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Looking for travel gifts for the quarantined traveler? Check out the special 2020 edition of this guide!
With the holidays coming and Black Friday just around the corner, I figured it’s finally time for me to create a holiday gift guide with the best travel gifts.
Of course, travelers come in all different stripes, so I’ve broken out this guide so you can find the best gifts for every type of traveler in your life.
The list includes a mix of items I’ve found to be the most useful in my travels, a list of things I’ve considered getting for myself and other travelers, and suggestions from other folks in certain categories where I have no experience (e.g. traveling with kids).
But first, before I dive into individual categories, here’s my pick for the absolute best travel gift ever: a Flytographer photo shoot.
No matter what type of traveler your loved one is, a Flytographer photo shoot is a gift that keeps giving because it helps them capture their vacation memories. I personally haven’t had a chance to use Flytographer yet, but the photos I’ve seen from friends are amazing!
Okay, now to the gifts for each type of traveler, with options for every budget:
The best travel gifts for the minimalist
For the traveler in your life who packs light, peruse these options that’ll make them seem like they have Hermione’s endless bag:
- Dr. Bronner’s: These tiny little bottles of magic liquid last forever and have 18 different uses that’ll help your minimalist traveler save a ton of space. I use it as hand soap, body wash, shampoo, and laundry detergent when I travel.
- Dash slim wallets: I’m not sure why these are branded as men’s wallets because I’ve used these for years, and thus far, still a woman. I initially backed these on Kickstarter and have bought many others for myself and as gifts.
- Try the World: Your minimalist traveler isn’t going to have space to bring back many things from the places they visit, so bring back those places for them in the form of traditional foods from around the world.
Looking for a sample packing list to encourage you to pack lighter? This one isn’t a minimalist packing list, but it’s a good start.
The best travel gifts for outdoors enthusiasts
For the traveler in your life who’d rather sleep under the stars than in any ritzy penthouse, take a look at this list of gifts that’ll let them live their best life:
- Rain jacket: This Marmot Precip rain jacket is available for both men and women (my partner and I both have one). They’re extremely packable and waterproof, and they work great as windbreakers.
- ExOfficio underwear: I know, I know, underwear feels like a weird gift to give. But this brand of underwear is known for its quick-drying, odor-resistant features. Your outdoorsy traveler is sure to be aware of the brand if not already in possession of several pairs. ExOfficio has both men’s and women’s options.
- National Parks membership: Okay, this one is pretty particular to U.S. residents, but an annual pass to the country’s 2,000+ national parks and federal recreational lands is especially great for the nature-loving types who live near multiple parks.
- Yeti tumbler: Since the last pick was mostly for U.S. folks, here’s a bonus option for the outdoorsy traveler in your life. Help them keep their liquids as cold or as hot as they want with a Yeti product.
The best gifts for the business traveler
For the traveler in your life who jets away like George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, try some of these items that their company probably won’t let them expense:
- Trtl pillow: Business travel may seem fancy, but it does mean a lot of plane naps. Help your business traveler sleep better with this acclaimed version of the travel pillow.
- Flint lint roller: While perhaps not the most exciting gift in the world, this reusable and retractable lint roller is easy to pack and has been a lifesaver for me on all sorts of trips.
- Garment carry-on bag: It’s a garment bag disguised as a carry-on, dressed in deliciously supple leather.
The best gifts for the budget traveler
For the traveler in your life who stretches that money for longer than you thought imaginable, consider one of these gifts:
- Quick-dry towel: The quick dry towel I’ve had for years is no longer sold, but there are tons of other options thta work just as well. It’s great for hostel-living, versatile for showers and beaches, and dries like a champ.
- Travel laundry clips: These little clips will save the budget traveler in your life when they need to do their laundry in the sink, attach random articles of clothing to their backpack, or dry that quick-dry towel that you got them. I usually bring 4-6 clips with me on my trips.
- Airbnb credits: It’s more meaningful than physical cash and will help them fund their travels. If they’ve never used Airbnb before, this link will also get them $40 off toward their first stay.
And if you can’t understand how they can travel with such low budgets, take a look at these amazing hostels around the world to get a glimpse of what budget traveling is really like.
The best gifts for the luxury traveler
For the traveler in your life who wouldn’t be caught dead in a hostel, check out these gifts to make them feel as pampered on the road as they are at home:
- 2-in-1 hair straightener and curler: This tiny little package keeps you looking glam no matter where you are (well, as long as you have a working power outlet).
- Picnic backpack: Adorable picnic baskets and backpacks like this one elevate picnics anywhere, be it on the roadside or in the gardens of Versailles.
- Priority Pass membership: We have this via our credit cards, and we use the hell out of it. The membership provides access to more than 1200 airport lounges around the world. The quality of the lounges differ, but most offer free food and drinks, if not other complimentary services.
- Minnetonka moccasins: Bonus pick since the first option in this category is mostly for women. These classic moccasins, available for men and women (and kids!), help your luxury traveler feel right at home.
The best travel gifts for those with kids in tow
For the traveler in your life who brings their little one with them, check out these options that’ll help make their trip smoother:
- Car seat travel belt: Make your life a little easier by using this product to attach your child’s car seat to your luggage. Who wouldn’t want an extra hand?
- Water Wow: Keep your little one entertained with this fun and no-mess creative activity.
- JetKids BedBox: When the kiddo gets tired, this bedbox helps make their seat into a comfy bed. You might wonder why I put a product doesn’t have glowing reviews on Amazon, but it’s been mommy- and kiddo-approved. (There are some airlines that don’t allow this product, but most airlines do. Double check with your favorite airlines before traveling with it.)
The best gifts for the sustainable traveler
For the traveler in your life who considers the impact of their adventures, consider one of these thoughtful presents:
- Reusable utensils set: Help them say no to single-use utensils with this set, which includes 1 knife, 1 fork, 1 spoon, 1 set of chopsticks, 2 straws, 1 straw brush, and 1 carrying case.
- LifeStraw water bottle: On the same vein, this bottle filters water and bids the plastic water bottles goodbye.
- Make a donation: Skip the material goods and help your sustainable traveler offset their carbon footprint with a donation. Not sure how much to donate? Use this carbon offset calculator to get a good estimate.
The best gifts for the aspiring traveler
For the budding traveler in your life who wants to but hasn’t been able to travel as much, inspire them with these gifts:
- Scratch off map of the world: Help them learn about new places around the world and track their progress as they experience more of the world.
- 23andMe DNA test: Inspire your budding traveler by helping them learn about their heritage. Key caveat, though: 23andMe and other similar DNA tests currently work best for Caucasians.
- Tinggly experiences: I only learned in recent years that not everyone enjoys trip planning as much as I do. Tinggly allows you to pick a type of travel experience that fits your budget and then allows the giftee to pick their own precise experience. So you get to take part in making their fun travel memories!
I hope this helps make your holiday shopping a little easier. If you have a particular item that you think must be included in this list of the best travel gifts because you can’t travel without it, please let me know. I’d love to test and consider including it!
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