9 last-minute gifts for folks on the go

5. Privacy:Travelers who spend a lot of time in busy airports and on crowded airplanes can shut the out the racket, for a bit, with noise canceling headphones. Look for them in many airport shops and on-line for $50 to $350.

6. Directions: Cookie-cutter hotels, airports and conference centers can leave even a GPS-equipped traveler disoriented. That's why paper maps are still around. Order a new or old map from Maps.com, www.maps.com (get a 20% discount with the Holiday20 promotion code), or consider an easy-to-pack multi-purpose map printed on a silk handkerchief or scarf from the folks at Silk Road Marketing (www.microsoie.com.) Check the websites for fast shipping options.

7. Travel treats:Gift cards are easy for you to buy and deliver and even easier for frequent travelers to keep stashed in a wallet for that rainy, or more likely, snowy day when schedules go wacky. You can't go wrong if you choose a card for a food or merchandise vendor such as Starbucks, McDonalds or Barnes & Noble, with branches in multiple airports.

8. Truly last minute options:If you've left your holiday shopping to the very last moment and yourself at an airport after all stores have closed, you may still be able to shop. Just look for a vending machine.

ZoomMachines in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, Indianapolis and Minneapolis-St. Paul airports dispense skincare products from Proactiv and Elizabeth Arden and electronic gadgets and accessories from Apple and Sony. At Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport, there's even an automated Shop24 stocked with gift bags and wrapping supplies, so no one needs to know how much of a last-minute shopper you really are.

9. In a pinch:Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you make yourself. Frequent travelers might appreciate a book of vouchers good for rides to or from the airport. And a novice traveler might cherish a certificate for on-call trip planning assistance.

Read previous columns

Harriet Baskas writes about travel etiquette for MSNBC.com and is the author of Stuck at the Airport.

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