Don’t you just love the holidays? It’s the time of year when the entire family gets together to haul the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house after spending hours wrapping Christmas gifts that our loved ones don’t even actually want. Then hovering over the hot stove for half of the day to prepare a beautiful meal that will be devoured in about 3 minutes while everyone stares blankly at the football game on the tv.
And while most people can store their shiny new Christmas gifts on a shelf or a closet, avid travelers like us live out of our suitcases and generally prefer to save that space for socks and undies. We traveling fiends generally opt for experiences over things, not just because we don’t love getting new treasures, but because we have nowhere to put them.
So for the 2019 Christmas holiday season, stick to this holiday gift list to get your nomadic, adventure-loving friends things that they will actually want and use. And that won’t take up too much precious space in their suitcase.
Quick Navigation Links
- The 30 Best Gifts for Travelers for the Holidays
- Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Audiophile
- Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Bookworm
- Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Photography Lover
- Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Sensitive Soul
- Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Adventurous Spirit
- Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Electronics Junkie
- Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Anyone and Everyone
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The 30 Best Gifts for Travelers for the Holidays
Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Audiophile
1. Subscription to Spotify Premium
This is an incredibly handy subscription service for any traveler with upcoming lengthy bus, train, plane or car rides. A subscription to Spotify Premium means that your world-traveling friend can save all of their favorite music for offline use so they can listen for hours without needing wifi or using expensive roaming data! If you want extra points, create a “mixed tape” playlist that they’ll love and include it!
2. Noise-Canceling Headphones
If you’ve ever taken a long, uncomfortable, freezing cold (or boiling hot) flight, train, or bus ride, you understand a level of misery that many people will never experience in their lifetime. Throw in a crying baby? You might as well toss yourself out of the window. No doubt, anyone who travels a lot will have to experience at least one of these during their adventuring, so noise-canceling headphones will be a lifesaver!
If you have an unlimited budget then go for the Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones but if you want an amazing value check out the Paww WaveSound 3 Headphones. Either way, make sure you do some research before you buy as to whether they’d prefer the over-the-ear style or earbuds.
3. Lightweight, Portable Travel Speaker
A lightweight, portable speaker always comes in handy for any traveler while lounging at the beach, sipping cocktails by the pool, or having an impromptu street dance party with new friends. If your travel loving friend also happens to be accident-prone you may want to consider opting for a waterproof option.
One option is the MuveAcoustics A-Star – an awesome little waterproof speaker that delivers 6 hours of music on a charge and weighs in at less than 6 oz. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer for the traveler in your life.
Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Bookworm
4. Subscription to Amazon Audible
A subscription to Amazon Audible grants your world-traveling friend a credit toward any one audiobook they want every month plus big discounts on any additional audiobooks they choose to buy. All of their audiobooks will be at their disposal at any time on their device of choice even when they’re offline! Plus it cuts down on waste in case your travel-loving friend also happens to be a lover of the planet.
5. An E-Reader
When you have to carry your entire life around in a suitcase for an extended amount of time, heavy books usually aren’t exactly practical. It can also be difficult to find books written in English in foreign countries (especially used books). With an E-Reader, you can carry hundreds of books around without taking up any extra room in your bag. And finding the latest best seller in English is as easy as connecting to a wifi network and hitting the ‘download’ button!
Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite is the best selling e-reader on the market and for good reason! It offers a non-glare screen so it’s easy to read in the bright sun if you’re at the beach as well as a built-in adjustable LED lights for reading in the dark on an overnight plane or bus ride. It can hold a charge for up to 6 weeks so your traveling friend will never run out of juice in the middle of their book. And weighing less than 8 oz. it’s light enough for even the most minimalist traveler.
6. Inspiring Coffee Table Travel Books
Considering the fact that there are over 200 countries in the world, determining which ones to visit can be overwhelming. “The Travel Book – A Journey Through Every Country in the World” by Lonely Planet offers beautiful photos and a short description of every UN-approved country in the world. So your traveling friend can read highlights of each before planning their next adventure!
Another great Xmas gift, “Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” is full of strange and unexpected adventures that most people have no idea even exist! Just a quick glance at the index which includes categories such as ‘Disembodied Body Parts’ and ‘Erotic Oddities’ guarantees that your well-traveled friend will find a thing or two that even they have yet to discover.
These two books are sure to inspire any world traveler who flips through them, and they’re both on our list of the best travel books!
Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Photography Lover
7. Photo Editing Software
Even the best photographers need to do a bit of post-processing to make sure their photos are social-media-ready. For the budding travel photographer on your gift list, a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan will give them access to the same photo management and editing tools used by professional photographers all over the globe!
In addition to both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, it comes bundled with access to 20GB of cloud storage and Adobe’s mobile apps for seamlessly accessing and editing travel photos on either a laptop or a cell phone!
8. Mini Polaroid Camera
One of the best ways to make friends with the locals (especially when traveling in small towns where iPhones aren’t the norm) is to take a photo with them and then show them how it looks on the screen. They will squeal with delight! They’ll love you even more if you can actually print it out and give it to them to keep forever which will make an Instax Mini Instant Camera an absolute hit! Don’t forget to throw in film as the perfect travel-related stocking stuffer.
Your traveling friend will want to take this gift with them on every adventure!
9. Lightweight Travel Tripod
Every photographer should keep a good travel tripod on hand for beautiful nighttime shots, long exposure waterfall photos, epic sunrise selfies when there is no one else around to hold the camera, and everything in-between.
Don’t let your traveling friend stoop to the point of a selfie stick – instead get them a lightweight tripod. The MeFoto Backpacker Tripod is the perfect combination of sturdy, lightweight, and affordable – it’s one of the most useful travel gifts you can give to anyone that loves taking photos.
10. Waterproof Action Camera
GoPro made the waterproof action camera famous, but now there are plenty of similar models for a much more reasonable price. This durable camera by AKASO is the perfect gift if your friend is planning a tropical island vacation and they want to catch their underwater adventures on camera. Your gift will be a big hit and you won’t have to break the bank!
Speaking of tropical island adventures, if your traveling friend is planning a trip that involves ocean activities, they’ll probably need a high-quality dry bag to keep their camera gear safe from the elements. We always include a dry bag in our travel photography packing list.
This Sea to Summit Dry Bag is also the perfect travel gift for any avid hiker or backpacker who doesn’t let a little rain slow them down.
12. Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit
If your traveling friend likes to take photos but doesn’t want to lug around a big, heavy camera, then this 11 in 1 cell phone camera lens kit is the perfect Christmas gift! It comes with 11 different lenses to take better photos in various conditions. And all of them pack up neatly into a durable travel case!
13. Portable Travel Safe
If your traveling friend tends to carry a lot of valuable electronic equipment on their adventures, they probably worry about it getting stolen. A gift of this portable safe by Pacsafe is perfect since it’s large enough to fit a 10-inch tablet, it’s embedded with stainless steel mesh, it can be locked to a secure fixture, and can also fold flat so that it’s easy to pack.
This is the perfect peace-of-mind Christmas gift for any avid traveler!
Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Sensitive Soul
14. Charitable Donation
It’s pretty likely your traveling friend had an experience that moved them while bumming around abroad. Whether it was saving beached whales or cuddling babies in orphanages or building houses – they’ve probably seen some stuff that’s changed them for the better. And they probably want to help.
Find out what experiences have moved them and make a donation to a charity that’s relevant. If you come up short on ideas, consider making a donation to one of our faves – Project Jonah if your traveling friend loves ocean creatures or Green Empowerment if they’re into sustainability.
15. Immortalized Travel Memories
Most world travelers that we know are documenting their absolute favorite photos on their social media accounts, namely, Instagram. And while having those memories easily accessible on the web is great, most travelers will also want them adorning their home someday. Social Print Studio and Chatbooks are two Instagram photo printing services that are easy to use and reliable.
Your traveling friend probably won’t tote these around with them on their adventures but it will be a fun surprise to have waiting for them when they get home!
16. Customized Passport Cover
The most important item that every traveler carries with them is their passport. So keeping it safe in a packed carry-on bag is always a priority. A customized passport holder from you will be an extra special Christmas present anyone going abroad and they are sure to treasure it forever!
Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Adventurous Spirit
17. Portable Travel Hammock
If your traveling friend is the outdoorsy-type and their adventures involve hiking and mountains, a portable hammock that is extra comfy for one or big enough for two is the perfect travel gift! Eagle Nest Outfitter makes a variety of durable, colorful, lightweight hammocks but the DoubleNest is our personal favorite. Be sure to pick up hammock straps as well!
18. Personalized Waterbottle
Whether your friend is hiking up the side of a mountain, driving across the country, or hanging out at a remote beach, they’ll need to stay hydrated. Hydroflask keeps hot beverages really hot and cold beverages really cold. And they now offer the ability to customize your water bottle so you can style up one for a unique travel gift that your friend or loved one will absolutely love!
19. Portable French Press
If your adventurous friend loves to go on overnight backpacking trips but can’t survive without their morning caffeine fix, then a portable french press is the perfect Christmas gift! This clever gift will allow your friend to make a quick and delicious cup of coffee directly in the leak-proof insulated travel mug!
20. Osprey Day Pack Backpack
All avid adventurers need a place to keep their important items safe and accessible. Whether scaling a mountain, hiking through a forest, or boarding a plane, a durable backpack is a perfect companion. We love the Daylite Daypack by Osprey because it’s lightweight, roomy, and comes with an unbeatable warranty. It’s the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves outdoor adventures!
21. Luci Lights
Luci Lights make a wonderful Christmas gift for anyone who loves camping or backpacking. These clever little devices are solar-powered, inflatable, durable, lightweight, and pack down super small. But can be easily hung to light up a campsite or tent when the sun goes down. We love these little solar lights and never go camping without them!
Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Electronics Junkie
22. Portable Battery Power Bank
Keeping all of your electronics charged while traveling is no easy feat. A portable charger or power bank allows your traveling friend to keep charging no matter how far from civilization they may be. We travel with the Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger and love it! It’s got enough juice to recharge a phone over 7 times so you’ll never have to hunt for an elusive power outlet at the airport or bus station again!
And if you’re looking for another stocking-stuffer idea for your traveling friend, a gear organizer will help them keep all of those charging cords de-tangled and in one place.
23. LifeProof Cell Phone Case
There’s no doubt that most of us are hard on our cell phones. And when you’re in another country and something happens to your phone it can be devastating (and difficult to repair). A LifeProof Cell Phone Case will keep your traveling friend’s cell protected from the dangers of being dropped on the floor or in a toilet. This is also a great gift if your traveling friend loves to shoot underwater photos!
24. International Wifi Hotspot
If your friend is going abroad for an extended period of time, chances are they’ll ditch their cell phone plan and opt for wifi. But finding reliable wifi while on the road can be a burden. An International Wifi Hotspot is the perfect gift to keep them connected to their friends and family back home without being tied down.
The Keepgo Lifetime Mobile WiFi Hotspot offers fast 4G data in over 70 countries around the world. It comes with 1GB of data which is good for a year and you can easily top-up online for around $35 per GB.
Another option for an ultra-portable travel hotspot that will help your traveling friend avoid roaming charge is the Tep Wireless Teppy 4G – we tried one out in Iceland, Portugal, and the UK with great results across all 3 countries.
25. Power Adaptor
Any true electronics junkie knows how difficult it can be to keep everything fully charged and ready to go. We find this to be especially challenging when traveling because electric plug styles and voltage vary by country. Plus most hotel rooms just don’t have enough outlets.
This international power adaptor is a perfect gift for avid travelers because it has a regular outlet plus 4 USB ports making it easy to keep everything charged and ready a travel lover’s next big adventure!
Best Travel Christmas Gifts for the Anyone and Everyone
26. Packable Travel Pillow
If you’ve ever tried to sleep on a long flight, you know that it is incredibly uncomfortable. Especially if you get stuck in a middle seat! A small, lightweight, easy-to-pack travel pillow is a great Christmas gift for any international traveler. This travel pillow by Trtl folds down super small and can even be machine washed!
27. Travel Blanket
When taking long plane, train, or bus rides it’s often impossible to guess what the temperature will be for the duration of the trip. Sometimes it’s boiling hot, and other times it might be freezing cold. If your traveling friend gets chilly easily, then a portable travel blanket makes the perfect Christmas gift! It folds into its own convenient carrying case so it’s convenient to take anywhere and everywhere.
28. Lightweight, Quick-Dry Beach Towel
If your traveling friend is planning a tropical island adventure, they’ll need a towel for lounging on the beach. A lightweight, quick-dry beach towel like this one by Jingmu is perfect because it packs down super small and won’t way your traveling friend down. It’s the perfect Christmas gift for any beach lover!
29. Visit From You!
While all of these things are very nice to have, what most travelers would REALLY like you to spend your money on is a trip to come for a visit! In one of our favorite travel quotes, Lewis Carroll said,“Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” Instead of opting for a gift, splurge on a plane ticket to visit your friend abroad in some exotic location. Your gift will be the memories you’ll make together!
30. Cold. Hard. Cash.
Most of the avid travelers that we know are always scheming to figure out how to travel longer. And most would choose adventures over things 100% of the time. Save everyone the hassle of shopping (and returning) and just give them what they really want – cold, hard cash.