The paper crinkled beneath my fingers as I ripped it off the box. No matter how old I am, I still feel like a kid when I get a present. It was no match for my excitement. I dug through the tissue paper and finally felt something.
Since we have been moving from city to city every year, we have been paring down our stuff. We want everything in our house and on our travels to serve some sort of purpose. As I was putting together a wish list for us this holiday season, I also put together a list of practical gifts for the traveler in your life. We use all (except one) of these, and they have made our travels and lives better. Prices of these gifts range from $10 to $400.
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Last Updated: February 8, 2023
25 Best Gifts for Travelers (A Practical Gift Guide)
We wanted to keep this one to ourselves to ensure the lines stay short, but it’s too good not to share. It’s $100 to apply, and once approved, it’s good for 5 years. You’ll never have to wait through security lines, passport control, and customs lines again! We absolutely love it and have bought this for our parents and friends who travel. Every time we breeze through passport control, while everyone else is annoyed with the lines, we look at each other and say that it was so worth it.
This lightweight and versatile daypack is perfect to bring onto the plane or to use during the day. It doesn’t take up much space but is still well built and comfortable to wear.
If you carry camera gear, check out the WANDRD Veer Pack with Inflatable Camera Cube. It packs down small but still protects your camera. Plus it has side access to the bag!
The Luci Core Solar Utility Task Light does it all. With an adjustable arm, you can strap it to you, use it in your tent, or use it at home. It’s lightweight, waterproof, and has a built-in solar charger. You can charge it via USB as well.
We also have their Luci String Lights we use when we’re camping. They set the perfect mood.
If you’re looking to give a quality, lightweight jacket that packs small but still keeps you warm, then look no further. When it’s packed up into its pocket, I like to use it as a travel pillow too!
A travel scarf is great for multiple uses. We found this amazing travel scarf with lots of different pretty patterns that include a pocket to keep your passport secure! I’m super excited to try this scarf out and can’t wait for it to arrive. :D I’m always cold on a flight, so scarves are always handy.
These are amazingly comfortable and they are dry wicking, so it’s great for travel and anything active. Their motto is “17 countries. 6 weeks. one pair of underwear. okay, maybe two.” You can definitely bring as many as you want, but technically you only need 2 pairs for an entire trip. They are high performance, easy to wash, and dry in 2-4 hours. We love them and hope to eventually switch out all our underwear to these!
For the person who loves camping and being outdoors, the Jackery Explorer Power Stations have been a game-changer. We actually have the Explorer 300, which is smaller that we take on weekend trips, but also have the Explorer 1000 for longer trips. They’re also great to have at home in case the power goes out. Add their solar panels and you’re good to go!
The best and smartest way to travel is to learn the local language, even if it’s the basics. Rosetta Stone has been my preferred method of learning a language. I know it’s pricier than other language software, but it helps me process information much faster not having to translate back to English first. I just completed levels 1,2,3 of Italian, and I’ve retained the language much better than any other courses I have taken. It’s a perfect gift for any traveler who doesn’t want to be just a tourist.
We all have our favorite toiletry products but they don’t always come in travel friendly sizes. GoToobs are squeezable tubes that are easy to load, and they never leak (although some readers have told me they have on them, but we’ve had them for years and it’s never happened yet).
Most people have multiple electronics now and sometimes there just aren’t enough outlets when you travel. This gives you the flexibility of a converter and adapter for international travel and has 4 USB charging ports and 3 outlets.
Whether you’re on a plane or just on the go all day long, this charger is the perfect companion to give you the juice you need for your phone. For someone who is more adventurous (or clumsy), check out this charger that is waterproof, drop-proof, and crushproof.
A solid backpack that works well with you when you travel is a must. We have a few different bags we rotate through depending on how long the trip is and what camera gear we need to pack, but we cover a list of the best travel backpacks you can check out here.
It’s always nice to take along a few books on a trip but they always take up space and can get heavy. I know many of us like the tangible feel of a book, but as a traveler, it’s nice to carry an entire library of books in one device. Isn’t it nice to have choices?
Waterproof and tear proof makes this a great companion for any adventurer or traveler. You’ll never have to worry about how rough the adventure may get. I also like moleskines, but they aren’t waterproof.
You never know what the water situation is going to be when you’re traveling. With the LARQ Bottle, you don’t have to worry about your water because it is self-cleaning and uses UV-C LED light to eliminate up to 99.9999% of bio-contaminants from your water and bottle.
Part seat wrap, part towel, part transition map, this multi-use towel is perfect for practical travelers, especially for people who love road trips. Not only is it a quick-dry towel, but you can wrap yourself in it to change and keep your car clean.
When you’re traveling, you don’t want to worry about losing your sunglasses. Ombraz Sunglasses uses a nylon cord instead of traditional arms so that they fit better, have fewer parts that break, and won’t slip off as easily. Plus, they are carbon-negative and 20 mangrove trees are planted for every pair sold.
You never know when you’ll need a towel. You might want to go on an impromptu swim, find yourself drenched in rain, or just want your own towel for working out. Lightload towels are super compact and come in different sizes. You can keep them in the car, your pocket, or anywhere else you might need them. When you open them up, you can use them for first aid, working out, changing, or whatever else you may need. They’re also made from sustainable wood and plant scraps that are breathable, hypoallergenic, and burnable.
This should have been one of the first things we got as a frequent flier. I don’t know how many times I would get annoyed trying to fit all my toiletries in a ziploc bags and breaking them. I can’t believe it took us so long, but finally this year we have our own TSA-approved toiletry bags, and we’re so happy we did. It’s also better for the environment.
Get a new suitcase for future adventures. We recently started using this super light suitcase from Samsonite. It’s the perfect size for carry-on and has built-in organization making it easy to pack.
If you’re looking for a unique suitcase that helps save space, check out this collapsible suitcase. It’s perfect for anyone who has limited storage space.
You can also pick up a Cincha Travel Belt. We used it to help secure our suitcase while traveling but it can also be used to cinch a tote bag to your suitcase when you’re rolling around.
People are always asking me how I manage to pack for multiple weeks in one carry on. My answer is using Space Savers and Packing Cubes (below).
Any practical traveler is going to try and pack efficiently too. Packing Cubes and Space Savers are two options are invaluable to packing as much in as possible into a carry-on. Plus, it helps organize your luggage. I usually put all my tees and tops in here. You can also separate your dirty from your clean clothes. I’ve seen prettier ones, but sometimes they don’t work as well. Until I find one that’s good for both, this one wins for function.
I know socks may seem like a terrible gift, but these aren’t just any socks. The mild compression soothes and minimize ankle, leg, and foot swelling and reduce fatigue.
More Gifts for Travelers
- Digital Luggage Scale – We also don’t use a digital luggage scale, because we try our best to pack light and don’t shop much when we’re overseas. They can however come in handy for those who plan on doing shopping and loading up on souvenirs. The last thing you want is an overweight luggage charge when you’re traveling.
- Patagonia Capilene Layers – great for layering, lightweight, and fast dry. I actually have 3 and take them everywhere.
- Speck Wallet Case for Phones – consolidates your phone with id, credit card & cash in one place. Most days I don’t even carry a purse anymore. Plus, I used to always lose my ID, but now that it’s with my phone I never do.
- Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sacks – protects all your stuff from the weather. We have these & it’s great for camping and travel. You can also use them to organize your miscellaneous items in your luggage.
- Evian Facial Mist Mineral Water Spray – It’s tsa-approved and helps you feel fresh in a dry airplane cabin environment. I know I always feel gross on airplanes.
- Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones – now they have a version where you can customize the colors of each part of the headphones. They’re comfortable, and they are great noise-canceling headphones.
- GoPro – It’s compact, convenient, and takes great video especially for active people.
You may notice that we use many different organizers. When you’re constantly on the go, it really helps to keep your things organized and in different compartments. People are also always asking us how we are able to pack for weeks in a carry-on, but these space savers, packing cubes, and organizers make such a difference.
What other practical gifts are we missing? Is there anything on this list that you would never use? And which gift makes sense for the practical traveler in your life?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.