Leaving on a trip large or small is a huge deal for travelers and though many travelers embrace minimalism, there are some things that either make it easier or more fun to travel. None of these are essentials (these are my ideas on practical, essential travel gifts for women), but after more than seven years as a long-term traveler, I have embraced the fact that friends and family want to buy me things to use on my travels. So, this list encompasses the range of products I use, have found through others, and generally just love. Anything listed here is something I would gladly receive for Christmas, birthday, or bon voyage party. Each gift recommendation is organized by the type of traveler!
Gifts for Fashionable Travelers
Adorable Silver Travel Bracelets: Love the Zenned Out store on Etsy. If you buy the sterling silver you can easily use on the road without worrying about showering with it on, but still look cute and class-up that wrist of traveler bracelets all long-term travelers seem to collect.
Gorgeous travel themed necklaces: I love this compass necklace (adorable, fashionable, and could perhaps pass for practical—plus she has some with maps of specific countries if you’re gifting it to someone who loves London, perhaps.) and I bought myself this antiqued plane charm necklace, this globe is stunning, and I completely geek-out for this solar system necklace.
Leather Luggage Tag: Gorgeous, travel inspired, and whimsical, these tags on Etsy are stylish fun for any piece of luggage.
Gifts for Book-Work Travelers
Moleskine travel journal: I mean, holy gorgeous! I’ve used a regular moleskin for my notes and journaling but I adore the travel theme on this one, as well as the extra pocket for various tickets and travel stubs.
Travel books: Navigate to various regions of the world to find books themed to that country—both fiction and non-fiction—and considering giving your traveler a physical copy for the plane ride (and for hostel book exchanges), or an e-copy for their e-reader.
Amazon Prime: A weird choice until you realize that an Amazon Prime account allows you to participate in the Amazon book lending program for Kindle. They have a huge range of books that are able to be “checked out” like a library. Many Lonely Planet guides are enrolled in this program, making it doubly handy. You borrow any book on your Kindle, read it, and it’s all included in the annual subscription price. This would be great for an avid reader on a yearlong round the world trip.
Audible: Does your traveling friend love to listen to books on tape? Then they might love a year of Audible. I used this the year I homeschooled my niece from Southeast Asia and she and I both listened to books on bumpy bus rides where there was no chance we could read a paperback book, but we could surely listen to them!
Gifts for a Traveler with a Home
Atlas Coffee Subscription: Coffee from around the world delivered to your door? Yes, please. Any combined travel- and coffee-lover would absolutely love this gift subscription (I would!).
Globe In Fair-Trade Artisan Boxes: You pick a theme of for an artisan box filled with ethically-sourced, homemade products from all over the world, and it will arrive to your loved one. They also offer a monthly gift subscription if you want to spread the holiday love throughout the year.
Cork Globe or Chalkboard Globe: Both of these are an incredibly cute and fun take on a globe. Instead of a pin-up map, this is unique and I’d love to have one in my future living room one day. I’m partial to the chalkboard one, but both are rad.
Gifts for Travel Photographers
Panasonic LUMIX GX85: This is a kickass travel camera. And it doesn’t hurt that National Geographic has named this series from Panasonic the best compact travel camera for many years running (including 2019!). It’s not cheap, but my dad upgraded me to this for my birthday and it was a gorgeous way to photograph Africa and beyond. My full review is here. Basically, you can’t go wrong with this slim series of cameras, and the one linked above is last year’s model, which is still terrific but half the cost of the latest model.
Artifact Uprising’s gorgeous hardcover photo book: Ideal for the traveler who just returned from a journey and has hundreds of travel stories to tell with their photos. I have used other cheaper services and they work well, but this would make a beautiful gift of something that is high quality and lasting for a traveler you love.
KNGUVTH 5-in-1 Lense Kit for Smartphones: If your traveler is hooked to their smartphone but also wants truly great travel photos from their journey, this clip is a fantastic fun gift they will love to play with on the road. It dramatically increases the quality of photos and range of situations they can take great shots on the road.
Practical Gifts for Long-Term Travelers
Spotify: The premium version of this music software works anywhere in the world both online and on your mobile device. I have dozens of custom playlists crafted to fit every travel situation—one for “long bus rides” and another for “exploring new towns on foot.” It’s a great gift for long-term travelers who will be out of the country and unable to stream a lot of their favorite tunes.
Belkin Power Strip: I carry one of these all over the world and I love it. It’s something they might not think to buy for themselves, but it’s incredibly handy for charging all that gear we carry—doubly important for those traveling as a couple or with friends since there is often just one outlet in hotel rooms!
Holiday Gifts for Techie Travelers
Kindle: If you’re looking for a reasonably priced gift for someone leaving on a trip who also loves to read, you can’t go wrong with a Kindle. I have an older model Kindle, but I deeply covet the new, waterproof Kindle Paperwhite (priced just a bit more) because you can read in the dark with the back-lit display.
Ztesy smartphone charger: A close travel friend had one of these on his iPhone and I coveted it while we were hiking in Africa and my phone could hardly last a couple hours, yet his chugged on for the whole hike with this slim battery case. You can find cases for a range of popular smartphones. I bought myself one eventually and it was invaluable on my Mexican road-trip with my nephews, where we used it to navigate, book AirBnbs, and all sorts of things.
Anker Astro backup charger: If the traveler in your life is not taking a smartphone in need of a charging case, this very un-sexy but very useful backup battery is handy. A friend got me one of these for Christmas two years ago and it still has a permanent spot in my bag. Go with either the mid-priced and compact Anker Astro, or the higher-capacity Anker charger, which is more expensive, but several prominent tech magazines gave it great ratings.
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