The best travel gifts are the ones that will keep on giving.
All the travel gift ideas in this post are items that will — directly or indirectly — help save money while you’re on the road. They minimize airline fees, keep your devices running, reduce your risk of being mugged, cook you great food, and help you sleep in uncomfortable places (like on that overnight bus you’re taking to save one night’s accommodation costs).
Hope you’ll find some inspiration here!
Travel Gifts for the Overpacker
Airlines always weigh the bags you check in and sometimes they weigh your carry-on bags too. But they don’t weigh your clothes — and this is where the Bagket comes in.
The Bagket is a messenger bag that can also transform into a wearable (but admittedly ugly) vest. It has 22 pockets, some of which are big enough for laptops. Waltz through check-in with all your bulky things in your Bagket pockets and a smug smile on your face — the airline can’t charge you for this “excess baggage”.
You know how sometimes you have to sit on an overflowing bag to zip it up? No? Okay, maybe it’s just me.
The point is, that is what packing cubes do. They compress your things into these little cubes so you can fit more into your bag. This Shacke Pak Packing Cubes set includes four packing cubes of varying sizes, plus a laundry bag for your dirty clothes. The nylon material is lightweight, stretchable, and water resistant (always a good thing). The Shacke Pak Packing Cubes set comes in eight colors.
The Camry 110-Pound Luggage Scale may be small, but it can save you some serious bucks.
The important stuff: Camry 110-Pound Luggage Scale can weigh items up to 110 lbs or 50 kg, which is about double the standard allowable maximum weight for check-in bags. Plus, it’s accurate to 0.1 lb or 50 g. You can switch between the two units of measurements by simply pushing a button.
The not-so-important stuff: It has temperature sensor and tare function, for some reason.
Travel Gifts for the Safety-Conscious
Pacsafe is probably the most trusted brand when it comes to anti-theft travel gear.
This normal-looking backpack is equipped with the standard safety features that come with all Pacsafe bags. Hidden within the fabric is the stainless steel wire mesh called Slashguard, which prevents pickpockets from cutting the bag to get to your valuable. Double-layered zippers attached to hidden security hooks stop thieves from forcing them open with sharp objects. Then there are the RFID-safe pockets, security hooks, and locking cables.
Basically, Pacsafe bags are the paranoid traveler’s wet dream.
I don’t know if you know this, but a thief can steal your money without physically taking anything from you. All he has to do is stand a little close to you, then scan the radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in your credit cards and passports. Before you know it, some unauthorized charges appear on your credit card bill and your credit score is affected.
It’s easy enough to block RFID scanners and avoid identity theft in the first place. You just need to place your cards and passports in a special container like the Pacsafe Luggage RFID-Safe Compact Organizer.
A money belt is where you’re supposed to keep your passports, emergency cash, and back-up credit/debit cards. Or if you’re traveling in a heavily cash-based area, the bulk of your cash should go here. Then, you keep the money belt hidden under your clothes so it’s out of sight.
It’s a good precaution to take. In case you get mugged, you can simply hand the thief your fake wallet, which should contain only a small amount of your money.
The Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt has adjustable straps and a breathable back panel so it’s comfortable against your skin. And if you like celebrity endorsements, Rick Steves is apparently a fan of Eagle Creek.
Travel Gifts for the Foodie
This little gadget is fast (10 minutes to cook a meal), green (uses only heat from the sun), and portable (weighs only 3.5 lbs). You can bake, boil, or fry anything you want as long as it fits in the cooking chamber tube. You can even set the temperature, which ranges from 200 F (93 C) to 550 F (288 C).
Think of all the places you can cook with the GoSun Portable Solar Oven: in the hotel room, at the beach, on a sailboat, in the rainforest, at the Burning Man, in an abandoned shed in the middle of nowhere during the zombie apocalypse…
Most hotels provide coffee making stations in their rooms, but it’s just not the same, is it? With the Handpresso Outdoor Complete French Press Kit, you can make the kind of coffee you’d enjoy in the comfort of your own home anywhere. Maybe it’s not exactly the same, but as one Amazon reviewer says, “If you can’t puchase that $1,500 espresso machine, then get this one.”
Thanks to the well-designed portable case, the Handpresso Outdoor Complete French Press Kit makes for an especiallly handsome gift. But if it’s too bulky, there are smaller options too, like the Handpresso Auto Espresso Maker or the Handpresso 16-Bar Hand-Pump Portable Espresso Machine.
Sometimes eating out all the time gets old, even when there are exotic choices all around you. Hostels and AirBnB vacation rentals often have kitchens you can use. Bring this little spice rack with you for a taste of home.
The GSI Outdoors Spice Rack consists of three containers, each of which is further divided into two sides. A piece of rubber keeps them together so they don’t get lost in your suitcase.
Travel Gifts for the Gadget Geek
I don’t know about you, but I need my smartphone more so than usual when I travel. It books flights and hotels at the last minute, checks train schedules, translates foreign words, picks good local restaurants, and tells me how to get from Point A to Point B.
In other words, it’s not a good thing when the phone runs out of battery.
Enter the Anker Astro Mini Power Bank. This portable charger is only the size of a lipstick. But with a capacity of 3,350 mAh, it packs enough juice to bring most smartphones from 0% to 100% charged. And it’s quick, too. The Anker Astro Mini Power Bank detects the maximum charging speed for your device and can save up to three hours of charging time.
If you need something more powerful, look into the KMASHI 10,000-mAh Power Bank, which has about three times the capacity of the Anker Astro Mini.
The HooToo Tripmate Wireless Travel Router minimizes Wi-Fi fees, keeps your gadgets charged, and helps you make friends. How? Well, here are some of the ways you can use it:
- Your hotel doesn’t have Wi-Fi; Internet is by cable only. How are you supposed to play Candy Crush in the bathroom? Answer: connect the HooToo Wireless Travel Router to the Internet cable, then have it create a Wi-Fi network.
- Your hotel’s Wi-Fi is only free for one device. Use the HooToo Tripmate Wireless Travel Router to connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi network, then connect all your other gadgets to it. Free Internet for all!
- Your smartphone has just run out of battery. Fear not, the HooToo Wireless Travel Router has 6,000 mAh to charge it.
- Are your travel companions bored? The HooToo Wireless Travel Router lets you share files over its own secure network, so everybody can simply connect and watch the movies stored in your USB flash drive.
A plug adapter is easily the #1 Thing Travelers Forget to Pack. I discussed this with other travelers on Twitter, and apparently it’s such a common issue that hotels are overflowing with the plugs and chargers left behind by past guests. (Tip: If you forget yours, try borrowing one at the hotel front desk.)
This is why, generally, extra plug adapters make great travel gifts. The Orei M8 Plus Worldwide Travel Plug Adapter works anywhere in the world. There are two USB ports for charging — we all know power sockets are often a rarity in airports and hotels. And it’s grounded for the safety of your expensive gadgets.
Travel Gifts Most Travelers Would Appreciate
This looks like a regular water bottle. But make no mistake, the technology behind the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle has won multiple awards.
Here’s why: you can basically scoop water from a river or a pond into the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle (or fill it with non-drinkable tap water in a developing country) and drink it. The filter removes contaminants from water and makes it safe. If you’re interested in the science behind it, there’s an explanation here of how it works, complete with diagrams and everything.
Sleeping in random places is a big part of traveling, especially if you’re on a budget. Planes, trains, hostel dorm rooms, bus stations…these places don’t make it easy for you to get some shut-eye, especially when you only have a rolled-up hoodie as your pillow.
Enter the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow. It’s filled with soft bits of foam that expand for your sleeping comfort and compress for your traveling convenience. The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow comes in various sizes and colors.
Okay, I’m sorry for making another travel gift recommendation in the “stuff for sleeping” category, but it’s a real issue.
Imagine spending all night in a smelly bus trying to block out the ramblings of the drunk backpacker sitting behind you. Then, just as you’re about to fall asleep, the loudspeakers suddenly start blaring some local pop music and all the curtains are pulled open on you. The sunshine penetrates through your eyelids, forcing you to open your eyes. It’s an assault on the senses.
I still haven’t found a solution for the smell, but this DreamyThing Contoured Sleep Mask Kit helps with the light and the noise. The contours of the mask lets me freely move my eyes while wearing it. And I’m not a fan of bulky, flashy noise-cancelling headphones, so these earplugs are perfect.
Travel Gift for the Minimalist
Some travelers have sold everything they have and live out of their backpacks. They already have everything they need and don’t really want stuff this holiday season.
If you know someone like this (of you just can’t decide on a physical present), there’s no better gift than a Tinggly Gift Box — essentially a coupon you can use to pay for a travel experience. Currently, there are 500 experiences in 100 countries to choose from, and 2 years to use the coupon.