We all have travelers in our lives and they are a group that can be tough to buy for. We want to give them the world, but just can’t. Especially since travelers run such a wide range from backpacker to business and from aspiring to seasoned. Gear can be quite personal, but don’t get discouraged! There are still great ways to surprise the travelers in your life, and I’ve included some “don’ts” to avoid disappointment. You can even shop most of this list online, so no need to change out of your PJs or deal with people!
For all travelers
Ok, now that we have that out of the way. We know cash isn’t a fun gift anyway. So what do travelers want? Anything that helps them with seeing the world! Quality and durability are important, but equally important are size and weight of things that they’ll carry. With that in mind, many of these gift ideas WEIGH NOTHING!
No one wants to lug around books, but for all the planes and trains and waiting, entertainment comes in handy. The beauty of all of these is that they literally weigh nothing, but add so much to a traveler’s bag.
Audible membership. I LOVE audiobooks. Not only do I not need to carry around books, but by going with audiobooks when I’m on the road, I can still enjoy the scenery on long bus and train rides (and don’t have to worry about getting road sick or having enough light to see my screen).
Fill up the Kindle. But if you prefer to read on your phone or tablet, why not give a few books (if you want to be extra clever, get specific books about their destination, like a Lonely Planet guide or, say, Don Quixote for someone headed to Spain); if all else fails, an Amazon Gift Card.
Spotify Premium subscription. The ability to take all of your music offline is invaluable. Not much more needs to be said here.
Home decor. Scratch off maps serve as a great reminder of where we’ve been and where we want to go. If I could fit it in my bag, I’d have one for sure! Or if you have a full wall to spare, check out these amazing wallpaper maps (I’m definitely getting one when I go back home!).
Travel-inspired clothing. Graphic tees are all the rage, so why not go with something travel related so they can sport their passion everywhere?
Travel-inspired accessories. Watches and jewelry are a great way to put a nod to your love for travel in your daily life. Personally, I’m obsessed with this $7 globe watch and this Lovely Baubles “Mountains Are Calling” ring.
Some people want to say we should leave our technology behind while traveling, but holy cow it’s useful.
Kindle/e-reader. Kindles are super affordable and can put an entire library in someone’s carry on without adding much weight. The Kindle Fire starts at just $50 (plus free shipping if you have Prime).
Notebook/tablet. If you think they could benefit from a bit more firepower than the Kindle (which, to be honest, has way more features than just books), tablets and notebooks are cheaper and better than ever. I had the ASUS T100 Chi and it was more than enough for what most travelers need.
Yeah, I know that cameras should be under technology, but there are so many options out there, I wanted to dedicate a separate section here. Cameras can be quite personal, so if you’re going this route, it’s good to know what your traveler is after. Size and weight are huge considerations, so I personally don’t travel with a DSLR, but it’s all a matter of preference.
Starter. If your traveler is new to photography, DO NOT stress about getting the most advanced camera – they won’t use 80% of the functionality. I highly recommend the Sony Cybershot RX100 series and the RX100/B takes incredible photos without needing a lot of skill. Another great option for a starter camera is a GoPro (I have and recommend the Hero5 – see the action section below).
Average. Again, the Cybershot series is awesome and I have the RX100 III and couldn’t be happier. It is compact (and inconspicuous), so I take it everywhere since it fits in my purse. It has a screen that rotates, making it easier to get great angles and, of course, selfies. The photo and video quality on it is unbeatable for this camera’s size. Sony has also released the RX100 V, which introduces a few more features like slow motion and there’s an underwater bundle option [cough, cough, mom and dad, cough, cough].
Advanced. If you’re looking to get something more robust, the Canon 6D is a great option. This is an expensive option, but the imagery is unrivaled. If you’re going for this price point, you might as well go the full kit.
Action/Waterproof. I have the GoPro Hero5 and am not sure if I could love it much more. I’ve had the Hero4 Black and the Sony ActionCam and the Hero5 is by far the best yet. It’s waterproof without extra casing, has a screen and incredible capability. Add on this accessory kit available on Amazon for just $40 and they’ll have everything they need for mounts.
With a stabilizer. DJI Osmo is at the top of my wish list (next to its big brother the Mavic Pro drone). The stabilizer plus the killer camera make for incredible shots. Someday…
Whether your traveler already has a camera or not, accessories are key. Extra batteries, cases, etc. make the cameras that much more powerful. Here are some accessories that every travel photographer, amateur or pro, needs:
- SD cards. The bigger, the better and speed matters.
- Extra batteries/external charger. The real ones tend to be expensive, but thankfully, you can find most on Amazon.
- Selfie stick (begrudgingly). Yeah, I know, they’re annoying. But still useful. I use mine less for selfies and more for stabilizing video.
- Tripod. I have a light titanium one like this one that is enough for my needs, but still light and compact.
- Action cam mounts. This $20 kit will include mounts, tripod and a selfie stick.
- Lifeproof cases. Travel is hard on gear, so serious cases are life savers.
What else could they need? Here are a few last ideas if the list above hasn’t inspired you yet:
Experiences. You know you want to give an experience, but you don’t know what kind? Tinggly is perfect for that! You get a “gift card” for an experience and they can pick from Tinggly’s options all over the world. I learned to cook with them in Vietnam.
Points. An alternate option to airline gift cards is to buy/transfer points. If you go with someone like Star Alliance, the points can be used on tons of airlines and other programs like Hilton HHonors can also be used for hotels or car rentals.
Silk sheet/sleeping bag liner. Great option for the germaphobe.
Dog sitting gift certificates. Great for the traveler who needs to make sure the pup is looked after before they’re ready to book a flight for themselves.
Water purifier. If your traveler goes off the beaten path, this will come in handy (I use mine all the time and gladly have never gotten food/water poisoning – knock on wood).
Different types of travelers.
The above is pretty general, but your traveler is special. What kind of traveler are they?
Especially for the business traveler? Business travelers tend to have everything they “need,” but if they have everything in the list above, maybe think about CLEAR for the US-based so they can skip security lines (they’ll be thanking you all year!).
What’s the one thing every backpacker wishes they had? And international sim card/data plan. T-Mobile has the best worldwide coverage and is your best bet regardless of where they are traveling to; if they don’t already have a sim, you can get them a new card and international plan or pick them up a gift card so they can set it up themselves.
What about the aspiring traveler? The aspiring traveler is in the planning stages and can absolutely benefit from planning tools like Lonely Planet guides or a savings account (maybe cushioned with its first deposit).
Many gifts, as well intentioned as they are, will land flat with travelers. Here are a few things to avoid:
- Gift cards for a small amount to a place with only expensive stuff ($20 to Sharper Image doesn’t go very far).
- Backpack or anything that needs personalization without consulting them (fit and size are super important for a pack, so they need to be in on the decision).
- Frivolous stocking stuffer type items (my sweet mom used to get us daily calendars that neither my brother nor I used, and I always thought – this is dinner somewhere!)
Instead, opt for something from the under $25 bin below!
8 Gifts Under $25
Now for the stocking stuffers, secret Santas and smaller budget ideas (ALL of which I personally use).
|$12 silicone bottles||$24.95 universal adapter||$9 quick-dry cloths||$10 collapsible bottle|
|$20 microfiber towel||$7 magic soap||$24.99 shampoo bar||$23 portable speaker|
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Note: this post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase anything using them that I will make a commission. This does not impact your purchase price and has not influenced my recommendations in any way. All of the items that I have listed are either items that I currently use (and have purchased myself) or come highly recommended from other travelers. If you have any questions about affiliates, please don’t hesitate to contact me.