Maybe you haven't seen your best friend in weeks. He never answers his phone, rarely replies to e-mails and never ever comes to the door. If this sounds familiar, you're shopping for a travel fanatic -- the guy who saves every dollar and uses every vacation, sick, and personal day to get out of the office, out of the country, and out of their comfort zone.
From language lessons to airline miles to the perfect travel journal, the following gifts will not only fuel any traveler's wanderlust, they’ll make their voyages more rewarding.
-- Produced by Alex Davies
There's no better way to learn a language than total immersion in a country where that language is spoken. But it's great to start learning a language before leaving home, and lessons from a DIY program such as Rosetta Stone, are a terrific way to do it.
What sets Rosetta Stone apart is that it imitates the way humans learn their first language -- by associating words with images. Each lesson teaches a new set of vocabulary, and pushes the user to use it in increasingly complex sentences. It even judges pronunciation, in addition to writing, reading, and listening skills.
(Rosetta Stone, $299 for first two levels, $499 for complete set)
Point It Book
Maybe the globe-trotter on your list has no time or propensity for foreign languages. For him, traveler Dieter Graf created Point It, the ultimate traveler's picture dictionary with almost everything he would need to talk or ask about, even he can't actually talk about it. Fingers do the talking when pointing to pictures in the book.
With 1,200 items grouped by category, the book, which is about the size of a passport, is a simple, clear way to communicate, and can save vacationers a lot of embarrassing games of charades.
(Point It, $22)
1,000 Places to Visit
On the off chance that your travel junkie can't decide where to go next, Patricia Shultz's 1,000 Places to See Before You Die is the go-to book. Unlike most traditional guide books, this #1 New York Times bestseller makes for great casual reading, as each entry includes a mini-history lesson about the site as well as the practical, need-to-know information.
Sites include the basics (the Grand Canyon, New York City), the unexpected (Count Dracula's Castle, Santa's Village in Finland), and the breath-taking (Namibia's Skeleton Coast, Jaljale Himal in Nepal).
(1,000 Places to See Before You Die, $12)
What's with all these books mentioned so far? A lot of paper pages can weigh anyone down, especially when you're trying to pack light. Fortunately tons of books out there are now served electronically, and a reading tablet such as the Kindle is the way to read them.
There are six different Kindle models, but for the guy who’s always on the move, the simplest, least expensive one is also the best. It weighs less than six ounces, fits in your pocket, and doesn’t carry the price of a 3G plan that won’t work abroad, anyway.
Water Purification Bottle
Ever hear that phrase "don't drink the water" when traveling to another country? Well now you can drink virtually any water anywhere with a water purification bottle like the ones from Katadyn.
The EPA-registered MyBottle Purifier system removes all viruses, bacteria, and cysts from water. No need for messy pumps, tablets or solutions; simply pour water into the bottle and sip -- the filtration and purification happens as the water passes through before entering your mouth.
(Katadyn MyBottle Purifier, $50)
Gift Airline Miles
You'd immediately become a travel fanatic's BFF if you enabled his next trip by giving a plane ticket, or at least getting closer to one. If you can't afford to send someone away, buy them miles; most airlines have programs where you can do so.
Your pal has probably accrued points over the years, and racking up those extra miles might just get them over the points-requirement to book that next trip. United Airlines, for example, offers 2,000 mileage points for $75.
(United Airlines mileage points, 2,000 for $75, and other vendors.)
Moleskin City Notebook
It may sound old-fashioned, but a journal is a classic gift for the travel fanatic. A written account of everything that happens on a whirlwind voyage ends up being the perfect keepsake, letting a traveler relive the trip of a lifetime years later.
City Notebooks from Moleskine are a terrific option. The series includes books for more than 40 cities around the world; each includes maps and a street index, plus 76 blank pages for inscribing adventures.
(Moleskine City Notebook, $12)
World Wall Map
No voyager should be without a globe or map on the wall at home to document and (maybe show off) all the lands he has vanquished – and as a reminder of places to visit next.
This world map from Rand McNally measures 50-by-32 inches and is centered on Africa. Just make sure to include different colored tacks with the gift, so your wanderer can mark where he's been, and where he's headed.
(Rand McNally World Map, $16)