Great Gifts for Travel Lovers They’ll Actually Use
Only products I’ve used and love
If you’re looking for gifts for the travel lovers in your life, you’ve come to the right place. Everything below is something I use and recommend to my friends and family. They’re products every adventurer will thank you for and mean it.
(This post contains affiliate links. If you buy products using the links below, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. Prices are as of publication)
(On another note: Here are some great gifts for photography lovers)
For the holidays, all my images–wildlife, landscapes, portraits, and classic cultural travel photos–are available on inkjet paper or fancy fine art paper, depending on what floats your boat. Just click on the “Buy Photos” button, and it’s yours.
In addition to prints, you can purchase a variety of keepsakes (photo boxes, acrylic photo blocks (see above), luggage tags, and the like. You can also turn a photo into a 252-piece puzzle measuring 14 inches by 10 inches with a glossy finish. It comes in a black box with a 5 x 7 print of the image on top of the box. Box measures 5.625″ x 7.625″ x 1.2″.
Plus… Some new Black and White Wildlife Images to check out…
Bose SoundLink Micro, Portable Outdoor Speaker
I’d been looking for a small, portable speaker to enhance my computer audio when I was at home and to provide a little more oomph to my music and podcasts on the road. The Soundlink Micro is perfect for my needs. It’s small, durable, waterproof (up to 3.2 ft), and delivers great sound for up to six hours between charges. I also like that I can pair multiple Bluetooth devices at once. I use the attached strap to keep it from getting lost, and its size (1.4 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches) and weight (less than a pound) make it easy to carry. A multi-function button and microphone also enable me to speak through the Micro when using my phone.
Jabra Elite 75t Wireless Earbuds with Case
I mistakenly thought wireless earbuds didn’t have noise-canceling capabilities. I’m happy to say the Jabra Elite is great at it. A smartphone app assists in setting up the buds, which first gives you a hearing test to customize the technology to your ears. If you are at a place where you need to hear what’s around you, a simple tap of the left bud changes the noise-canceling to “hear-though” mode. A small, sleek carrying case also acts as a charger.
Twelve South AirFly In-Flight Transmitter
One of the reasons I was so excited about my earbuds was the thought that I could use them on flights. Then I realized that I couldn’t plug into the entertainment system without a thing. Of course, I figured that out after I’d boarded. Enter a Bluetooth transmitter that pairs easily with your wireless earbuds or headset and has a 20-hour battery life Voilà.
Zendure Power Bank 10000
Zenure’s supermini is the size of a credit card, a little thicker than a deck of cards, and great for powering devices. To date, I’ve been able to recharge my iPhone 14 Pro Max three times per full bank. It comes in a bunch of colors, which normally isn’t a thing for me, but since so many power banks are black, it makes it easy to find at the bottom of a bag or when mixed up with others.
UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip
I don’t go anywhere without a mini power strip. It’s probably the one thing other than my phone I always have when I travel. I like this model by Upwade because it has two widely spaced international outlets that provide ample room for those pesky wide charger plugs that come with cameras and other devices and four USB ports. The cord is a little longer than I need at 5 ft, but I’d rather have it longer than too short. It is super light and, at 6 inches in length, fits in any purse or carry-on bag.
Ceptics International Worldwide Travel Plug Adapter 5 Piece Set
Many people like universal cubes that contain every adapter known to man deployed by a series of sliders. While I appreciate the concept, I’ve never found one that doesn’t break almost immediately or annoy me size-wise. Too clunky. This 5-piece set is great for going abroad because I can cherry-pick what I need and plop it into my tech pouch, which I pack into my carry-on. I use the case to keep all the adapters together at home; I rarely take the whole shebang.
ATUMTEK Bluetooth Selfie Stick Tripod
I’m not a selfie person. I take them now and then but overall, I find them tedious. Who wants to see me in front of something amazing? I rather show the amazing thing. However, I carry a selfie stick, mainly for the tripod and remote shutter control. When I’m on the road, I often work on my laptop and watch videos on my phone held by the tripod. Time lapses require a tripod, and a selfie stick offers stability for creating videos. This model is compact and versatile, and unlike other sticks I’ve used, it holds my phone securely in both portrait and landscape positions.
The Bullbird Commuter Travel Pillow
Let me start by saying I recognize that this is expensive.
Over the last year, I’ve ordered a slew (6 or 7) travel pillows in hopes of finding the perfect solution. I bought this, assuming I’d return it. The joke is on me. I love it. I’ve used it on short and long-haul flights for a year now. It’s not as much a pillow as it is a neck cradle cushioned with memory foam. It sits at the nape of your neck, gently holding your head vertically, so it doesn’t flop. Other pillows are super cushy but inevitably, my head tips when sleeping, and I end up with a kink in my neck but not with the Bullbird. Did I mention It’s packable? The Bullbird “pillow” fits in my purse and comes with a pouch. Yay!
Peak Design Wash Pouch
In my opinion, Peak Design has the same design sensibility as Apple in that it is beautifully and thoughtfully designed to provide superior form and function. And yes, like Apple, the products are pricey, though I think you’ll find they are worth the splurge.
Consider this wash pouch if you’re looking for the best Dopp kit. I’ve used it consistently for over a year. It carried everything I needed and then some without being too cumbersome.
Check out my packing video below.
Peak Design Tech Pouch
Before I received this tech pouch, I had all my charges, power blocks, cords, etc., in various places around my apartment. Now I use this as my tech hub. Everything goes in here, and I take things out as needed. For me, it’s too large to take on trips unless I have all the room in the world, which is rare. Instead, I take out what I need for the journey. As you can see from my photo, my Eagle Creek pouch, smaller for in-flight needs, fits inside.
BAGAIL Compression Packing Cubes Travel
Speak to almost any passionate traveler, and they use packing cubes. They’re ideal for keeping your clothes sorted, organized, and streamlined. Eagle Creek is usually the go-to packing cube company, and they are great but also pricey. These Bagail cubes have quality construction and a fraction of the price. I use them to separate my undies, tops, and bottoms. I especially love them when faced with a multi-stop itinerary–packing and unpacking is infinitely easier.
Becko Jewelry Organizer
This jewelry organizer is sleek, virtually flat, and super affordable. I don’t wear much jewelry, but I inherited a lot of my mother’s, and this is where I keep it at home, but it’s made for travel and is very easy to pack even in the tightest of circumstances.
Icyzone Activewear V-Neck T-Shirts
Cotton t-shirts may feel good, but if you wash them while traveling, they take forever to dry. These shirts (in a three-pack) dry within a couple of hours. A slight A-line silhouette makes them flattering untucked. The best part is they are cheap! I think I’ve ordered three different sets. That’s about $10.00 a piece!
Fjällräven (pronounced Fee-all-rah-ven)
Over the last few months, Fjällräven was kind enough to send me products to wear. I am not, however, obligated to promote them. I’ve taken them on multiple adventures, including a 30-mile trek.
After months of use, I’ve found the products to be high quality in fabric and construction, whether clothing or gear. They are pricey but made to last. I also give the company bonus points for its commitment to sustainability long before it became the initiative du jour.
These are some of my favorite items.
Whenever I want to feel cozy, I wear this fleece. The recycled polyester fabric is lightweight and ridiculously soft, yet it soothes me as if I’m wrapped in a big plushy blanket. It’s become part of my go-to flight ensemble for every trip.
The zipper closes high on the neck for extra chilly moments but isn’t constricting. The zippered side pockets have a mesh interior for ventilation.
Sten Fleece (Men’s)
The Sten Fleece is the best men’s equivalent to the women’s Stina Fleece.
Abisko Trekking Tights
These tights have a reinforced butt and knees for trekking. I wore them during the Fjällräven Classic, a 3-day, 30-mile trek in the Colorado Rockies. They breathed when it was hot (I never had the sticky, sweaty feeling I’ve felt with other tights), and I don’t remember being cold when it was chilly.
They were designed by a woman for women, with the appropriate placement of seams and pockets best for our more curvy figures. They’re not just for long hikes; I’ve worn them on planes and walking around New York City.
Keb Women’s Eco-Shell Jacket
I’ve learned that it’s going to rain if I’m hiking. I’ve had so many rainy days on the trips I’m starting to think I’m the cause. Anywho, a good windproof, waterproof shell to go over what you’re wearing is a lifesaver when it rains. There’s side ventilation and plenty of pockets. The hood has enough depth to cover your head, and the neck zips up high to cover the lower half of your face. You’ll be hard-pressed to get wet in this jacket.
Woolx Merino Wool Base Layers for Men & Women
The benefits of merino wool are that it breathes and is antimicrobial, which comes in handy when laundry facilities are limited. They dry quickly, too, when I have to do the ole sink wash.
I prefer Woolx’s midweight and heavyweight base layers. I found the lightweight to be too transparent.
The website suggests the wool has a “plush soft feel.” That suggests a cashmere-type feel, which it doesn’t have. The items feel fine but not “plush’. They work the way I need them to. They are nice fitting, comfortable, and keep me warm.
LOWA Renegade GTX Hiking Boot
I haven’t done much hiking in my time, but when a LOWA rep said that one of the great things about the Renegade GXT midis is that it’s already broken in, I was highly skeptical. I used them to walk around the city, and they were great, but I didn’t try them out on a trek until the Fjällräven Classic, a three-day, 30-mile hike at altitude in the Colorado Rockies. The steep ascents and descents put the boots to the test, and passed with flying colors. I got a few blisters, but more due to the terrain than the quality of the boots.
Swiftwick- FLITE XT
Ok, socks are far from a sexy present, but for anyone who has hiked or spent time walking around in hot climates, a good sock can make the difference between a happy experience and wanting to chop off your foot.
Swiftwick, according to the rep, the sock is built with “Ankle Lock technology and GripDry fibers on the sole of the sock for maximum stability.” And designed with “medium compression around the arch.” I can’t speak to the technology, but I can say that the socks hug my foot like wearing very stretchy and comfy Spanks for my feet. As I have a very high arch, they are especially nice.
Unigear Winter Waterproof Gloves
I’ve bought four pairs of these gloves over the last year and a half–I have an issue with losing or forgetting my gloves when I travel. I keep buying them because they’re fantastic. They are warm (I used them in Antarctica, though temps didn’t drop lower than 20 degrees F), close-fitting (meaning, I can change my camera settings without taking them off), and waterproof. A perfect combo if you ask me.
Peak Design Field Pouch
I use this slim, chic minimalist field pouch when I travel and around town. It has a removable shoulder strap and belt loops to wear as a fanny pack. The velcro closure enables the pouch to expand. Inside are stretchy slots for small items like chapstick or camera batteries. A zippered compartment holds more. The bag flattens for easy packing.
Eagle creek Cargo Hauler Wheeled Duffel
I spent months looking for a rolling duffle. I prefer them to the hard cases that are so popular now. I like the give of soft bags when I need to add one more thing or stuff it into a full trunk. Space is limited on my more remote trips, so I prefer the top load of a duffle to a clam shell. It can be worn as a backpack if needed, but it rolls easily (whether tile or dirt), is well-balanced, and the telescoping handle adjusts for various heights. On a recent trip, the end compartment fit my LOWA boots, my Peak Design Wash Pouch, and a variety of smaller items with some room to spare. Lastly, it has a lifetime “No Matter What” warranty.
Gill Race Team 60L 60 Litre Capacity Waterproof Bag
For trips and activities where a big dry bag is needed––think Antarctica, mountain climbing, scuba diving, or any active ocean journey––the Gill Race Team duffle is both up for the job (and then some) and significantly less expensive than the usual brands people flock to like The North Face or Patagonia for example. I used my Gill in Antarctica to transport my Gura Gear camera bag from the ship to the shore in a zodiac. Waves and spray are a given, and nothing is worse for camera equipment than saltwater or sand, for that matter. My Gill kept my gear safe from both.
Foldable Packable Waterproof Travel Backpack – 35L
It’s always a good idea to have an extra bag in your luggage if you need it. Souvenirs anyone? I’ve used this waterproof foldable large backpack to carry towels and sunscreen in the summer and extra layers and gloves in the cold. It’s not for serious hiking but for a few miles carrying a little wine, bread, and cheese, it’s divine.
Fjällräven High Coast Foldsack
I used this daypack on my 30-mile trek. It’s made of waterproof recycled nylon, is lightweight but has more structure than the folding backpack above. Because of its fold-over closure, you can adjust its size easily. There’s a spacious front pocket, side pockets for water bottles, and light padding on the straps and back. Inside, an open compartment holds a 15″ laptop and a zippered pocket. It’s packable by laying it flat.
Other Cool Stuff
PureSteam Portable Fabric Steamer
THIS. IS. THE. BEST. STEAMER. EVER. I use it on the road and at home. It is so much easier (and faster) than ironing. Enough said.
Pressure Relief Seat Cushion (Road Trip Relief)
I love this for my home office, but where this cushion earns marks is on a road trip. I used it during a 10-day trip driving around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When driving long distances, my lower back and/or the back of my thighs became achy or numb after a couple of hours. But with the seat cushion, not once was my tush a problem. *sigh*
Lifeline AAA Premium Road Kit
While a road kit is far from the sexiest present, it’s a fabulous road trip gift for those who love to explore the highways and byways of a destination. People hate to spend money on items like this but love to receive them. This 42-piece kit includes everything you might need if your car breaks down or have some other emergency, including jumper cables, a flashlight, tools, batteries, and a rain poncho, among other useful items.
Pentax UP 10×25 Binoculars
A compact set of binoculars is always great for holidays where wildlife and nature are on the agenda. It comes with its own carrying case and is only 0.7 lbs.
Stocking Stuffers: Small Yet Special Travel Gifts
Nuun Immunity: Immune Support Hydration Supplements
On hot days, in high altitudes, hiking/biking, or all three, it’s a good idea to add to your water a supplement that provides electrolytes. These Nuun tablets also add vitamin C, zinc, and Tumeric, among other nutrients. They dissolve quickly and make a huge difference in how I feel when I am dehydrated. I even use them in NYC when I’ve been at the computer too long and not drinking enough water.
Aloe Up Sport Collection SPF 30 Sunscreen
I took this sunscreen with me to Ecuador. The sun was unrelenting, and the humidity was at best 90%, and I loved this sunscreen for a few reasons. It’s fragrance-free and didn’t leave a white cast on my skin. But what I valued most was that even though I was sweating profusely, the lotion never dripped into my eyes.
Aloe Up Ice Aloe Vera Gel
I felt like a sun magnet when I was in Ecuador, especially the back of my neck, even with a hat on. One day, I forgot to apply sunscreen, and I burned. This Aloe Vera gel cooled my skin and took away the pain within minutes.
Peter Thomas Roth | Instant FIRMx Temporary Eye Tightener
I saw an ad for this on Tik Tok, bought it, and kept the box to return it if it didn’t work. OMG! was I surprised. Anytime I don’t get enough sleep (think jet lag), I have noticeable bags under my eyes that make me crazy. Using a small pea-sized portion, I tap it on my eye bags. And damn, if it didn’t help significantly. Tip: Use a small amount because the gel that doesn’t sink into the skin will leave a white cast.
15 Pieces Travel Size Refillable Empty Squeeze Pouch, 30/50/100ml (5 pouches each)
Forget travel-sized bottles of shampoo, face wash, conditioner, and the like, and transfer their contents into these great squeeze pouches. They can lie flat for packing but can also stand on their own. All these pouches fit into my Peak Design Wash Pouch (see above) with plenty of room to spare. I’ll never pack a bottle again.
Accmor 10 Pieces Makeup Travel Containers and spatulas
For those times that you have products that won’t work in the above squeeze pouches, like aspirin, or only need a little of something, these containers are spot on. For goopy substances, the spatulas are a godsend.
BLACKRAPID Wander Bundle iPhone Tether
This has saved me from losing my phone umpteen times. I don’t use it as a wristband, I use the enclosed carabiner to hook it onto a bag or a belt loop so that when I’m leaning over the side of a boat or a bridge, and it falls (which has happened twice), it’s anchored. I keep it on my phone 24/7.
Klean Kanteen TKWide 16oz (w/Twist Cap) – Black
There are a million different water containers, and I feel like I’ve tried all of them. I like this Klean Kanteen because it’s made of steel, not plastic (not new, but glad it’s a fact), and it’s insulated to keep cold beverages cold. It also has a straw, which is a must for me––I hate having to tip my bottles to the sky to drink. Twist the cap one way, and the staw pops up. Twist it the other way, and it collapses, making it easier to carry. It also comes apart for top rack dishwasher cleaning.
Note: While it is insulated, the metal straw makes it risky to use with hot or carbonated beverages. Trust me, I know. To navigate this, I use the TK Wide Cafe cap. Another great thing about Klean Kanteen, you can switch tops easily.
LifeStraw Go Water Filter 22 oz
If you’re hiking or in areas where the water quality is questionable, the LifeStraw water bottle is a smart addition to your packing list. It removes bacteria, microplastics, chlorine, dirt, sand … you get the idea. The company is B-Corp certified, always a plus, and for every purchase, one child receives a year of safe water.
Dingbats “Wildlife Portrait Pocket Hardcover” Notebook
I often use my phone and computer to take notes, but I rarely travel without a notebook. It feels more personal, and I often remember more details by handwriting than when I type it. This journal is a great present because it’s small and fits in a fanny pack or other small bag. The big ones I find are too awkward to carry around.
Dream Essentials Escape Luxury Travel and Sleep Mask with Earplugs and Carry Pouch
If you can’t sleep without a mask when you travel, Dream Essentials is the way to go. Unlike most masks, the side closest to your face is contoured and padded—no smushing of your eyelids. It’s far more comfortable than the standard design. The mask comes with a pouch and a set of earplugs, so you’re sure to get the rest you need.
Reusable Travel Utensils Silverware with Case
In an effort to be a more thoughtful traveler, I treated myself to an 8-piece, rustproof, reusable silverware with a zippered carrying case. Inside you’ll find a stainless steel spoon, knife, fork, travel chopsticks, two straws (one straight, one bent), and a cleaning brush. Perfect for camping, road trips, or any time you want to avoid single-use plastic.
SinkSuds Travel Laundry Detergent Liquid Soap
Longer trips require spending money on laundry services or doing it yourself. This box of 8 packets makes it easy to stick in your luggage and has enough liquid for the basics.
AmazonBasics Portable Digital Luggage Weight Scale
With the neverending restrictions on air travel, a luggage scale is a wise investment. But it’s far from an exciting purchase so buy it for your favorite traveler so they don’t have to.
Crest Regular Paste .85 oz – (Pack of 12)
It’s funny how ordinary little things can be a great gift. Traveling as much as I do, having an easy stash of travel toothpaste is so convenient.. not to mention cheaper. As a stocking stuffer, I guarantee your traveler will appreciate it.
First Aid Kit
I wonderful light and compact kit for when you need it.
Every product I’ve included in this gift guide is an item I have used on multiple occasions and loved. Though brands send me free products to try, my policy is clear: I am happy to receive and road test but I offer absolutely no guarantees of promotion. I estimate only 40% of the merchandise I try is included here or in my Go-to Travel Gear page.