Travel Gift Ideas – The Ultimate Holiday Shopping List

Travel Gift Ideas – The Ultimate Holiday Shopping List


It’s the holiday season again! As you shop Black Friday deals or Cyber Monday bargains, here’s a little inspiration for the travelers on your list. You can probably think of some obvious travel gift ideas. There are the scratch-off world map and the passport protectors, but we give you some gift ideas to take those old standbys to the next level. Our gift guide will surely put a smile on the face of your worldly loved ones this year. Here is our complete list of travel gifts that are perfect for someone with a full passport or starting to pack their first trip. Best of all, our gift guides come with a link to Amazon so that you can check the current price and make a purchase right from the list. Just like Oprah, we recommend our favorite travel products that we use ourselves. So, scan through the list and let us know what you ordered in the comments below. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account, use THIS LINK to get a free 30-day trial. Let us know if you have other suggestions! Enjoy our travel gift ideas and hopefully, we make this years shopping a bit easier for the traveler in your family.

Some links may be affiliate links. This means we may get paid if you buy something or take an action after clicking certain links at no extra cost to you. 

Children might hate getting clothes for Christmas, but the world traveler on your list will love the help. Here are some clothing and packing items that not everyone thinks about – even experienced travelers. Best of all, they’ll have one less thing to worry about before their next epic journey.

SPF Tee Shirt

It’s like your tee shirt and sunscreen had a baby! Anyone traveling will benefit from a few shirts with UV protection. They’re moisture-wicking, UPF 50+ and super lightweight, so they won’t take up much room or weight in a travel bag. It’s the perfect thing to wear while hiking, fishing or on a walking tour around a city.

Reusable Rain Poncho

Guess what! Sometimes it rains. That can be a damper on someone’s travels, which is why a good rain poncho is essential. Encourage the traveler in your life to reduce the amount of plastic they use and avoid disposable rain ponchos. They’re for sale in every tourist destination and usually overpriced. But what happens when the rain blows over in 15 minutes and that 5€ piece of plastic goes into the trash? It ends up killing a turtle – that’s what, Scott! Give the gift of a reusable rain poncho and save a turtle this Christmas.

Novelty Travel Tees

I love a good novelty tee! Especially ones with oh so clever statements like “I’m with stupid” and “save water, drink beer”. I really like ones that get me excited to travel, because that’s something about myself that I enjoy displaying to the world. It beats showing off that I’m with stupid people or encouraging others to drink beer. Check out some travel-related novelty tees to give this year. Here are a few cool designs, but there are a ton of options on Amazon, so you really can’t go wrong.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are such a simple concept that you’ll wonder how anyone ever survived without them. They make it really easy for you to organize your suitcase and ensure that you pack all the essentials you need. The set we recommend comes in a variety of colors and gives you 6 cubes. They’re all different sizes and you should pack them accordingly. Pants and trousers go in the large, shirts and blouses in the medium and then underwear, and socks in the small. 

You then have 3 more. One is to pack electronics (chargers, converters, cord). Another is for slim items and can hold a pair of shoes, makeup or curling iron, and special vacation lingerie. The last is for toiletries – but pro travel tip: don’t bring this one in a carry on bag. Your liquids have to be in a clear bag. The toiletry bag should be for non-liquid items that don’t need to be scanned like toothbrushes and razors. You’re going to want a set for yourself, so order 2 or more!

Travel Bottles and Containers

Here are two packs of must-have travel accessories. They’re fillable bottles and containers so that your jet setter can have all of their liquids stored in leak-proof, refillable, travel-sized containers. It’s perfect for anyone who has a specific hair or beauty routine and needs to travel with specific shampoo, conditioner, lotions or cosmetics. Be careful that they know to pack these in their checked luggage. Many airports limit the number of liquids you can carry on, even if they’re properly stored in small travel-sized containers and bottles.

Travel Gift Ideas - Must-Have Accessories

All of these travel gift ideas make exploring the world a lot more comfortable. They can keep you warm and cozy on long haul flights or keeping you from being pickpocketed. All of these travel gifts will come in handy for the traveler on your Christmas list.

Water Bottle

It’s super important to stay hydrated, pretty much life or death. This is especially true when traveling because of the dry air on flights. Touring certain destinations may also prove difficult for stopping to get water and snacks. You can also save money and turtles but avoiding the purchase of plastic bottles full of water. This can be tricky in certain destinations because of water quality. Still, where they can, travelers should have a reusable water bottle handy – so help them out.

The Nefeeko bottle is one of the best on the market. It’s lightweight silicone, collapsible and leakproof. It’s perfect for travel, the gym, taking to work or as part of your adventure travel camping gear. It comes in cool neon colors and has a carabineer so you can hook it to the outside of your carryon bag.

Travel Towel

People often overlook the importance of having a travel towel unless they’re frequent campers. If the traveler on your list is wandering the world with children they’ll understand how important a travel towel is. We’ve also used them when staying at Airbnbs that don’t provide towels because they’re super lightweight and don’t take up much room in your travel bag. This set is by Olimpia Fit and comes with three different sized towels in a handy case. It’s the same price as buying one towel, but it comes with a large, medium and face towel.

Travel Blanket

A lot of long haul flights will give you a travel blanket for the flight, but that’s not the case for most domestic flights around the world. So smart travelers will bring their own. Here’s one that takes up almost no room at all – which is why it’s on our list of travel gift ideas. When it’s zipped up it can be used as a pillow and has a small zipper for storage. It can even be clipped onto a travel bag or strapped to rolling carryon luggage for massive convenience.

Travel Pillows

There are a TON of travel pillows out there. Don’t let your loved ones pay a premium at the airport, wrap one up as a travel gift for them. The cheapest (and worst) ones are the inflatable kind. We’ve included two which are MUCH better. The first is a traditional neck pillow that supports your neck like a brace, without having to suffer a spinal injury.

The second is a new trend with rave reviews, but neither of us has tried yet. It’s a bit pricier and it wraps memory foam around your neck. By design, it’s tight and adjustable to each person who wears it. Those who have reviewed it claim it’s the most comfortable neck pillow they’re used and it looks like it would be based on the photos.

We also include a link to the “face cradle pillow” which is another new design that lets you lay forward on the plane. It’s crafted for people like me who can’t sleep as well upright in a seat but are too poor for business class.


Airplane Footrest

This footrest is awesome! It attaches to the seat in front of you through the tray. It allows you to keep your legs and feet elevated and free of soreness and stiffness. The footrest is memory foam and keeps you healthy and comfortable during long and short flights.

Money Belt

A money belt is a convenient way to carry your cash, passport and important documents with you while touring. You also can avoid looking like a tourist with a passport-sized plastic medallion hanging from your neck. It clips around your waist and you can tuck it under your shirt to avoid pickpockets. I used one in India and this model was perfect. It was uncomfortable enough for having something around my waist while I was touring places but it did the trick. I wasn’t pickpocketed even once! This one also has RFID blocking. I don’t really know what that means, but Mike’s dad explained it to me once and it’s important.

Phone and Tablet Stands

The Flight Flap is a handy device to help you stay entertained while traveling. It sits on a flat surface and neatly supports your phone or tablet so that you can relax your hands while you watch videos. It makes it easy to enjoy your own entertainment on a train, plane or in a coffee shop without having to buy a specific case for each product. It will fit in a stocking at it’s under $10!

Travel Umbrella

Believe it or not, it’s possible to pack an umbrella with you while you’re traveling. Best of all, they’re also lightweight and, as designed, keep you dry while you’re touring. As far as travel gift ideas, a tiny umbrella is perfect as a stocking stuffer! They’ve found a way to make them so compact that you can bring one with you and avoid having to pay extra for one in a tourist zone. Tourist umbrellas are also of poor quality. We’ve had to buy one at souvenir shops and they may as well be disposable. It’s important to find one that’s windproof, which is why we selected this one. It also has a leather case, which looks really fancy – like something Rod Stewart would carry.

Never-lose "Smart" Luggage Tags

Luggage tags are a great stocking stuffer, but we looked for some of our travel gift ideas to give you something more. That’s what these “smart” luggage tags accomplish. They will calm the nerves of the traveler on your shopping list. That’s because these tags go extra to make sure your luggage will never be lost. They have a QR code that can be used to locate the owner. It’s a perfect safeguard against missing luggage or someone walking away with the wrong bag. The contact information can also be changed virtually and they provide a support team to help with relocation.

Passport Covers

Mike and I received passport covers as a gift two Christmases ago and we love them. They’re unique and help us to keep our passports separated. Bonus! They also protect them from coffee spills and other dangers. This link we included has a dozen or so designs that you can look through and they’re available for prime delivery.

Travel Books

We love to get travel books for our upcoming travels. It gives us something to read in anticipation, and they’re handy to have with us while we finalize our itineraries. Travel books are obviously full of destination-specific travel tips and are really helpful with trip planning. There are so many out there that it’s hard to know where to start, but we have a few recommendations that we’ll list for you here.

Rick Steves Travel Books

When it comes to travel planning, Rick Steves is a great resource. Rick Steves started making travel videos for PBS and Mike can watch them on YouTube for hours. He gives a really thorough overview of what to expect in various locations with travel tips and local flare. His books are honest guides for how to see each destination that he covers. They’re very helpful for knowing where to stay and what attractions to visit. We like to consult his books and also check travel blogs for up to the minute tips on where to eat and tour reviews. We really appreciate how his books give you a ranking for attractions. he lets you know which are must-see, nice-to-see and that you should only go to if you have extra time. We’ve dropped a link for his book, Europe Through the Back Door, but you can check out his other destination guides and travel tips on Amazon. That book gives you tips on how to experience Europe like a local, but check out his other works that are best for your gift list.

Lonely Planet Travel Books

We love Lonely Planet! They’re basically Rick Steves books for Gen X and Millennial travelers. They’re certainly suitable for any age but cover more information on cocktail bars, adventure travel excursions and have a great smartphone app. We’ve included links to two of our favorite Lonely Planet books.

Where to Go When is a great resource for planning travel. We sometimes find travel deals in our inbox and they seem too good to be true. Then we check out the book and realize that Sri Lanka during typhoon should be cheap, but also avoided. It’s great to get inspiration for where to go and when – as you would expect from the very literal title.

National Geographic 50 States 5000 Ideas is here because we have a large American audience and others who visit the states. This book is perfect for anyone on your list who needs some travel inspiration for seeing the United States. It’s full of awesome pictures and trip ideas that will have your gift recipients claiming vacation time as soon as they unwrap it.

Lonely Planet’s The World is an awesome travel resource that gives you highlights on what to expect when visiting any country in the world. It can’t cover every destination in the world, but it comes close and has every country. For any traveler, it’s a cool addition to the bookshelf or coffee table. If they know where they’re traveling in 2020, you can also use the link to find the Lonely Planet book that covers their travel plans.

Travel Journals

I never used a real travel journal – I’ve only live-blogged on my trip to India. In retrospect, that was a little annoying because I was dependant on WiFi and my laptop. On my tours in India and Botswana this year, I had tour-mates who kept travel journals throughout their trip. They were exploring a bit longer than me in both cases, but these travel journals are still really cool. I will definitely be getting one for my 2020 travels (Mom… if you’re reading this, save this link).

The travel journals listed below are cool because there’s really an option for everyone. They all help with planning and mapping your itinerary and give you a place to write while you’re exploring. Still, they’ve all got unique concepts. The first is relatively simple – you just write. It has a nice cover, but it’s largely left blank for you to pour out your soul. The following two have writing prompts to capture your feelings while traveling. One is based on encouraging you to pick up on different elements of travel. The concept is to help you see the small things as you’re touring. The last one is a mindfulness journal, which is all about making you feel good and be in the moment. It’s like a self-care journal while you’re traveling that you can also reflect on post-trip. They’re all great ways to capture your journey and reflect on it later. As a travel gift idea, one of them should fit almost anyone on your list.

Travel Gear

Anyone traveling is going to need a bag. As the lyrical genius Will Smith once rapped, “a bag with a lot of stuff in it, give it to your friend, lets spin.” I’m not sure what he meant by that, but bags are great travel gift ideas. Here are three different-sized bags we own and used in India and Africa this year (plus one my sister used on a 3 week Europe trip this year).

Osprey Farpoint 40

I got the Osprey Farpoint 40L bag for my India tour. This bag is carry on size and can fit in the overhead compartment of any plane. I picked this size because was only traveling for 30 days and I was unsure if I could check a bag during my tour (I was able to, but this was still the perfect size). Two features of this bag made me really fall for it. First, it has back and waist straps, so you have the option of carrying it with one shoulder strap or fully on your back. The second feature is that it unzips like a traditional piece of rolling carryon luggage. Instead of reaching into the top of the bag, you can lay it flat and unpack it like a traditional piece of luggage.

Osprey Farpoint 70

I liked the Farpoint 40 bag so much that when it was time for us to get Mike a bag we opted for the Osprey Farpoint 70L. This was the bigger option, so it has to be checked for air travel. It has similar features to the Farpoint 40L, the enclosed back straps, and the same zipper function. Mike got this bag for our Botswana safari trip and it was fantastic for the trip. Any traveler receiving this bag from you will be super lucky to have you shopping for them. Maybe they’ll even send you a postcard.

Eddie Bauer Adult Bygone 30

This bag has swagger! It’s just a sexy bag and it’s a perfect carry on for hotel travel and city breaks. My sister used this bag for a tour of Europe in 2019 and she loved it. It has a heavily padded back for a comfortable carry and comes with waist and shoulder straps. It has plenty of storage space and holds 30L.

Anti-Theft Shoulder Sling Day Bag

Two years ago we got this bag for Christmas and it’s been with us for every trip since. From city breaks to our safari, we love having a day bag with us. It fits easily into our main luggage and we take it out to pack once we’re in our destination. We’ve luckily never needed these features, but this bag is great because it has an anti-slash strap and the material is water-resistant.

Electronics as Travel Gift Ideas

Electronics are a big part of travel because they’re a big part of life in these modern times of which we live. Some of these gift ideas are just awesome to have while traveling and others are almost necessary for anyone to have a functioning mobile phone while traveling.


You don’t necessarily NEED a tablet to travel, but my friends who fly with their kids pretty much swear that you do. I think they’re well-known enough that you can decide for yourself what to buy someone – iPad, Kindle, etc. Either way, here are links to compare more and see prices on Amazon. You should also do some outside research to make sure you’re getting the right tablet – and maybe even ask before you buy.

If you’re searching for the perfect gift idea for someone that already owns a kindle – consider a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. It’s a great gift for anyone with an e-reader and Amazon offers the service in 6, 12 and 24 month subscriptions. They’re currently offering a Free Trial as well. This way you can even try it out yourself before buying it for the traveler on your list.

A Good Camera with Travel Accessories

It’s likely that a seasoned traveler has already got a good camera. If that’s the case, they’ll likely already give you a specific request for travel accessories. If not, here is a great “starter camera” that makes it a perfect travel gift. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 SLR Camera is the camera that we use and received as a gift when we moved to Europe (and began traveling a lot more).

Noise Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are magic. That means that I don’t know how they work, but you won’t hear babies crying or the plane’s engines for an entire flight. The idea is that outside sounds are picked up by microphones and replaced with similar frequencies inside of the headphones. I may be wrong about it, but either way – here are three links. The first is to the best Bose headphones. Second, you have a set of budget noise-canceling headphones that do the trick for a budget price. Lastly, you have a link to the best noise-canceling headphones available for children.

Universal Travel Adaptors

A travel adapter is super important for anyone traveling internationally. If you’re buying a travel gift for anyone who isn’t Amish, they will need a universal travel adapter. We linked the one that we love. It’s fantastic because not only does it cover every outlet type that someone could encounter, but it also has USB charging ports. This makes it simple to charge all of our electronics while we’re traveling.

Domestic Travel Gift Ideas for When Someone Isn't Traveling

Here are some great gift ideas for when the travelers in your life aren’t on the road. They’re fun reminders of travel and give you some additional options on our gift guide.

Passport Stamp Throw Blanket

Here’s a cool throw blanket, but not the compact kind you want to bring on a plane. This one is better to drape over the couch and keep warm while daydreaming of travel.

Travel-themed Mugs

The sassy ones in these links are just as example of the kinds of travel mugs you can find on Amazon. Search for one that fits the personality of whoever you’re shopping for. This could be a fun chance to remind them of a trip they went on, some travels that you shared together or a destination they have planned for 2020.

Inspirational Travel Maps

You’ve probably seen the common scratch-off maps that are popular for people to track their adventures. There are plenty of other versions that people love. Here’s one version that I really like because you place a pin in the destinations you’ve visited. I like these corkboard options because you can be more specific about your travels. For example, we visited Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2019. I feel a little odd scratching off the entire landmass of Russia. It’s a little more representative to place a pin in the city of Saint Petersburg and save the rest of Russia for when we visit those regions. The corkboard option has a map of America and a map of the world. There’s also a 3D option that works similarly where you insert pins to mark your travels.

Travel Inspired Wall Art

From wall decals to metal wall hangings, there are all kinds of travel-inspired art pieces that are perfect travel gift ideas. Here are a few links, but like all art – it’s subjective. See what designs you like the most and select one to gift your travel-loving friends or family members.

Travel as a Gift

You can also give the gift of travel. Check out our TRAVEL RESOURCES for links to picking tours and buying travel insurance, flights, hotels or other types of lodging.

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Derek Hartman

Derek Hartman is an American expat from Philadelphia, currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. His blog, Robe Trotting focuses on travel, expatriation and lifestyle topics.

This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Derek Hartman

      Yeah, I wore one in Greece when I was sunburnt from the beach and it kind of saved my life – it at least saved the next day.

  1. Kennedy

    Packing cubes are such a great idea! I use them whenever I travel they are a lifesaver!

    1. Derek Hartman

      Right! We use them so much I forget they’re not a standard.

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