The holidays always bring out one of two emotions in people: pure bliss and excitement or sheer horror. That horror usually manifests itself as you curling into a fetal position and crying from Black Friday through Christmas day. I love holidays, giving gifts, and receiving gifts (obviiii), but I usually fall into that second category. There’s just something about Christmas that always sneaks up on me for some reason. One day it’s May 11th and then overnight it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve bought 1.5 gifts and am left scrambling on Amazon Now.
Not this year, though! Gift guides are really great for the holidays, but they’re also useful all throughout the year. Everyone knows someone who loves to travel and that someone always has a birthday, or an anniversary, or graduation, or needs gifts for other holidays.
So I’ve put together my 22 favorite unique travel gifts for everyone on your list! These are things that I’ve found make my travels easier and more comfortable and those that I’ve personally given as gifts with great feedback.
Gifts travelers actually want:
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Written by: Stephanie
Packing cubes are a wonderful invention. I have a couple sets from ebags and they’ve made suitcase organization a breeze. A couple years ago I began looking for ways to pack lighter and smarter. I was continually seeing these bags pop up on Pinterest and Youtube videos as the best packing cubes so I figured I’d give them a shot. These ebag ones are great quality and have served me well over the years. I use the large one for pants or heavy tops/vests and the medium for blouses and light shirts. The smaller ones are great for socks, underwear, headbands etc.
Power converters and adapters are essential when traveling abroad, obviously. Unless you wanna fry your electronic device. My first couple trips abroad I was using a little plug and voltage converter. That was an okay system, but the voltage converter is HEAVY. I was browsing Amazon and found this guy. I bought it eons ago and have used it multiple times across several countries. It is SO nice to be able to take one device knowing I can charge/use anything while abroad. I keep the converter and the additional plugs and cord in one of the small ebags which keeps me nice and organized. The only time I had trouble with this was most recently in Portugal. For some reason, it was not compatible with my travel steamer. So, I don’t know. Other than that it has a little fan that runs while it’s turned on and I’ve heard that annoys some people.
These are the VERY BEST silicone travel bottles. I have tried other sets from various companies and always end up with leaks. I held out on the Gotoobs because they are expensive, but trust me, they’re worth it.
This kit from Lewis & Clark is my first and only toiletry kit. It is starting to look a little worn after several years, but it still serves its purpose. Before I was traveling that much I used to put my toiletries into ziplock bags and those would collectively go into a plastic grocery store bag. I know, right? I bought this on a whim because I figured I needed a better system and I could not be happier with it. It is cheap, compacts nicely, very durable, hangs, and gets the job done.
I had seen these floating around Amazon for quite some time but for some reason always decided I didn’t need one. I recently did 33 gifts for Pete’s 33rd birthday and this was one of the gifts. We took it on our trip to Morocco and actually really liked it. It packs up nice and small, doesn’t leak when full, and has a carabiner to clip onto a bag. Water bottles are always such a pain to take traveling because they are so big, so this is a nice compromise!
I have had my eye on some beats headphones for a while and even though I don’t personally own these, I know several people who do and they love them. I have used the beats earbuds before and enjoyed those. Having a pair of headphones or earbuds for any flight, especially those long-haul overnight ones is absolutely essential.
An eye mask ranks up there with headphones in giving you the best odds of getting semi-decent sleep on a flight. No matter what, I am always next to someone that insists on leaving their reading light turned on. At 3 a.m. With-their-eyes-closed. Having an eye mask makes that annoyance a little more tolerable.
I’ve given this as a gift to a couple people (my sister twice, oops!) and everyone has loved it. It’s such a fun way to track your travels and set some inspiration for future trips. I have seen the little scratch off journals and those are super cute, too.
I LOVE this camera! I’ve had it for a few years now and have taken it snorkeling, kayaking, camping, skiing, you name it. It is truly waterproof, drop proof, and accident proof. It’s a great size to throw into a small bag and take with you on all your travel or outdoor adventures. Make sure you put a floaty strap on if you plan on swimming with it! Check out the time I swam with manatees and used this camera to document that bucket list adventure!!
I am a list lover and travel lover so this book is probably the greatest of all time. I bought this for Pete’s birthday, but I really bought it for myself. It is 500 of the best places in the world, all ranked, and all with descriptions. It also includes a map with the top 100 places. It’s a great coffee table book and killer inspiration for future travels.
24 slots is probably a bit overkill, but a memory card carrying case is an absolute must-have. I have a couple cameras that always come with me on trips and each camera has a few designated memory cards. Memory cards house all of your precious photos and videos and until those are backed up, those cards are like gold. Everyone knows they are small and easy to lose so cards rolling around luggage is not an option.
Power banks…self-explanatory…these are totally essential to daily life, much less travel life. I don’t know how many times I’ve been at the airport and can’t find a power outlet. And, not all airplanes have outlets near the seats, so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. There are few things worse than arriving in your new country only to discover your battery is dead and you have NO clue how to navigate to your Airbnb. Maybe that has happened to me before…
I love drybags and have one in every size imaginable. These are great to take on trips for when you plan on being near or in the water. Throw in a towel, camera, water bottle, and sunglasses and you’re good to go! I have several brands, but the sea to summit bags are my favorite.
I mostly use travel towels when I am out camping, but they are quite handy for actual travel purposes as well. Who knew?! Especially if you like to stay in hostels. I’ve never stayed in a hostel, but I’d imagine one would want their personal towel. Also, if you tend to do any water activities on your travels I would recommend having one. We were on a day trip to a cenote while in Mexico and after we were finished swimming we found out there were no towels available. Whomp whomp.
I’ll be real, carry on luggage is still a point I struggle with. I have rolling bags, crossbody bags, duffel bags, and backpacks, but I still haven’t figured out which one works best. I like backpacks for their ease, but rolling bags definitely have their perks too…like Pete not having to listen to me whine because my bag is too heavy. This bag is great because it is a good size, lightweight, and has multidirectional wheels. I think next time I travel I will be bringing a rolling bag and a small tote bag.
This external hard drive was actually on my Christmas list last year. I’ve started backing up my childhood and more recent photos in a more secure location than the cloud or Shutterfly. I think it’s a great idea to have two hard drives going at once, just to have a working drive and a backup, backup drive. Like most people, photos and videos mean everything to me and I would be devastated if I lost them all. Plus, in the event of an emergency, this is a lot easier to grab than 17 photo albums, 23 home movies, my computer, AND my dog. I’d never get out of the house at that rate.
The Thule DSLR travel bag was also on my Christmas list. I recently watched some travel videos and a couple people had this bag and greatly recommended it. Just like carry on luggage, I struggle with camera bags. I’ve tried various types of brands and everything has just been fine. I haven’t quite fallen in love yet, but it could be this one. This bag will fit a DSLR, multiple lenses, a flash, a drone and its accessories, plus a laptop and iPad! This is definitely the travel photographers dream bag. Plus, Thule rocks.
Just like organizing your clothing into cubes, your cords should be corraled into one central location. Before I learned what I was doing, I would haphazardly throw cords and cables into my bag and into random pockets. This obviously leads to a lot of frustration, tangled cords, and occasionally misplaced items. This particular organizer has multiple pockets, loops, and pouches to keep everything tidy.
Everyone needs a nice luggage tag..they add some character to the seemingly endless stream of black luggage bags. I have a lovely leather one with my favorite quote on it. I am thinking about buying these as well because they’re just adorable and it never hurts to have options.
These carry on cocktail kits are the absolute cutest things ever! Each little kit comes with everything you need for a particular cocktail, minus the alcohol. Once you’re up in the air, go ahead and get those mini bottles filling up your tray, and mix yourself a drank. The only one we’ve tried was the old-fashioned and it was great. The mule and champagne ones are on my list.
Getting great photos is a must when traveling. Why else does anyone travel if not for the ‘grammmm? I kid, I kid. Sort of. I used to travel alone quite frequently and if I wanted a picture of myself in front of something, I would have to use the dreaded selfie stick. Tripods totally eliminate that. They can, however, be a hassle to deal with. This particular one is really nice, folds up small, and is super lightweight.
This scarf would be a great addition to any woman’s wardrobe. I love scarves and often wear them year round. They are hands down my favorite traveling accessory. They provide an extra layer of warmth on the plane and extra style once you arrive at your destination! This particular scarf has a large hidden zip pocket that can house a phone, passport, money, credit cards, keys etc. The scarf comes in several fun colors, including a mountain scene and a watercolor world map.
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Founder of Packing for Plenty in July 2017. Along with her husband, Pete, she is on a mission to visit most countries. And wants to take y’all along as well! On PFP Steff provides travel itineraries ranging from a weekend trip nearby to 2 weeks living abroad like a local…detailed destination specific travel tips that aren’t readily available elsewhere…and unique and interesting bucket list worthy experiences.