Finding the perfect travel gifts can be hard.
We’ve all been there. Hands up if you’ve glanced at your calendar, only to discover with a slight hint of terror that your best friend’s birthday is rapidly approaching. Or some well-meaning, chirpy individual sings “only 40 days until Christmas!“, and you have to fight the urge to leap upon them and deliver a flurry of blows to their tender parts.
It’s okay! Really! (except for beating people up; put that poor sales assistant down!)
Your personal shopper for travel gifts ideas
If you raised your hand to the above, we should totally be friends, because I completely know how you feel. I’ve got a lot of friends who are frequent travelers, and coming up with good travel gift ideas for them can be tricky! I never know what they want or need, and I hate having to ask them for a list. That just feels like cheating.
But here’s where I come to your rescue! Because I’m a frequent traveler myself, so I have an awesome insight into what makes good gifts for people who love to travel – and I know the items they’ll love. Gifts that they’ll use, gifts that they never realised they needed, but instantly become their favourite travel items. Yes, the legendary gift that keeps on giving!
So, I’m going to be your personal shopper today, with none of the hiring costs! I’ve produced a gift guide that has everything you’ll need to make someone’s day special. I’ve even sourced them on Amazon as much as I can, because we all love easy ordering and free postage, right?
Whether you need gifts for friends going traveling, or the perfect present for your problematic partner, it’s here! I’ll cover:
- the best travel gifts for women
- the best travel gifts for men
- really useful gifts that’ll make travel easier
- stocking filler gifts
- Books to inspire
- Gifts for outdoorsy types
- and the amazing, the outstanding, the unicorn-like ULTIMATE TRAVEL GIFT. Ooooo!
Okay, enough talk. Let’s do this!
Best travel gifts for her
Here come the girls! More and more women are taking up the solo travel mantle, but whether they’re going it alone or traveling with others, here’s the gifts that us ladies will love!
Life Less Ordinary bracelets
When it comes to travel-themed unique gift ideas, Life Less Ordinary are the cream of the crop. I see a lot of travel jewellery and gifts online, but LLO elevate themselves above the competition by allowing you to fully customise your choice, making it super special and significant to your loved one. Let me explain!
Take a look at the Life Less Ordinary site, and you’ll see an array of gorgeous choices – bracelets, necklaces and anklets, adorned with a little plaque (which is made from a non-allergenic nut, fact fans!). See those ones with the coordinates on? You can choose any place in the world that takes your fancy – the city where you took your first solo trip, or the exact place your fiance proposed. Or do what I did, and get one that’ll remind you of home. Basically, whatever you like! You can then choose which colour band you want it on, and Life Less Ordinary will deliver it super-fast! You can even get a secret message engraved on the backs of all their other bracelets. With cute cats, motivational messages, and nature-inspired symbols, you’re bound to find something they’ll love.
I’ve got three of Life Less Ordinary’s items, and I can truly vouch for their quality. They make a great and unique travel gift!
Ocean & Co
The gorgeous items on offer from Ocean & Co are perfect for the water goddess in your life – as well as lovers of the environment!
Check out the site, and you’ll see that their jewellery and accessories have a distinct ocean-fresh scent about them, from their iconic turtle bracelets to wave-shaped rings. Their clothing range follows suit, with tees, hoodies and hats in a range of perfectly-Instagrammable colours, all bearing a strong environmental message. But best of all, in my opinion, is the accessories – stainless steel straws, bamboo toothbrushes, and reusable water bottles provide everything the eco-conscious traveler could ever want.
Want some even better news? You’ll get 10% off your order by using my Ocean & Co discount coupon! Hurrah! Simply type in ANXIOUSTRAV10 at the checkout, and you’re all set!
As a travel fan who loves fair trade shiny things, I am all about NOVICA. I absolutely love what they do, and if you don’t find the perfect gift there, you’re not looking hard enough!
NOVICA partners up with local artisans in regions such as Mexico, the Andes, Thailand, India and Brazil, and gives them a platform on which to sell their wares. If your loved one is the kind of person who enjoys poking around foreign markets and bringing back all kinds of clothing and ornaments (I’m completely guilty as charged of this, by the way), then they’ll absolutely love the items available here. You can pick up everything from Peruvian shawls made from alpaca wool, to stylish leather tote bags from India, to hammocks from Brazil. Not only will your home (or good self!) look super-cool, but you’ll have the warm fuzzy feeling of having supported a genuine craftsperson get a fair price for their goods.
Psst – if you want to go all-in on the travel themed gifts, check out the gorgeous travel bags and passport wallets! Perfect gifts!
There are some things which defeat even the most hardened, most experienced, pro traveler. And the name of that evil force is this: hair tangles.
Yes, these little balls of darkness can ruin any traveler’s day, and that’s why a Tangle Teezer can make one of the very best travel gift ideas for her! Imagine a scenario: your loved one is exploring somewhere new and exciting. Maybe it’s Budapest. Maybe they’ll decide to climb to the top of the very large hill in the city, in order to check out the glorious views and the Liberty Statue there. And, just maybe, it’ll be extremely windy, and their beloved locks will end up in a massive tangle.
Well, that happened to me (you can check out my Instagram for the evidence!), and that was when I got a Tangle Teezer. They’re designed differently from a normal hairbrush, with cone-shaped bristles that actually detangle your hair rather than pulling at it. The brush is small, and fits handily into a bag. Perfect! Honestly, these could also go into the “really useful” and “stocking filler” sections of this travel gift guide; they’re that darn awesome.
Travel size cosmetics
(Smashbox travel primer set, Benefit World O’ Blush, Smashbox mini photo matte eyes)
Unless your travel gal is super into makeup, and is totally fine with hauling the entire makeup collection across the globe, she’ll probably want to go fairly minimal for her travels. But at the same time, most folks want to make sure they look their absolute best. Hmm, how to weigh the two options?
Throw out that set of decision-making scales; you don’t need them! You can buy something that’ll have your loved one squealing with excitement, whilst not taking up too much room in the luggage. Travel size cosmetic sets are an absolute godsend for the makeup-loving miss, and are an ideal travel gift. The beauty of them lies in the fact that you don’t have to compromise on quality for their smaller size. Yup, you don’t have to buy some brand you’ve never heard of, and which will have a fake smile plastered all over the recipient’s face. You can buy professional-grade eyeshadow palettes and primer from Smashbox, and an adorable travel-themed blush box from Benefit. Trust me: your loved one will be over the moon with them!
Guys, a subscription to Spotify is the perfect travel gift. Not only can you use it to relax on a plane, and drown out all those pesky crying children and engine noises, but you can create playlists that’ll remind you of all those magical experiences. Plus you can totally use it to block out unwanted conversations from random people on buses! (yes, I’ve done that.)
Luckily, Amazon has you covered! You can buy Spotify gift cards directly from them, meaning that you won’t have to fiddle around with Spotify’s occasionally unwieldy website, entering in your loved ones’ email address and hoping for the best. Hop on Amazon, decide whether you want to gift them a subscription for three months or a year, purchase, and a little card will wing its way to you. Wrap that little sucker up (or put it in a big, exciting-looking box if you’re slightly cruel), and give it to them on the big day. She’ll be travelling in style with her favourite tunes, and no annoying ads!
There are certain items that once you discover they exist, you’ll never travel without them again. You tell bemused relatives about them, until they start to edge away from you. Needless to say, they make ideal gifts.
One of these magical items is the foldable hat. Yes!! No longer will your loved one need to wear a straw hat through the airport, or have to grimly cling on to it for the entire length of a bus journey. Get a foldable hat, and they can stuff it into a backpack with the rest of their belongings. When they need it, they can drag it back out, and it’ll pop right into shape!
I got my packable hat when I was visiting the Amalfi Coast, and I frankly haven’t shut up about them since. They’re cool, they take up hardly any space, they’re made of a material which doesn’t crease or spindle, and they save you from getting burnt. Plus they make you look cute as heck on Instagram. Get one of these, and I guarantee it’ll be a precious travel item for years to come.
Travel gifts are a funny thing. Sometimes they’re completely and utterly for the person you’re giving them to. And then sometimes, you get travel gifts that benefit you at home, too. This is one of the latter.
I always recommend travelling with a personal alarm, whether you’re male or female, but unfortunately it can’t be denied that women tend to be targeted by wrongdoers. Getting your jetsetter a personal alarm is hopefully unnecessary, and hopefully something they’ll never need to use, but it’ll definitely give both of you some peace of mind.
I recommend the ones made by Vigilant, as I own one myself and can vouch for them. They’re small and can be hidden in the palm of your hand, with a little grenade-style pin that can be pulled out. Doing so unleashes an unholy cacophony loud enough to deter any would-be attackers, and the siren alerts any passers-by. It’s effective and simple to use, and it might just be a real lifesaver for your loved ones!
I know what you’re thinking – why would I need to buy someone a watch? They’ve got a mobile phone for telling the time!
Well, that’s likely true. But there’s a lot of situations when you’re traveling when you simply don’t want to be pulling out your expensive phone – if you’re going through a none too salubrious area, it’s a definite no-no. If you’re laden down with bags and things in your hands, and you’re rushing to hop on a train, do you really want to have to set all that down just to check if you’re on time? Nah.
That’s where good ol’ fashioned wristwatches come into play, and I personally love the ones from Nordgreen. Their ultra-chic Scandi design isn’t too ostentatious (meaning that you won’t be an immediate thief-magnet), but their high quality and sleek lines mean that they’ll cut a dash if you rock up at a fancy restaurant in all your finery. Useful, versatile, and beautiful!
I was very kindly given a watch by Nordgreen, and as all opinions are most definitely my own, I can tell you that they’re a quality product – ine has a leather strap so buttery soft that I don’t even notice it’s on my wrist. Perfect for travel, and their Giving Back program means that it’s perfect for helping communities around the world!
A backpack is just a backpack, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, it sits on your shoulders just the same. Right??
Hmm, not so much. I used to think that backpacks were all the same, until I bought my Osprey Fairview 40. Holy cow; it’s so much more comfortable! I never realised how much difference it makes to have a pack that’s designed for a female form. It actually takes into account the shape of a woman’s hips and sits accordingly, and if I may be so frank, it’s a lot more comfortable around the boobage. My backpack consistently weighs a ton thanks to my rather heavy laptop, and having a bag that’s designed for my form means that I can wear it for hours with no problems. Alternatively, my boyfriend really struggles to wear it, so that shows you how well it’s designed for female travelers.
Also, you just can’t go wrong with Osprey packs – they’re the best-made ones out there. If your travel girl needs a bag to haul around the world, they’re definitely the way to go! And Amazon often has some great deals on their products; check it out!
Best travel gifts for him
Although all the travel gifts in this guide are largely unisex (no gender stereotyping here!), here’s some that are traditionally aimed at the menfolk. Get your guy travelling!
Philips Norelco PQ208/40 travel razor
Guys want to look good on the road just as much as girls do. And if we want to compare the amount of time that my boyfriend takes in the bathroom versus the time I take, he wins. Men have a lot of grooming to do.
Make it easier for the chap in your life by getting him a Philips Norelco travel razor. It’s by Philips, so you know it’s a good, reliable product, and it’s been specifically designed for travel. Have a look through the reviews, and you’ll see that this little gem takes a kicking and keeps on ticking – basically, just what you need for something that’s going to be crammed into a backpack or suitcase. It also has one of the longest battery lives of any razor of its size, and devotees speak of a nice close shave. It’s ideal if you’re spending a long time traveling, but need to smarten up for dinners and events.
DUDE shower body wipes
I’m not stereotyping here, because I’m totally coveting these wipes myself (genuinely – I’m definitely getting some for my next trip!), but it’s probably fair to say that some men get a little… scented… on the road.
It’s fair enough. Men are a little more prone to strong scents, and if you’re on an active trip, that increases your chances of being a little fragrant. Happily for all of us, the dudes at DUDE Products had their lives changed by baby wipes, and have since been devoted to producing wipes for men that are disposable yet eco-friendly. The DUDE shower wipes are their best product, getting blokes clean and fresh-smelling in those moments when a shower just isn’t an option. Early start to catch a flight? Use one of these. Long layover in an airport? Use one of these. Mountain climbing in the height of the summer, and feeling a bit pongy? You get the picture.
The wipes can also be used by dudettes, and are completely cruelty-free – the only thing they get tested on are other dudes!
Life Less Ordinary bracelets
When I was waxing lyrical about my love of Life Less Ordinary and their personalized travel gifts earlier, did I mention that they’re unisex? And that they look pretty darn fine on men too? Yup!
The lovely (and very creative) Amie and Joe, founders of LLO, have a range of travel-inspired bracelets that’ll suit your loved one down to the ground. Check out the ‘Fernweh’ circular coordinates bracelet (fully customisable, same as I described in the ladies’ section!), or the ‘Starry Night’ forest bracelet for an avid hiker. Or you can go for one of my favourites – the ‘WHAT3WORDS” bracelet. Go on the What3Words website, and you’ll see the world divided up into a massive grid, with each location having its own combination of three words. Get one that marks a specific favourite spot – home, or perhaps the centre spot on the pitch of his football team. If you want to give it a try, put stage.shark.steep into the site, and you’ll find my club!
It’s a really fun way of marking a special spot – and giving him a conversation starter!
Atlas Coffee Club
If your man is anything like mine, then he needs a constant flow of caffeine through the veins. That’s why a coffee subscription can be one of the best travel gifts for men!
But where does the travel element come in, I hear you ask? Don’t worry; your bloke won’t have to go and harvest the beans himself. Instead, the very nice people at Atlas Coffee Club send you coffees from around the world! You’re getting only the best beans, sourced ethically and sustainably, from places like El Salvador, Rwanda and Congo. It’s a true world tour, without even having to leave the house. If your loved one is a true travel fan, and yearns to get the flavour of being on the road whilst waiting for the next adventure, then this really is perfect. It might even inspire their next trip!
The subscriptions are available as a gift, and they’re really reasonably priced! The recipient will even get postcards from the places their coffee hails from, making it a great experience for the coffee and travel gourmet!
Travel gadget bag
Have you ever walked into the room of your favorite man, and seen a veritable spider’s web of cables? Have you ever had to untangle their earphones for them, whilst they give you a despairing look? Just how do they do that?
In my experience, men are terrible at keeping their gadgets and cables tidy, leading to an inevitable tangle which sprawls throughout their backpack. You try to take a phone charger out, and it hauls up eighteen different cables, his least-nice underpants, and a small dog which got trapped in the chaos. Solve these issues, and ensure that underpants stay where they should, by getting a gadget bag! They’re small and sturdy (not to mention waterproof and shockproof), and allow your guy to stow away all his gadgets and cables tidily. The excellent space management means that it’ll take up far less room, and be much more organised, than just plopping it in a pack. You can fit everything from phones, chargers and cables, to power banks, memory cards, and adapters. He can even stick his passport in there, and keep it safe.
Let’s face it: the man in your life needs one of these. Get one, and you’ll never need to untangle those earphones ever again!
Hanging toiletry bag
These bags are just the perfect travel accessory. My boyfriend has one, and swears by it. I want one, frankly.
Buuuuut… hanging toiletry bags for travel often have a bit of a drawback. They tend to be made from slightly plasticky nylon, which means that they look all nice and waterproof at first. The trouble is that those nice looks don’t really last. The nylon gets water stains, with a slight film of toothpaste. They get grungier and grubbier, and little mounds of dirt start to pile up in the corners. The water has nowhere to drain off, or soak in, so the whole thing just ends up looking nasty. Ick.
So, how about getting one that isn’t nylon? How about one that’s leather, that allows excess water to run off, that breathes a bit? And most importantly, looks a hell of a lot more expensive than what you actually paid for it?
Get this awesome Vetelli hanging toiletry bag for men, and your loved one will be able to store all his products in the hotel bathroom without looking sloppy, because you know that housekeeping are silently judging you. And his toothbrush won’t have that weird smell anymore! It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
It kind of sucks for men. If I’m traveling but know that I’ve got to attend a fancy event whilst I’m away, I can roll up a dress or skirt and plop them in my backpack. Men are pretty much expected to wear a suit, and that thing is getting wrecked in a backpack.
For business travelers, it’s a constant battle. How the heck are you supposed to keep that thing wrinkle-free? What do you do with all the other parts of your outfit, like shoes and ties? Do they just take up the limited space in your suitcase?
Make life easier for your loved one by getting him a ZEGUR carry-on garment bag, and he’ll be able to zip that pesky suit up in its own special bag, and even take it on the plane with him. It’ll stop it from getting creased or rumpled, and has pockets for shoes and ties – it’ll save so much room in the case!
Yeah, I know I covered Osprey backpacks in the ladies gifts section, but now it’s time for the manly version! With extra MAN!
As we discussed above, my boyfriend finds my backpack really uncomfortable to wear because it’s so well designed for my rather-differently shaped body. But the reverse would be true for Osprey’s range for men: they’re perfectly engineered to suit a man’s shape, and not pinch or rub anywhere they shouldn’t. The Farpoint is the gold standard of men’s backpacks, and you just can’t go wrong with Osprey packs. I have three in total, of all different sizes, and they’re so incredibly well-made. Just to put it into perspective, my boyfriend has had three different backpacks in the time that I’ve had my biggest Osprey pack – and they’ve all broken.
You get what you pay for with Osprey, and their packs have a lifetime guarantee. If your loved one is going travelling, make sure that he’s going to be well-equipped, and not having to buy a new bag on the road!
Stocking filler travel gifts (under 20$)
We all love a cheap travel gift – that little stocking filler that costs next to nothing, but changes the travel life of the recipient. Those budget strokes of genius!
Here’s the best travel items you can get for under $20 – check price, order, win at life!
An organizer is one of the best travel presents you can receive. I can totally vouch for that, because I received one from my boyfriend, and it’s accompanied me on every trip ever since!
Imagine the scenario: you’ve got a nice backpack full of clothes and essentials. You’ve got your backpack in a snug, internal pocket, because you don’t want to make life easy for potential pickpockets. You stride confidently through the airport, reach into your pack for your passport – and it’s slid right down to the bottom. You can’t get hold of it at all, not without taking allll your belongings and dumping them over the floor of the terminal. Sounds unrealistic? Guess again, because that’s exactly what happened to me in Amsterdam‘s Schiphol airport! Yay!
Avoid your loved one having to dump their underwear over the floor by getting them a travel wallet. You can put your passport, boarding pass, credit cards, currencies and more in there, and a handy straplet means you can dangle it off your wrist and not need to go into your bag once!
Travel adaptors are brilliant stocking filler gift ideas – they’re so cheap, but every single traveler will need one!
This adaptor from Joomfeen is genuinely one of the best I’ve seen, and definitely for the cheapest price. No shoddy products here: the adaptor is nice and sturdy, and has plugs that flip out so that you can use it pretty much anywhere in the world. Yup, you don’t have to get them a European plug, plus an Asian one, plus another for anywhere else – this covers them everywhere. Your loved one won’t have to worry about charging up phones or laptops, and being cut off from communicating with you. It’s even got two USB ports on the side for charging phones, and trust me, that is SUPER handy.
Travel pillows often make these lists of travel gift ideas, and for good reason – they’re actually pretty invaluable on a long flight, when you just want to sleep and relax. But not all travel pillows are created equally.
Fellow travel gift hunters: I want to talk to you about the greatest kind of travel pillow. I want to talk to you about… memory foam.
Yup, that stuff that gives you a really good night’s sleep when you have a mattress made out of it, works equally well when it’s wrapped around your neck and shoulders. Don’t settle for the standard, cheapy beanbag travel pillow, because those things give you no support. Inflatable ones are even worse.
Think that a memory foam one is going to be too expensive? Guess again! Check out this pillow from Zamat, which comes with a bag for transport, and prepare to have your presumptions on price blown away!
Luggage tags make ideal small travel gifts. Why? Because they can quite literally save you from having your bags picked up and whisked away by someone else.
Let’s conduct a small experiment. How many times have you flown on a plane? When you arrived at the airport, how many times have you stood at the luggage carousel, seeing a parade of identical-looking cases stream past? And how many times have you said “is that my one? I’m not sure… oh, no it’s not.” Quite a few, right?
The majority of luggage is pretty uniform in looks, it has to be said. They’re mostly just plain black, unless you’ve forked out for a case which is completely bright and different. But for most of us, it’s a case of having to make our luggage stand out.
Luggage tags are a ridiculously cheap and simple way of doing that – and there’s so many different ones these days that you can get something that completely suits your loved one’s personality! All without breaking the bank!
Like travel pillows, not all eye masks are created equally. You might think that you can get by with that ages-old eye mask that came free when you flew with Generic Airlines that time, but – no. Just trust me. No.
If you’re going to attempt sleeping on a plane, or if your hotel room is next to a busy street and is letting too much light in, you’re going to need better than a freebie. Because you’ll pull out that eye mask, and discover that the elastic at the back is all distorted and floppy, and that the mask itself lets in a ton of light right by your nose. I know this, because that’s exactly what I’ve done before.
Get yourself a quality eye mask, like this one from Mavogel – a good one is a lot cheaper than you think! See how there’s stretchy material over the nose? That’s exactly what you want: firm enough that it won’t let any light through, and soft enough that you can still sleep comfortably.
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important factors in enjoying your trip, and not making mistakes abroad. Why compromise?
Microfiber travel towel
Is your loved one yearning to go backpacking somewhere warm and sunny? Do they visualise themselves enjoying a day at the beach, slipping into the waves for a refreshing dip? Or are they boating off the coast of Italy, able to swim whenever they like?
And when they dry off, do you really want them to have a towel that’ll stay soaking wet for roughly two days, and end up making everything stink of mustiness?
No, you don’t want that, and neither do they.
Avoid such social faux pas by getting them a microfiber travel towel. These things are thirstier than a dehydrated camel, and they’ll absorb water quicker than a whole warehouse full of Bounty. The beauty of them is that they dry incredibly quickly; hang them up for a bit, and they’re good to go!
No-one wants to be held back on their journey by a wet towel. Grab one of these cheap but invaluable items, and a whole new kind of freedom is yours!
One of my favorite travel items, and most certainly a stocking filler travel gift. You just can’t beat a travel journal.
There’s just no better way to truly fix your travel memories in your mind than by filling out a travel journal every day. Even photos aren’t as good: they tend to capture a moment, but not the thoughts and emotions of what you’ve done on your trip. Photos are a screenshot of time; a journal is a record.
Thankfully, there’s a plethora of travel journals available, just waiting to be filled with magical moments. The designs are so wonderful; you can get something that’s specifically designed for travel and travelers. They don’t even cost much! In exchange for a few dollars, you can make sure that your loved ones’ trip is something they’ll remember forever.
That’s got to be worth it!
Really useful travel gifts
A traveler is only ever as good as their travel bag. I’ve spoken about my love of quality backpacks above, but if you want the ultimate must-have travel accessory, an anti-theft backpack is the way to go.
There’s a lot of ways that sticky-fingered thieves can get into your backpack without you even noticing. When you’re distracted by amazing sights and vistas, it’s easy to quietly unzip a pack and help yourself to whatever’s inside. Or, even more devastatingly, knives can slash the material to allow access – something I experienced myself in London. Fortunately, my bag was just thick enough to foil the attempt, but it was a close one.
Save yourself the worry by getting an anti-theft backpack from Nayosmart. Their packs are slashproof, and have secret pockets and lockable zippers that’ll keep even the most determined thief out. They carry a heck of a lot more stuff than their size would indicate, and there’s even an external USB port so that your loved one can keep their gadgets charged on the go.
Check out the whole Nayosmart range; they deliver quickly, and make perfect travel companions!
If you’re looking for useful travel gifts for your loved one, how about the ability to converse with locals in their own language? Yup, that’s going to be pretty useful, right?
I’ve been a Babbel user for years, and it’s by far my favorite language learning program. I taught myself Italian using its app – which is instinctive to use, and just downright fun! – to an impressive level of fluency. Just to give you an example, I was sitting on a train to Naples in Italy when the driver announced that the service was cancelled, and to get the train on another platform. It was completely in Italian, but I knew enough to understand and follow the instructions. I’d probably still be there now, otherwise!
It’s super easy to give a Babbel as a gift, too – you just pick a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription, purchase it, and receive a code. Your loved one can then pick between 14 language courses, including French, Spanish, Russian and Indonesian. It’s amazing how quickly they’ll pick it up!
The ability to learn even a bit of the language is one of the very best travel gifts you can give – and definitely one of the most useful!
Try Babbel Now
Yes, folks, we live in the age of the selfie.
Taking photos of yourself in front of something awesome abroad is nothing new, but thanks to the power of Instagram, capturing the perfect shot has never been so popular.
But let’s face it: selfie mode on your phone just doesn’t cut the mustard. You need a full-length photo of yourself climbing that mountain, or looking wistfully at a temple. But how can you do that without pressing your expensive photographic equipment into the unknown hands of a total stranger?
Tripods; that’s how! I have one myself, and they are genuinely the best thing ever, especially for solo travelers. They’re solidly made, holding your camera or smartphone in an iron grip, but the legs are bendy – you can get exactly the angle you want, or even wrap it around a tree branch.
Best thing of all? You can activate the camera by using a small remote control that fits in your hand. No more having to mess around with timers, or looking like a total tourist with a selfie stick! Make sure that your loved one brings back the most fabulous photos with one of these!
Okay, this might seem like a very strange, and somewhat dull entry on the list of gifts for someone traveling abroad. But it’s actually one of the most valuable gifts you can give.
Let’s be frank. Sometimes things go wrong when you’re out in the world, and even if your loved one is the most sensible being on the planet, they can still fall foul of bad luck. Taxi rides crashing. Bags getting lost. Pickpockets. Sports injuries. You just don’t know what can happen – but if it does happen, you can bet that your loved one will be far better off if they have travel insurance.
Around 40% of young people travel without insurance. FORTY. PERCENT. Oh my goodness, people. It’s not worth the risk.
So, who do you trust to keep you insured when traveling? In my opinion, you can’t do better than World Nomads. For years, they’ve specialised in covering the travels of backpackers and wanderers, because they’re travellers themselves. Unlike mainstream insurance companies, they know what kind of activities your loved ones will be experiencing, and cover them accordingly. They’re there for you 24 hours a day, and will get you out of an emergency.
Use the widget below, and get a quote for your traveler’s trip. Insurance isn’t just a useful gift; it’s a vital one!
I don’t know about you, but when it’s time to pack my bags, I feel a mild sense of dread.
Not because I’m not looking forward to going away, but because the whole experience is so unnecessarily stressful! Aside from trying to remember if you’ve got everything, it’s the whole process of cramming clothes in, making sure they don’t crease, and getting the whole thing vaguely organized. Then you reach your destination, and realise that everything is completely all over the place, and you can’t find a thing.
Packing cubes are your friend, and you need them! Not only do they allow you to zip your belongings into little cubes, keeping them neat and tidy, but it’s much easier to keep different types of garments together. Put all your underwear together, and you’ll never need to dig through everything for that last pair of socks ever again.
Also, because your clothes are in neat little packages, you can actually get more in! That’s a lifesaver!
Power bank / backup battery
I’ve been asked many a time what my must-have travel item is, especially as I’m a firm believer in gadgets that help people with travel anxiety. My first answer, every single time, is a power bank.
I have completely lost count of how many times my power bank has saved my bacon, purely by acting as a backup battery. I’m on my phone a lot when I’m abroad, because I’m constantly consulting map apps and taking photos, and there’s been a lot of times when I would’ve been completely screwed by my phone battery running out. My power bank is nothing exceptional, but it allows me to charge up my phone four times at least. That’s four times that I can relax, knowing that I can navigate my way to where I need to be.
If you want to give your loved one the most useful power bank for travel, get a solar powered one. They don’t cost much more than the regular ones, and they’re soooo good! You can even attach them to your bag via a carabiner, so that they’re charging as you’re walking around!
Get them one, and they’ll never have a low phone battery ever again!
Alongside power banks on my list of top travel tips are noise-cancelling headphones. Because OMG, travel has too many unnecessary noises.
How many times have you been on a plane, to be confronted with a seeming crèche-load of screaming babies? Or have you been driven to madness by annoying people on trains? Have you got to your hotel, and discovered that a tram runs right underneath your window?
I have done all those things, and that is why noise canceling headphones are at the top of my personal Christmas wish list (hi Mum and Dad, if you’re reading!).
Yes, they can be expensive. But giving someone the ability to block out unwanted, migraine-causing noises is truly one of the best luxury travel gifts you can give. Plus, they’re amazing for anyone with travel anxiety, because they block out the engine noise on a plane. It really makes an incredible difference.
Trust me, these things are worth their weight in gold!
Drinking water and staying hydrated is an underrated aspect of travel. I recently visited Paris, and didn’t drink nearly enough – I was too busy springing excitedly down boulevards – and I felt like absolute crud a couple of days later.
That was Paris: if I’d been somewhere a bit warmer, I would’ve been seriously endangering my health.
So, it’s important for your loved one to carry a water bottle with them, and drink as much as possible. Constantly buying bottles can be both pricy and unfriendly to the environment, so how about getting them a bottle they can refill? Thanks to the war against plastic, it’s easier than ever to find places that will fill your bottle, from bars and restaurants to public taps in airports.
Want to keep them hydrated, and as healthy as possible? If you’re buying for someone who’s planning to travel in a region with unreliable water, get them a bottle that’ll filter the water before they drink it, such as one from Sawyer or LifeStraw. Their gut, and their health insurance, may well thank you for it!
A subscription to this simple app really is one of the most useful gifts for travel lovers!
I’ve written quite in-depth about TripIt before (I recently named it as a must-have app for female and LGBTQ travelers), and that’s for one simple reason: I absolutely freakin’ love it!
TripIt Pro is the no-holds barred, ridiculously useful version of everyone’s favorite travel organizer app. It scans my emails, takes out all the details about trips I’ve booked, and keeps them in one place. I can access flight times, hotel addresses, and checkout times at the touch of a button. It’ll let me check the safety score of a neighborhood before I even arrive. I’ve touched down on the runway of Prague airport, and had TripIt immediately tell me which number baggage carousel my bag is on. It’s superb.
If your loved one could use being a bit more organized, get this for them. They’ll never miss a flight again – TripIt will even send them a reminder when they need to leave for the airport!
If you want to learn more before you commit, check out my full, in-depth review of TripIt Pro!
Travel gifts for outdoors fans and adventure travelers
Adventure travel gifts can be some of the trickiest to buy – after all, if you’re buying for a relative, you might not have a clue what they need for hiking or camping. Fear not, though, as there’s still plenty of things you can buy that’ll be treasured!
These could go in the “useful travel gifts” section too, as they’re stupidly useful for anyone who totes a backpack on a regular basis, but it’s for outdoor travel that these things really shine.
Need to attach a water bottle to your pack? Carabiner! How about a travel pillow? Carabiner! Maybe some funky hiking boots that you don’t want to put inside the pack itself? Carabiner!
You get the idea – these are the lynchpin of many a hiking or camping trip, but they can also get lost incredibly easily too. Buy your loved one a quality pack of these, and they really will thank you for it.
Bonus: carabiners are never expensive. See how many you can get for a handful of cash!
Let’s talk about socks. Where would Christmas or birthdays be without the humble sock? But we’re not talking socks with reindeer or your name on; we’re talking travel socks!
Fact of life: hiking requires that you have good, tough boots. Sad fact of life: those boots are wonderful for keeping your foot safe and dry, but they can be rather harsh on poor old socks. My boyfriend has a pair of thick hiking socks that have been worn to oblivion, thanks to the way they rub against his boots.
So even though it sounds like a cliche, socks are an awesome present for adventure travelers. You’ll be keeping them warm and cozy, and avoiding the evil blisters that ruin trips!
If they’re traveling to particularly cold climes, check out the thermal options – I’ve got a pair, and my feet have genuinely never been so toasty!
If your first thought on seeing the title was “I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter”, then you get imaginary internet points! If your second thought was “ooo, that sounds really useful!”, then you get points too!
Anyone who’s ever watched an episode of Survivor will know just how important fire is to anyone spending time outdoors – and you’ll also be aware of how much the castaways covet the magnesium fire starters given away as prizes. People get voted off for losing or wasting those suckers.
You can ensure that your loved one doesn’t get voted off the island by getting them their own magnesium fire starter, thanks to renowned equipment company The Friendly Swede! It sparks up and starts fires super-fast, meaning that they can keep warm and cook whenever they need to – potentially a lifesaver.
What’s the point of hiking out into the wilderness and taking in some awesome views of you can’t see it properly?
Binoculars make fantastic travel gifts for many reasons. You can use them to take in those sweeping vistas, especially if you’ve just hiked up a mountainside. You can watch the wildlife, whether you’re hiking or on safari. Or, if the worst happens and you get lost, you can use them to scope out the terrain ahead and work out which way to go for help. Yup, they’re not just handy for looking at pretty things.
A really top-of-the-range pair of binoculars is likely to set you back a bit of cash, but there’s a lot of very decent options at far more affordable prices – you may well be surprised! Your loved one is certainly likely to be surprised, and very grateful!
LuminAID solar powered lantern
LuminAID market themselves as “makers of brilliant things”, and they’re completely accurate with that!
Solar powered lanterns are incredibly useful, especially if you’re hiking or camping. Imagine being in a tent in the woods, completely surrounded by darkness – you’re going to want a lantern there. Or if you suddenly have to go to your car in the dark. Even worse – what if your car breaks down in the dark?
I especially love LuminAID because of the way they came about. The company’s founders were students at Colombia University, who were inspired by the terrible scenes they witnessed following a hurricane in Haiti. They developed a lantern that could be folded up, but take in solar power to provide illumination during the night. They’ve since appeared on Shark Tank, and donated lanterns to hundreds of countries around the world.
Blankets are one of those items that people don’t even realize are needed. You’re going camping? You need blankets? Oh, you can totally use that one that sits on the end of your bed, right?
If your loved one is an avid camper, then they’re going to be spending time out in the wilderness, sleeping on the ground. It gets cold out there, and grabbing random blankets from your house is probably not going to cut it. When it comes to camping, never just “make do”, else you can expect a cold and uncomfortable night.
Luckily, there’s a metric ton of professional-grade camping blankets, and they’re all guaranteed to keep you snuggly and warm! The best kind are undoubtedly the down-filled, padded variety, which trap warm air in a delicious layer above your sleeping form. If you can get one with its own carry case, then that’s even better!
If your loved one is traveling in the tropics, or anywhere with a pool or a coastline, the chances are that they’ll be taking a dip at some point. When you’ve got gleaming blue seas and soft white beaches, it’d be rude not to!
So, treat them to some new swimwear! And for extra present-points, get something that’s completely Instagrammable and at the height of fashion! Camping and clothing site Trekeffect genuinely has one of the best selections of swimwear I’ve ever seen, ranging from the practical to the downright sultry. There’s something for every taste on there.
Have a browse through for something they’ll love, and ensure that they’ll never have to experience the shame of wearing that saggy old swimsuit!
Psst – pop in the coupon code THATANXIOUSTRAVELLER at the checkout, and you’ll get 10% off!
What’s your biggest nightmare when it comes to being out in the woods? Unless you have some very niche dreams about being mercilessly hunted down by honey badgers, it’s probably being lost and alone.
And that’s fair enough. It’s when you’re on your own that danger is most likely to come knocking. If there’s no-one to help you, and you happen to get injured, a nightmare can soon become a lethal situation.
If you go hiking with a partner or family, or if you’re at home whilst your loved one heads out, get a Primetracking Personal GPS tracker. With one of these tiny devices in your pack, your partner can track where you are on their phone – they can even see the route you took to get there! Have one each, and you’re both covered.
These trackers work on 4G, and have an SOS button for worst case scenarios. They’re excellent for keeping safe out in the wild!
Travel books to inspire wanderlust
Travel books can be one of the best gifts for travelers. They inspire, they educate, they take us away to another world. Here’s my selection of favorite travel books to get the wanderlust flowing!
This is where it all began for me. Bill Bryson’s writing inspired my love of travel writing, and his account of traveling around his adopted nation of the United Kingdom is laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a measure of how well he nailed the British character, that this Iowa-born author is now regarded as a UK national treasure.
If you’ve got someone who’s visited Britain, or is thinking of doing so, this is a must!
I couldn’t decide whether to list this autobiography by the world’s most successful travel blogger, or his equally inspiring “How to Travel The World on $50 a Day”, so have both! Matt Kepnes – or Nomadic Matt, as he’s better known – has been inspiring people to get out there and travel for the past ten years. This memoir is an honest perspective of why he travels, the fears and insecurities experienced along the way, and why he finally decided to come home.
If I had to name my favorite current British travel personality, it’d come down to a deathmatch between ex-British Army officer Levison Wood, and impish journalist Simon Reeve. Because I don’t want either of them to get hurt, I’m listing them both here.
“Walking the Nile” is a tale that’ll inspire you, grip you, have you fearing for Wood’s safety, and bring you to tears; often all at the same time. His achievement is absolutely immense, but he stays humble throughout, and records his thoughts on the African nations he walks through – occasionally with tragic results.
By his own admission, Simon Reeve didn’t travel much until he did so for his work, and this memoir shows you more of the man behind his excellent travel documentaries. You can tell when you watch him that Reeve is an unashamed fan of the human race, and that really shines through in his memories of the places he’s traveled to.
Going from the darkness of some of his early life, and visits to some of the harshest places on the globe, to the absolute joy he’s found abroad, this is a must for anyone interested in international travel.
This is the book that got me into travel blogging! Fellow blogger and self-confessed walking disaster zone Lauren Juliff writes about her time on the road – and everything that’s gone wrong from there. Battles with anxiety are overcome along the way, as Lauren gets swept up in tsunamis (nearly), sits on a ferry next to a corpse, and punches a Chinese scammer.
Another brilliantly funny read – and she’s a lovely person, so go grab a copy!
The ULTIMATE travel gift
Okay, we’ve reached the magical, the mysterious, the completely awesome ULTIMATE travel gift. It will completely blow your loved one’s mind, and be the best gift they ever receive.
It might even change their life.
Are you ready?
Okay, you need to love someone an awful lot to buy them an entire trip. But a place on a G Adventures tour really is the perfect gift, and one they’ll remember forever.
Take a look through the G Adventures site, and you’ll see escorted trips on every corner of the globe. From trekking through the Andes, to seeing wildlife in Africa, to taking in temples in Southeast Asia. It’s an ideal way to kickstart a lifetime of travel – maybe your loved one is itching to see the world, and doesn’t quite have the confidence to go it alone. This way, they can go on an adventure with the safety of a small group and experienced guides.
It really can be a life-changing experience – many a friendship has started on these tours, and they might find that travel companion for further trips. Or it may give them the confidence to really achieve their travel dreams!
Plus, there’s truly something for everyone – and at a variety of price points! Take a look; you’ll be amazed at just what you can pick up for a couple of hundred dollars. And there’s some absolute steals in the same section!
G Adventures are one of the leading tour group companies on the planet – and they’ll give your loved one the adventure they yearn for! It’s the true ultimate in travel gifts.
Well, friends, we’ve reached the end. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted from all that shopping!
One more thing before you can go for a well-deserved lay down, and a pat on the back for getting all your shopping done. How about sharing this article so that others can solve their travel gifts shopping problems too? Hit those buttons below!
If you’re really at the top of your game, pin the below image to Pinterest! That way you’ll have a handy link to this article when you’re ready to buy the items you want – nifty, right?
Thanks for reading!
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