The Ultimate Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life
If you have an avid traveler in your life, you know that they’re a special breed. And shopping for birthday gifts, holidays, and special occasions can be daunting. So to help you out, I’ve gathered over 25 of the most useful or treasured gifts for travelers of all different types. Almost all of these items are things I’ve purchased myself and find indispensable for a life on the road, or even just for a quick weekend trip.
Just a note before we dive in—I don’t work directly with any of these brands, but I may make a small affiliate commission from any Amazon sales that come through clicks from my links (which I greatly appreciate, and at no extra cost to you). All opinions are, as always, completely my own!
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Ideas for gifts for travelers
For the international jetsetter
For a frequent traveler, life’s all about being comfortable, connected, and having something to do when you hit travel road bumps.
A great cross-body purse: This one is my all-time fave, and I love it because it’s cute but most importantly it can take about anything. It’s water-resistant, strong fabric, holds a ton…I’ve taken it to dinner at a top-100 restaurant in the world, and taken it hiking in the rain. The strap is comfortable and it packs flat in my suitcase when necessary. You can get it on Amazon or on eBags.
External battery/portable power bank: This Anker one is the best I’ve found, compact and fairly light. While you can only charge one device at once, it charges very quickly and doesn’t drain fast, so overall performance is better than others I’ve tried. Having one of these has saved me multiple times, whether for international travel (all that photography drains your phone battery!) or simple domestic travel (allowed me to take a critical conference call last week when my battery was down to 14%).
Universal plug adapter: Gone are the days of having to buy a new adapter each time you travel somewhere different. This all-in-one works in 150 countries, so covers the majority of the globe. Much easier to keep track of than multiple plugs, and also handy when you’re visiting different regions in one trip (like the UK and France, for instance).
Multi-port travel extender: With built-in surge protection, this thing is a lifesaver when you have multiple devices (and sometimes multiple people) needing to charge, but only one or two stingy hotel outlets. With three plug-ins and two USB ports, this Belkin unit goes on every international trip with me!
TRTL travel pillow: this one can be controversial, and isn’t for everyone. But as a side-sleeper and very poor sleeper, I’ve tried every kind of travel pillow out there and this is hands-down my go-to. The only drawback is that it can get a little warm (which for me on international flights is okay since I’m always cold), but if you have a hot-flasher in your life it might be a bit warm—in which case I have a couple alternate recommendations below. Get it here.
A carry-on to last years: I had the worst luck with luggage, whether cheap or expensive, for years. After doing a ton of research I finally got this TravelPro carry-on and it has been amazing. It’s super roomy (I’ve done two and a half weeks in Europe, including dress clothes), durable, easy to handle, and is expandable for when I go nuts on souvenirs and want to check it back home. If you want more details, I rave about it more here. Get it here.
Foldable duffel bag: want to travel super light but also know you’ll be doing some shopping? A foldable duffel has been my solution on many trips. When not filled, it’s feather-light and folds up to take up almost no room, but if you need an extra bag (like when I accidentally bought 8 kilograms of ceramics in Istanbul), you now have one at your disposal. Get it here, multiple colors available.TSA-compliant corkscrew: Hey, a girl’s gotta have priorities. I cannot TELL you the number of corkscrews that I’ve bought in a pinch overseas and then accidentally forgotten were in my bag and since they have that tiiiiiiny dull knife, have been confiscated. This one is TSA approved, so you can carry it on. One word of warning, you may still get your bag searched because of it, but you CAN take it through (but if you’re sneaking other stuff *cough deodorant* then pull it out ahead of time). Get it here.Quirky giraffe-print scarf: This isn’t as warm as the infinity scarf recommended above, but it’s super cute, lightweight, and comes in several color combinations. If you want something fun and lighter, this is my go-to. Good for covering your shoulders and head in religious sites as well. Get it here.
Rothy’s gift card: I am obsessed with these shoes! I have like…7 pairs now? And wear them seriously everywhere. I love that they’re machine washable and so comfy. They’re not totally perfect, but I haven’t found a pair of shoes yet that is. These are my go-to for walking around and looking chic. You can use this link to get $20 off your first purchase.
Kindle Paperwhite: A.k.a. #1 most necessary travel companion ever! I don’t go ANYWHERE without this baby (seriously, I’ve taken it to my dentist when I wasn’t sure about the wait). It’s lightweight, not backlit (a must for my eyes) but has a built-in light if you need it, and holds thousands of books so that I can entertain myself anytime, anywhere. My mom got me my first one for my birthday back in 2011 and it’s been my security blanket ever since. Get it here; there are multiple versions so see what’s best for you.
Or if your loved one already has a Kindle, consider a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Unlimited reading and listening for $9.99 a month, which becomes quite a steal if they’re a prolific reader like I am!
Adorable cord wranglers: If you know someone with a weakness for adorable animal-themed things, this is a perfect little surprise. These small clamshell organizers help separate your cords and keep them from tangling, and have friendly animal faces for whimsy. Get them here.
Small pouches for organization: Over the years, I’ve found that the only way to keep my giant purse from becoming a disaster is to keep a few small (cute) pouches in there. For instance, I separate my cords into one, various pills (Excedrin, ibuprofen, etc.) and cuticle trimmers into another, and then can actually find things when I need them. This fun fern-themed one is a current favorite.
These ones are adorable as well and currently on my wishlist.
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For the business traveler
Many of the jetsetter essentials above are also my go-to items for business travel (the carry-on suitcase, external battery charger, Kindle, Rothys, scarves, and more). But here are a few additional things that I’ve found suit some of the specifics of biz travel a bit better.
Jenni Chan tote & laptop bag: It is shocking to me how hard it is to find a “personal item” carry-on that works for work travel. Since I’m always traveling carry-on only, I have my small rolling suitcase and then have to have a combination purse/laptop bag that does everything I need. This is my second Jenni Chan bag and I love it! It has long enough straps for comfortable carrying (critical!), a laptop sleeve, and plenty of room and pockets leftover for all my other stuff (cords, glasses, chapstick, notebook, etc.). Get it here.
Tiny rolling carry-on suitcase: I absolutely adore the carry-on suitcase I show above, but what I found was that since I’m a light packer in general, I don’t have a prayer of filling it up for a simple overnight business trip. I’m often flying from Louisville to Chicago for just one night, so don’t need too much. Plus I’m on an itty-bitty crappy plane, so I finally found (and fell in love with) this even smaller rolling TravelPro suitcase. It even fits under your seat on some planes, in a pinch.
Adorable travel journal: yes, it would make more sense to journal on my laptop, but there is something so much more meaningful about having a handwritten record of my travels! The last time I ran out of journal pages, I happened upon this adorable notebook on Amazon and fell in love. There are several different versions, all of them super cute, and the size is perfect for travel. Get it here.
Free Shutterfly photo book: These are my everything, because I totally hate scrapbooking and am too lazy to do it anyway. Shutterfly makes it easy to create a book (they’ll even do it for you if you don’t care), and you can customize as little or as much as you want. Browse their selection here, and consider gifting a book (or creating your own for them).
Go Pro Hero: Yes, this is a super high-ticket item. Not sure I love anyone enough to give them something this expensive 🙂 But if you’re looking for something special and your traveler already has a “real” camera, I’ve found the GoPro to be a great complement. It’s waterproof and pretty hardy, so can handle certain kinds of shooting that a nice camera isn’t as equipped for, and is easy to pop on a selfie stick for a 360-degree view. You might also consider an older model, which get great reviews and seem to last a long time—and aren’t as expensive. Get the Hero5 here or browse others.
64 GB memory card: Ahh, I remember the days of having multiple memory cards, and having to ration out shots or switch cards mid-trip. But even the most avid photographer will take some time to fill up the 64GB version, and at Just over $10, it’s a steal. I have never come close to filling it up on a single trip. Get it here.
Yoozon selfie stick (& tripod) with bluetooth remote: I’ll preface this by saying I hate selfie sticks. But sometimes being a solo traveler is tough…not the least of which when you’re going somewhere absolutely amazing and you aren’t sure how you’ll capture it with just regular selfies. If you have a traveler like that in your life, then this selfie stick is the perfect gift for them. I bought it for my trip to Iceland, and it takes up almost no space, allows you to take awesome far-away selfies that don’t look like selfies, and also set up a small tripod using the remote to capture the perfect moment.
Full disclosure: I haven’t tried these safety-focused gifts myself (except the toothbrush holder) because…well, I don’t tend to get obsessed with certain safety things. But I can tell you my mom wishes I did. I’m sure it will bite me in the butt eventually, and these will be some of the first things I buy.
Portable carbon monoxide detector: These can literally save lives. Not only can this detect the odorless, colorless gas that can kill, it also functions as a smoke alarm, fire alarm, etc. With a 10-year battery and digital display, this should be a part of every trip. Get it here.
RFID-blocking wallet or purse: Sometimes technology is our friend, and sometimes it’s the criminals’ friend. This can protect you from a particular type of theft called RFID skimming, where pickpockets can scan the radio frequency that many new credit cards, passports, drivers licenses, and other forms of ID and payment come with now. There are tons of options out there, but here’s a good women’s wallet option and a good men’s wallet option.
LifeStraw 2-Stage Filtration Bottle: let’s face it, you can’t always trust the water. Perfect for hikers, anyone traveling to destinations without absolutely pristine water systems. This BPA-free bottle has a two-stage filtration system is guaranteed to filter out 99.9999% of water-borne bacterias, parasites, etc. Get it here.
Merino wool neck gaiter: before my trip to Norway last January, I’d never even heard of a neck gaiter. Now I can’t live without it. It’s important that you get one that’s merino wool because it breathes and doesn’t collect moisture, which is super important when it’s really cold (and you’re being active). Minus33 is affordable and high-quality, this was a lifesaver in the Arctic. Get it here.
Quality thermals: Similar to the gaiter, I really didn’t have decent outdoors winter gear until my Norway trip, and now I totally get why people talk about nice thermals and are willing to shell out for quality. I decided to invest in one nice one from Ibex and then supplemented with some fleece-lined tights. I literally wore this thermal shirt for three days (and one night) straight and it didn’t stink or get gross at all. Merino wool FTW. Good ones are expensive, which is why it’s a nice gift to get someone. Here’s a great one.
For the minimalist
Sometimes the best gift can’t be kept. My parents wanted to do something for each of their kids with the small inheritance they got from my grandma, and for me they knew that there wasn’t really an item that I needed at the time. So they got me and my dad a trip to Israel and Jordan, which was absolutely amazing.
So whether it’s skydiving, the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, or a luxurious stay at an overwater villa, think about an experience that would be really special to them, and make that your gift.
A Kindle and the Kindle Unlimited subscription (or Audible subscription) are also really great gifts for people who don’t just want more *stuff*, but enables them to have unlimited entertainment without weighing them down on the road.
I really struggle with finding the perfect gift most of the time, so would love to hear from you—what other gifts for travelers have you found to be special?? Let me know in the comments!
You might also like:
- My Ultimate Airplane Reads: 40+ of the Best Romance & Urban Fantasy Books
- 9 Sunscreens I Swear By For Travel
- The Ultimate Arctic Winter Packing List
- The Best Cross-Body Purse for Travel
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