Are you looking for gifts for travelers on your list? Good! You’ve come to the right place. Even if travel is quite limited right now, we still think this is a great gift guide for travelers that are practical – things they actually want and need – for when things get back to normal. There are no fillers here. It’s not a list of stuff travelers get that they keep just to make you happy (and then throw away when they’re on the road).
Sure, not everything on this list is something everyone will want – mostly because they might already have them. But it is a list of things that all travelers think about at some point.
Long-term travel can be expensive. The cost of getting started though is where it can really add up. If you have a traveler on your gift list, you can help them get started on their travels with just about any of the things on our list of gifts for travelers.
But before you buy anything…
Things to think about before you buy
You can’t just buy gifts for travelers without thinking through a few things first. Everyone has their own travel style and preferences, so don’t spend $100 on someone before you know a bit of information first. Ask around for this info before you buy anything.
1. Long-term travelers are picky
Before you go out and buy that $50 64GB SD card, you need to know the giftee’s preferences. Perhaps they have a brand they like. Maybe they don’t care. Try your best to find out from a friend or relative first. If you can’t get that information, no problem. Just look at prices on Amazon or your favorite site and get a gift card for roughly that amount!
2. Backpack and suitcase space is valuable
Whether they’re using a 65-liter backpack or a carry-on smart suitcase, space will always be at a premium. You don’t want an overstuffed backpack or a suitcase you have to sit on in order to get it to close!
3. What’s their travel style?
Roughing it: If the person you’re buying for is going on a one-year trip around the world and will be using a backpack, a tent, and a sleeping bag the entire time, they’re probably not gonna want a hard-shell suitcase. They may, however, want a water purifier!
Luxury: If your traveler will be checking into the W Hotel in each of her selected cities, she’s probably not going to need that water purifier, for example. She’ll be getting fresh bottled water delivered to her daily – probably after her massage and breakfast in bed.
Doesn’t care: Frankly, there are some people who just have everything they need already and won’t want any of the stuff below. That’s fine, too! I’ve included some stuff at the end of this post for people just like this. When all else fails, cash or an Amazon gift card will always be appreciated.
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Gadget gifts for travelers
There are a lot of gadgets out there that can make your life a lot easier. And then there are some that serve little or no purpose. But even when a gadget can make your life easier, you have to balance that against how much room you actually have in your pack or suitcase.
Here are a few gadgets we think make excellent gifts for the traveler in your life. There are a couple at the end that are more “nice to have.” But the first few are gifts travelers want – if they don’t have them already.
Anker PowerCore power packs
Let’s start with this one. These days, a portable power pack is a travel necessity. Anker makes solid, quality power banks, and any of them would make an excellent gift for the traveler in your life. We’ve been using the Anker PowerCore 13000 for nearly 3 years and it’s still in our bags for every trip. Yes, we each have one.
The Anker 13000 can easily charge your smartphone 4-6 times before you’ll need to recharge the bank itself. I use it to charge my Google Pixel, Sony a6500 camera, and my Crane stabilizer. I don’t go anywhere without it!
External Hard Drive
If you’re traveling, you’re probably taking lots and lots of photos. We take a lot of videos for our YouTube channel! It’s not like it used to be when a photo was only a few hundred kilobytes. Even your Smartphone’s photos can be 2-3 MB or more. A photographer who shoots in RAW format is taking pictures that can be around 30 MB each.
Don’t even get me started on how much space a 4K video uses. Ouch!
All of that adds up! A traveler does not want to lose his or her memories, so we recommend buying at least one external hard drive. That way, you can have a copy of your photos on your computer and a backup on an external drive.
Our favorite external hard drive is from Western Digital. We have two Western Digital 4TB Elements Portable External Hard Drives and we love them. Just plug it into your laptop. It will auto-connect and show up in Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac).
International plug adapters
A lot of people don’t realize this, but most electronics these days are built to convert power by themselves. In most cases, you can plug your smartphone into any outlet, anywhere in the world, using an adapter and you’ll be fine. The same is true for laptops, battery chargers, and most everything else. Usually, you’ll only need an adapter – not a converter. Always check the owner’s manual first, obviously.
We recommend the OREI Worldwide travel adapter pictured above. It’s small. It has plugs for wherever a traveler is going. And it’s cheap!
(Note: As of this writing, the Amazon title describes this as a converter. It is not. It’s an adapter only.)
Mini Power Strip with USB Slots
To go along with your adapter, a traveler will want a small power strip with surge protection and USB slots. This one, the Belkin SurgePlus USB Swivel Surge Protector and Charger fits the bill nicely because it’s small. It has three plug outlets and two USB inputs. That should be more than enough for a traveler. Just plug the converter into the wall and plug the power strip into the converter.
Voila! All the power you need!
Many travelers, especially budget-conscious and long-term travelers, spend a lot of time in hostels. Sometimes, they’ll stay at campgrounds. Usually, both types of travelers will go to countries that are cheap. And this means they’re likely to get caught in a place where the electricity will go out in a storm.
This has happened to me in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand. And when it did, I was glad I had a good-quality LED headlamp.
Don’t cheap out on headlamps. You get what you pay for. Go with brands like Black Diamond and Petzl. Those are the brands the pros use. They’re excellent quality and not that expensive. All of their products make decent gifts for travelers. But here are a couple of suggestions.
Travelers take a lot of photos and videos. Those photos and videos have to be stored somewhere. And in digital cameras, that’s on an SD card. You want a quality card. While there is no guarantee that a SanDisk, Lexar, PNY, or Sony will last longer, there’s a reason they’re among the top sellers.
We prefer to use several smaller cards instead of one massive card. It might be tempting to put a month’s worth of photos and videos on a 128 GB card, for example. But what if the card is defective or becomes defective? You’ll lose everything!
We use smaller cards – here’s an excellent 32 GB card from SanDisk. Buy a few. Transfer them to your computer and backup drive every day or couple of days. Better to lose 1/4 of your photos and videos than all of them!
A good accessory to have is an SD card holder, like this one from Kiorafoto.
Amazon Kindle or Fire
If the traveler on your holiday gift list enjoys reading a lot, then an e-reader is a great idea. It’s one thing to take a book or two with you. It’s quite another to take a whole library of them. But you can do just that with an e-reader like the Kindle or Fire tablet.
The great thing about the Kindle specifically is that, in my opinion, it reads just like a book. The screen looks like paper, so it’s easier on the eyes than reading from a backlit Fire or iPad. The benefit of the Fire though is that you can take movies and TV shows with you.
And if the traveler you know wants to bring TV shows along with him or her, maybe give him or her an Amazon Prime membership to download their favorite shows right to the Amazon Fire Tablet!
Wide-angle smartphone lens
Ok, maybe this isn’t a gadget that’s at the top of everyone’s list. And to be honest, we haven’t ever used one. But we’ve seen the Pixter Super Fisheye Pro Lens used time and time again by vloggers and Instagrammers we like and trust.
It gives you a viewing angle of up to 235º and it’s super easy to use – just clip it on!
If you’re traveling as a couple and want to watch a movie together on your iPad or Kindle Fire, you need a headphone splitter. You don’t need anything glamorous, and you don’t need to spend a lot.
This one by Syncwire is nylon-braided and it’s under $10. I’ve seen headphone splitters over $20 and they’re no better.
A good speaker is not exactly one of the essential gifts for travelers, but it’s a very nice to have item for people who love to listen to music without headphones – or worse, playing directly from the phone.
Bigger is often better when it comes to Bluetooth speakers. But since packing space is at a premium, you’ll need to go smaller – much smaller. And that’s why we like the Outdoor Tech Buckshot 2.0 speaker. It delivers pretty decent sound. Importantly, it’s also rugged, waterproof, and can clip right to the shoulder strap of a backpack!
(For those of you who want to splurge a little bit, try the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker.)
Not really gadgets, but…
Here are a few things that really didn’t fit the gadget gift category, but that we’re sure people will love anyway.
Especially the first one.
Portable coffee maker
There’s nothing worse than being without coffee in the morning. That why we recommend this wonderful contraption – the AeroPress! It’s one of the best gifts for travelers because we’ve all been in that situation!
If you think it’s something your traveler would love, buy it! They’ll never go without good coffee again. Yum!
The Leatherman Sidekick Multitool has almost every tool a traveler needs – all tucked away in a nice, compact tool. Before you buy it as a gift though, check with the person you’re buying it for. If he or she is traveling with carry-on bags only, they won’t be able to travel with this. Knives and stabby things don’t get to travel in the main cabin. Check-in only!
This is why I don’t have one yet, sadly.
Every long-term traveler knows what it’s like to accidentally drink the water in certain countries. We certainly do.
Whether you’re traveling to Southeast Asia, Africa, or just going camping, sterilizing the water you drink is important. And the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti is the perfect way to do it.
It destroys 99.9% of harmful microorganisms, including Giardia, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
…or try a Lifestraw Go Water bottle
This is my new favorite thing to take with me when I travel. And it’s cut my bottled water consumption to almost zero. You can watch videos of people using the Lifestraw Go water bottle to get water from puddles and drink it. I admit I’m not brave enough for that yet. But I do fill it up anywhere there’s a tap and I haven’t had any stomach issues whatsoever.
Totally worth it! Each filter will last about a year.
Quip Electric toothbrush
The Quip electric toothbrush is the perfect travel toothbrush. Well, so we’ve heard. We don’t have ours yet. But we’ve heard this so often from people we trust that we’re including the Quip toothbrush here.
We can’t wait to try these things for ourselves. Honestly, we just haven’t gotten around to getting them yet!
Gifts that help protect your stuff
OK, now that we have all of the fun stuff out of the way, you’ll want to get your traveler a gift to help protect it all.
Well, we have a few recommendations!
TSA-approved luggage padlocks
Did you know that if you use regular padlocks to secure your suitcase, the TSA will cut them off if they do an inspection? Yup! They’ll use a pair of bolt cutters and ruin your locks.
Fortunately, travelers can use TSA-approved combination/key locks and they won’t have that problem. These are the ones I use, and I really like them. But you can choose the ones you like from a manufacturer you trust by going here
Pacsafe TravelSafe Portable Safe
While we don’t have one of these yet, we see a lot of people recommending the Pacsafe Travel Safe brand as a way to store valuables. When you’re staying at hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs, simply put your valuables inside and attach the safe to something that’s not gonna move.
This is something that’s on our own shopping list!
If you know a traveler who is going to be spending a lot of time at the beach, hiking in a rain forest, diving or snorkeling, or doing boat activities, a dry bag is a must. A good dry bag will keep sand and water out of your stuff long enough for you to be able to salvage everything.
We own a couple of different styles of these and don’t get on a boat without putting all of our stuff in it. One of them is quite large, and you don’t need one as big as ours, but these are great. Marchway makes a line of dry bags in various sizes. You can check them out right here.
This is the one I like best though. I carry a lightweight Gecko Brand dry bag in my regular day pack. That way, if it starts raining, I can quickly put our cameras inside to protect them. If there’s water or sand where they’re going, a traveler needs a dry bag!
LifeProof phone case
A smartphone today can cost over $1,000 – more than many laptops. There’s a reason for that – they do almost everything laptops can do. PLUS, they’ve become our go-to cameras, life organizers, place finders, and more. Don’t waste $5-10 a month on phone insurance through your provider. Insurance is most commonly used for two reasons – water damage or a broken screen. And you’ll likely never use that – especially if you have a good case.
Get a Lifeproof mobile phone case. They run about $30-$50 each for regular smartphones. In other words, THAT’S your mobile protection insurance! I’ve had one for 4 years now. I’ve dropped the phone, got it wet, and have never had an issue.
Lifeproof is our preference, but you can also get one from Otterbox.
Great digital gifts for travelers
So, you’ve managed to find a traveler who already has all of the stuff above – or maybe doesn’t want any of it. You still have options!
We’ve put together a list of a few digital gifts for travelers that we’ve either used ourselves or think would be useful.
I am a huge fan of the Pimsleur language program. I’ve used it to learn both introductory Spanish and Indonesian. Halef has learned a good bit of Mandarin Chinese. Pimsleur walks you through conversations, using 30-minute lessons that get more advanced as you go. Honestly, I can say that I’ve never had as much success as I have with the Pimsleur method.
If you buy in increments, you can pay a little over $20 for 5 lessons. If you like them and they help you a lot, you can buy the whole program.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t really like cozying up with a book. I’d rather “read” while I’m out walking or on a plane. A few months ago, I bought an Audible membership. It’s around $15 a month and your first month is free. Every month, you get a credit for one book. Whether that book is $14 or $104, you can use the credit to get it for free. You also usually get free Audible originals as well.
Most newer books cost more than the subscription price, so it’s worth it if you like to keep up with the new stuff.
If you know someone who loves audiobooks, get them an Audible gift membership.
I subscribe to both the New York Times and the Washington Post because I love the quality of the reporting. Both keep me in touch with what’s going on in the U.S. and other parts of the world while I’m out of the country.
Here are a few subscription links you’ll need if you want to give a digital newspaper subscription to a friend who travels.
- The Washington Post
- The New York Times – Kindle Edition | Digital Gift Subscription
- The Wall Street Journal
- USA Today
- The Guardian
A VPN – a virtual private network – is one of the most important things you can have on your phone and computer to protect your privacy. They’re also great if the traveler on your list is going to places like Iran, China, or other places that block certain Web sites.
Put simply, a VPN makes it look like you’re in another place altogether. For example, in Iran, you cannot use Facebook, YouTube, Google, and many other Web sites. When I was there, I had access to all of them because I used NordVPN to make it look like I was in the USA.
In addition to providing security, a VPN will allow you to access services that are often available only when you are in your home country. For example, I have a subscription to YouTube TV. Without a VPN, I can’t access it outside the US. With a VPN, I can.
Amazon Prime Membership
We’ve had an Amazon Prime membership for years. At first, it was because I ordered a lot from Amazon and the membership paid for all the shipping. That was worth the price alone.
But now, Amazon Prime includes so much more! Some of the best television shows and movies out there are available with a Prime membership. And if a traveler carries an Amazon Fire tablet, they can download whole seasons and entire movies and watch them on the road.
Click the banner below to see what it offers!
A gift for travelers who have everything
Sometimes, a traveler just has everything they need already. We’re like that. We already have most everything on this list if we need it. In those cases, you can still help them out on their journey.
One of the best things you can do for a traveler, or that they can do for themselves, is to buy travel insurance. When we need travel insurance, there is only one company we use – World Nomads.
We’ve been using World Nomads for years. On shorter trips, we sometimes just use the trip insurance provided by our credit cards. But when we’re traveling for a while, we want to be on a plan that covers us well.
That’s what you get with these guys. Learn more about World Nomads and why we trust them.
Gifts for travel vloggers
If you have an aspiring travel vlogger on your list (someone who wants to be a YouTube star, perhaps?), check out our travel photography gear. It’s all the equipment we use to film and capture all the images you see on our blog and on YouTube!
Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert. Michael has traveled to over 50 countries learning how to experience more for less as he travels.