In the words of Noddy Holder and Slade, "it's Chriiiiiiiistmaaaassssssssssssss"! Well not quite yet, but we've got some pretty big fans of the festive season in the Accomable team and we do try to drag it out if possible.
Slade (at Christmas if you hadn't guessed)
And we're fortunate as a team that we have had the opportunity to travel a fair bit. And with that we also have a number of gadgets and accessories that we rely on when travelling. Ranging between £5.49 and a luxury holiday, our list should give you some great present ideas for the traveller in your life! Read on to find out the Accomable team's top Christmas gift picks. . .
Super-organised as I am, I like my packing to be the same, and for this I introduce the almighty packing cubes (and Eagle Creek ones in particular)! These are great for organising your clothes in your luggage, and for minimising the space you take up as all the air squeezes out (they're not the air-sealed bags you might be thinking of). I use an Eagle Creek Pack-It Cube for my main set of clothes in my suitcase/wheel-on hand luggage (depending on how I'm travelling) and a smaller Pack-It Specter Half Cube to put 1-2 days' worth of clothes in my handbag (in case they lose my checked in bag or I need a change of clothes on the journey). But there are a whole range of them, with dirty washing compartments, different sizes and more.
Buy here £7+
Digital Handheld Scales
Now I've managed to blag my way through a fair few over-weight suitcases, most recently on the way to exhibit Accomable at the Abilities Expo in San Jose, I'm not sure how I do it though. But you can often get caught out. So to stop this from happening, I usually use handheld digital scales to weigh my bags beforehand so I don't get a nasty surprise at check-in.
Buy here £5.49
Srin likes to think he's a superhero and can conquer all demons (and steps), but now we know his insider secret - the Bentley Fielden Travel Ramp. It's lightweight, has its own carry case and easy to use. Perfect for places where all that's stopping you from over-indulging on sushi or absorbing the culture of an obscure attraction is one frustrating step at the entrance. This is Srin's metaphorical cape.
Buy here £170 (+VAT)
Most hotels, and even self-catering accommodation, now have a hairdryer available for you to use. However, if you're not willing to risk it, then you should invest in a travel hairdryer so you don't take up valuable luggage space for this item (duty free takes priority!). I use a folding one like this so that it takes up even less space and is less likely to get broken.
Buy here £13.99
Srin's choice again, and no, we're not talking about some quirky shoes that he wears. Elephant feet are the name for the accessory that he uses to raise the bed in his holiday accommodation to fit his mobile hoist under. A lot of beds in hotels have hard boards around the base meaning that the hoist can't fit underneath. The bed raisers (Elephant feet) enable the bed corners to be lifted to give enough space to fit the mobile hoist under, simple. Disclaimer - beds can be heavy, make sure you ask for help to lift the bed if you use these
Buy here £12.45+ (depends on size)
We all know that they're useful but not everyone prefers the same style of wheelchair bag. You could just go for a standard backpack or messenger bag and tie it to the back of your chair. But there are also some wheelchair-specific bags on the market:
The Handy Bag is currently available for pre-order on Kickstarter. There are a couple of varieties to choose from depending on your preference for side storage or rear storage, designed to be used with one hand, and with a handy bottle holder, it's worth checking these newbies out. $79-149
The CareCo Mobility Rucksack is a lightweight and spacious convertible backpack that can be easily attached to the back of a wheelchair. It has multiple pockets and compartments to easily store all of your stuff. £34.99-£41.99
New to the market, Phoenix Instinct have created a range of luggage that is specifically designed for wheelchair attaching, and is pretty stylish to boot. They have designed a suitcase as well as detachable backpack that you can use as one piece of luggage or two. Available to pre-order here. £195+
- Keep it minimal and stylish with the Ducksback armrest bag which has 2 inner zipped pockets and 4 external pockets. It is easily removable with adjustable attachments for your armrest. £6.99
Suzanne feels the cold, and instead of whipping out her super-furry polar bear jumper (this does exist, I've seen it), she opts for the next best thing when travelling and flying, a large warm scarf. It's easy to wear, re-store in your bag, use as a blanket and it's lightweight. I've also always used this method when flying after I read this article about in-flight blankets (whether it's true or not, I'd rather have my own).
Buy here £4.50+
Adapted Ski Lesson
As well as keen travellers, a fair few of the team are big fans of the snow and snowsports. Disabled Snowsports UK are the 'go-to' for adapted ski lessons, and also for accessible ski holidays. In the UK you can have a lesson in snowdomes across the country, at dry ski slopes and in the mountains in Scotland. I've previously paid for a lesson with DSUK for someone as a present and they were incredibly helpful when we had to postpone the date and in accommodating for the recipient's specific needs. All of their instructors are qualified adaptive instructors. And it's nice to receive something a bit different for Christmas.
Buy here £31+ for non-members
The invention of the Kindle made big changes to lightweight travel. So now instead of carrying your large trashy paperbacks for your pool lounging and journeys, you can store all of that on something the size of a small tablet (or indeed a small tablet if you'd prefer). I use the standard Kindle which suits me just fine but you can also upgrade to options such as the Paperwhite or splash out on the Oasis. Or if they already have a Kindle, why not buy them a Kindle gift card so they can add to their digital library?
Buy Kindle here £56.99+
Noise Cancelling Headphones
There's nothing more annoying than a chatty person on the plane when you're trying to catch up on your favourite podcast, or a noisy hostel room when using your "learn Spanish in a day" CD. Noise cancelling headphones are the answer to these problems! There are a range of budgets that can be catered for:
Reshow folding noise-cancelling headphones £19.99 (low cost but still with 5* rating)
Aquiver folding wireless noise-cancelling headphones £39.99 (folding means easy storage for travel)
Vibrating Travel Alarm Clock
Missing your flight (or in my case, breakfast) is one of those holiday nightmares that you hope never comes true. The Traveller from Sonic Alert is the ideal companion for a hearing-impaired traveller with a bed shaker/vibrator alarm. It also has a USB port to charge your phone, snooze button, adjustable tone and volume and more features!
Buy here £23-£28
If you rely on a hoist/hoyer lift when travelling, and you're lucky enough to have found accommodation with one, you'll be in need of a sling. Most accommodation providers with a track or mobile hoist will ask you to bring your own sling with you. Chiltern Invadex is Srin's go-to.
If you're a bit of an activity fan and want to go skiing, sailing, kayaking or anything else, and need transferring, the ProMove sling is a great option. Each of their handheld slings are also available with head support options to enable safe and comfortable transfer.
Sling - buy here £90-220
ProMove Sling - buy here £170-250
There probably aren't many people who travel without any devices that need plugging at some point. I travel with the Tevina Worldwide Adaptor and haven't had any problems with it so far. It has functions for the UK, Europe and the USA/Australia (the last setting also works in a number of other countries), and has 2 USB ports so you can charge multiple items at once. If you're a heavy electronics user, why not take an extension cable with you as well.
Buy here £14.99
If you are a power wheelchair user, remember to check the power supplies and whether you might need a voltage transformer.
Travel Coffee Press
Chris is a self-confessed coffee addict and must have it percolating through his veins before he starts the daily grind (how many puns?!). In so many places (the USA I'm looking at you), for some strange reason, the coffee just isn't quite right. So why not take the solution with you? Whilst we've not tried it personally, we've heard lots of great things about the Aerobie AeroPress, and it comes with its own case to pack it in. It's lightweight, compact and makes an excellent coffee, perfect for the coffee- and travel-addicted person's stocking. Let's hope Chris' wife reads this!
Buy here £27.46
If they've already booked a holiday, some spending money is always welcome as a gift. Find the best current exchange rates here and slip some hard cash in their Christmas card. Or have a look at pre-loaded currency cards that we're pretty big fans of. The exchange rates are often pretty competitive, and it stops the dilemma of where to hide your cash when travelling (and the dramas of trying to remember the hiding places). I travel with the FairFX card, and if you use this link to get yours they'll waive the usual £9.95 set-up charge.
FairFX card there is a minimum spend value that depends on the currency you're topping up (eg/ €60)
Now what better for the travel addict than buying them a holiday for Christmas? Have a browse on Accomable to see if there's anything that takes your fancy, perhaps you can suffice with an IOU if you can't decide on where/when before December 25th.
There are hundreds more clever items we could have added to the list, but we wanted you to be able to finish reading it before Christmas itself! If you haven't yet made a start on your Christmas shopping, or you have a few stocking fillers to finish off, hopefully this can be of some help. I know there are a few of these that have gone on my Christmas list, I hope Santa is reading!
To keep up to date with our news and goings-on you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or read more of our blog posts here. You can also fill yourself with more Christmas joy by reading our top 10 accessible Christmas Markets to visit.