Find the perfect gift for your favorite traveler
by Jennifer Mitchell and Kara Walsh
The holiday shopping game is on, and it’s time to find the perfect gift for your loved ones. If your friend, sibling or significant other has a passion for travel, we have gift ideas galore—many curated from our own wish lists. We’ve organized our ideas based on the type of traveler and for particular aspects of the travel experience to make it easy to hone in on what your favorite traveler would love most. Who knows—in perusing these lists, you may even find something that will inspire you to start a travel quest of your own.
For the adventurous or outdoorsy traveler
Is your loved one constantly seeking the next big thrill? Are they more likely to be found on a zip line than in line for a latte? Make sure they’re ready to take on their next adventure with these fun outdoorsy gifts.
Filtered water bottle or collapsible water bottle: Staying hydrated is key while exploring. The collapsible water bottle is great for packing light, and the self-filtering water bottle is perfect for traveling to countries where safe drinking water isn’t easily accessible.
Compass: Not only is this compass useful when walking through the woods, but it is also gorgeous and can be engraved with your own message to make it even more meaningful to your adventurous traveler.
Travel jacket: While hiking, climbing or camping it’s important to have a light jacket that keeps you warm when the temperature drops or when the rain starts to pour. Our favorites include ExOfficio Storm Logic Jacket and the Orvis Barbour Trevose Three-in-One Jacket.
Self-draining umbrella: Don’t let rain get in the way of their next adventure. To avoid moldy umbrellas, pick up this one-of-a-kind self-draining umbrella.
Parks Project: Our outdoorsy travelers with a National Parks travel quest will love these beautiful posters, tees and accessories. With each purchase, a portion of the sale goes back to into National Parks projects.
Olloclip lenses: These lenses turn the iPhone’s built-in front and rear cameras into wide-angle, fish-eye and macro 15x lenses, so your adventurer can capture pictures of their travels and share them with you upon their return, allowing you to live vicariously through them.
Camping chairs: Nothing beats sitting around the bonfire with a hot chocolate in hand in your comfy, yet light and functional chair. These chairs from Kjaro make the perfect furniture for your outdoor living room—and they’re useful back home when hosting a tailgate or BBQ.
For travel inspiration
Even the most veteran world travelers seek inspiration as to where to go next. These items will motivate your traveler's next booking and fuel daydreams for anybody with global travel aspirations.
Travel magazine subscriptions: This is truly the gift that keeps on giving all year. We’re partial to Afar, but you can browse this comprehensive list of travel magazines to find the perfect match for your loved one.
Try the World: This subscription service curates a selection of snacks, ingredients and beverages from a different country every month and delivers them to your front door so you can get a dose of international flavors between trips.
Travel-related books: Never underestimate the power of a good read. Whether it’s novels, coffee table books, children’s books and or travel guides for those with niche interests, check out our recommended best travel books for the savvy traveler.
Travel guides: If your friend or family member already has a trip planned for 2019, consider gifting them with a travel guide for that city or region. If it’s a destination that you’ve been to, add a personal touch and highlight or bookmark some of your favorite restaurants and activities.
Where to Go When travel planner: This handy 12-month guide from Lonely Planet is both an organizer for your weekly plans and a guide for your travels. The planner features breathtaking photos, historical information about various destinations, inspirational quotes, and international holidays and festivals to make sure you get the most out of your trips.
Customized world map shirt: From yours truly, this is the ultimate personalized travel gift. Hop on over to No Small Plan's interactive maps page and create a customized map of the U.S. or the world, highlighting countries they’ve visited—or where they want to go. The map can then be printed on a stylish tote, tee or baseball shirt. Grab a gift card if you don't know their places, and let them do the mapping.
Practical gifts for globe trotters
It’s the packing paradox: frequent travelers need a lot of gear to pack lightly. Ambitious world travelers tend to continuously seek out the latest and greatest accessories that can help ease their packing and enhance their journeys. Here's what we recommend.
Universal travel adaptor + USB set: This multi-piece charger also covers most of the world’s countries, has two USB ports and is color-coded to help you find the right plug for the country you’re in.
Passport/credit card holder: Keep passports, IDs and credit cards safe with this handy carrier. Not only will cards be safe from pickpockets, but the RFID blocker prevents skimming tools from stealing passport information.
Chipolo: If your wanderlust friend tends to have items go wanderlost, help them keep track of their belongings with this convenient tracker.
Stylish electronics organizers: When quickly switching between planes, trains and automobiles, tossing your headphones into a bag and winding up with a tangled mess seems inevitable. If you turn your back for a second, those cords have a party. Cord tacos and Mark & Graham's charger carriers keep electronics neat and organized. And if you’re considering a Mark & Graham carrier, tack on a matching keychain charger—the plaid design has a very Christmas-y flair.
Kopack's anti-theft backpack: During long global travels, it’s essential to keep your personal items safe. This TSA-friendly backpack keeps gadgets safe and easily accessible for security checkpoints. The backpack also doesn’t have an accessible zipper, which reduces the chances of getting pickpocketed.
Packing cubes: If you’ve read our post about the challenges of packing, you know we’re big fans of packing cubes. They keep your items compact and make packing for multi-destination trips a breeze.
An envy-inducing suitcase: Feeling generous? A new suitcase is always a welcome gift for the stylish traveler. We love the striking and indestructible designs from Ebby Rane, Away and Arlo Skye. And if your loved one has a carry-on sized pet, the pet carrier from Arlo Skye is a must.
Toiletry bag set: This gorgeous travel-themed toiletry bag set will make anyone feel like a sophisticated jetsetter.
Mini clothing steamer: If upcoming travels include a big event, consider buying your special someone a travel steamer. Though their eyes might say, “I just spent 16 hours on a plane,” their dress won’t.
Protective wine bags: A necessity in some circles. If your giftee is likely to have a wine country trip coming up, these sleeves are light and keep your wine bottles safe on the ride home.
Gifts for the travel journey
Your travel buddy might love exploring new parts of the world, but very few of us love getting there. However, a long flight is made much more bearable with a little help from the items below.
Trtl pillow: Not your average travel pillow, this gem from Trtl is actually more like a scarf with a hidden support structure that cradles your head, so you can sleep on the plane. The fabric is super soft—and better yet, it’s machine washable.
Sleep mask: The best way to get through a long flight and hit the ground running on the other side is sleeping soundly. Get your favorite traveler a witty sleep mask to block out any extra light—and let their seat partners know it’s quiet time.
Noise-cancelling headphones: Along those lines, your friend will need something to block out the chit chat and engine noise on their flight. Read up on the best offerings and choose a pair that will do the trick.
Carry-on cocktails: If your friend or family member appreciates a good cocktail, consider gifting them with a carry-on cocktail kit. With more than 12 kits available, you’re sure to find their signature drink.
Cutest hand sanitizer dispenser: These adorable hand sanitizer dispensers will keep your pal company on their seatback tray and keep them from contracting any germs floating through the cabin.
Travel-themed hoodie: A warm hoodie to easily throw on or slip off will be welcome as cabin temperatures inevitably fluctuate on long flights. We're partial to our Nomad and Wander travel-themed hoodies.
Gifts for self-care while traveling
Savvy travelers know that self-care while traveling is vital, especially on extended trips. Help them find their zen with these gifts.
Portable fitness kit: If your travel guru is also a fitness nut, gift them this fitness kit that will act as their portable gym.
ESPRO travel coffee press: Seeking out cool coffee shops in a new locale is a worthy pursuit, but many of us need a strong cup of coffee before we set out for the day. This travel coffee press/thermos ensures you have a reliably strong and delicious cup within minutes of opening your eyes.
Nourishing rosewater mist: When it comes to self-care, no one does it better than Goop. After a long flight, nothing will make you feel refreshed like a spritz of this rosewater mist.
Multi-masking travel skin care kit: The best cure for jet lag’s aesthetic symptoms? A good facemask. Designed specifically for travelers, this On the Fly kit keeps users looking fresh even after a 20-hour flight.
Unconventional “pharmacy" kit: Travelers are exposed to a variety of germs, but don’t always have access to a pharmacy or medicine. This kit includes five essential oil remedies for coughing, stress and an upset stomach all in a travel-sized pouch.
Give the gift of travel itself
If you know the recipient of your gift loves to travel but are unsure of what gear they have or where they’re going next, you can’t go wrong with a travel gift card. Whether you want to give them a place to stay with Airbnb gift cards, send them somewhere fun with a gift card on their favorite airline like Southwest, Delta or American, or want to treat them to a fun adventure with a company like Urban Adventures (real life experiences in 96 countries/162 cities), a gift card is the perfect way to get them moving.
We hope you found something special for that someone special this holiday season. Good luck shopping and enjoy your holidays no matter where you are in the world.
For all our globe trotting readers, what was the best travel-related gift you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments below or share on social with the hashtag #NoSmallPlan.
Jennifer Mitchell is a blogger, comedian, freelance copywriter and travel enthusiast. Kara Walsh is the Founder of No Small Plan.
** Please know that while the products featured are selected based entirely on travel experience and editorial opinion, we do participate in affiliate programs which may result in revenue from products purchased through some of our links. **