The holidays are supposed to make us feel warm and fuzzy, but there’s often plenty of pre-holiday stress to go around. One item on the to-do list that can cause consternation is finding the perfect gifts for your friends and family. Well, if you’ve got a traveler (or two) on your list this year, we’ve got some suggestions for great gift ideas for travelers. What’s more, if you’re the traveler in your family, you can pass this list along as a helpful hint!
Here are some categories of gifts that travelers love, plus some specific ideas that fall under those categories. Depending on the interests of the traveler for whom you’re shopping, you should be able to find a few things on our list that he or she will really love.
An easy gift idea for anyone who’s actively planning a trip is a good guidebook to their destination. You can choose from tried-and-true generalists like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, or look for a book that’s about a particular aspect of the destination. There are guidebooks for certain places that are just about hiking, shopping, street food, bicycling, wine tasting, and many more topics besides. Head for your favorite local bookstore with your traveler’s interests in mind, and you’re sure to find something interesting as you browse.
The travel section of any bookstore is more than just guidebooks – there are shelves and shelves of travel literature, too. Whisk your traveler away from the humdrum of everyday life between trips with a travel memoir set in his or her favorite destination (or the place they’re planning to visit). Travel literature comes in both fiction and non-fiction, so take your time to read about various titles to see which your traveler will enjoy. And if your traveler is tech-savvy and travels light, consider getting him or her an e-reader (like a Kindle or Nook) to avoid carrying too many heavy books.
Is your traveler someone who loves to be challenged and learn new things? Someone who’s planning a trip in the next year or so may really love the opportunity to learn a bit of the language in the meantime. Check with the community college close to where he or she lives to see what languages are available on the schedule of non-credit classes (these are often evening sessions), or consider gifting a DIY learning program like Rosetta Stone. There are audio classes you can listen to during commute times, and more interactive computer-based programs, too.
We know that some travelers are just hard to shop for, especially if you don’t know what they might already have for an upcoming trip. In that case, giving a gift card can be a good alternative. Gift cards from iTunes allow a traveler to stock the MP3 player with new music before leaving home or to download movies for long plane rides. Gift cards from Amazon mean picking up whatever travel gear or guidebooks are needed for the trip, or adding lots of reading material to an e-reader. And if you’d prefer to give a true travel gift card, then you can’t go wrong with a Viator gift certificate so the traveler on your list can book amazing tours and activities in destinations around the world.
Every traveler loves to have new camera gear before a trip, but even if a new DSLR isn’t in your gift-giving budget you can add to his or her photography arsenal with some accessories. Mini tripods like the Gorillapod or the handheld XShot are great for “selfies,” and they’re small enough to carry in a purse. Many travelers rely on smartphones as their everyday cameras, and sets of tiny lenses for iPhones or Android phones can fit in a pocket.
If your traveler is the adventurous sort, a GoPro camera that attaches to helmets, kayaks, bicycles (etc.) could be a fun gift. Or you could get a great backpack with a special section to keep all that new camera equipment safe. And if your traveler has received a new camera for his or her trip, consider giving the gift of a photography class before the trip.
Frequent Flier Miles or Hotels Points
If you’ve accumulated more frequent flier miles or hotel points than you can use in your own travels, then a gift of miles or points to another traveler might be an excellent option. You’ll need to consult the rules for the airline, credit card, or hotel group with which you’ve earned the miles or points, but most of them have a system in place for giving miles or points as gifts. And what a generous gift! You’re sure to be the favorite grandparent, aunt, or uncle of the year.
Sure, many of us have gotten used to consulting maps online or using the map function on our smartphones, but when we travel we may not have electronic maps readily available. Particularly if the traveler for whom you’re shopping is planning a driving trip or a solo hiking excursion, a detailed map of the intended destination is an important travel accessory. Some bookstores stock detailed driving maps in their travel sections, although you may need to browse more thorough map sections of online shops to find the specific area you’re looking for.
Travel-Inspired Home Decor
There’s nothing quite like bringing the world home to make a traveler feel less anxious between trips. With the creative array of travel-inspired home decor now available, it’s easy to find something suitable to your traveler. Vintage maps look great when framed, and there are even fun scratch-off world maps to show a traveler where he or she has already been. Fabric with world maps or specific country or state maps have been turned into pillows and shower curtains. And few travelers can resist the urge to spin an actual globe now and then. Spend a little time browsing Etsy or Pinterest with words like “travel” or – even better – the specific country your traveler loves most, and you’ll find more home decor ideas than you knew existed.
Subscription to a Travel Magazine
Travel inspiration can come from multiple sources, one of which is the good old-fashioned travel magazine arriving in the mailbox each month. Jet your traveler of choice off to new places around the world with magazines like National Geographic Traveler, AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, or any of the specific regional magazines focused on his or her favorite destination. And of course National Geographic itself has been inspiring travelers for generations.
Most travelers love getting new gear, and luckily there are plenty of options for gift buyers in all price ranges and categories. Sturdy 3 oz. bottles are necessary for air travel. A reusable water bottle with a built-in filter will be welcomed by avid campers or travelers in the developing world. Packing cubes help keep suitcases organized. A money belt makes sure cash and credit cards are secure from pickpockets. Travel adapters prevent electronics from getting fried. Brightly colored luggage tags make suitcases easily identifiable on the carousel. A multi-tool with a corkscrew is all you’ll ever need for a gourmet picnic.
Browse the aisles of a store like REI or other outdoor goods shop, the accessories section of a luggage store, or a funky online travel gear retailer like Flight 001 for ideas.
Some clothing is designed to be particularly useful to travelers. There are quick-dry fabrics that are much appreciated in hot climates, pants that zip off to shorts that are ideal for hikes in changing temperatures, and even clothing with multiple hidden pockets to keep valuables secure. Other clothing is simply designed to remind us of favorite places. You can find shirts with state or country outlines, phrases in foreign languages, or methods of transportation – there are even tights made of world map fabric.
Memberships to Online Tools
Many travelers these days like to remain wired even when they’re away from home, sometimes to work remotely, keep up a travel blog, or simply to save photos as they travel. A year’s subscription to sites offering photo storage, computer backup, or even blog hosting can give an especially connected traveler the freedom to get away without untethering. And a deposit of Skype credit means your traveler has no excuses for not calling home to stay in touch with family and friends, too.
A T-shirt with a favorite country’s flag on the front is great for casual wear, but if your traveler works in a dressier environment then a T-shirt won’t do. For people with fancier wardrobes, consider travel-inspired jewelry. You can find cufflinks made of foreign coins, earrings of the shapes of countries or states, and passport or airplane bracelet charms.
DesignHype is a company that makes cuff bracelets with subway maps on them (and the maps are actually useful). The designers at Meshu will connect the dots of a trip itinerary into a design that can be turned into a pendant or earrings. Wearable map art is a fun accessory most travelers can appreciate.