Dear Santa, I hope you’re listening. Because I’ve put together my ultimate travel holiday gift guide filled with every item a traveller would love to see under the Christmas tree (or, for the non-Christmas folk, holiday bush).
If you have a traveller in your life, or you’re a traveller yourself and you’re drawing a blank on what to ask for this year, check out my travel holiday gift guide below for some inspiration!
Heads up: affiliate links are used below! That means if you click-through and make a purchase, Amazon throws me a few cents. You don’t pay any extra.
Packing cubes are so helpful for keeping your stuff organized in your backpack or suitcase. These aren’t vacuum bags, so they aren’t going to help save space or condense your things. But they will keep you organized! It’s so nice to just reach for a cube instead of tearing open your bags and rooting through to find something clean to work. I prefer the packing cubes with a mesh or clear front, so you can see what’s inside, and of varying sizes to fit different things.
Having a portable battery that can charge your phone is essential for the modern-day traveller. Or, if you’re anyone who likes to be on your phone 24/7, essential for everyday life. But as more and more of us are using our phones as cameras, maps and translators during our travels, we need them to be fully juiced up all day long. Camera dies just as the sunsets over Angkor Wat? Not if you’ve packed your portable charger! This is the one that Colin has.
Universal travel adapter
Another essential on the travel holiday gift guide would have to be a universal travel adapter. This little gizmo allows you to plug in your electronics all over the world where sockets and currents are different from what you have at home. Don’t bother getting one that is only good for the UK or EU. Spend a few extra dollars and get a universal one that will work everywhere.
I used to think sleeping masks were so silly. Want to fall asleep in the dark? Just close your eyes! But more and more I am becoming a sleep mask fan. Sleeping masks are so helpful if you need to catch some zzzs on a plane when the lights are still on or in a hostel where other guests keep turning the lights on and off. The mask also helps signal to your body that it’s time for bed. You can get a cheap one or splurge on something more luxurious.
Luggage tags are the little tags that hang off of backpacks and suitcases to help people identify their bags. They’re also a fun way to jazz up a boring bag. Luggage tags come in all sizes and colours. You can get a luggage tag with just about anything on it. I like the stylish modern leather tags that look a bit fancier. But any luggage tags will do! I also like to rock a Canadian flag one when I travel abroad.
I haven’t made the switch yet from paper books to an e-reader, like the Kindle. I like getting books out from the library, I like reading off of paper and I like cracking the spine on a real book. But, I have to admit, a Kindle would be so handy. Especially if you’re travelling longterm, it’s very impractical to carry a ton of books a long with you. So maybe when I set off on that backpacking trip around the world, I’ll invest (or wish for!) a Kindle.
Do you need a passport holder? No, probably not. In fact, many custom officials will ask you to take your passport out of the holder for inspection. But you know what? They’re pretty! And if it makes you that much more excited to go on a trip, than go ahead and put your passport in a holder.
A scarf will always be my #1 recommendation for a travel accessory, and that’s why it makes it onto my travel holiday gift guide. A scarf is the best when you’re travelling for dressing up an outfit, staying warm, covering shoulders, using as a picnic blanket or bag, etc.
A scratch map is such a fun gift for a world traveller! It’s the modern equivalent of the old school push-pin map. Every time you visit a country, you get to scratch it off and reveal a fun colour underneath. I’ve had one or two over the years but would love to get a huge one on the wall.
Many travellers have to deal with unsafe drinking water all around the world. Instead of creating extra waste and spending money on plastic water bottles every day, many travellers are turning to water sterilization methods. One of the best and most travel-friendly ways is to use a water sterilization pen or water sterilization straw. We used one of these pens in Swaziland!
Obviously, I really believe in recording your travels. Keeping a travel journal and documenting my trips is one of my favourite parts about travelling. It’s like I get to relive the trip all over again! Even if you’re not a big journal keeper at home, I do encourage you to keep one on your trip. It can be short – just a few lines a day – but it’s a great way to revisit your memories and remember some of your best moments.
A travel towel is super handy for frequent backpackers. A travel towel needs to be super small, fast drying and absorbent. It’s perfect if your hostel charges to rent towels or you find yourself on a spontaneous beach trip!
One of my favourite ways to document a trip is by making a scrapbook. Now, I know this isn’t for everyone. But for me, it’s a great way to indulge my creative side and relive my best trip memories. I love looking through the photos, designing the book and being able to include other things, like maps and tickets, that you can’t put in a regular photo album.
Reusable water bottle
Contrary to popular belief, you can bring a full-sized water bottle through airport security – it just needs to be empty! When on a trip, I like to have a small water bottle in my purse. I drink a lot of water regularly, and even more so when I’m out exploring all day. I like to keep a small-sized one that I can tuck away in my purse that I fill up in bathrooms and restaurants throughout the day. Some travellers prefer a bigger bottle that they keep in a backpack or carry separately.
This is one of my favourite ideas on this travel holiday gift guide. A subscription box is such a cool gift because it’s not just one thing you get to open at Christmas. You get gifts all year long! Last year, my mom got me an annual subscription to Fab Fit Fun. It was so fun (and fab! But not that fit…) to open a brand new box of goodies every few months. I even got Colin a D&D subscription box for his birthday. And there are travel-specific subscription boxes you can buy for the travel-obsessed people in your life.
One thing us travellers love is quotes about travel. And if you’re a traveller and a writer? Yup, a good travel quote will get you every single time. Put it on a wall decal, a pillow cover, a phone case or just on a good ol’ poster and I’ll be into it.
Local travel experiences
I’m a huge believer in giving experiences over things when you can. And no one loves experiences more than a traveller! A great gift is to pay for some local travel experiences in the traveller’s own backyard. You can book a hotel room for a staycation, wine tasting, a food tour, a day of skiing, a picnic basket for a day at the beach and so much more. This gift allows you to get as creative as you want and spend as little or as much money as you want.
Coffee table book
Travelling is such a visual experience. A single photo from a favourite trip will instantly transport you back there. And a single photo can inspire you to plan a trip to the other side of the world. So spoil the traveller in your life with some travel porn in the form of a gorgeous coffee table book. I like the look of this one and this one.
Sure, travel guides are a little outdated. Could you find all of the information for free and more up to date on the internet? Absolutely. But I still think travel guides are worth it. They’re beautiful and are great for planning the big picture aspect of a trip. I’m a fan of the Lonely Planet books, particularly the “on a shoestring budget” edition. I loved flipping through the Europe book when I was living in Amsterdam for six months. And borrowed a friend’s Asia book to help plan our upcoming Southeast Asia trip!
If you’re booking a trip and you don’t have headphones, go and get some. Or, better yet, put them on your Christmas wish list. Everyone has their own preference: wireless, ear buds, over ears, noise cancelling, etc. I prefer the thin wireless headphones for everyday use so you don’t have to be attached to your phone/audio device.
But I would also suggest bringing along a cheap wired pair for travels because you need wired ones for airplane media, wired headphones don’t require charging, and many audio tours with handheld devices let you plug your wired headphones in so you don’t have to hold the device up to your ear.
World map tapestry
It doesn’t get much prettier than this. Who wouldn’t want to put this map up on their wall?
External hard drive
Sure, it’s not the sexiest gift on this travel holiday gift guide, but it sure is a practical one. If the traveller you’re buying for is going away for a long trip, works online or takes a ton of photos, they’re going to need an external hard drive.
Gift cards are the perfect gift for a traveller because they’re practical, can be experiential, and don’t take up space, which most travellers are pretty short on. You can buy gift cards to airlines, hotels, favourite shops and even to practical things like grocery stores. A new gift card place I stumbled upon recently is called Tinggly where you buy gift cards for travel experiences all around the world. How perfect is that?
Last but not least, plane tickets!
Of course, the ultimate choice on this travel holiday gift guide is plane tickets. No traveller is going to say no to being gifted plane tickets and a free trip!
Sadly, the logistics of buying a plane ticket for someone else is pretty tough. You need to know the exact dates they will be travelling and all of their passport information. You might be better off buying them an airline gift card or, even better, giving them money towards a flight so they can choose their preferred airline.
And there you have it! That’s my 2018 travel holiday gift guide.
I definitely left a few items off. I didn’t include any big items, like laptops, travel backpacks or phones, on this travel holiday gift guide. And I didn’t get into any clothing/fashion items or camera gear. While I think these items are definitely on many travellers’ wish lists, they can be expensive and vary a lot by individual taste.
Unless you have a ton of cash to spend or really know the person well, I would steer clear of buying them the latest iPhone, a camera lens that may or may not fit their camera, or a pair of travel sandals, and stick to this travel holiday gift guide instead.
What’s topping your wish list this Christmas?
Let me know!