Holiday travel gifts


My wife spent a week in Ireland over Thanksgiving, traveling via Aer Lingus, and I loaned her my aging, but still perfect Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-canceling headphones. Like me, she found them to be indispensable.  The over-the-ear wired model continues to be my top choice. Personally, I agree completely with David Rowell in The Travel Insider recent assessment that the myriad of features of other models and brands are tripe. And who needs Bluetooth?  David is right that it’s a pain, a technology that never got easier to use once introduced.

I wanted to buy my wife headphones like mine for Christmas, but Bose doesn’t make them anymore. The new models with all the unnecessary features hover around $300.  The discontinued model QuietComfort 15 are so much in demand that new ones sell for as much as $600 on Amazon.  After rooting around a bit online, I found a like-new used Bose QuietComfort 15 for $88 delivered, also from Amazon.

So-called “renewed” Bose model 15s seem to be selling for $150-180, but availability and pricing seems to be highly dynamic.  I checked Amazon for 10 days running, and prices were all over the place for used model 15s.


As a Christmas gift to myself, which roller bag to buy to replace my faithful old two-wheel Hartmann?  Spinners are the rage, but they enrage me.  Those damn four wheels consume space and weight that could be used for stuff to pack, and the wheels often dangle out of airplane overhead compartments and prevent proper closure.

Trouble is, Hartmann has apparently discontinued my bag, which is airline “legal” (22 x 14 x 9 in) and suits me.  If I could, I would order a duplicate, but I cannot find the specific one.  This Briggs and Riley looks like the only bag that comes close, but it seems a bit smaller, and the cheapest price I can find is $400.

Another great option would be a Zero Halliburton bag.  Turns out they make a two-wheeler called the Zero Halliburton Geo Aluminum 3.0-Carry-on 2-Wheel Travel Case, just what the doctor ordered, and the right dimensions:  21 x 15 x 8.  Well, perfect except for the expense: $680 at Amazon.

Darned  impressive specs and features, though:  Made in America of anodized aluminum (strong as steel but only one-fourth the weight). Double-rib design for strength and durability. Three-stage dual-button handle system for quicker release for both left- and right-handed travelers (I’m a southpaw). Two TSA-accepted combination locks integrated into the draw-bolt latches. Seals airtight. Piano hinge to keep the shells of each case in alignment and to add additional strength to the seal. Two compartments with flat panels to hold clothes securely. Stain-resistant lining that’s non-abrasive to clothes. Global tracking anywhere in the world.

Pining for a Zero Halliburton, I found the same model direct from the maker for “just” $595. The price is still a sticking point for me, so I haven’t succumbed to my desire for the classic piece. Yet, anyway.

I am not wedded to any brand, Hartmann, ZH, or other.  Just want a 22 x 14 x 9, reasonably durable carryon two-wheel roller, not a four-wheel spinner.  Don’t care about color or brand (caveat: no pink polka dot bags, please).  Any advice from readers?  Many thanks in advance.

Before leaving luggage and associated doodads that go into it, let me put in a plug for a company that Joe Brancatelli pointed me to in his piece on bags. I have for some time needed a new toiletry kit to replace a canvas one that’s been around the world with me so many times that it would be a multi-million miler if it had a frequent flyer account.  It is finally falling apart.

Not wanting a classic-but-heavy leather Dopp kit, perusing Joe’s recommendations I eventually decided on a rugged canvas Red Oxx “Nomad Shave Kit” made in Billings, Montana.  The right size at 12 x 5 x 4 and only a half pound empty, it is built to last with heavy #10 YKK zippers with Fair Trade Monkey Fist Zip Knots for quick and easy zip open and close.  I was already thinking of buying one, but the clincher for me was watching the embedded video revealing what “Fair Trade Monkey Fist Zip Knots” means.  The Nomad is wrapped and under our tree for me.


Since it’s the season for presents, I’ll digress for a moment to ask what happened to the good old-fashioned term, “gift-giving.”  Giving someone a gift somehow got contracted into the nouveau word, “gifting,” a vinegary concoction that makes me cringe.

Does this new verb usage lead logically to a past tense? That is, if I gave someone a gift, do I now say that I “gafted” that person? Meaning if the past tense of “give” is “gave,” then the past tense of “gifted” must be “gafted.”  Which rhymes with shafted.


I discovered around-the-world fares in First Class in the 1980s and used them often for more than two decades.  Airlines partnered to accomplish the feat, such as the oneworld group of AA, BA, Cathay, Qantas, and the rest.

Sometimes called ATW or RTW (’round the world) fares, they were first priced at a standard $5024 for going around entirely in the Northern Hemisphere or $5524 for a combination of Northern and Southern Hemisphere travel.  East or West didn’t matter; I just had to keep going the same direction once I began.

ATW fares were a tremendous bargain, and I lost count of the number of trips I made in First Class and Business Class circling the globe.  There were rules, of course, like not being able to backtrack from one destination city to another unless it was part of onward travel that could not be avoided.  Some carriers sets limits on the time (six to twelve months, typically) and the number of stops.

Since front cabin fares skyrocketed, I lost track of ATW/RTW fares. But I know they are out of sight now.  No matter the cost, I cannot imagine a more spectacular, mind-blowing holiday gift!

One thought on “Holiday travel gifts

  1. Yes, the QC15 model is an excellent model, and the some-years-newer QC25 is little improved (if at all) on the QC15. But with the QC25 selling on Amazon, new, for $129 (see ), I think there’s little benefit to looking around for more expensive used QC15 headphones. But if you can get the QC15 for $88, that’s probably a good price!

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