It’s that time of year again when we update our popular list of the best gifts for travelers to help you find the ideal travel presents for the globetrotters in your life.
As nomads for the past ten years, we know what travelers really need. These travel gift ideas are practical items that your loved one will actually use on the road. Many of them help travelers pack lighter or even travel carry-on only, like we do.
Whether you are looking for inexpensive, small travel gifts or an extravagant splurge, you’ll find ideas for all budgets.
Click on the links below to skip ahead to your gift budget or scroll down to read the whole article.
A tiny, practical, and inexpensive gift. We use combination locks to secure our luggage zips and keep the contents safe. A must for every traveler and a handy stocking filler.
Every carry-on traveler needs toiletry bottles under 100ml/3oz that meet with airline regulations and can be taken on planes. They allow you to pack your favorite product without having to carry a large container. These Kitdine bottles have wide openings and anti-leak caps.
Field Notes are my favorite notebooks for travel as they are slim, light and well-constructed.
Normal water bottles take up too much space when they’re empty, so foldable water bottles are a better option. We love the Vapur Element Bottle as it’s lightweight, durable, can be flattened or rolled when empty, has a flip top cap, and can be clipped to a bag.
A travel coffee mug is a must for every traveler who is concerned about the millions of disposable coffee cups that end up in landfill every day.
They are also really useful on road trips, especially in remote areas where there might not be places to stop for a drink (Simon used one often in Iceland and Namibia).
The Contigo Autoseal West Loop mug is leak and spill proof (you can shove it in your bag) and keeps drinks hot for 5 hours. It comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes.
We often self-cater while traveling and these have been fantastic for wrapping up leftover food, covering bowls, and packing sandwiches for day trips.
We’ve used ours regularly for nearly a year and they are still going strong. They are a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap and make a simple but beautiful gift.
You can take as many of these on the plane as you like, and they usually save space and weight and last longer than liquid versions. This Honey House Naturals Bee Bar gets excellent reviews and leaves your skin silky smooth.
Another solid toiletry product to get around airline restrictions and avoid leaks. Shampoo bars work as shampoo and soap, last ages, and are vegan and eco-friendly (no plastic bottles or harmful chemicals).
They make fantastic small and inexpensive gifts for people who travel.
I’ve used Lush shampoo bars for years and they are available in Lush shops around the world.
I’ve also recently started using Ethique solid shampoo bars which are just as good and smell less intense. Their hair sampler with three small shampoos and two conditioners is a perfect travel gift.
Although that’s not us these days, we use ours for the beach, picnics, and sweaty yoga classes. They are light, compact, and quick-drying.
This Youphoria travel towel on Amazon comes in a range of sizes and colors and has excellent reviews.
Alternatively, the DryFox large travel towel on Amazon is more expensive but comes in fun reversible patterns and features a handy waterproof pocket for hiding your valuables at the beach.
My book, The Carry-On Traveller (available in paperback and Kindle formats), is ideal for anyone who overpacks. The book will teach them not only how to lighten their load, but how to pack everything they need into a single carry-on-size bag.
The strategies can be applied to any trip, whether they are traveling for a week or a year, to hot or cold climates, alone or with kids.
We tried a variety of backpacks and the best value is the inexpensive Gonex Ultralight Travel Backpack. It’s compact, light, durable, and surprisingly roomy.
If you have a larger budget, the packable daypack we now travel with is the Tortuga Setout Daypack, which is a little bulkier but more comfortable to carry.
Packable tote bags make good gifts for travelers as they are tiny and always comes in handy for shopping and beach trips. ChicoBag has a range of beautiful designs and their bags hold up to 40 pounds (18kg) of shopping.
A sarong is one of the most recommended items by experienced travelers. It’s lightweight but multi-purpose and can be used as a beach cover-up, towel, skirt, scarf, picnic blanket, makeshift curtain and more.
Their medium crew socks keep our feet cozy and warm in cold weather and the lighter socks work well for warm weather. They come in a range of colors and designs (such as these fun stripy ones) for men and women.
Portable battery chargers are incredibly useful travel gifts for anyone who travels with a phone. They fit in your pocket and take the stress out of long travel days as you don’t end up without access to Google Maps when trying to find your hotel.
Merino wool Buffs are lightweight, tiny, and multi-purpose and make ideal gifts for travel lovers. They are super soft and work as a scarf, hat, headband, bandana, or to protect your face from dust in the desert.
I regretted not bringing one to Iceland where strong winds make other scarves impractical.
It has two zipped pockets for storing valuables (one under each arm), and I find it more comfortable than a money belt. The pockets aren’t entirely hidden so it’s best to wear it under another shirt.
They also make t-shirts, leggings, and underwear with hidden pockets. A really handy gift for any travel lover.
This infinity travel scarf with hidden pocket is another excellent way of concealing your valuables or being able to go out without a purse. It’s made from a soft fabric, comes in a range of colors, and the pocket is big enough for an iPhone and passport.
They prevent slippage when doing yoga on any surface and provide support for the wrists. They are so small and light that it’s easy to take them anywhere. I recommend the lighter SkinThin version.
Simon won’t travel without it—it has saved him from awful instant on many occasions. A unique travel gift.
The best toiletry bags are light yet durable, have a few pockets for organization, and a hanger for when there’s nowhere to put it. The Sea to Summit TravellingLight Hanging Toiletry Bag meets all these criteria, and we manage to fit a surprising amount in the small sized bag.
Every experienced traveler we know adores packing cubes. They are the secret to traveling carry-on only as they allow you to fit more clothes into your luggage by squeezing them into a smaller package. They also keep things organized and easy to find in your bag.
I also just started using Peak Design packing cubes, which are a little heavier, but I love the stylish design and separate compartments for clean and dirty clothes.
Highly recommended for anyone who travels!
Its versatile design means it can be worn as a sling, shoulder, or neck strap, and it’s easy to switch between the styles and adjust the length.
I especially love the sling style which makes it easy to carry my Sony a7 III for long periods of time without feeling its weight.
The stylish Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L bag is also perfect for carrying my camera gear.
Simon’s favorite shorts are Billabong Submersibles, which can be worn as regular shorts or for swimming. They look smart and are lightweight and quick-drying. Multi-purpose items are brilliant for packing light!
Icebreaker makes clothes from merino wool, which is non-itchy, warm, and odor-resistant. We love their long-sleeve tops for cold weather—they kept us toasty in Iceland and throughout the winter. They add warmth without taking up too much space in our bags and can be worn multiple times without washing.
The perfect travel trousers, Bluffworks pants combine the performance of technical travel clothing with a smart look. They are lightweight, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying, and have hidden zippered pockets for security.
They are very versatile—Simon has worn his hiking (including every day of our six-day Dales Way hike), horse riding, and to weddings. Simon likes the Originals, but they also come in Chino and Gramercy (suit pant) styles. Read our Bluffworks review for more details.
Bluffworks has just released a new women's line including pants, shirt and dress which I am excited to try soon.Buy at Bluffworks
Last year Simon started traveling with a Bluffworks Meridian travel shirt and can’t believe it took him so long to get rid of his old wrinkly long sleeve shirt. The Meridian is so much more practical for travel and can be dressed up or down.
It’s wrinkle-free, soft, comfortable, and anti-microbial so you can wear it for multiple days without it smelling.Buy at Bluffworks
My current obsession is Allbirds Wool Runners. They are the softest, cosiest shoes I’ve ever worn and are light enough to pack easily.
They feel as comfy as slippers as they are made from superfine merino wool that’s ultra soft, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking.
I wear mine without socks most of the time, but they still keep my feet warm on chilly winter mornings.
Allbirds Wool Runners are available for men and women in a range of colors. If you’re not sure what size and style your loved one would like, you can buy a gift card instead.
Allbirds offers free shipping and returns in many countries including the US and UK. They have a brilliant return policy where you can return them within 30 days if you don’t like them, even if you’ve worn them outside.Buy on the Allbirds website
My new favourite travel jeans. They are super soft and stretchy and comfortable enough to wear on a plane. They also have huge front pockets (so unusual in women’s wear) and two hidden zipper pockets in the back. See my post on the best travel pants for women for a more detailed review.
Aviator makes jeans for women and men in a few styles. Simon hasn’t tried them yet as he loves the new Bluffworks travel jeans which are also ultra comfortable and have hidden pockets.Buy on the Aviator website
I couldn’t live without my Kindle Paperwhite and this year I treated myself to the new version which is waterproof (yay for reading in the pool and bath!).
Our favorite purchase last year was our AirPods. These wireless headphones are brilliant—it’s liberating being free of the tangle of wires.
I love them for running and yoga videos, they are super comfortable (I forget I’m wearing them), and the battery lasts for ages. I can even steal Simon’s phone to wander off and take photos while he continues to listen to podcasts.
My absolute favorite ballet flats for travel! They are comfortable, durable, pack up small, and come in many gorgeous designs (I love my Silver Lake Vegan Tieks).
They are pricey so are ideal for gifts—treat someone you love! Tieks has a free exchange policy if they don’t fit. Read my honest Tieks review for more information.Buy at Tieks
Simon has been traveling with the Tortuga Setout travel backpack for years. The 45L version is the maximum size allowed on most planes and has plenty of space for all his stuff.
It’s comfortable to carry, looks stylish and is made from high-quality materials. The organization is fantastic and there’s plenty of space for electronics.
The Setout is now available in men’s and women’s fits and in 35L and 45L sizes.
See our Tortuga Setout review for more details.Buy on the Tortuga website
After spending the last decade traveling full-time with a backpack, I made a major change this year and switched to a carry-on suitcase instead.
The transition was made so much easier because of the Away Everywhere Bag. It’s a personal item that fits under an airplane seat but is ultra roomy with lots of pockets including one for a laptop.
Best of all, it slides over suitcase handles so you don’t need to carry it. It works perfectly with the Away Bigger Carry-On—the combination is the maximum you can get away with taking on a plane.
I have the nylon bag in Asphalt (grey), but there are a variety of colors in leather, nylon, and limited edition fabrics.Buy on the Away website
I originally thought Away luggage was a social media fad (their suitcases are all over Instagram), but after doing a lot of research, it was the best carry-on-sized suitcase I found.
I have the Bigger Carry-On which is the maximum size you can take on a plane (for stricter airlines you might want the smaller Carry-On). I can fit a huge amount in with the two-sided design and compression pad.
The four spinner wheels make it so easy to push alongside you. Other features are a built-in phone charger and laundry bag.
It looks stylish and comes in an array of colours—I have Coast (light blue) which I love.
Away luggage makes an ideal travel gift because Away offers an exceptional returns policy—you can try any of their items for up to 100 days and if you don’t like it, return it for a refund.
There’s also a lifetime guarantee for defects and free delivery to many countries including the US and UK.Buy on the Away website
Last year Simon upgraded his look with the Bluffworks Gramercy Travel Blazer. It’s made from a soft lightweight fabric that’s wrinkle-free, so you can pack it inside your luggage without messing it up.
It’s also machine washable, quick-drying, and has tons of pockets that are perfect for carrying your valuables (and especially useful on travel days).
It looks fantastic and can be worn with everything—it was ideal for spring in Italy and Paris.
Buy on the Bluffworks website.
They are essential for us as we regularly travel between hot and cold climates and a bulky jacket is impractical.
I love the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody made from synthetic down with a durable water repellent finish so it even works in light rain.
This year I upgraded to the Sony A7 III which is one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market. It has a full-frame sensor and is amazing in low light.
Travel books are perfect inspiration for both experienced and armchair travelers. For ideas for travel lovers, see these posts about my favorite books:
I’ve also written about the best novels and non-fiction books to read before (or after) a visit to the following destinations:
Digital Gifts for Travelers
The best gifts for travelers won’t take up any space in their luggage. Buy them a gift card for one of these:
- Find What Feels Good Yoga with Adriene – My absolute favorite online yoga classes which have enabled me to practice anywhere in the world.
- Trusted Housesitters membership – To find housesitting opportunities around the world.
- Backblaze – Unlimited cloud backup to keep data secure.
- Airbnb – Rooms and apartments around the world. Our favorite way to travel.
- Netflix – Stream TV and films.
- Amazon – Books, clothes, travel gear, music, films, and more.
- Uber – Taxi rides around the world.
Do you have any other travel gift ideas? Leave a comment and let us know.
Like this post? Pin it!
This post was originally published in November 2016 and was last updated in November 2019.
Pattern image in top photo Designed by Freepik
Enter your email to sign up for our monthly newsletter with exclusive travel tips and updates.