The iPhone 4S is the first dual-band world iPhone, making it a great gift for anyone who travels internationally. Sprint and Verizon say that they will unlock the iPhone 4S' preloaded SIM card on request for customers in good standing. Just remember that the handset uses a Micro-SIM, which may not be easy to find for prepaid international service.
Should you need a laptop on your travels, it's best to keep things small. The HP Pavilion dm1z is far more powerful than a Netbook, with a long battery life and a compact size, and an AMD processor perfect for streaming videos on the go. It's also, at under $500, incredibly budget-friendly.
As a pure all-around travel gadget, it's nearly impossible to beat the iPad. Yes, an iPad 3 will come out next year, possibly with a better screen, but in the meantime this generation's iPad 2 remains a fantastic product with an incredible variety of apps. It can also double as a laptop replacement on the road, as long as you keep your expectations controlled. FaceTime, Skype, and iMessage make it an ever more robust communications device, too.
No one likes hauling a bunch of books around when traveling. If you or someone you love likes to read a lot, there's no better gift than an e-book reader; you can pack as many titles as you want--travel guides included--for just a couple of pounds. The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet might be tempting for their video-playing capabilities, but the small, cheap, and extremely lightweight Kindle Touch is one of the best buys for travelers on long plane flights who truly like to read. Pay a few extra dollars to remove the ads, if that matters to you, or get the ad-supported version for $99. It's a great choice for an ultraportable and superaffordable e-ink reader.
Especially if you're traveling overseas, compatible electrical outlets are like gold. You may only have one adapter, and you won't have any surge protection. Belkin and Monster both make affordable, portable solutions, and they've been our go-to picks for years. Outlets To Go (left) has an extra extension cord for narrow outlets and folds up tight, plus it includes an extra USB port and three outlets. Belkin's surge protector has the same number of outlets but adds an extra USB port. Yes, they can charge iPads. Both cost under $30.
If the place you're going to has a car, adding a simple car adapter with USB ports is a must for gadget charging. Griffin's solution is small, has two USB ports, and is cheap: it's currently selling for as low as $12.
A good pair of noise-blocking headphones is a key traveler necessity. Depending on your tastes, you might prefer in-ear isolating buds or over-the-ear headphones with noise-canceling technology. These pricey Bose headphones fall into the latter category: they're battery-powered, but are extremely comfortable for long-term use.
A good battery-pack case for your phone can make the difference when leaning on your handset for Wi-Fi browsing in remote places. For the iPhone 4 and 4S, the Mophie JuicePack Air ($80) combines a powerful battery with a compact case, without adding too much bulk.