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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

We all love receiving presents but buying useful gifts for our friends and loved ones can be a challenge. We’ve compiled a list of practical, unique gifts for travelers, perfect for any occasion. These gifts cover a variety of price ranges with something included for all budgets.

Our suggestions feature stand-alone gifts, stocking stuffers and goodies for any kind of care package. Discover enough ideas to get you through every potential gift giving event throughout the year. We’ve traveled full time as vanlifers and backpackers for the last three years, as well as plenty of trips prior to that. We know exactly what types of gifts make travelers happy.

Click on a category in the box below to jump directly to that particular section.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to products and services whereby we receive a nominal commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. This comes at no extra cost to you. Please see our Disclaimer for full information.


Travel Gifts Under $15

You won’t break the bank while choosing these practical gifts for travelers. We’ve included a range of suggestions for when you need to give a present they won’t forget. These gifts are guaranteed to go along with them on every trip!

An assortment of colorful rubber twist-ties.

Gear Ties by Neat Ize

Neat Ize Ties are reusable rubber twist ties for keeping all your cords neat, tidy and organised. They come in a variety of sizes and colours, perfect for adding some style and order to a pile of unruly things.

A set of four red and white spice containers.

Compact Spice Containers

It’s easy to find salt and pepper globally, but what about taking some favourite spices along for cooking or whilst dining out? These sturdy, compact, moisture proof spice containers are perfect for adding a taste of home to meals on the road.

A small portable heating element which makes a unique travel gift.

A Heating Element

Travelers can now make their own tea or coffee anytime in their hotel room with a basic heating element. These immersion heaters have a devout following – we use them ourselves and wouldn’t go anywhere without them.

A cutlery set with a green travel case.

A Cutlery Kit

Give the traveler on your gift list their own cutlery – they’ll save on plastic and always be ready to eat on the go. This handy cutlery set even comes with a straw designed to eliminate the use of plastic disposable ones. Every serious eater should travel with their own cutlery!

A set of six eyeglass cords; these make unique gifts for travelers of every type.

An Eyeglass Cord

Nobody wants to lose their glasses, whether they’re prescription spectacles or sunglasses. We’ve been using eyeglass cords for years and we shudder to think how many pairs would’ve been lost without them. This practical gift for active travelers is a must-have item.

A Burt's Bees travel pack featuring an assortment of skincare products.

Burt’s Bees Travel Pack

Traveling can be rough on your skin (pardon the pun). Hours spent on flights, dry climates and even the cooling comfort of A/C can leave your skin a little parched. Treat a traveler to a little luxury and pampering from tips to toes.

A pair of blue exfoliating gloves.

A Pair of Exfoliating Gloves

In keeping with travel gifts meant to keep them looking radiant, soft and smooth, every traveler (man or woman) needs exfoliating gloves. Let your favorite traveler know you care and buy them a pair. Exfoliating gloves are great for working up a good lather, perfect for washing away a day of hard travel.

A bottle of dry shampoo which is a popular travel gift.

Dry Shampoo

This is perhaps not what springs to mind when thinking of travel gifts. However, what it lacks in the “wow” factor, dry shampoo certainly makes up for in the practical factor. Don’t let a lack of running water cause your favourite traveler to experience a bad hair day whilst on the road.

A shatterproof travel mirror.

A Shatterproof Travel Mirror

Ever needed to tweeze those eyebrows or shave in the shower only to realise you don’t have a proper mirror? This nifty travel mirror is compact, shatterproof and comes with its own cover. A simple, handy travel mirror is sure to get a lot of use on the road.

A pair of nail clippers.

Nail Clippers

This seems obvious but it’s an easily overlooked accessory by many travelers – until their nails begin looking like talons! Don’t let that happen to your friend or loved one and give them a travel gift to keep those nails in check. These nail clippers take up hardly any space, making them an essential travel kit item.

A small, compact red first aid kit.

A First Aid Kit

None of us are immune to blisters, burns, scrapes, cuts, splinters, stings or aches and pains. These minor maladies happen out there so get your favourite traveler a simple, packable first aid kit to help them along when the road gets bumpy.

A small box of Tiger Balm medicated rub.

Tiger Balm

Relieve achy muscles, or just enjoy the camphor and menthol smell of Tiger Balm medicated rub. This is a handy, complementary supplement to any first aid kit and an effective bug repellant. A little Tiger Balm goes a long way, making this travel gift perfect for just about everyone.

A digital thermometer with an LED display is a good example of unique travel gift ideas.

A Digital Thermometer

Having a digital thermometer is the perfect way to round out a compact first aid kit (see above). This model gives an accurate digital reading in either Fahrenheit or Celsius and your favourite traveler won’t ever deal with a broken glass thermometer full of mercury.

A small bottle of insect repellent containing DEET.

Insect Repellent

Ditch the itch with insect repellent. Yes, there are natural plant-based repellents but often they’re just an added flavouring for many insects and they must be applied often. This DEET spray is very effective, keeping the bugs at bay all throughout the day with just one application.

A black travel-size sewing kit.

A Sewing Kit

Rips and tears come with the territory of long-term travel. A simple sewing kit makes a great gift for travelers; it’s handy for minor repairs and for increased longevity of backpacks, socks and all sorts of clothing. We still carry a sewing kit to this day and use it quite often.

A white flexible measuring tape.

A Flexible Measuring Tape

We promise this isn’t a gag gift! From measuring the inseam of trousers to better visualising the dimensions of an item prior to purchasing online, having a flexible measuring tape is something we cannot do without. This practical travel gift is very packable and weighs next to nothing.

A box of ear plugs with a small travel-size carrying case.

Some Ear Plugs

Travelers often need to block out many of the bothersome noises they encounter on the road, like screaming babies on a plane or some sort of annoying din. Earplugs are easy to carry when not in use, making these an inexpensive travel gift perfect for everyone.

A compact, travel-size Boggle game.

A Compact Boggle Game

Travel isn’t fun and games all the time, or is it? A Compact Boggle game is the perfect antidote to beating the hiccups all travelers face – delays, cancellations and so on. Of course, games come in handy at other times as well so consider some fun travel gifts for that person on your list.

A waterproof phone pouch is a good example of unique travel gift ideas for active people.

A Waterproof Phone Pouch

Protect your phone during travel and still be able take photos and videos whilst kayaking, hanging out on the beach or getting caught in the elements. A waterproof phone pouch also protects portable devices from sand and dirt, making it a must-have travel idea for people on the move in extreme environments.


Overlooked and Unique Gifts for Travelers

These essential, overlooked items are either forgotten by mistake or people don’t even know they’re needed until it’s too late. Consider these must-have gifts for travelers and don’t let them hit the road without being fully prepared.

We’ve even included a few unique gift ideas certain to be used and appreciated by all types of travelers. Our experience has taught us that the most seemingly uncommon items are the most useful, often for more than one reason!

A travel bottle opener, one of the more useful and unique travel gifts to give.

A Bottle Opener and Corkscrew

No matter what kind of traveler you’re buying gifts for, keep them prepared by having a bottle opener. From glass bottles with caps to wine bottles with corks, opening drinks when any occasion arises is vital to travel. Consider this useful present and send them out on the road fully prepared.

A green metal hip flask.

A Hip Flask

Give this gift to your favourite traveler and they’ll cherish it for a lifetime of use. Simply put, a hip flask will become a welcome addition to almost anyone’s travels. They’ll be ready for any adventure on the road simply by filling the flask with their favourite tipple.

A stainless steel mini funnel.

A Mini Funnel

Don’t let your traveler spill precious liquids whilst pouring them into their hip flask – get them a tiny funnel for making every drop count. They’ll need plenty of help during long journeys and even short ones! Help them keep the top-up process neat and tidy with the simple addition of a mini funnel.

An insulated hot food jar is one of the more unusual and unique travel gifts you can give to anyone.

A Hot Food Jar

Going out to eat each day certainly seems easy and appealing, however it’s a challenge for long-term travelers to maintain a healthy diet. This travel gift takes advantage of a cooker in the hostel or a heating element (above) by keeping soups, stews and other hot foods warm for hours while on the go.

A blue, double-walled insulated water bottle with a black lid.

An Insulated Water Bottle

Carrying a personal water bottle is as natural as breathing for many folks these days. However, many travelers require the following extra features: 1) A loop for securely attaching the water bottle to a backpack and 2) A way of keeping liquids cold for 24 hours. Achieve both with a double-walled, insulted bottle like the one we recommend.

A light blue pouch and an unfurled travel-size beach/picnic blanket.

A Bearz Waterproof Beach/Picnic Blanket

Give that traveler in your life their own waterproof blanket for use just about anywhere. Whether it’s a picnic in the park or a day at the beach, this blanket comes in its own compact pouch, complete with a cool matching carabiner clip. The Bearz Blanket weighs only 4 ounces, something every traveler will appreciate!

A polka-dot rain poncho makes for a truly unique travel gift.

A Rain Poncho

Don’t let them get caught out in the rain while traveling. Pick a fun print they’ll like and give them a poncho to pack, complete with matching storage pouch. This gift idea for travelers packs down compact and comes in handy quickly when the rain starts falling.

An assortment of different colored travel umbrellas.

A Travel Umbrella

A good umbrella keeps them dry in the rain and provides shade from the sun. This practical double-duty gift is ideal for every kind of traveler, rain or shine! Keep them out of the elements during their journey by giving them a good travel umbrella.

A blue Deuter brand backpack is a very good example of unique travel gift ideas for active people.

A Deuter Daypack

Having a sturdy daypack for carrying essentials is crucial to any traveler. From day trips to walking around town, you won’t beat the Deuter Speed Lite series. I’ve had my Deuter Speed Lite 15 since 2017 and use it daily – it needs a good wash but that’s about it. Deuter’s quality and durability is no secret with travelers looking for the best.

A pair of striped Smartwool socks.

Smartwool Socks

Keep those feet dry and warm with merino wool Smartwool socks. These come in a variety of styles and colours to suit anyone. We continue buying Smartwool because we know how a poor pair of socks can ruin the day. Having said that, consider these for that traveler on your list and make Smartwool socks a part of their packing list.

A pair of burgundy Altra brand Vali shoes is a very good example of unique travel gift ideas for men.

Men’s and Women’s Altra Vali Shoes

The person on your gift list is going to love these shoes for a variety of reasons. Altra’s Vali shoes for men and women are stylish, comfortable and they weigh less than 10 ounces. The Altra brand also features a unique “toe box” which doesn’t crowd feet like other shoes. Jerry has three pairs of Vali shoes and he’s been wearing them for several years.

A pair of black and blue Teva Hurricane sandals.

Teva Hurricane Sandals

We’re both very big proponents of Teva Hurricane sandals. These work great at the beach, while hiking or just on a casual walk through town. Don’t confuse these with just any old pair of sandals – Teva Hurricanes feature a rugged outer sole with plenty of traction and also provide comfort throughout the entire day.

A very colorful Shark brand digital Freestyle watch.

A Shark Freestyle Watch

We’ve relied on Shark Freestyle watches for years. These watches are completely waterproof, built tough and come installed with a battery which is good for five years. Shark watches are also known for their incredible assortment of colours and styles, perfect for anyone on your travel gift list.

A foldable digital travel alarm clock displaying the time and date.

A Travel Alarm Clock

It’s not too late to give them a travel alarm clock – they’ll never sleep in and miss that flight, sunrise or early morning tour again. This illuminated model conveniently displays the date, day and temperature. It also folds up and packs away neatly for easy travel.

A traditional Irish wool flat cap.

A Traditional Irish Flat Cap for Men

With a nod to back home – Ireland, I’ve included a traditional men’s flat cap. This one is made in Ireland with 100% Irish wool. Choose a traditional and stylish travel gift for him, no matter where the journey takes him.

A compact, travel-size hair trimmer.

Men’s Compact Hair Clippers

We travel long-term and that means regular hair cuts for Jerry whilst on the road. Having a personal set of hair clippers has saved us a lot of time and money. This is one of the best travel gift ideas for men – those who like keeping neat, short hair will definitely agree with us!

A traditional Irish bucket/flapper-style hat for women.

A Traditional Irish Bucket/Flapper Style Hat for Women

How about a chic accessory for the fashionista traveler? This bucket/flapper style hat adds a touch of elegance to any autumn/winter outfit. This is perfect for a weekend in the city or a getaway in the countryside, making it a fashionable travel gift for women.

A woman wearing a multi-colored head covering.

A Boho Hand-Crafted Hair Band

Looking for a gift for the boho hippy chick traveler in your life? Brookelynn Roese creates the most gorgeous hair bands, head scarves, hair wraps and accessories that every flower child will love – and they’re reversible! Give the gift of no more bad hair days on the road!

Two packing cubes like the ones here are an example of some unique travel gifts to give to anyone.

Packing Cubes

One of the simplest things for travelers to own is a packing cube, or several of them! Having a top-loading backpack makes packing and unpacking stuff quite cumbersome. Instead, arrange clothing in a packing cube and never have that problem again. Stay organised and sane while finding that pair of socks with these organisational wonders.

A teal and black portable hammock.

A Hammock

Hanging around in a hammock is always a great idea so give the traveler in your life this lightweight hammock from Wise Owl; the included straps make it easy to set up anywhere. We also love this hammock because it’s compact and packs away very easily.

A black tactical flashlight.

A Flashlight

Looking for good gift ideas for travelers? Give them useful stuff like a simple flashlight. This compact travel gift is something they’ll learn to keep handy, no matter where they go. Show them the way with this inexpensive travel essential.

A travel night light.

A Travel Night Light

No more fumbling around unfamiliar dark hotel rooms – this night light makes getting up late at night or in the wee hours of the morning easy. Keep one in the hotel bathroom or in the room itself instead of turning on the overhead light.

A small white noise machine is one of the most a unique travel gift ideas to give to anyone.

A White Noise Machine

Do they have difficulty falling asleep? Perhaps some soothing background noise can lull them into a sound slumber. Travelers can use a white noise machine to drown out the din of unpleasant and prolonged sounds and sleep better each night.

A logo for the Babbel language program.

Let Them Learn a New Language with Babbel

Give them the gift of the gab – having basic language skills or the ability to communicate fluently adds to every travel experience. Choose from a variety of languages and course levels and they’ll be able to interact in almost any language.

A logo for Airbnb.

An Airbnb Gift Card via Email Delivery

Allow them to choose unique accommodation when traveling with an online Airbnb gift certificate. They can pick funky city lofts, tree houses in the jungle, cottages in the countryside or beachfront bungalows. Airbnb has an amazing selection of places to stay throughout the world and in any price range.

An image mentioning a gift card for a popular online hotel booking site.

A Hotels.com Gift Card via Email Delivery

For those preferring more conventional accommodation options, an online gift card for Hotels.com makes a great travel gift. They can select either boutique hotels, simple motels or a familiar national chain. Hotels.com has the best prices and selection whether booking ahead or at the last minute.


Power-Up Presents for Techies

We all need our devices these days no matter where we go. Being on the road means carrying quite a bit stuff so consider these tech gifts for travelers to make that task easier. From audio/video needs, staying charged on the road, safe wifi browsing and more, these gifts for travelers are certain to keep you connected to them.

An image for TorGuard VPN service.

A Secure VPN Subscription

A good VPN is critical to travelers using public wifi networks, even if those networks are password-protected. Hackers can create a seemingly safe “network” in public places; being on these means any online activity is now visible to them. VPNs protect users from these rogue networks. See our article for a special discount code for TorGuard and to get a much better idea of how VPNs work.

A white Belkin travel surge protector.

A Belkin 3-Outlet USB Surge Protector

Don’t let their expensive electronics get fried during a power surge. A Belkin 3-outlet surge protector with USB connections easily handles these situations while traveling. This compact, lightweight surge protector will certainly become an essential travel item for them.

A small, square black and blue international travel plug adapter.

An International Travel Plug Adapter

Many electrical powered items these days handle a range of different voltages. Of course, travel plug adapters are still needed for most international trips and this all-in-one model makes a great gift idea. They’ll love how compact and lightweight it is, making it a cinch to take everywhere they go.

A black portable battery pack for charging devices while traveling.

A USB Power Pack Battery Charger

Allow them to simultaneously charge two devices at once with this portable power pack. A powerful one like this can be used for four charge cycles before needing to be charged itself. It’s no bigger than a smartphone meaning they’ll carry it around everywhere they go.

A black Otter Box protective phone case.

An OtterBox Protective Phone Case

Everyone needs to protect their phones from blunt-force trauma, but protective cases don’t have to be drab. Choose from a variety of colours and designs with OtterBox protective phone covers. These are some of the most rugged phone cases out there so get one as a gift for a traveler you know.

A portable cable organizer case makes a unique travel gift idea for tech lovers.

A Cable Organiser Case

Bring some order to their rats nest of cables with this roomy organiser case. This gift is specially designed to keep all those pesky cords and cables neat and tidy on the road. It just makes sense to keep these all together, so this is the perfect travel gift for people who love order in their lives.

A black and red SanDisk USB thumb drive.

A 128 Gigabyte USB Flash Drive

Let them back up their photos, videos, music and more on a simple 128 GB flash drive; these offer plenty of digital space without taking up space. In fact, giving several of these as gifts is an even better idea – they’ll need to store all of those travel photos and videos somewhere!

A small, round black and blue Rokono Bluetooth speaker like this one is an example of the many unique travel gift ideas for techie people.

A Rokono Bluetooth Mini Speaker

Give them the gift of better sound while they travel. Many laptops speakers are located underneath them, making their audio somewhat muffled. This bluetooth Rokono speaker sounds great and is smaller than a tennis ball. The Rokono is one of our recent acquisitions and we couldn’t be happier – obviously it’s not Bose-quality sound but it makes a big difference over our laptop speakers and it works with our ipod.

A white pair of wireless in-ear headphones.

A Pair of Wireless In-Ear Headphones

The miracle of Bluetooth makes these waterproof, wireless in-ear headphones a travel gift they shouldn’t be without. We remember the old days of wired headphones and how cumbersome they were, so why not give these as a gift ? Messy cords getting caught up in everything is now a thing of the past.

The Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus gimbal is another example of the unique travel gift ideas for vloggers and techie people.

A Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

Treat the aspiring vlogger to a gimbal and they’ll take smooth, stable videos without any camera-shake. We’re using the Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus; it’s an affordable introduction to camera stabilizers offering good quality and tonnes of cool features.


Gifts for Travelers That Give Back

Keep your own karma in mind when choosing these thoughtful gifts for travelers. Each company below matches a purchase of their products with a donation to an assortment of causes. We encourage you to read more about each of these companies and the organizations they give back to.

prAna Clothing for Him and Her

Through their partnership with the Fair Labor Association, prAna is committed to providing safe, humane working conditions in the manufacture of their products throughout the world. From the sourcing of their raw materials to the packaging of the finished product prAna strives for sustainability in all aspects of it’s manufacturing process. Give the gift of style and comfort for him and her. Just one request prAna: make that short inseam a bit shorter for those of us without long legs!

A pair of blue Bombas socks.

Bombas Socks

Bombas socks are designed with no annoying toe seam, a blister tab which prevents ankle rubbing and a cushioned sole that makes for happy feet. Not only are Bombas socks incredibly comfortable but for every pair sold they donate a specially designed pair to a homeless shelter.

A yellow pair of Roma Wellies, or rubber waterproof boots.

Roma Wellies

If you’re looking for a fun travel gift and a way to support a great cause, look no further than Roma Boots. For every pair of boots purchased Roma donates a brand new pair of to a child in need. As their very own mission slogan states: “Giving poverty the boot.” Roma’s ultimate goal is to educate impoverished children globally to help break the cycle of poverty.

Four tubes of Poerland Lip Balm.

Portland Lip Balm

Whether they’re skiing, desert trekking, lying on the beach or just hanging out, don’t let chapped lips ruin their day. Give them this all natural beeswax balm made from organic, locally sourced products. The company also donates one percent of all profits to Portland Urban Beekeepers Association, a win-win for you and the bees!


Finding Your Own Unique Travel Gift Ideas

Now you have a good idea of the gifts travelers want and need so get them something they’ll pack along with them wherever they go. Let our suggestions help you decide on that perfect present, or start thinking about similar things they’ll love.


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2 Comments

  1. Hi Jerry & Feona?,
    I enjoy your travel blog. You gave a lot of good ideas for gifts! Hope you are doing well. I keep your post card on my refrigerator as a reminder of you both and send up prayers.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Ronda & Jeff

    • Hi Ronda and Jeff!

      We are doing well and hope all of you are, too. That’s so sweet of you to keep the post card on your refrigerator – we’ll send another one out real soon. Of course, the Mexican postal service is painfully slow but we hope you’ll get it sooner rather than later.

      Have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

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