Gift giving isn’t easy. To do it well requires thought and insight. You need to not only understand the person you’re getting the gift for, but also their passions and pursuits. A good present is one that both solves a need and connotes emotional sentiment. That’s why buying a travel gift works on so many levels. Who doesn’t love to travel? Plus, giving something that’s useful on a trip encourages and supports the adventure — but without paying for the costly tickets. It shows that you care, no matter if the receiver is perpetually flying off to international destinations or still dreaming about taking their first big trip
Here are 12 travel gift ideas for all types of globetrotters — one of which will be perfect to give to the jetsetter in your life!
The preferred method of packing for over-organized travelers everywhere, packing cubes allow you to sort and separate your clothing (and keep them that way) in your luggage. They also keep things folded and prevent wrinkles. Fair warning: the general consensus is that once a globetrotter uses packing cubes…they’re hooked for life.
Fold-Up Carry-On Bag
A frequent traveler can never have too many carry-on options, especially ones that can be kept folded-up into a small pouch to fit in the pocket of a checked bag until called upon. It’s the perfect back-up in case something happens to your main carry-on or you’ve purchased too many souvenirs and can’t fit them all in for the return trip; okay… it’s usually more the latter than the former.
Travel Wallet/Passport Holder
If you’ve ever taken an international vacation, then you know how stressful it can be to manage all the different stuff you have to carry: passport, airline tickets, hotel keys, etc. That’s why a travel wallet or passport holder with extra slots for cards and other stuff is so handy. There are tons of different varieties and features — from leather to minimalist style and with RFID blocking — so you’ll be able to find something to match the personality and needs of the traveler for whom you’re getting it.
Sure, every eye mask blocks out light to help the wearer catch some z’s, but not all eye masks are the same. There are sleep masks made from silk (which are supposed to be better for the skin), sleep masks filled with tiny ergoBeads (which massage the face), sleep masks stuffed with dried lavender (and thus smell of lavender, which is believed to induce sleep), and way, way more.
Any experienced traveler knows that a water bottle is a must-bring for any trip. It’s economical and environmentally-friendly (because it prevents you buying bottled water when you need to get hydrated). There are also different choices available, depending on what type of traveler it’s for. Are they an outdoorsy trekker? Get a bottle with built-in filter that’s designed for hikers. Maybe they are a flyer that’s into packing light? Get ’em a foldable water bottle. Whatever the variation, a good quality water bottle is a good quality gift.
Travel Pillow & Blanket
This is a no-brainer. A pillow and blanket are kind of necessary for anyone looking to get comfortable enough to fall asleep on a plane. Hint: that’s pretty much everyone on a long-haul flight. So if you’re looking for a gift for a traveler who books a lot of red eyes or journeys to other sides of the world, get them a travel pillow and blanket set — they’ll owe you big for it.
Give the gift of never again having to search out and fight for a spot to plug in a charger. The key is that you don’t want to give anything that an airline will prevent from being brought on board. Not all airlines have rules about them and not all of the restrictions are the same, but if you stick to two important directives you can give something that’ll be allowed no matter the airline: 1) the power bank can’t be checked in, so no smart luggage (bags that feature power banks built into them) that are too big for carry-on; and 2) nothing over 100 watt-hours (Wh). That last part can be tricky since a lot of power banks are listed by their milliamp hours (mAh), so you might need to read the specs very carefully and do some googling to confirm that it’s 100 Wh or less.
Headphones and/or Headphone Accessories
There’s nothing worse than settling in on some leg of a journey and discovering that you forgot your headphones. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 30-minute train ride or a 13-hour flight, or if the listener prefers to jam out to tunes, podcasts, or audiobooks — headphones are a universal travel tool. Period! That means that if you’re unsure on just what to get your traveler, headphones are a good bet. You can splurge and get them something really nice and pricey OR just get something affordable that can be used as a backup. You could also get some headphone accessories, like a travel case to hold on to them or an airline jack adapter for Bluetooth headphones.
Back in the day, the mark of an international jetsetter was their collection of passport visa stamps; now, it’s how many outlet converters they own. Your traveling special someone’s first adapter is usually picked up last minute without much thought, so it’s likely a cheap model that’s poorly made and doesn’t work all that great and is either forgotten or breaks after a few uses. It’s then followed by a hastily-purchased replacement of about the same quality and the whole process is repeated. Help break the cycle! Get your traveler a high-caliber outlet adapter, preferably with high user ratings and recommendations.
Life in the 21st-century is an existence of cables and cords. There’s the charging cord for your phone (and a backup if you’re smart), as well as the power cord for your laptop, and then one for your tablet/e-reader. Got a smartwatch? That’s a cord right there as well. Oh, and you know how we mentioned the importance of headphones a bit further up the page? Yep. And when you’re traveling they all get tangled and knotted in your bag. Unless you’ve got some cable organizer of some sort. They can range from the simple one-cord-centric “cord taco” (individual cord ties that come in different colors) or a whole case that can hold ALL your cords in separate compartments.
Using a toiletry bag is to travelers what bringing one’s own cue to the pool hall is to billiard players. It distinguishes the amateurs from the professionals. Early on, travelers may tend to throw everything in a zip-lock bag, but over time they usually come to understand, appreciate, and yearn for the elegant usefulness of a good toiletry bag. So why not give it to them?
Trip Record Art
We won’t deny that it’s a bit hipster, but a decorative piece of art that’s meant to mark off destinations visited is a solid gift for travelers at any level. Beginners can use it to help motivate them to travel the world, while experienced veterans can display a record of their past adventures. A scratch map, where you scratch away the regions of the world you’ve been to, is pretty cool, but so is a cork globe, where you stick pins into destinations visited.
Have a suggestion for a travel gift that we missed on our list? Let us know in the comments below!