Holiday shoppers don’t despair over ideas – it is time once again for the ExperiencePlus! Staff Gift List!
From our Headquarters in Forlí, Italy:
Monica Price – Co-Owner:
The Chariot Cougar, about $400-$600 depending on model and year, has been on our list since our daughter Lidia joined us last year. We chose the single chariot because of the narrow roads in Italy although we have heard the double is a bit more comfortable even for single children because you can put more toys into it.
The Chariot is very versatile as you can ride into town, park the bike and transform the trailer into a stroller very easily. It also folds up nicely and compactly and can be stashed in a car to take for weekend trips. There are accessories available to turn it into a jogging stroller, or skiing trailer as well!
In general manufacturers recommend trailers only when an infant is able to hold a helmet on his/her head, although there are stories about people putting car seats in bike trailers to push the age limit—ultimately, like with everything else baby related, use your own good sense (we didn’t put Lidia in the trailer before she was a year old).
Travelling in another country, or even another continent, is your chance to visit amazing places and experience moments that are unforgettable! You want to be sure you are ready to take the perfect picture to capture each unique and special moment. The perfect gift (and one I’d love to receive!) is a certificate for a photography course so I could learn how to improve………my already beautiful (I wish!) photos.
I think I got my passion for the radio from my mother, she would turn the radio on first thing in the morning and the radio would stay on all day when she was at home. So much better than TV….at least in Italy!
So this suggestion is for radio lovers. The iPAL is an old style radio transmitter, no CD player, no alarm, no digital display but three nice solid knobs – and a great design- that’s it. One is the on/off and band selector, one is the volume and the big one is the tuning dial, super intuitive and simple to use. With this radio it’s a pleasure to cruise the radio-waves in Italy there are so many radio stations! And they are all come in loud and clear. It sounds great, it’s portable and it has a long lasting battery and you can hook up your cd or mp3 player for those days when the public radio, still my favorite, is stuck on the opera………Enjoy it and turn off the TV!
It’s a pain to have to take off our gloves in the winter to answer or text on your smartphone or navigate on your tablet. These are the best gloves I have found that are touchscreen friendly. With a good selection and range of prices they make a great gift that most everyone can use these days.
Online Photography Course
I’m absolutely loving an online photography course I’m taking. It’s called Stretching Your Frame of Mind, and it does exactly that! It’s taken my photos up a notch with lessons on composition and when and how to shoot. I can’t think of anything better for anyone wanting to improve their travel photos. The four-week course costs $195, and you’ll probably want to take part II for another $195 – so beware! Hmm, maybe we found Bea’s gift?
Fair Trade gifts or Donation
Instead of big gifts our family makes a donation to a local ONLUS (something similar to a NGO but smaller) and we exchange small Fair Trade gifts. So I suggest that everyone give money planned for gifts to someone who really needs it by finding a local charity or NGO.
And from the staff at our Fort Collins, Colorado office
4 Wheeled Luggage
Planning any travel next year? If you are, how about introducing yourself (or someone you love) to wheeled luggage version 2.0. You may think you already know all about it – after all, we all thought 2 wheels were inventive, but it turns out that 4 wheels are better. I’ve always thought that Eagle Creek makes great travel gear so I gifted a family member with a new 4 Wheeled EC Adventure upright – who knew that my gift would prove to be so successful that everyone else in the family is now requesting a bag? It turns out that with 4 wheels your arms never get tired as you move through airports, hotel hallways and down train platforms because you aren’t bearing the weight of the suitcase. The bag is also better balanced when you let it go (although beware of sloping floors). If you think that 2 extra wheels will add to the weight of the empty bag, more news – it turns out that more than just wheels have been improved in today’s suitcases – they are also extremely light. So don’t tell anyone in my family, but it is possible that more of these suitcases will be under the Christmas tree this year.
If you are looking for an attractive quality bag, I recommend Maruca artisan bags. I am crazy about their slings. The sling style allows me to carry a bag with a cross-body strap and have both hands free—a great feature for travelling. Maruca bags are handmade in Colorado, using beautiful US milled textiles. And if you have ever been frustrated by dark colored accessory bags getting lost against the dark interior of your luggage then their bags are your answer. Their bags are also the perfect solution for the vegan on your gift list. Read about the fiber of their philosophy on their website.
Bicycle Maintenance Class
My love of bicycle touring started in the late 1980s and culminated with a 15,000 mile yearlong self-supported trip in the early 1990s. My dream for 2013 is to mountain bike from Banff, Canada back to Colorado along the Great Divide route. As my recent rides have moved further and further from civilization I realized I needed to brush up on my bicycle maintenance skills so I’ve been taking classes this fall and it’s reminded me that being able to change your own tire, fix a brake that’s rubbing, or adjust a derailleur gives you confidence and is tremendously gratifying. When I first started bicycling a more experienced friend said if you don’t know how to change a flat then you should only ride as far from home as you are willing to walk back. Fortunately cell phones have lessened the risks of riding further afield, but I believe all riders should have basic skills like knowing how to change a tire. Besides bike classes are fun, they allow you to meet other riders and are relatively inexpensive (sometimes free). There are classes available for everyone no matter your level of experience.
An Experiential Gift
Sometimes the best gifts are memories created from an experience that you give someone, be it an afternoon spent in a new city, or a class taken together. This year, I’ve been the recipient of these experiential gifts, so I’d like to propose a couple of ideas as the holidays approach. When in Paris, I took a cooking class with my aunt. We chopped onions, mixed up cake batter, got flour all over ourselves, laughed, selected produce and fish at the markets together, and took deep whiffs of pungent cheeses in the fromagerie. The food was tasty, but the memories from the time that we spent together with matching aprons still stand as a fond memory & common topic in our conversations. Later this year, my sister surprised me with a trip to see a play at the theater. We still talk about the night and the performance, quoting lines from the play and singing songs from it.
Gift a cooking class with one of your favorite recipes, start a language class, book a tee time at a dream golf course, plan a night out on the town with someone special to experience a performance or a hands-on activity together—make your gift this year be one that you talk about for years to come!
Stay Warm and Visible
My Christmas list remains the same this year as last. With winter upon us I think about lights, visibility and warmth so 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 $35 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.