NEW YORK - Like a lot of travelers, Simon Duvall would love nothing better than for Santa to bring him an iPad this Christmas.
It's portable, perfect for "watching a movie on a plane," said Duvall, global marketing coordinator for OnlineVacationCenter.com. "And it's great for quick work or Web browsing on the go, with a bigger screen than my iPhone."
Barbara Messing, general manager of Travel-Ticker.com, would like to find Bose's noise-canceling headphones in her stocking. "I have knockoff headphones now, but I admit I do covet the real thing."
But with a $499 start price for the iPad and $299 for the headphones, this may not be the year that all our travel gift dreams come true.
Fortunately, there are less expensive ways to say merry Christmas or happy Hanukkah to the traveler in your life.
• For the travel pillow junkie - the ones who keep inflatable doughnuts in the glove compartment and a blowup body-hugging cylinder in their carry-on - there's a new goodie on the market this year. Called Total Pillow, it looks like a blue daisy with a hole in the middle. Fold it in half for a neck rest, twist it for lumbar support, sit on it to cushion a hard seat, and carry it by dropping the hole over the handle of wheeled luggage. Best of all, at a price of $15 or $20 (depending on where you buy it), it won't break Santa's bank - available from www.totalpillow.com or at CVS, Rite Aid, Target, and other retailers.
• And what traveler wouldn't like a little kit filled with personal care products in sizes that won't lead to your getting in trouble with the Transportation Security Administration? (Surely you don't want to provoke a pat-down for breaking the rules!) The website www.3floz.com - launched earlier this year - offers more than a dozen travel kits priced from $17 to $85. There's one for everyone on your list, including a baby bath kit, a men's kit with shaving cream and lip balm, and many other choices filled with skin and hair-care products.
• Another innovative concept - this one for travelers who never go anywhere without their laptops - is a two-in-one bag. The Double Time has wheels and splits into two pieces: a bag for clothes and other items that you can stow overhead on planes, plus a backpack laptop-carrier that zips off the main bag and fits under your seat. It's $120, available at www.ful.com and other retailers.
n Ful.com also sells online and in Apple stores an item called the Joint Venture, $70, which splits into two messenger bags, one for the MacBook and one for the iPad, along with the Brooklyn, $100, which splits into a backpack for the MacBook and messenger bag for the iPad.
• Whether you visit www.flight001.com or Flight 001 stores in New York, San Francisco, Berkeley or Chicago, the company always has colorful and clever gift-worthy items. This season's selection includes funny luggage tags for $12, including "Lucha Libre" and "Pez" styles; zippered Spacepak bags for packing shoes, clothes, underwear and other items as compactly as possible, $30-$65; and a nifty - dare we say sneaky - undercover laptop sleeve that hides your expensive little computer in a bag that looks like an ordinary padded envelope, $28.
• Here's an item that's incredibly useful for many travelers: A wrap. Yes, even male travelers - if you buy a suitable color and pattern - will find this item incredibly handy, as an impromptu beach blanket or sun shade, a head wrap and a way to carry delicate items. For women, a wrap can be a skirt, a sarong, a baby carrier, scarf or shawl. In a jam, use a wrap as a sling for an injured arm or a handle for a torn bag. They take up no room and are best picked up from the local ethnic market of your choice, but if you need an online retailer, check out www.turtleislandimports.com, which sells many designs for under $20.