It’s a common question that I receive every year around my birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas…you name it. “What kind of gift would you like?” As someone who travels constantly and lives abroad here in China, it seems natural that looking for the best gifts for travelers would be a good place to start.
So I made a list and broke it out into budgets for my friends and family. Many of you reading this now have been looking around for that perfect gift for the person in your life who loves travel, so I thought it might be useful to share this for your benefit. As a traveler who has been on the road for almost a decade, theses are the gifts I never get tired of getting, broken out into the following budgets:
- 5 Gifts for Travelers Under $25
- 5 Gifts for Travelers Under $50
- 5 Gifts for Travelers Under $100
- 5 Gifts for Travelers Over $100
- 1 Gift Every Traveler Loves
Please Note: many of these links here are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission for anything you buy. The price is the same for you whether you find them on your own or with my assistance. Thanks!
5 Best Gifts for Travelers Under $25
Gifts under $25 are often some of the hardest to find! These are the kind of ideas I give my young son, my nieces, my nephews and my great-great aunt in Ohio who still insists on sending me something – all of whom don’t have a lot of money to spend but who still want to make me happy.
But just because the price tag is under $25 doesn’t mean that the gift has to suck. Below are 5 great ideas for gifts for travelers that will still bring a smile to their face.
Scratch Off Travel Map ($23)
We travelers love to mark off where we’ve been and plan where we want to go next. These scratch-off travel maps make it easy to see exactly which countries we’ve visited by having brightly colored countries appear where we’ve scratched off.
There are a number of different kinds of maps (and sizes) available, but the one linked to here is “travel-sized” so that it can be taken on whatever trip your friend or family member might be taking next.
Selfie Stick and Mini-Tripod in One ($18)
I know, I know…selfie sticks are ridiculous eyesores. Yet they’re so popular. It’s crazy.
What has drawn me to this particular selfie stick is the ability to turn the base into a tripod. There are times when you just need somebody else to hold the camera (or phone) in order to take a group, or personal, photograph. This is one of the best ways to do it and it even comes with a Bluetooth-ready button.
Moleskine Travel Journal ($20)
Travel journals are a great gift and Moleskine is one of the most popular brands on the market for most travelers. Journals are for more than just writing “Here’s what I did today”. We use journals to track expenses, make budgets, creatively draw and plan future trips.
What’s nice about this particular journal is that is designed specifically with travelers in mind. There are sections that can be tabbed and personalized including areas for budgeting, writing and even blank pages for whatever they may want.
Universal Phone Camera Lenses ($8)
While most travelers will still carry along a nice camera when they travel, most of us still use our phones as one of the primary ways to capture a moment. What’s crazy is that some of the new Apple and Android phones have cameras that rival many entry-level DSLRs!
These clip-on lenses provide the opportunity to be creative with picture taking, including a wide-angle lens, fisheye lens and a macro lens for close-up photography. Lots of fun to use!
Universal Plug/USB Travel Adapter ($19)
It used to be that travelers had to lug around heavy voltage converter when traveling between countries whose standard was 110v vs 220v. Thankfully, now that most electronic devices can accept both voltages (especially phones and computers), most people only need a simple plug converter.
That’s where something like this comes in handy. Not only does it work for a good majority of the plugs you’ll find all over the world, it also has USB plugs so you can leave behind each specific adapter for your phone, tablet, etc. These adapters can be a lifesaver!
5 Best Gifts for Travelers Under $50
As you can see, there are plenty of great gifts under $25 to choose from. Increasing your budget to $50, however, opens up a whole new quality of great gift ideas for travelers. Here are some of the best.
Travel Coffee Espresso Maker ($35)
Let’s face it: hotel and hostel coffee sucks. While on the road, you either need to rely on an expensive Starbucks (which isn’t always available) or settle for instant coffee in some countries such as China.
OR…you can give them a travel espresso maker 🙂 Not only does it make a good cup of espresso, it’s also a good conversation starter with other travelers who will be very interested to see how this thing works. If the traveler in your life loves coffee, this gift is a sure-fire win.
Ultra-Slim Battery Case for the Phone ($35)
While traveling, it’s not uncommon to lose access to a power source for long periods of time. Whereas previous battery cases were often insanely bulky (they barely fit in my pocket!), the newer cases like the one linked to above are ultra slim and incredibly light.
The Anker case here even comes with an audio jack extender (seen above) so that the case doesn’t hinder plugging in whatever headphones you prefer to use. If the traveler you know doesn’t own an iPhone, there are still a number of different battery cases for other phones.
Wireless & Waterproof Travel Speaker ($39)
There are literally hundreds of different portable wireless speakers to choose from, but not all of them are created equal. What I love about this OontZ speaker is that it’s small (and light!) so it doesn’t take up much space. It’s also waterproof, which is a huge plus.
Not to mention the fact that it’s under $50 when most of the big brand name wireless speakers are retailing for $200+! This is a fun gift for any traveler to take with them on a trip…and so much better than any phone speaker they’re currently using 😉
Portable Laundry System ($50)
Depending on the type of traveler, there’s a good chance that a portable laundry system could be a life saver. I hate paying outrageous prices for laundry at hotels or using filthy basins at a hostel.
Not only does a portable laundry system help keep things clean and contained at hotels and hostels, it’s also a great option if the traveler in your life also likes to go hiking or camping. It’s amazingly lightweight and simple to use.
Wireless Travel Router / Battery / Media Streamer ($40)
I LOVE this new(-ish) device! It is one of the most versatile, useful devices that I carry along with me as a traveler and a photographer.
Check it out: not only can this RavPower Filehub make a wireless network out of a ethernet connection (for when you’re at a hotel that doesn’t offer wi-fi) as well as charge my phone in a bind, it can also help me transfer my SD card photos to an external backup drive without a computer! Seriously – this is a game changer. I just plug in my SD card, connect my external hard drive and then use my phone to initiate the transfer.
Boom…no need to carry my computer with me just to make sure I have a safe backup of all my photos/videos.
5 Gifts for Travelers Under $100
Once we pass the $50 mark, we again find a number of very interesting gifts that I – like most travelers – would be more than happy to receive. All of these gifts have a specific application that fit a specific type of traveler, so think hard about where the person you’re buying for likes to travel and how they usually travel (budget vs luxury; light vs heavy, etc.).
Trakdot Luggage Finder ($40 + $25 annual fee)
The Trakdot is a unique device that is perfect for those people who are forced to check on valuable items such as instruments, electronics or sports gear. Just activate the Trakdot and place it in your luggage. An app on your phone will let you know if your luggage arrived with you or is in another city.
The annual fee for the Trakdot is reasonable ($25 per year) and it uses cell towers to find the location of your luggage, which although it isn’t as accurate as GPS, it means it can be useful even for international travel.
GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier Bottle ($60)
This may look like a regular water bottle…but it’s not. A filter within the bottle eliminates over 99.9% of all viruses and disease-causing bacteria. No need for an ultraviolet bulb on the more expensive bottles…just a good ‘ol filter.
This has been very useful for me when traveling around places like Central America, Asia and even Africa where water is clean but not drinkable. Just fill up the water bottle, put it in your pack and you’re ready to go!
Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones ($60)
A good pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones that can fold up for easy packing is an excellent gift for any traveler. You can spend hundreds of dollars for these type of headphones but a lot of what you’re paying for is the name brand (i.e. Bose, Sony, etc.). Unless you’re picky about having the absolute best, these headphones work great at a fraction of the cost.
Some travelers prefer in-ear headphones (these are $99 from Bose, but there are cheaper options), so if you’re unsure just ask the person you’re buying for (or guess!). Either way, they’ll enjoy a new set of high-quality headphones for their next trip.
A Virtual Private Network Subscription ($50-$100)
This is the kind of gift that is perfect for the international traveler in your life. Virtual Private Networks (shortened to “VPN”) are used not only to protect your computer while using public wi-fi, it also has two very special uses for travelers: giving access to blocked websites and allowing you to stream shows on sites like Netflix, BBC and even Hulu in China.
I’ve already covered a list of the best VPNs for China, which is a country where there is particular need thanks to their strict censorship. Without a VPN, I wouldn’t have access to Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many other websites!
There are hundreds of different VPNs available and it’s hard to distinguish between those that are good and those that have been setup by one guy in his basement. I recommend a service called ExpressVPN that is extremely easy to use and reasonably priced.
Amazon Kindle Reader ($80+)
The days of lugging around a bunch of books while traveling are now officially over (have been for a couple years now, really). Most people are now transitioning their physical libraries to digital ones and this is especially true of travelers. Be it a good novel or a travel guide, we’re all going digital.
Amazon has the largest marketplace for digital books, which makes the Kindle a top choice for ereaders. This $80 Kindle is the cheapest on the market but you can also opt for the better Kindle Paperwhite which makes reading in the dark incredibly simple.
Do they already have an e-reader? Consider buying them an Amazon gift card so they can stock up on more books!
5 Best Gifts for Travelers Over $100
With a budget of over $100, it stands to reason that you’re going to have some high quality options to choose from. The gifts listed here are things that most any experienced traveler would love having but would rarely buy for themselves due to the high price. If you want to get a “wow” for your traveler gift…this is the way to do it.
GoPro Hero Action Camera ($349+)
If everyone you know seems to have a GoPro action camera, there’s a good reason: they’re awesome. As a traveler, I appreciate how light the camera is and yet how awesome the video results are. Not to mention the incredible selection of GoPro accessories.
Newer models will obviously be more expensive, but you can even buy an older model for less than $200. Two of the biggest differences between the older and new models is the screen (which I don’t think is absolutely necessary but I do use), higher quality video capture (up to 4k with the newer models) and being waterproof.
Travel Vest with 42 Specialized Pockets ($175)
Who doesn’t love pockets? How about 42 of them? That’s how many that this ScotteVest jacket has and they’re all custom-designed to fit everything from your keys to your iPad. Trust me – they’re incredibly comfortable and it makes it super easy to go through airport security when all you have to do is take off your jacket and put it through the X-ray machine. I love my Scottevest.
These jackets also include an RFID-blocking pocket where you can store your passport and credit cards – a preventative measure to make sure digital thieves can’t steal your information. I love getting these type of clothing gifts that are fashionable yet incredibly useful.
Travel Backpack ($150+)
A good travel backpack is often the most important item that any traveler needs. It needs to fit a laptop if they have one, a DSLR camera if they have one, and anything else that might be required for the trip.
Backpacks are also a very personal purchase. Make sure you know exactly what they want or consider buying them a gift certificate to Amazon or REI – both of which carry a wide array of high-quality backpacks.
Rosetta Stone Language Learning Software ($179-$229)
In the world of language learning, Rosetta Stone has become one of the best-known brands. Whatever language you need, they more than likely have available. What’s great is that instead of just being able to use it on a computer, they now offer the ability to use the language learning software on phones and tablets.
I’ve used Rosetta Stone to learn both Spanish and Mandarin and I’ve enjoyed how it uses visual association instead of asking me to translate in my head. If you don’t understand what that means, don’t worry 🙂 Just know that it’s a trusted, high-quality course that will give any traveler a leg up in language no matter where they choose to travel.
Airport Lounge Priority Pass ($100-$400)
It’s funny – this is the kind of gift that every traveler would love but few of us are willing to buy for ourselves. We spend so much time at airports and yet we can’t bring ourselves to spend the money it takes to get access to the lounges.
The great thing about PriorityPass is that it doesn’t matter what airline you’re flying – the pass gives you access to over 850 lounges in airports all across the world. Annual plans start at $99 (each visit to a lounge only costs $27) all the way up to $399 (each visit is free) as well as plans in between. It’s a sweet deal for the traveler who spends too much time in airports.
Best of all? You can get 10% off when you use our link to Priority Pass. Sweet!
1 Gift Every Traveler Loves
Of course there is one gift that any traveler – I don’t care who they are – would absolutely love. The gift of travel.
I’m not saying you need to go out and buy them round-the-world flight tickets or pay for a cruise. Here’s what I am saying: traveling is only as fun as the people who travel with you. It’s true!
If you really want to put a smile on somebody’s face when they open your gift, promise to join them on an epic adventure sometime this year. Check something off your travel bucket list if you have one. Experience something incredible…together. You don’t have to travel across the world – you could even drive an hour or two away.
If this is your significant other, book tickets to take a second honeymoon. However you choose to express the sentiment, I know they’ll love it.
I know I would 🙂
Thanks for reading and I hope this list of the best gifts to give a traveler was helpful! Leave a comment to let me know what you think or contact me with other questions. Just so you know, many of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost you can help support the effort it took to put this together for you (and it took quite a few hours!).
Happy gift buying!