Unique Gifts for Travel Lovers in Time for the Holidays
Last Updated on June 1, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
What better way to say “I love you” to your travel-loving friends and family than with a thoughtful, travel themed holiday gift? As an avid traveler, I’ve curated a long list of practical and unique gifts for travel lovers that either have already been useful, or would be useful to have on my travels. From noise cancelling headphones for light sleepers to packing cubes for organized travelers, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts for travel lovers and inspiration on this holiday gift guide.
Keep reading for gifts travelers’ love!
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Unique Gifts for Travel Lovers
A passport holder is a simple but practical travel gift that makes organizing boarding passes, luggage tags, COVID tests and credit cards exponentially easier. Since purchasing my first passport holder in 2016, it’s been a necessary addition to my travel gear and makes a fun travel gift for your travel-obsessed loved ones!
I prefer passport holders made of leather, since they tend to be more durable in the long run. This classic Coach case in black leather is one of my favorites or, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, try this brown leather passport holder from Madewell. For something a little less traditional, check out this cute pink passport holder by Kate Spade.
Personal Item Backpack
A small backpack is the perfect gift for the travel lover! Not only are they useful when traveling and exploring new cities, but they make a great personal item on an airplane.
I’m currently loving the Terra Laptop Backpack Duffel by Calpak Travel. It’s roomy, affordable, comes in cute colors and conveniently attaches to the handle of your carry on! Pair it with the matching Terra Hanging Toiletry Bag and the Terra Sling Bag for the perfect airport look. Another great option is the Rowledge backpack by Lo & Sons. It also attaches to your carry on and has a convenient laptop pocket that’s perfect for digital nomads.
If you’re looking for a personal item that can double as an adventure backpack, look no further than the Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack. A steal at only $146, it’s perfect for both long haul flights and unexplored hiking trails.
An Apple Watch is the perfect gift for travel lovers and digital nomads alike! You can receive and respond to messages directly on the watch, instead of pulling out your iPhone in inconvenient situations around the world. The watch is also waterproof, which means you don’t need to think twice about wearing it while swimming, boating, kayaking or participating in any water activity.
Pro tip: skip loading up on $50 Apple bands and instead receive every color you could imagine with this Apple Watch band pack on Amazon.
Although they used to be deemed “uncool,” fanny packs are making a comeback on the travel scene! A simple belt bag or fanny pack is one of my favorite travel gifts since it can be useful for any situation all over the world. This belt bag by Lululemon is the perfect addition to this travel gift guide since its lightweight, water resistant and comes in a variety of different colors. Its fabric and size make it the perfect bag for exploring a new city or embarking on a strenuous hike.
If you’re looking for something a little more fashionable, check out this Madewell saddle bag, Milan Leather Belt Bag from Aimee Kestenberg or this Pebbled Leather Sling by Michael Kors. Both can easily be dressed up for a night out on the town! For a more affordable version, browse ButterCup Accessory’s shop on Etsy.
A stowaway backpack is one of my favorite unique gifts for travel lovers since I bought my first one from LL Bean in 2020. The LL Bean pack remains one of my favorites since it’s lightweight, very affordable and comes with an internal stow pocket for easy packing.
I also love this Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack for quick adventures!
A packable jacket is a unique travel gift that any wanderer will love! They don’t take up much suitcase space and they’re practical to use as light jacket in almost any climate. LL Bean has some great packable jacket options like this jacket for women and this jacket for men. They both come in a variety of different colors and sizes!
Lululemon also sells this Pack It Down Light Jacket for women and the Warp Light Packable Jacket for men that make unique gifts for travel lovers on your list!
There’s nothing that says savvy traveler like a matching suitcase set. I’m currently obsessed with the hazel Hue Carry-On with Hardshell Pocket and checked bag duo by Calpak Travel. Both suitcases are hard shell (and keep your possessions safe from being tossed around an airport). The carry on comes with a convenient front pocket laptop/passport sleeve!
Additionally, Herschel sells some seriously cute suitcase sets like this Trade Luggage carry-on and matching checked bag! And if you need more options, COOLIFE Luggage is also known for their simple and durable roller bags like this 3 piece hardshell set on Amazon.
Last, but definitely not least, Vera Bradley offers some adorable luggage sets in their signature floral patterns. Check out the Hardside Spinner Luggage Set here.
Straw hats are perfect for your traveling friends that can’t get enough of the tropics. Not only do they keep the sun off your face, but they’re always the perfect prop for taking beautiful travel photos!
Amazon has tons of great options like this simple straw beach hat, but the serious travel influencers know that the Gigi Pip hats are the real deal. The Capri Short hat is one of my favorites and is guaranteed to keep your skin young and your photos phenomenal no matter where you travel!
A reliable toiletry bag is a must-have for travelers. LL Bean sells tons of practical and durable options like their Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag. I used this bag for 5+ years while traveling the world, and for the price it held up very nicely. Only recently did it call for a replacement – when I purchased the Terra Hanging Toiletry Bag from Calpak Travel.
If you’re looking for something a little more floral, check out this Zip Hanging Organizer by Vera Bradley. It comes in a variety of different patterns! I’m also loving their 3 Piece Cosmetic Organizer complete with 2 cosmetic bags and a clear handled case.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
When you’re stuck on a 14 hour flight next to a screaming baby, nothing is going to be more valuable to you than your noise cancelling headphones. For reasons like this, a good pair of headphones is top of the list when it comes to useful travel gifts.
The tech experts say that the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones currently hold the spot of best noise cancelling headphones money can buy. In the over-the-ear headphone game, Beats by Dre or Apple’s AirPods Max are other popular options.
If you prefer your headphones in pod form (like I do), consider splurging on Apple’s new AirPods Pro (2nd Gen.) or JBL’s LIVE Pro+ TWS.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, try this wireless option from Sony!
If your goal is travel themed gifts, look no further than packing cubes. Not only do these cubes allow you to fit even more in your already jam-packed suitcase, but they make it very easy to organize your items within your bag.
Make sure your friends and family are prepared for their next trip with these packing cubes from Amazon, this 5-piece set from Calpak or these Insider Packing Cubes by Away.
A Kindle Paperwhite is the perfect addition to this list of unique travel gift ideas because it keeps you entertained while traveling, but doesn’t reduce any of your precious suitcase space or weight. Although nowadays you can easily download books to your iPhone or iPad, a Kindle is great because you can read without glare. This feature especially comes in handy when reading on a beach, in the dessert or anywhere with a harsh glare from the sun. Check price on Amazon here!
GoPro HERO11 Black
GoPros are the perfect gift for the adventure traveler that loves to document his or her travels through photography. Whether you’re zip lining through Costa Rica, ATVing through Morocco, surfing in Hawaii or cliff jumping in New Zealand, a GoPro is the perfect way to capture these once-in-a-lifetime memories hands-free. For the 2021 holidays, the GoPro HERO11 Black is currently top-of-the-line for adventure travelers.
For a list of my favorite budget photography gear for solo travelers, enter your email below to download my free PDF guide!
Portable Bluetooth Speaker
A portable speaker is high on the list of the best travelers gifts for the holidays! JBL speakers are my absolute favorite bluetooth speakers because they’re affordable, portable, reliable and….drumroll please….waterproof! That makes the JBL Flip 6 the perfect portable speaker for a road trip, beach day, kayaking trip or any other exciting travel activity!
JBL has a couple other options, like the JBL Clip 4 and the JBL Go 3, that are smaller and perfect for backpackers who are even more limited when it comes to suitcase space.
Unique Gifts for Travel Lovers: Stocking Stuffers
Below are some of my favorite unique gifts for travel lovers for those in need of a small, budget-friendly gift or stocking stuffers for their loved ones!
A YETI tumbler is top of the list of practical travel gifts…especially if you live in a tropical destination like Roatán. When I first moved to the Caribbean, I had to endure 90 days of lukewarm or flat out HOT beer before finally making it home and purchasing my first YETI tumbler. If you’re from Wisconsin, warm beer is about the worst thing that can happen to a person.
Thankfully, I found myself a nice 20 oz. YETI tumbler and never had to drink warm beer again! Pro tip: the YETI Rambler Lowball is great for cocktails.
Filtered Water Bottle
A reliable filtered water bottle is the perfect holiday gift for the environmentally conscious traveler. In certain destinations where it’s unsafe to drink the water, a simple reusable bottle isn’t going to cut it. With a filtered bottle, you never have to worry about getting sick from drinking water whether you’re in the city or hiking in the mountains.
This Lifestraw Go Water Filter Bottle is consistently rated one of the top filtered water bottles for backpacking. Coming in at a close second is the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System. This Brita Insulated Filtered Water Bottle is reviewed highly for specifically filtering tap water.
Although it’s not filtered, I just gifted myself this collapsible water bottle from Free People. It’s the perfect addition to my list of unique travel gifts since it’s eco-friendly and fits comfortably in any bag!
Click here for more tips on how to be an eco-conscious traveler!
Luggage tags make the perfect stocking stuffers since they’re cheap and useful for every type of world traveler! It doesn’t matter if your specialty is long haul flights around the world or domestic train travel. If your suitcase gets lost, you better have a luggage tag on that bad boy.
I love these simple leather luggage tags from Madewell. Like passport holders, leather luggage tags tend to hold up better than their plastic counterparts. Etsy also sells some cute and customizable options like these colorful tags from SoGoodSoWood. Last, but not least, these floral patterned luggage tags by Vera Bradley are super cute, affordable and made from recycled cotton!
When I first started traveling (on a strict budget I might add), I kept it simple with these colorful rubber tag set from Amazon.
Let’s talk luggage tags…but make it high tech. Apple has eliminated all the guesswork when it comes to lost luggage with their new AirTags for travel. At only $29 apiece, you can track the whereabouts of your luggage through the Find My app on iPhone! The only downside of these tags is that you must be an iPhone owner to use them.
Do yourself a favor and skip the insanely expensive Apple keychain options. Instead grab one of these affordable options from Amazon!
Affordable, useful and a must-have for any world traveler, a portable luggage scale is top of the list of unique gift ideas for your travel-loving friends and family. This luggage scale from Amazon retails at only $11 and takes all the guesswork out of luggage fees at the airport. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to guess the weight of my suitcase without this tiny device.
Curling & Flat Iron Cover
This curling & flat iron cover is one of my favorites on my list of unique gifts for travel lovers! I love to use my hair straightener the morning before departing for a new destination. You wouldn’t believe how many times I was forced to carry my burning hot straightener in a taxi or on a train before finally being able to put it back in my suitcase.
Thankfully, Vera Bradley has solved the all world’s problems with their Curling & Flat Iron Cover. Not only is it practical as hell, but it’s also super cute! At only $25, it makes the perfect stocking stuffer for your travel-loving, unruly-haired family members.
If your traveler friends ever frequent hostels on their trips, a microfiber towel makes the perfect budget-friendly gift. I used my microfiber towel so many times during study abroad that I added it to my list of things to pack for study abroad in Europe.
Many hostels don’t include towels in the price of a bed. Instead, they’ll offer to rent you one or, worst case, sell you one at an incredibly inflated price. These microfiber towels from Amazon are quick-dry and fold up super small in your suitcase to conserve space. They’re a great money-saving hack when you’re hostel hopping all over Europe!
A comfortable eye mask makes the perfect gift for the light sleeper who loves to travel. Let’s be honest, it comes in handy on an airplane even if you sleep like the dead – especially if Ryanair decides to turn the lights on in the middle of the night so they can sell you perfume.
If you’re looking for a mask with some sass, look no further than these comfy, funny eye masks from Etsy: the “Go Away” mask and, my personal favorite, “Looks Like It’s Fuck This Shit O’Clock”. I also love this simple pink eye mask from Revolve and this matching eye mask/neck pillow set from Calpak.
One of the best gifts you can give a traveler is a comfortable neck pillow. On a long haul flight, it can be the difference between two days of jet lag and feeling completely refreshed in a new destination!
Many travelers swear by this fitted neck cushion by Muji. I’ve had great experiences with this Amazon J-Pillow because it inflates and deflates for easy storage while traveling. It also keeps its shape better than traditional neck pillows since it’s filled with air.
Journeys Made Keychain
If you’re looking for unique gifts for travel lovers, this keychain by Journeys Made is perfect for you! At only $20, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer! You can add charms for only $5 each with the names of countries your loved one has visited. Each time they visit a new country, they can buy a new token for their keychain!
Packing jewelry for a trip is always a challenge for travelers. This embroidered jewelry roll is the perfect gift to keep your jewelry organized and tangle-free. It even comes with a roll for rings and a designated spot to clip in your earrings for easy transport. At only $44, it’s the perfect unique travel gift!
For something a little sturdier, check out Calpak Travel’s Jewelry Case. It has a soft, pink velvet interior and plenty of handy hooks for necklaces and bracelets.
As a full-time digital nomad and travel blogger, constantly on the move, I pack a lot of tech. Laptop, iPad, iPhone, watch, AirPods, camera, tripod, SD cards, various chargers, ergonomic vertical mouse…you name it, it’s in my carry on.
With so many different cords and small pieces, it’s easy to get disorganized. That’s why Calpak’s Tech Organizer is the perfect travel gift for the holidays. It’s offered in a variety of patterns and colors and is the perfect way to keep your tech tidy while traveling.
When it comes to traveling, a portable charger is a must! Not only for the obvious reasons like posting on social media or taking photos, but for legitimate safety concerns. Nowadays, your safety risk while traveling can be greatly decreased with access to Google Maps and emergency services on your smart phone. For this reason, I include packing a portable charger on my list of solo female travel safety tips!
I swear by this Anker Portable Charger. It’s saved my butt time and time again when my iPhone 7 could’t be trusted to stay charged in Europe. They offer larger versions, but this little guy should be able to charge your iPhone 2-4 times.
If you enjoyed my list of 27 unique gifts for travel lovers, you may also enjoy the related posts on my travel blog below! All my posts are chock-full of travel tips and nomad guides on bucket list destinations all over the globe. To grab my free guides, “How to Plan Epic Trips” and “The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Photography,” make sure to enter your information below and subscribe to my email list. Happy holidays!
very thorough and informative post, thanks for the great ideas 🙂