Travel Gift Guide
Looking for the perfect holiday present for that traveler in your life? It’s not always easy! These are best travel gift ideas for wanderlust lovers, no matter what your budget.
Skip the money-belt this year, and buy a birthday or holiday travel gift that your favorite intrepid globe-trotter will actually use on their next international vacation.
While the worldwide pandemic has temporarily paused many people’s travel plans, it certainly hasn’t changed our love for exploration!
I’ve updated this year’s guide with some special gifts for those who can’t travel at the moment — but may still want some travel inspiration for the future.
These popular gifts for travelers can help make any journey more comfortable and convenient.
Working as a professional traveler for the past 10-years, I’ve become especially careful about what I pack on my trips around the world.
There’s only so much room in your bag! Most travelers prefer to pack light.
I’m the same way and choose to pack travel gadgets that have multiple uses, don’t take up to much space, and will improve my travel experience abroad.
So here are some of my best gift ideas for travelers that are guaranteed to put a smile on the recipient’s face!
My Travel Gift Guide For 2020
Best Travel Gifts Under $100
A must-have for international travel to keep yourself safe from sickness. The LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle cleans up 99.9% of waterborne parasites & bacteria from water sources in countries where water quality can be an issue.
The 2nd stage activated carbon filter reduces odor and chlorine aftertastes too. I also use mine for day-hiking trips. They have a minimalist straw version, for people who prefer their own container. Long-lasting filter – handles 1000 liters.
We all use our smartphones, cameras, and other portable gadgets a lot. There’s nothing worse than running low on power when you need it the most. For travelers, this can be an extra headache if your ticket confirmations, directions, or translation app lives on your phone.
The Anker PowerCore 13,000 is about the size of a thick wallet and can fully charge your smartphone up to 3 times! It has a smart quick-charge technology and is the smallest & most powerful power bank in its class. I also use mine to recharge cameras, my Kindle, and more.
Travel neck pillows are one of the most popular items to pack for long-haul flights. But many of them don’t live up to the job of supporting your neck comfortably. The Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillow is crazy comfortable, packs down small, and holds your neck in an ergonomic position for sleeping.
I never fly without mine! I’ve tried every travel pillow there is, and this is the best. However if you’re looking for something that packs down even smaller, the TRTL Travel Pillow is pretty good too. It’s just not quite as comfortable as the Cabeau.
I love this thing! The Sony Bluetooth Speaker makes it easy to watch movies with other people on your laptop when traveling, throw an impromptu hostel party, or play your favorite songs on the beach.
There are a lot of Bluetooth speakers on the market, and I’ve tried many of them. The Sony simply has the best sound quality for its size, and the battery lasts up to 12 hours!
Can’t travel right now? A stylish desk globe is a perfect accessory to inspire future trips for the travel addict who works from home. The Antique Ocean Desk Globe is a quirky conversation piece and wanderlust-inspiring planning tool for your next travel adventure.
Your favorite traveler can day-dream about exploring Africa, South America, Central Asia, or any other destination from the comfort of their desk. I’m already planning new adventures just looking at this thing right now!
Packing cubes! The best way to keep your luggage organized. My personal favorites are these from Eagle Creek. They weigh almost nothing and can hold a lot of clothing.
The garment folder, in particular, is a wonderful way to keep your shirts and/or pants wrinkle-free. I use the medium sized cube for my collection of t-shirts and sweatshirts, and the smaller cube for underwear & socks. It’s an important part of the travel gear I regularly pack.
Hate wasting plastic buying all those travel-sized toiletries like toothpaste, shaving cream, or shampoo? Why not fill up these reusable FlatPak Toiletry Bottles from your own stash at home!
You can refill them as needed, they don’t take up much space in your bag and are super lightweight too. It’s time to start being more environmentally friendly when we travel. This is one way to start.
Gifts For Travelers Under $25
Unable to travel right now? Want to reminisce about past adventures? Check out this super cool World Map Wall Sticker for your wall. It’s a fun way to strike up conversations with visitors, and showcase your love of travel.
Have kids? Here is another cool world wall map for kids that we bought for our son Dylan’s room too!
Have you ever found yourself in a situation when your suitcase was too heavy to check on a plane? Or you bought too many souvenirs and ran out of space? I have. That’s why these days I carry a packable duffel bag as a backup.
But that’s not its only use! You can use it as a makeshift beach bag, laundry bag, or grocery bag too. I also use it when I’m hiking & camping abroad, to help store extra gear/clothing in a hotel’s storage room, so I don’t have to bring everything into the mountains.
If you travel internationally quite a bit, your passport is going to get pretty beat-up. That’s why I love my simple, lightweight passport wallet from SimpacX. It gives just enough protection, without being bulky.
You can also use it to hold credit cards, airline boarding passes, and extra cash. Keep your passport looking like new, so you don’t have any trouble at customs & immigration due to worn-out travel documents!
In order to use your electronics in foreign countries, you’re going to need a great international travel adapter plug for different sockets. I’ve tried them all, and this one from BONAZZA is hands-down the best!
Not only does it accept 2 or 3 pronged plugs for use in over 150 different countries, but it also includes 4 (!) USB inputs for charging your mobile devices. Plus the design is super slick, one of the smallest adapters on the market.
I realize everyone has a smartphone now, but there’s just something romantic and slightly magical about recording your travel adventures in an old-school style notebook. I always travel with a small Moleskin Notebook when visiting other countries.
At the end of each day, you can journal what you saw, the people you met, and how a destination made you feel. Looking back on these entires years later is super fun to do!
Airline baggage fees are starting to get out of control. They want to charge you for EVERYTHING these days! To ensure you don’t get hit with paying extra, I always weigh my luggage with a portable luggage scale before checking in.
This way, you can pack your bags to the maximum weight limit every time without going over. This backlit scale from Tarriss is lightweight and portable, with the ability to weigh luggage in both kilos or pounds.
Unique Luxury Travel Gift Ideas
The Amazon Kindle probably doesn’t need an introduction. It’s the ideal gift for a bookworm or even those who like to read occasionally. Travelers like me love it due to its small size and long battery life.
The “Paperwhite” version allows you to easily read in the dark, plus there’s no glare from the sun when reading on a beach (unlike trying to read on your phone). You can fit thousands of books on it — a library in your hands. Excellent for flights and long bus rides.
The Sony WH1000XM4 Headphones are a frequent traveler’s best friend. Their advanced noise-canceling technology makes it feel like you’re all alone, even if you’re stuck on a packed airplane with crying babies!
Listen to your favorite music or podcasts wirelessly via Bluetooth, with deep bass and crystal clear highs. Control volume, ask Siri questions or take phone calls with the touch of a finger. Now that I own these, I’m not sure how I traveled previously without them!
The Nomatic Travel Bag is the perfect urban style backpack to bring on the plane carry-on. Front load design makes it easy to get your stuff, plus it’s loaded with pockets for your electronics and other travel gear.
You can slip it over the handle of your rolling suitcase, and the tough outer material is super water resistant to rain and any other weather you might encounter on your trip.
The Osprey Farpoint is one of the most popular backpacks for carry-on travelers. It’s perfect for weekend trips, or minimalist travelers who pack light.
The front-loading design makes it easy to get at your luggage, and comfortable straps help when lugging your stuff around on trains, planes, and automobiles through Europe or Southeast Asia.
Fun Travel Gifts For Men
Some of my favorite travel gifts for men, based on my own personal experience as a traveling man. Like most of this list, I personally own all these items because they rock!
While I started traveling as a budget backpacker 10 years ago, these days I’m older and a bit more fashion conscious. Especially in major international cities, or Europe. Packing a suit when you travel light is difficult, but not with the Bluffworks Gramercy Blazer.
This fashionable jacket is wrinkle-free and can be rolled up and packed away easily. But it also looks and fits great, featuring a bunch of hidden pockets that help with traveling! It’s perfect for flying, or when you need to dress-up on the road.
Outlaw Blazing Saddles Solid Cologne is an excellent product for men who want to smell nice while they’re traveling. Because it’s not a liquid, you can easily pack it in your airplane carry-on. It’s very travel-friendly!
The scent is very masculine, like a mix of leather and sandalwood. Very strong stuff, a little dab will go a long way. Easily lasts all day.
Every man needs a good toiletry bag for their adventures around the world. This Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer is lightweight, durable and waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about wet surfaces in hostel/hotel bathrooms.
With 4 zippered compartments, plus a small mirror, it has plenty of room to pack everything the traveling man would need. You can attach it to a towel rack to free-up bathroom space too. This is how I pack enough shaving cream to keep my head shiny and clean!
Fun Travel Gifts For Women
Ok, I admit I’m not a woman. However, after consulting my professional traveler wife Anna, she has recommended the following travel gifts for women — based on her own expertise and advice from her traveling friends.
Storing a few jewelry items when you travel can be a pain. Especially when it comes to earrings, many women complain about them breaking in their luggage. This pretty little Travel Jewelry Box from Vlando is perfect for your next journey.
Keep delicate and expensive jewelry items safe and secure in one place. It has room for earrings, rings, necklaces, and even bracelets. A super simple and compact design.
TUO stands for Travel Undergarment Organizer. Its purpose is to store anything travel-related, like socks, underwear, electronics, jewelry, or other loose items that some women tend to pack when they travel.
Staying organized when you’re off galavanting around the world is so much easier using this fun little bag. You can hang it from towel racks or doors and unfold it for full access to your stuff in hotels or bathrooms.
The BabylissPro Travel Dryer is the perfect hair dryer to pack in your bags for a vacation. It’s both powerful and small, a rare combination.
If you aren’t staying in fancy hotels all the time, you may not have easy access to a good hairdryer. This one folds up nice and small, so it won’t take up too much room in your bag.
If you travel alone and worry about safety, check out this travel-friendly security door stop. The Sabre Security Door Stop Alarm requires no wires or complicated installation, powered by a single nine-volt battery.
Place the door-stop under your door before going to bed, and if someone tries to enter your hotel room during the night, this device blocks the door from opening. Plus its powerful 120db alarm wakes you up (along with everyone else nearby), scaring off any intruders!
Best Gifts For Outdoor Adventurers
A hammock is a great gift for travelers and backpackers. String it up in the woods or on the beach to relax and enjoy the view. I’ve even used my hammock on boats, between palm trees for beach naps, or as a comfortable swinging seat after a long hike.
The Kammok Roo Single is extremely strong, lightweight, and easy to pack, perfect for people who don’t want to waste space in their travel bag. Designed to hold up to 400 lbs, you’ll always have a place to nap.
A good set of tools is always useful when you travel, but it’s not realistic to pack a whole toolbox. The Leatherman Wave is the next best thing. Perfect for any job, adventure, or everyday task.
It includes 17 common tools, crammed into a simple compact package that can be opened and operated easily. Never be without a sharp knife, pliers, bottle opener, screwdriver, or scissors again! There’s also a smaller version called the Leatherman Squirt.
In my opinion, a headlamp is an absolutely essential piece of travel gear for adventure travelers. My favorite is the water-resistant Black Diamond Storm.
Headlamps give you hands-free access for reading a book in the dark, exploring a cave, returning from a hike after dark, or searching through your luggage in the middle of the night. It always comes in handy when I travel!
Every adventure traveler needs a packable microfiber towel because it has a million different uses. It folds up super small and dries very quickly. Perfect for camping, or even staying in hostels.
The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel comes in a few different colors and sizes. I’ve used it swimming in natural hot springs, to wipe down camera gear after a storm, and even as sun & dust protection in the desert.
Gifts For Travel Photographers
Do you know a traveling photographer? Check out some of these great travel photography gifts that will help them craft the perfect postcard photo during their next trip.
Whether you want to take photos of yourself when traveling solo or capture the magic of the northern lights, a tripod is a necessary tool. The Joby GorillaPod is small enough to take anywhere and strong enough to hold larger cameras too.
It’s easily attached to different objects, so you can shoot photos from the side of a balcony or hanging off a tree. I’ll sometimes sneak it into “tripod restricted” areas like some cathedrals, monuments, or other attractions. It fits into a day pack easily.
One of my favorite pieces of camera gear, the Peak Design Capture Clip allows you to wear your camera on your belt, or on your backpack straps, keeping your hands free for other tasks. The camera adapter fits into most tripod heads too!
Clipping in and out of the device is very quick and easy. You can even run with your camera strapped to your belt wearing this thing. Never miss another shot due to messing around with a camera bag. It’s a fantastic accessory for those who go hiking with their camera.
Traveling solo a lot? Want to get some great selfies or group shots without giving your camera to someone else? Own a newer Sony camera? Check out this Sony Wireless Bluetooth Remote!
Once paired to your camera, you can use the remote to focus and shoot photos or video from up to 60 feet away from your camera. The perfect accessory for an Instagram addict who travels!
If you want to up your travel photography game, but don’t want to lug around a massive camera, the Sony RX100 is the perfect pocket camera for traveling. It’s super powerful with manual control, RAW format shooting, and 200mm of zoom!
I know smartphones are getting pretty good at photography, but they still can’t quite compete with the larger sensor and a physical zoom capability of an actual camera like this one.
Essential Books About Travel
The book Vagabonding is an excellent read about how to travel more, no matter what your budget or background. This book inspired me to take my first international trip!
Learn how to take a break from your normal life and travel for a few weeks, or even a few years, while experiencing the world on your own terms. Get ideas for how to make traveling long-term possible, from others who’ve done the same.
Ready to be inspired by other people’s travel stories? You can’t go wrong with a collection of The Best American Travel Writing Of 2020. Each year, the best of those stories are collected in this great series.
You’ll find stories about all aspects of the travel experience here. Stories were curated by Robert McFarlane, author of “Mountains of the Mind“, another wonderful book.
My friend and fellow travel blogger Matt Kepnes (also known as Nomadic Matt) has written an awesome New York Times bestselling book How To Travel The World On $50 A Day.
He goes into detail on how he’s stayed on the move for so long on a shoestring budget, with tips and tricks coming to life through relatable stories. Also seeping through the pages is a heavy dose of modesty, a necessity when venturing off the beaten path abroad.
BONUS TRAVEL GIFT: 100 Hikes Of A Lifetime
Ok, there’s a bit of self-promotion involved with this gift idea. National Geographic’s 100 Hikes Of A Lifetime by Kate Siber is an excellent book full of awesome hikes around the world.
From short day hikes to multi-week backpacking trips, this great travel book will inspire you to get out into the wilderness on your next adventure.
Make sure to turn to page 148 to see my own personal contribution, photography from my trek along Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail!
VIDEO VERSION: Top Travel Gift Ideas
Happy Holidays This Season!
Well, that’s it for the best travel gifts for 2020. I hope you found some unique gift ideas for the traveler in your life who likes to pack light.
Whether you’re travel shopping for a birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwansa, or even Festivus — you can’t go wrong with these fun gifts for travelers!
I actually own and use most of these products regularly during my travels.
Happy shopping this holiday season, and remember to get out there and explore the world yourself a bit too (when it’s safe to do so)! Think of it as a little present to yourself after all we’ve been through this year…
Because we all know that travel is the gift that keeps on giving! ★
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READ MORE TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES
I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best gifts for travelers in 2020! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:
Have any questions about these travel gifts? What about other suggestions for travelers? Drop me a message in the comments below!