Ah, the holidays… the time of year when the entire family gets together to stress about hauling kids to grandmas house, buying each other crap that no one wants or needs, and slaving over the stove for half a day to prepare food that will be devoured in about 3 minutes.
If you’re like us (or have friends like us), your “house” is actually a 5×7 storage unit 3,000 miles away so holiday gifts aren’t so much of a “gift” so much as a hassle. We traveling fiends generally opt for experiences over things, not just because world travelers don’t want all the things, but because we have nowhere to put them.
If you are knee-deep in holiday cheer and insist upon buying gifts for everyone, stick to this 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 space in their suitcase).
Side note: I felt compelled to write this after seeing dozens of “holiday gift list for travelers” articles that insisted avid travelers want neck pillows and tiny travel cocktail kits and scratch-off wall maps. Trust me, we don’t. Also, there are a few affiliate links below. They won’t cost you anything to use, but we’ll get a tiny bit of commission from your purchase which will help us to keep on keeping on and for that we are extremely grateful!
Gift Ideas for the Avid Music Fan…
A Subscription to Spotify Premium
This is an increadibly handy subscription service for anyone 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!
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 your traveling friend 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 a 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.
Lightweight, Portable Speaker
A lightweight, portable speaker always comes in handy while lounging at the beach, sipping cocktails by the pool, or having an impromptu street dance party with new friends. If your world traveling 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.!
Gift Ideas for the Book Worm…
A Subscription to Amazon Audible
A subscription to Amazon Audible grants your world traveling friend a credit toward any one audio book they want every month plus big discounts on any additional audio books they choose to buy. All of their audio books 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 friend also happens to be a lover of the planet.
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 your 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 you’ll never run out of juice in the middle of your book. And weighing less than 8 oz. it’s light enough for even the most minimalist traveler.
An Inspiring Coffee Table Travel Book
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!
“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.
Both books are sure to inspire anyone who flips through!
Gift Ideas for the Photography Lover…
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!
A 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! And they’ll love you even more if you can actually print it out and give it to them to keep forever which will make a Instax Mini Instant Camera an absolute hit! Don’t forget to throw in film as a stocking stuffer.
A Lightweight Tripod
Every photographer should keep a good 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 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.
Gift Ideas for the Sensitive, Caring Soul…
A 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.
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. Shiner Photo prints pictures directly from Instagram onto handmade magnetic blocks and Chatbooks allows you to easily create photo books directly from Instagram. 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!
Gift Ideas for the Adventurous Spirit…
A Portable 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 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!
A 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 that your traveling friend will love!
Gift Ideas for the Cell Phone Junkie…
Goodies for their Electronics
Keeping all of your electronics charged while on the road is no easy feat. A portable battery 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, a gear organizer will help them keep all of those charging cords de-tangled and in one place.
A 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!
An International Wifi Hotspot
If your adventurous friend is planning on being away 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 perfect for keeping 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.
Gift Ideas for Anyone and Everyone…
A 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! Lewis Carroll said it best – “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 traveling friend in some exotic location. Your gift will be the memories you’ll make together!
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.
And if you finish up all of your holiday shopping and you find you still have room for one more name at the bottom of your list you can find me on Venmo at @Val_Wheatley08. Consider me to be the gift that keeps on giving!