Looking for gift ideas for a traveler you love? Need inspiration for a travel gear wish list of your own? Here are 11 options that we have put together into a travel wish list, having traveled the world over the last two years. A list of unique gifts for travelers and a holiday wish list we would gladly take anything off of.
In the following 11 unique gifts for travelers, we have added our own opinions and thoughts on these products. Some are based on our own experience with using them and others are holiday wish list items that we might splash out and buy because they look too cool not to have.
We have written post together and hope to help inspire you to travel and get moving with some of these exceptional items on our travel wish list.
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Some Bluffworks Clothing
I didn’t even know that Bluffworks existed before a chance Facebook ad enticed me enough to give them a whirl. Back when I bought my first pair of Bluffworks Chinos, they were the only item that Bluffworks offered, however now they offer a range of pants, shirts, and suits, all optimized to be lightweight and travel friendly. For me, they’re a must for a travel gear wish list
On top of this, they’re releasing a pair of travel jeans for the holiday season, and have a women’s range coming out Spring next year! They also sell gift cards, so if you can’t make up your mind, you can always leave the details to your gift recipient. With all of the options on the horizon you’ll find plenty of gift ideas for a traveler.
So far, I’ve only had the opportunity to try out the Bluffworks Chino, so the following pros and cons are specific to that.
The Pros and Cons:
- Pro: They’re lightweight, roll up small, and are quick to dry.
- Con: They come in limited colors, so if you’re looking for a particular color, they might not have it.
- Pro: They’re super resilient. I’ve worn the shit out of my pairs and they’re not showing any signs of wear and tear.
- Con: They have limited stretch. If you’re used to pants with some elastane in them for stretch, you’ll be a little disappointed that the Bluffworks Chino feels more ridged.
- Pro: Pockets! They’ve got lots without going full “cargo pants”. I especially like the zippered security pockets contained inside the usual side pocket, and the mobile phone pocket positioned on the back of the waistband.
For a full write up on the Bluffworks Chino, reinforcing why I think they belong on this travel wish list, check out my dedicated review post!
An Action Camera
GoPro is the name brand that many people will recognize here, but there are a bunch of options and brands available, suitable for any holiday wish list.
Full disclosure: we’ve never owned an action camera. That said, it is something that we’d definitely look at getting before traveling again. Seeing some of the footage that fellow travelers have shot has really enticed us. There are just some things that you can only capture with an action camera.
Many action cameras have built in image stabilization for shooting video in motion. They’ll often be waterproof so you can take full-on underwater shots. Want slow-mo? Look no further. Worried you might drop your camera down a hill? You’ll probably be able to find an action camera with a robust enough casing that it will not only survive, but provide you with a unique video of the fall!
For an up to date comparison of several options of this unique gift for travelers, check out this article over at Toms Guide.
A Travel Game
Natalie and Jackson
This can range from a deck of cards to a board game. It’s a bit of an unusual item to have on a travel wish list, buthaving a small communal game you can play on the road can be an awesome way to get to know and meet other people at hostels and around a campfire.
As far as versatility goes, nothing beats a deck of cards in my book. Impromptu games of poker, solitaire, and gin rummy can make hours fly and the cards will take up almost no space.
For more socially inviting games, however, there are a number of options, which will provide plenty of gift ideas for a traveler.
The Game of Things is a party favorite of ours, and is now available in a travel edition! The premise is for everyone to write a (hopefully humerus) answer to a specific question, then take turns at guessing who wrote which answer. This is a great game to play with a bunch of people, and works particularly well with a group of strangers as guessing the answers becomes much harder! This would be our number one choice for a holiday wish list.
A friend of ours just launched a great little card game, especially for travelers, called Travel Banter!, this game functions as a great ice breaker by posing all sorts of travel related questions to the group. You’ll learn a bit about those you’re traveling with, and it could even springboard into some more in depth travel related conversation! Add it to your travel wish list, you know you want to!
An Osprey Travel Backpack
Backpacking can be an art and knowing what your space limits are and how to pack for a long-haul trip can be nerve wracking. The backpack is a travelers most important tool for traveling (after a credit card and passport, that is!). As far as a travel gear wish list goes, we almost always have some kind of bag on there!
Osprey makes a bunch of quality backpacks that we have used over the years. In our experience Osprey really hits the balance of affordable, functional, and durable. Over the course of our travels, we’ve owned 3 different Osprey backpacks:
- The Waypoint 65L
- The Porter 46L
- The Fairview 55L
The Waypoint is now discontinued, but Osprey offers several other options in the same style and size range. For the way we travel, the 65L was just too big. We like being able to get away with carry on only (especially after my backpack got stolen in February 2018 and I really needed to embrace minimalism!). That’s simply not a option with a big bag. A bag this size does give you the flexibility to use as a hiking backpack.
The Porter was a good size, maybe a little bit too small, but the shape was the real downside. Because it was shorter and stockier, when it was loaded up it tended to stick out like a turtle shell and be too back heavy. Good for short term travel, but not so great if you’re going to have to walk a lot with your bag.
All three have served their time, and would be a fine gift idea for a traveler, but our clear favorite was the Fairview. This one hits the right balance between size and shape. It has a longer shape so fits closer to the body, while still having plenty of space. The Fairview is designed specifically with a woman’s body shape in mind, but Osprey does make the male equivalent called the Farpoint.
I got Tieks a couple of years ago when I was looking for an alternative slip-on shoe that wouldn’t fall apart after wearing it for a year. In addition to this, I also have really, really big feet so if there is a company that makes shoe sizes for women that go to size 12 (44 in European sizes) then I’m all in.
My Tieks were one of the pairs of shoes I took with me on our first big trip around the world in 2017. What I love about them is that they can fold in half and slip into the bottom of my bag without taking up too much space. Ever since that first trip, they’ve been with me. They’re a must on my travel wish list!
The Pros and Cons:
- Pro: They get nice and small; easy to pack.
- Con: They’re leather, so they’re heavier than a synthetic shoe.
- Pro: They’re uber comfortable and easy to walk in; no break-ins required!
- Con: They’re expensive. $175 for a pair of ballet flats? Ouch.
- Pro: They’ll come in any color and go with almost any outfit. I wear these whenever we are going out and I don’t want to look like the aimless nomad I feel like most of the time we’re on the road.
Ultimately: If you love a gal who loves to travel, these are a really, really nice gift to give her! I’ve now gone through 3 pairs of these babies and have never looked back. I know Tieks are expensive, but it has been so worth the investment.
I think about it like this: If you are a traveler, you’ll likely bring some standbys with you that you’ll wear a lot of. Why go cheap and skimpy on something that you’ll need to rely on for a while? As far as unique gifts for travelers go, these are worth the price.
A Digital Subscription (or Two)
You’ve got a few varied options in this category of gift ideas for a traveler:
For a Photography Lover
Maybe they’ve got a nice camera, but haven’t had the chance to take things to the next step. Why not get them an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription? Starting at $9.99 per month, you can get them Photoshop and Lightroom. Two essentials for taking their photography to the next level!
Now they’ve got the tools, they’re probably going to start to want shooting photos in RAW, which means their photo file sizes are going to skyrocket. You can upgrade their cloud storage (Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Dropbox, Apple iCloud) for as little as a couple of bucks per month! I personally use Google Drive and have their 1TB plan, and am nowhere near close to filling it up. It would pay to subtly check which cloud storage the traveler in your life uses before jumping on this option.
For a Music Lover
The obvious choice here is to throw one of the many streaming music services onto your holiday wish list. PC Magazine did a great roundup of the pros and cons of the various options.
Personally, we use Spotify. It offers a good range of artists, from popular to obscure (my album is even available on it!), and even has some stand up comedians on offer! Spotify will create a couple of mixes for you, based on music you’ve listened to in the past, which makes discovering new stuff nice and easy. They’ve also got a wide range of curated playlists based on styles or different bands that are often really on point!
The feature we absolutely loved on our most recent trip was that you can download a bunch of albums or playlists in advance, and play them even without an internet connection. This was an absolute blessing during our road trip through Africa! (Side note: Led Zeppelin makes for a killer African road trip playlist)
For a Bookworm
Unfortunately ebook subscription services are not quite up to snuff compared to music streaming. MakeUseOf did a bit of a round up of the most popular options, as of July 2018.
The only one we’ve personally tried is Kindle Unlimited. Unfortunately, in our experience, it is very much limited. As MakeUseOf points out, the biggest book publishers (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster), passed on taking part in Amazon’s offering, and as such you simply won’t find as many bestsellers and popular books on here.
From what we’ve seen, it’s mostly filled with self-published ebooks, which are of varying quality and may not be your cup of tea. When we tried it out, they did offer all of the Harry Potter novels, so it had that going for it…
We actually got our Priority Pass membership free with our credit card, but it’s such a seriously awesome perk it would make for a fantastic unique gift for a traveler!
Over the past two years, we’ve flown through roughly 39 airports. Some of these don’t have any airport lounges which are part of the Priority Pass network, but a large portion of them do. The lounges can range from just a room with some snacks and some comfy seats, to deluxe resting areas with complementary showers.
Food-wise, some will offer a buffet, while there are others in which you can get a full a la carte meal, all included in the price of membership! Not only that, a good number offer complementary alcoholic drinks, so you can relax with a glass of bubbly after a long day in transit.
Just for the food and snacks alone our membership has been fantastic for us. If you consider the price of a meal at an average airport, you’ll often find you could be spending $40-50 per meal for two people. When transiting through a large number airports over the course of a year, this can really add up.
The cheapest option for membership doesn’t get you free entry into any of the lounges, but the discounted entry price you do get might still make it worthwhile. The other levels of membership offers from 10 to unlimited free entry into the lounges. It’s worth considering as a travel wish list idea, but this one requires a bit more forward thinking.
TSA Precheck / Global Entry
This was another perk that came with our credit card. I can’t remember if we had the option to chose between Global Entry or TSA Precheck, but we ended up with TSA Precheck (on reflection, if possible we should have gone with Global Entry).
For $85 (for TSA Precheck) or $100 (Global Entry), you can get a 5-year membership to one of these programs. The Department of Homeland Security has a handy tool to determine which program is the best for you.
The major difference between the two is that TSA Precheck is for domestic travel, and Global entry is for international. TSA Precheck gives you access to the fast line at airport security while traveling domestically. Global Entry gives you the same perks while traveling domestically, with with addition of some expedited options for customs and immigration checks when entering the USA.
In short, if the traveler in your life is coming and going from the USA a lot, go with Global Entry, if they mainly travel within the USA go for TSA Precheck.
Some Icebreaker or Darn Tough Woolens
I love wool. Last year, I bought a couple of shirts and underpants at icebreaker and took these sweet pieces of clothing with me while we traveled on our second big trip. It was so nice! Now, merino wool clothing is constantly on my personal travel gear wish list.
The beauty with wool is that it doesn’t get stinky like cotton, it dries really fast, and it’s very lightweight, making it ideal for hauling along in a backpack. When we took off earlier in 2018 I had 3 pairs of icebreaker undies and they lasted me 5 months of washing in a sink and drying overnight. Talk about minimalism!
It wouldn’t be fair to not talk about darn tough socks, either. These socks are EPIC. When we went hiking in New Zealand, we wore these socks for days on end in rain, wind, snow, and heat. They were perfect hiking socks. We’ve had one pair for years now and they’re still going strong. I don’t know what kind of wool these are made from, but they’re amazing.
Pros and Cons:
- Pro: Wool is lightweight and easy to pack
- Con: Wool shirts don’t do as well as cotton or silk when it comes to hot walks.
- Pro: Wool dries quickly.
- Con: Wool stuff is more expensive than alternative materials.
- Pro: Wool will last longer.
In a nutshell: if you can get your traveler a chance to wear an merino wool shirt and a pair of darn tough socks while hiking, you’ve given them a great gift. This material is amazing and I would highly recommend it for world travel, or weekend get-a-ways.
An E-Reader (Kindle)
My mother was a book designer and I grew up with a love of physical books. I NEVER thought I’d be the kind of person who would read from an e-reader. Times have changed and I’m a new gal, and so an e-reader is on my travel wish list.
When we were prepping for our first 6-month trip, I didn’t want to haul around a couple of books with me. I love reading, though, so I felt a bit of a conundrum: do I break with my traditional means of reading and get an e-reader or do I suck up the heavy burdensome books and bring ’em along?
I got a Kindle and was so glad I did.
Pros and Cons:
- Pro: Lightweight and small, it’ll fit in a carry on like a dream.
- Con: Depending on the brand you want, a kindle can cost some money. I got the basic model and that was about $75. If you want a model that has a back light or one that comes with no ads on it, expect to pay almost triple that cost.
- Pro: These babies have a ton of space on them so you can download as many books as you want and never have to worry about running out of space.
- Con: Because these are electronic, they can be a target for people looking to steal something valuable. Using an e-reader on a beach or in a public place in a country that has a lot of petty theft can make you a target for theft.
- Pro: No one has to know what you’re reading.
Overall, I am so glad I got an e-reader. They are excellent companions on long plane rides and because they are so light and small, I don’t feel like I have to worry about space when I bring one. This is one of some excellent gift ideas for a traveler.
A Tour Package
Here’s a real splurge for the traveler who wants to see a new place, but doesn’t want to go through the hassle of planning an itinerary, booking accommodation or figuring out where to eat.
Jackson and I have done smaller tours through forests in Sri Lanka and major cities like Budapest. A tour can be a great chance to meet new people and see locations that you might not have gotten to otherwise.
Tours can be large and small. I completely understand if anyone who wants to travel for two weeks and “switch off” might opt for a tour that whole time. Especially in far-flung places like safariing in Africa or visiting temples in Japan, touring alone can be scary.
Pros and Cons:
- Pro: Tours are easy. Just show up and go.
- Con: Tours are expensive.
- Pro: Tours can come in any size or length.
- Con: Tours are usually organized with other people, and you never know who you’ll get.
- Pro: You can meet new, fun people on a tour. Who knows?
- Pro: Truly unique gifts for travelers are hard to come by, but a tour to an exotic location would really fit the bill!
Some places require a tour to get in. Bhutan, for example, is a country that won’t let foreign tourists in unless they are on a tour. (Bhutan is one of our bucket list destinations, and places we would really like to go one day!).
I love to write and having a journal is an excellent way to record my trips and thoughts while I am on the road. I’ve had a journal since I could write and it feels very natural to me to have one with me at all times.
I feel like some people would look at this choice as frivolous if the space in their bag is precious. I don’t think that a journal is a waste of space or weight, though. There are plenty of options out there that will allow you to carry a small paper book with you.
I use my journals as a place to record directions, snippets of conversations, a way to stay under the radar if I don’t want to be seen as a target when using my smart phone. It’s a great thing to bring to the beach as well.
Pros and Cons:
- Pro: Depending on the brand, a journal can be a great cheap gift to give to a traveler.
- Con: Don’t get them wet!
- Pro: They can be nice and small and fit into a carry on easily.
A journal can be “old-school” but I think, combined with a sweet pen, it’s a really important piece to bring along with you when traveling, and a great addition to a travel wish list. Plus, it can be overlooked so buying a traveler one is a good idea.
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