Christmas is just around the corner, and we all know how stressful it can be. While some people find it cheerful and relaxing, for others it’s full of obligations, scheduling, cooking and buying presents. All in all it can turn out to be a very demanding time of the year. When you spend all that time on making people around you happy, the worst part is when you can see that your efforts didn’t bring any joy to your loved ones. In this article we are sharing some tips and ideas on what gifts could be good for your friends or family who are into traveling. So here we go, Christmas gifts for travelers.
First things first: general guidelines for buying gifts for travelers
It’s easy to spot things that are made for traveling, and often you can be tempted to buy these. But if the gift receiver is really into travel, it can become your big mistake. Here’s an example. Let’s say, your friend is a semi-professional photographer, who loves shooting portraits, animals and families. You would love to give him the best present that can help to advance his photography, so what do you do? Do you go to the photography shop and buy something you think is good? Probably not, because YOU are not that into photography. And you don’t know your friend’s preferences. You might want to buy a new lens for his camera, but what camera does he have? What lenses does he like working with? Anything you need to know about lenses to pick the best one? If you’re looking to buy a camera bag, what does he carry with him? Maybe it’s just a camera and few lenses, or maybe he has plenty of equipment to bring to each shoot?
The point is: you have to do your research.
It’s difficult to give presents to people when you don’t know what they already have or what their preferences are. The same is true about travelers. You can’t really go and buy him/her a backpack, solely based on your own taste. Any person who has traveled a lot, has also read and researched a lot about the best gear. Maybe they are into hiking, so they really need a space for a water pouch; or they have back issues, so trying before buying is essential. Of course, many shops offer gift exchange opportunities – and I bet most travelers can find something in a travel shop. But you can also try and find out more about your friend’s travel habits. So, here are some Christmas gifts for travelers we can recommend.
Physical Christmas gifts for travelers
Many travelers tend to minimize the amount of things they own or carry with them during the trip. Therefore, physical Christmas gifts for travelers shouldn’t be something that takes up more space in the bag, unless it’s really needed. Besides, there is a high chance that they already have that travel towel, lightweight backpack or travel adapter. You give them something they have never tried – and who knows, they might like it.
I haven’t used sleeping mask for 29 years and I was totally fine. But I love getting stuff made by small businesses in my own country, Estonia, and when I saw these adorable Ööloom sleeping masks, I thought that I had to get one! So we got one for me and one for Anders. I was surprised how awesome they are! Not only they have the cutest design and soft fabric, they really helped us during our time riding buses in South America and staying in hostels in New Zealand. I know some people can never imagine sleeping with a mask on, but in some cases they might find it very useful.
The Scrubba Wash Bag
That’s another thing we never knew we needed. During our time in South America, we’ve been to many places where we couldn’t find laundry service. Also, not all the hostels allow you to do our own laundry there. At these times Scrubba Wash Bag really helped us. It won’t get your wine stains off, but it’s great for refreshing clothes you wear every day. It’s not for every traveler, as someone who is into weekend getaways in Europe probably won’t need it. However, it’s a great and lightweight emergency tool for hikers and campers. For laundry detergent, add Sea to Summit Laundry Detergent Sheets.
If your traveler-friend has never used an e-reader, it’s always great opportunity to gift then one so they can try. Some people stick to books, it’s all about the feeling of having a physical book in your hands. I’ve never had an e-reader, and right now I feel that I do prefer books. But during our 6-month trip we were in situations where we couldn’t find anything to read in the languages we know. Sometimes, having e-reader with us could be handy.
I know this one seems a little weird, and I thought that too until we got one. Honestly, it was during our month of camping in Balkans, but I can see how I could use one during backpacking trips as well. Hammocks are awesome. And if you find one that is easy to bring, most people would be happy to use it. We suggest to consider Quechua Versatile Hammocks as Christmas gifts for travelers.
Yes, these guys are always useful during travel, especially when your phone acts as your notebook, information center, music player, primary contact, entertainment, photo camera and much more. Make sure the powerbank you buy is both powerful and lightweight.
Another thing that many people are not using, but should try once in their lifetime. Especially if they tend to go on long haul flights. Compression socks can help reduce swelling and discomfort, and often you don’t think you need them before you actually get them.
Mogics Power Bagel & Donut
There is plenty of travel adapters around, and this is our latest discovery. We found Mogics Power Bagel & Donut in the Kickstarter shop in Singapore. It has space for 5 plugs and 2 USB cables, comes with a small case and the design is beautiful! We’ve only tried it a few times yet, but we love it. In general, it’s worth checking out Kickstarter, they often have interesting travel-related things.
Resistance rubber bands
For those of your friends who enjoy exercising while traveling, resistance rubber bands can be a great present. You can do a variety of exercises using these and they barely take up any space in the luggage.
For a loved one: travel underwear
That is probably slightly controversial thing to put on the list, since underwear is a very private and specific piece of clothing. Normally, everyone has their own preferences. BUT! We came out with two recommendations – one for men and one for women, because we have discovered that these are really great for travel. For men, ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Sport Mesh 3″ Boxer Brief is made of a quick-drying and lightweight fabric, which also reduces odors. And for ladies, Uniqlo’s Airism Ultra Seamless Bikini Shorts are super-lightweight and comfortable for any trip.
Collapsible water bottle
Luckily, there are still plenty of countries in the world where you can drink tap water. Or where you can get filtered water in the hotel. Normally, many travelers bring their own water bottles with them. Collapsible water bottles are great Christmas gifts for travelers, since they take up less space when they are empty. Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle is both leak proof and BPA free!
Subscriptions as Christmas gifts for travelers
Audible is a service that provides audio entertainment like audio books and audio performances. Everyone can try it for free for 30 days, but after that the subscription fee is $14.95 per month. Make sure that gift recipient knows they only get certain amount of downloads per month.
Netflix has a limited amount of movies and TV series, and it’s not available in every country, but so far it’s probably the most famous media services provider. We often use Netflix while we travel, since you can download movies to watch offline for the plane or bus ride. Different subscription plans are available, but you can downgrade or upgrade at any time.
If your friend tends to take lots of photos during travels, Dropbox is a great option for storage solutions. Free basic plan only gives you 2 GB of space, while Dropbox Plus offers 1 TB (other options are available too). Prices may vary per country, but you can get yearly subscription for as cheap as $100.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud subscription can be one of the great Christmas gifts for travelers who start exploring their photography skills. You can choose to include one application, photography plan or all apps and gift Lightroom, Photoshop and some storage space.
Even budget travelers would be happy to enjoy a lounge before the flight from time to time. Priority pass offers access to 1200+ lounges around the world, regardless of your travel class. It’s a bit pricey, but often worth it. There are three subscription options to choose from, with the most expensive being Prestige for $429 per year and free access to unlimited amount of lounges.
Fitness and meditation subscriptions
For those always on the move, it can be great to subscribe for a service which helps you with exercise and/or meditation routine. Some great apps with subscriptions that we have used are Headspace and Freeletics.
Another fitness-related subscription, which offers to take fitness classes in different locations. You can use it in over 50 cities around the world, but make sure your friend either lives or frequently travels to at least one of them.
Gift cards as Christmas gifts for travelers
Another category is gift cards. There are a lot of people who don’t like giving or receiving gift cards, because it seems impersonal or a little lazy; but some prefer it this way, so they can choose what they really need. I hope before you decide to buy a gift card for someone, you find out which category they belong to. Here are some gift card ideas.
Gift card to travel shop
This one is an obvious one. Go to the travel shop with large variety of goods, or the one you know recipient loves, and ask them if they sell gift cards. Often you can buy a gift card online. Print it out and pack it in an interesting way (don’t just give a piece of paper) – and voila! Christmas gift ready.
Amazon gift card
Amazon is an e-commerce giant, and many people shop there. We ourselves buy some travel gear or travel-related things from there. It’s quick to do, fairly fast to deliver and easy to track. Amazon offers different kinds of gift cards: the ones you receive by email, to your home address or the ones you print out yourself. There are no returns or refunds on gift cards, but the balance never expires. If your friend is a Kindle user, you can also buy Kindle gift card. Amazon gift card can be used for Kindle books too.
Airbnb gift card
That’s a great option if you know your friend enjoys staying in Airbnb versus hotels. Unfortunately, this is a limited option as right now Airbnb gift cards can be only purchased by individuals in the U.S. and redeemed by payment method that was issued in the U.S. So, if you and your friend are in the United States – go for it! Gift card can be purchased in amounts from $25 to $500. If you haven’t used Airbnb yourself, you can sign up using my link (but you don’t have to!) – it will get you 45 SGD in travel credits and save me 25 SGD next time I book.
iTunes gift card
Not only can you buy music with iTunes gift card, but also different apps, iBooks, movies etc. If your friend is an Apple user, this is something he/she might always have a use for!
Tinggly gift box
Tinggly is a service that offers “gift boxes” with experiences. It works like that: you buy a box, present it to your friend and he/she CHOOSES an experience. Each box contains hundreds of experiences all over the world. If you friend is an avid traveler, there’s a high chance he/she could use one of these in the nearest future. Experiences vary from riding gondola in Venice to ziplining in Cambodia and skydiving in Namibia. In my personal opinion, it’s one of truly great Christmas gifts for travelers and it’s valid for 5 years.
Gifts not related to travel
When I was a kid, I liked sheep. Soft toys, mugs with sheep and much more. So, since I was 12, everyone has been giving me what I call sheep-stuff. Now that I’m 30, how much sheep-stuff do you think I have? Some of that even in double. Today, I ask my friends not to give me sheep anymore, even though I still like them (but I also like tons of other stuff). The truth is, even if your friend is a full-time traveler, it doesn’t mean your gift has to be travel-related, so think of what else he/she likes, might need or would enjoy, or consider donating to the charity in their name.
There are tons of other ideas for presents, but there’s a chance your friend already has most of these. Travel padlocks and travel journals, passport covers and travel wallets, jackets and toiletry kits – the list of Christmas gifts for travelers is endless, but before you buy, make sure it’s needed.
Good luck with your Christmas shopping and wish you a no-stress-December!
If you’re looking for some travel ideas, check out our articles:
Buenos Aires, a City that Stole Our Hearts
9 Awesome Things We Did in New Zealand
Places to Visit in Montenegro, the New Zealand of Europe
These are such brilliant suggestions for travelers. I would want to gift a few of these things from the list to myself. 😀
I am going to save and share this list with my husband and friends for sure. Thank you so much!
Haha Thanks, Anjali, we’re happy you liked it!! We used all of these things ourselves, and really enjoyed them. (Showing this to your friends/husband is a good hint on what you wish haha, well done!)
I am so glad to see somebody else excited about Christmas! And if you start your shopping early, you have a better chance of not “breaking the bank”. I really like your suggestions regarding gift cards, and I didn’t really know you could buy airbnb gift cards, but I think they will be on my wishlist for next year ?
Yes, that’s totally true. However, be careful with AirBnB cards – we wished for them last Christmas for our round-the-world trip, but apparently you can’t get them unless you are in US.
Some great ideas here! I was actually thinking about this the other day as I was asked by a family member what I might like for Christmas. An e-reader is such a great one for travellers, I need a new one and it would be the perfect gift.
It’s so funny that people are already asking for Christmas wishes – we get asked too, but we are more of a last-moment people. Hope you get something you need or love!
Great suggestions! I love that you point out that someone who doesn’t travel probably shouldn’t go pick out a perfect travel gift that they like. And that travelers often keep their belongings to a minimum. I really need to get myself a collapsible water bottle. And I like the idea of having a way to wash clothes while camping! Thanks for the tips – even if I used them for myself and not for gifts for others 🙂
Thanks, Danielle! I’m glad you enjoyed the list – and yes, we also find things on this list useful. Also, no one wants to end up receiving 10 microfiber towels for Christmas ?
Nice ideas. I might give myself one of those lightweight hammocs, haha 😀 So much better for backpacking in dry destinations! 🙂
We loved that hammock.. it was so nice to relax in and read 🙂
I’ve just started my Christmas shopping. With a house full of travel happy family members this is a great shopping list! Thank you!
Thanks Joanne! Hope you’ll have a wonderful Christmas, and who knows, maybe this list will came in handy 🙂
Those are amazing gift ideas for Christmas to give to travelers! Would love to receive Mogics Power Bagel & Donut. Seeing for the first time and looks very useful! Amazon and AirBnB Gift cards are also very thoughtful! Something every traveler would use for sure!
Thanks Navita! We bought Mogics Bagel recently and love it – it’s easy and handy to bring (also for two of us) and the design is so cool 🙂
My favourite is the air b&b giftacard. Definetly something I would like to get this year! Thanks for sharing this 🙂
Yes, seems like a good idea – unfortunately only in U.S. 🙁 I wonder what would it take them to make these worldwide?
Wow such an interesting list. I absolutely loved the light weight hammock. My kids will for sure like it if we carried this around ?
Anders looooves hammocks! Just have to find a place to hang it – and it’s such a different experience, like bringing a little piece of home with you everywhere 🙂
I love the collapsible bottle and the hammock ideas! I am also very partial to a good gift card!
Yes, has to be to a person who likes gift cards though!
These are such awesome suggestions for travelers. I wouldn’t mind getting one of these things to myself. Or even better, I can share this list with my girlfriend 🙂
Thanks Daniel! Yes, that’s a good idea – a little hint of what you wish for Christmas 😀
What a great selection of gifts. I have a Scrubba wash bag that goes with me whenever I travel. It was a fantastic purchase. I have had so much use out of it. It gets a big thumbs up from me.
Janine, I’m so happy to hear you use it too! I must admit we don’t bring it to all our trips, but it has saved us many many times this year. Definitely very useful for longer trips!
Such a great list! I have lived by my power bank so that is such a useful gift to give to anyone. Additionally, I love the compressable waterbottle! I want someone to give me that. Going to save this for my own gift giving.
Thanks Amy! Glad it is useful 🙂
Compression socks are generally solid and without any flair, but I found the cutest pair of compression socks I may give out to my traveling friends.
It’s the same with the sleeping mask we posted – there are so many sleeping masks, and I bet most of them do the job, but we are just in love with this specific one 🙂