shorts out in 2012!

Bea Tassinari – Italy Office Ma-gician
Photo Album

After a trip I still like to print some of the photos I took and put together a photo album with my comments. I know, it is kind of old-fashioned with all the technology that surrounds us, but I prefer it this way, it is a tradition that I keep on following year after year and trip after trip! So I think the perfect gift is a photo album (hint, hint). I can easily imagine inserting  pictures from my next hiking trip in the Morocco desert  along the  valley of Draa between  Agdez  and M’hamid into my new album!  I received one some years ago with the cover made out of a map, interesting idea!

Jonathan Hancock – France Manager /Human Resources
Headlamp

I would recommend the Petzl Zipka headlamp. It’s the only light I need because it doubles as a flashlight, bike light and reading light. I take mine wherever I go because since it’s small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. The retractable cord allows me to wear it on my head, bike, wrist or any other support. The new Zipka Plus now comes with a red light to preserve your night time vision. This is the most versatile light I have ever owned.

Igor Baccini – Logistics & Bike Fleet Manager
Brooks Saddle

Here is a gift that I highly recommend after having tested it for the past 5 years and enjoying it a lot. A Brooks leather saddle will give your bike a great vintage look and will give you great comfort for long days on the saddle even on bumpy roads. For touring and recreational riding I’d recommend the B17, if you want to go fancy you could get the special model with hand hammered copper rivets or with titanium rails.
After a break in period that depends on how often you use it, the saddle will soften and adapt to your body shape: this saddle is so comfy that I stopped using cycling shorts, which I have never liked anyway! I just got back from a trip to Amsterdam and I was impressed by the number of Brooks saddles on the classic Dutch bikes: they prefer the city and heavy duty ones with springs as they work better with an upright riding position.  Get one and make sure it’s broken in before summer!

Marie Lavigne – Reservations Specialist France
Handpresso

Ever crave a good espresso while at the office, on the road or after lunch? Enjoy delicious coffee with a portable espresso maker that requires no external power, no lever, no dials, no power cords. The Handpresso is a hand-pump espresso maker that allows you to pump up the handle to 16 bar, add hot water from a Thermos, and an espresso pod to the brewing chamber flip the switch and go. The result is a freshly brewed authentic tasting espresso!

John Giebler – Tour Leader France
Blurb
This summer, an ExperiencePlus! traveler turned me onto Blurb. If you live under a rock like I guess I do, maybe you haven’t heard how easy it is to make professional quality books and photo albums. It’s easy to get started and surprisingly inexpensive. I’m making a surprise wedding album for my wife now. Don’t tell her!

Sara Verlicchi – Tour Leader Italy
Horn Bike

A few years ago I was very jealous of one of our traveler’s gadgets…it was basically a speaker made to fit in a water bottle cage, so you could listen to music riding with no earphones. Though I looked online I couldn’t find anything similar, instead I found this speaker option for iPhones…. just a great idea…very, very ingenious!