UPDATED: November 2020
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It’s that time of year again. Time to listen to Bing Crosby on repeat, eat dessert four times a day (without guilt!), and stress about what to buy for your dad because you’ve gotten him a tacky tie for literally ten consecutive years.
And while we can’t necessarily tell you what to buy your dad, we can help you choose gifts for the travel-lovers in your life (including yourself. Let’s be real).
Because even though 2020 was a dumpster fire and, for most of us, travel was shelved for the bulk of the year, we know wanderlust never truly goes away and every traveler wants to be prepared for some epic adventures when the world reopens. Hopefully we will all be able to make up for lost time in 2021!
So, whatever your budget, we’ve got you covered. Here is our list of 21 holiday gift ideas for travelers:
Best Gifts for Travelers Under $50
Afar Magazine Subscription
Though I obviously love reading blogs (and books, and street signs, and the back of cereal boxes…), nothing inspires wanderlust like flipping through a glossy travel magazine.
Even though many of the hotels and activities suggested in Afar are out of our price range (not sure our bank account will support our “private island moment”), the photography is beautiful and it always includes engaging travel stories. Get a subscription here.
$14 (for one-year subscription)
The Geography of Bliss
Every traveler needs a good book to make long plane or bus trips more bearable. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner is one of my favorite travel reads. A self-proclaimed grump, Weiner travels the globe in search of the happiest place on Earth.
When we had to cancel most of our trips in 2020, reading was a great way to scratch our travel itch!
Further Reading: Best Travel Books to Inspire Wanderlust
Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel: Our List of the 500 Best Places to See… Ranked
With stunning photography highlighting bucket list-worthy destinations, this is the perfect coffee table book for globetrotters. Buy a copy here. (But we warn you, it may add a whole lot of new places to your loved one’s wishlist!)
World Travel Classic Posters 2021 Wall Calendar
Every year, I choose a different travel-related wall calendar to hang in my office, and the World Travel Classic Posters calendar is one of my favorites. Each month features vintage travel art promoting hotspot destinations around the globe. Though staring at pictures of exotic places doesn’t necessarily inspire me to be more productive at work!
Packing cubes are life-savers when it comes to travel organization. We never travel without them anymore, and we don’t think anyone else should have to either. We use these ones.
This backpack is lightweight and ideal for day trips. The best part is that it packs down super tiny so it takes up very little space in our bigger travel backpacks. It comes in super handy when traveling on budget airlines that allow only one one carry-on item per passenger.
Artistic Travel Journal
Journaling and travel have always gone hand-in-hand. For creative travelers, this unconventional journal is the perfect place to document travel experiences.
Travel Cribbage Board
Sam and I always throw our travel-size cribbage board into our bag when we travel. It is a perfect activity for days when our feet are sore and we want a break from sightseeing–or when we are waiting for our food in restaurants.
Even experienced travelers have slip-ups. To avoid unpleasant last-minute baggage fees, every frequent traveler should own a luggage scale.
These shoe bags make packing dirty, smelly, well-worn shoes so much easier. Because sometimes travelers accidentally step in heaps of cow manure while hiking in Asia! They’re not glamorous, but they’re certainly handy!
Again, not the most exciting item on this list, but a laundry bag is essential to keep stinky socks and dirty underwear from contaminating everything else. Because, let’s face it, clothes can become downright disgusting on the road.
Varying outlets and voltage levels is the bane of travelers’ existence. I have fried more electronics than I care to admit. This universal outlet adaptor will keep your favorite traveler powered up all around the world.
Electronics always tend to die at the worst times–like when you’re out sightseeing in a foreign country without any immediate access to an outlet. Traveling with a power brick allows travelers to charge their electronics in any place at any time. Ours has come in super handy while sightseeing in Asia, camping in the USA, and on road trips in Europe. We use this one.
Packable Puffer Jacket
When traveling to cooler destinations (which is often the case with shoulder or offseason travel) taking a packable puffer jacket is a great way to stay warm without adding a ton of extra bulk to your luggage, since they can pack down super small. There are lots of good, affordable options on the market, like this one.
Traveler Collective Clip and Rings
Let’s be real. Travelers love to show off all the places they’ve been. An awesome, understated way to do that is by sporting a high-quality leather Traveler Collective clip with rings representing each destination they’ve visited. It can also make for a great recurring gift! This year we bought Claire a clip and each Christmas we plan to buy her rings of all the destinations we have visited so far.
Best Gifts for Travelers Under $100
Herschel Duffel Bag
The Herschel duffel bag is the perfect size for weekend getaways. I bought one for Sam several years ago, and he loves it. The quality is great, and the design is super pragmatic. It even has a separate compartment to store shoes!
Whether in the mountains or on a tropical beach, nothing screams relaxation more than taking a nap in a hammock. Enos are great for travelers, because they pack down fairly small and are easy to string up.
Though they take up more space than earbuds, noise-cancelling headphones are a total game-changer on long-haul flights. Rather than turning up the volume so loud you nearly pop an eardrum, these headphones easily drown out the surrounding sounds of the engine, crying children, and the dinner service. Though if the crying children are YOURS, you should probably take off the headphones and attend to them… We have these ones.
Osprey Porter 46L
If you’ve read basically any other post on this blog you know that we’re big fans of our Osprey Porter 46L backpacks. Not only are they super durable, but they also fit within the carry-on allotment on even the strictest budget airlines. We’ve been using ours for five years and can’t recommend it highly enough.
Further Reading: Backpack Review: Osprey Porter 46L
Best Gifts for Travelers Under $150
Personalized World Traveler Map
This beautiful, push-pin world travel map is the perfect way for travelers to commemorate past trips and dream about future destinations.
Besides, every traveler likes to brag talk about the places they’ve visited. This map can spark conversation and help travelers avoid the awkward “Well, Bill, it’s a nice day we’re having. In fact, it reminds me of the time I took the chicken bus in Nicaragua….” routine.
Best Gifts Under $300
Though I used my Osprey Porter 46L backpack for years and absolutely love it, I have become a convert to wheeled luggage since I started traveling with a baby (since I’m usually already carrying a diaper bag and pushing a stroller!). My new favorite suitcase is my Away carry-on hard shell (I have it in pink). It easily fits within the carry-on allowance on nearly every airline, rolls like a dream, and the ejectable battery pack is a lifesaver on long travel days. It even comes with a laundry bag! I was easily able to pack everything I needed in it for Claire and me for our 16-day trip through Europe in November.
Bonus: Stocking Stuffers
We’ve all ended up stuck in a hotel room beside people who think it’s okay to blare Justin Bieber at 2:00am, on a flight with a screaming baby, or on a noisy train. And for people who value sleep (aka, everyone who isn’t a complete psychopath), these situations can be super frustrating. For that reason, we always travel with ear plugs. They’ve saved us many sleepless nights! These are our favorites.
Silicone Travel Containers
These TSA-approved silicone travel containers are great for jet setters who travel with only a carry-on.
Rather than spending a fortune on travel-sized toiletries, Sam and I buy our products in bulk and simply refill these silicone travel containers for every trip.
Field Notes Notebook
We always travel with one of these notebooks. They are ideal for recording expenses, hotel addresses, and other important information, and they are small enough to fit in a pocket or backpack. (We use ours to keep trip notes we later use to write these blog posts!)
Travelers end up in all types of accommodations, including overnight trains and busy hostels. Having a good quality eye mask is essential for sleeping well in any circumstances.
What items would you add to this list?
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