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Comfort and convenience tops for travel gifts

This undated image from Magellanís travel supply company shows an inflatable footrest popular among air travelers. The company also sells

This undated image from Magellanís, the travel supply company, shows an inflatable footrest popular among air travelers. The company also sells a style of footrest made from lightweight hard plastic that folds flat. (AP Photo/Magellanís)

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Updated: December 19, 2012 12:17PM

NEW YORK — Travel is fun once you reach your destination, but being away from home, getting through airport security and enduring long trips can be stressful.

No wonder, then, when you ask, “What’s a good gift for travelers?” the answer is often related to comfort and convenience. Here are some ideas for holiday gifts that make travel more pleasant, whether the traveler in your life is a frequent-flying sales manager or a bus-riding student.

Is there a neck-pillow junkie in your life? You know who they are: They keep neck pillows stashed in bags and glove compartments in all sizes, colors and styles. Consider a new addition to the collection in the form of a neck pillow with built-in speakers. Mic Anderson, an agent with the Magic for Less Travel agency, bought one for about $25 for her 14-year-old daughter Sarah from a kiosk at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, and it was a hit.

“It plugs into your MP3 player or iPod,” said Sarah. “I use it on car trips and plane rides, and I also use it in my room a lot.” Sarah says you can hear the music without disturbing the person sitting next to you, which her mom confirms.

Carol Gundrum, who also works for The Magic for Less, asked fellow travel agents for gift ideas, and packing cubes was one of the top suggestions. Typically made from lightweight fabrics with zippers, packing cubes come in various sizes designed to fit inside luggage. Fans say they help compress clothing so you can fit more in, but just as important, they make it easy to organize belongings. If checked luggage exceeds weight restrictions, a cube can be removed — some come with small hooks or handles — and carried.

Packing cubes are available from various retailers, but one popular brand is from They range from under $20 for a set of three in small and slim sizes to under $30 for a large set of three.

For those with short legs (or anyone who wants a lift underfoot while seated), the travel supply company sells three types of portable footrests. Two are fold-up styles made from sturdy lightweight plastic, $25 and $29.50. But Magellan’s best-selling footrest is a cozy inflatable cushion that folds flat, $29.50.

Travelers area always in the market for chargers that can power electronics on the go, including battery-powered and solar-powered chargers that work even when you have no access to an electric outlet. In online reviews, some consumers have lauded iGo Everywhere chargers as a one-stop device for powering all kinds of electronics on a trip, though you need to swap out different tips to connect different gadgets. The iGo charger can be plugged into a wall or car.

Finally, here’s a way to help travelers de-stress while en route: a gift card for XpresSpa, which offers manicures, pedicures, haircuts, facials, shaves, massages and other services at 46 airport spas. Pricing varies by location but in most places $25 covers a manicure and $50, a massage. Gift cards can be purchased online at


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