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The holiday season often means buying gifts for others, oftentimes travelers. With that in mind, I thought we’d review travel gift ideas. I tried to stay clear of the stereotypical items that are often recommended. Instead, I focused on unique items that I’m guessing most travelers don’t have but probably would use and enjoy.
Below is our top 10 travel gift ideas for this holiday season.
1. Destination maps and rings:
In the past, I’ve recommended scratch-off maps that you can use to record where you’ve traveled. I still think these are great gift ideas. Though another item that I recently saw featured in a travel magazine are travel rings by a Canadian company called the Traveller Collective. They make tiny rings that are engraved with the counties that you’ve visited. These can then be displayed on a necklace or clip.
What I love about the company is that they donate 20% of their profits back to social projects around the world. They say that it’s their way of giving back for all the great memories and experiences they’ve gained through traveling.
I personally haven’t purchased them, but I’m thinking about ordering a set for myself. It seems like a great way to memorialize and record where you’ve been and how much those experiences have changed your life.
2. Merino wool clothing:
We did a post and video earlier this year on why many travelers are raving about merino wool clothing. They’re not only comfortable, but they also seem wearable for more days between washes, which is particularly useful for traveling. Plus, the fabric has unique temperature regulating qualities that make it versatile for traveling and outdoor activities.
If you’re looking for merino wool clothing, I recommend Woolly Clothing Company. I got their long-sleeve hoodie after testing out their v-neck t-shirt, and it’s now one of my favorite items to carry and wear. I even wear it in my apartment since it’s so comfortable. Also, Wolly Clothing is launching a men’s pants line soon, so I’m eager to see whether it’s a good fit for travelers.
3. Humangear bottles, tubs, and utensils:
Some items that I use regularly are my Humangear GoToob bottles, GoTubbs, and GoBites utensils. I’ve mentioned them in several posts/videos, and they are inexpensive but useful gifts for travelers. Like packing cubes, there are many manufacturers of these silicone bottles and tubs, but Humangear was the original. I find them especially useful for packing my liquids and toiletries. We’ve even used them for picnics at the beach, and they always work well without leaking.
4. Portable safe:
We’ve done a lot of portable safe reviews in the past. I am a fan of these devices, and have found them useful for a variety of situations. This is especially the case when staying at
5. Packing gear:
Packing cubes might be the most common item on this list. A few years ago, it seemed like packing cubes were an unknown product. However, in the last few years, they’ve grown in popularity, and rightfully so! They’re an extremely inexpensive but valuable item for traveling. In fact, you can never have too many of them, especially when they’re available in different sizes and shapes.
As a traveler, I’m always looking for new ways to organize my gear. I have a few organizers and each fits a different need. I recently got a passport organizer from Zero Grid that has been working great. It’s extremely durable and high quality. I like that it has RFID protection, zips up, and is made from ripstop nylon. Their products even have a lifetime warranty.
For electronics, I like to keep everything nice and tidy. When I travel, I usually pack two different electronics organizers since I’m carrying a lot of cables and chargers. I’ve enjoyed using the Travelon Urban Tech Accessory Organizer that I featured in our “How to Pack Chargers and Cables” post/video. I also have a Zero Grid Electronics Travel Organizer which has also been great. The Zero Grid organizer has a ton of elastic straps allowing me to fit many different items, in all sorts of configurations.
I usually carry one of these organizers in my suitcase while keeping the other in my backpack. I like to keep the chargers and cables that I might need on the plane close by, while my drone or camera chargers stay packed in my larger bag.
As we accumulate more electronics in our life, we usually need more chargers. I love multi-port chargers that can charge more than one device at a time. Those of you familiar with our videos know that I love battery chargers and power banks from Anker. I always carry my tiny PowerCore Mini+, and it’s come in handy more times than I can remember.
I recently received an Orbit charger from Hip Product Factory that allows you to charge your phone at the plug. This might seem like a weird design, but I can’t tell you how often I’ve stayed at a hotel only to find a lack of plugs in the room. This allows me to charge my iPhone without having it on the floor. This keeps it safe from me stepping it on it while walking to the bathroom at night. Hip Product Factory is a company that seems to be making a lot of products that address common travel issues.
8. Travel camera:
This is by far the most expensive item on the list. Earlier this year, I did a review of the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 smartphone stabilizer, and I actually did not recommend it for travelers. This was mostly due to it being bulky and cumbersome to use. However, DJI has recently announced a new gimbal called the Osmo Pocket that is tiny and extremely powerful. It hasn’t officially been released yet, but many tech reviewers had a chance to review it and have given it glowing reviews.
While I don’t have one, it’s definitely on my list of gear that I am planning to get soon. I have a larger full-size gimbal, but this would allow me to travel with less weight. While your smartphone is a very powerful and capable camera, a separate and stabilized gimbal and
9. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck:
This is a great way to give the gift of travel without spending any money. For those of you into points and miles, you might want to consider giving Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to a friend or family member. If you’re a point and miles collector, it’s very possible that have multiple credit cards that reimburse you for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. For example, I renewed my Global Entry last year with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, if I had another card that offered the reimbursement, like an American Express Platinum (learn more) or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (learn more), I could offer to pay for the program with my card allowing a close friend or family member to get either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
There isn’t a seamless way to gift Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to someone else. You would need to have them use your card when paying. However, I think it’s a great way to use a benefit that you already have (and may not use) while improving the travel experience for someone else.
Keep in mind that your card’s benefit can only be used once every five years since that’s how often Global Entry membership needs to be renewed. Also, while I think that Globel Entry is a much better value than TSA PreCheck, the application process for Global Entry is more involved and comprehensive. If someone has potential issues with their background or history (e.g., excessive parking or traffic citations), then you might want to consider getting them TSA PreCheck instead.
10. Airline gift cards:
Several credit cards offer a travel or airline credit. Most popular is the American Express Platinum and Gold cards which give you credit toward airline incidentals. However, while gift cards are technically not considered an incidental purchase, certain airline gift cards are known to work in triggering this credit. In fact, I needed to use the $100 airline credit for my American Express Gold (learn more) card for this year, and I purchased a gift card from Southwest. Though keep in mind that you’re limited to the airline that you’ve designed with the benefit.
Other tools and resources
If your holiday plans include traveling away from home, make sure to check out our holiday travel tips from last year. We also have free packing and travel checklists that you can download from our website for free. We’re hoping that they come in handy for your holiday travels!
What is your top travel gift this holiday season? Please let us know in the comment section below.