It’s that time of year again when you’re on the hunt for that perfect present for all those special people in your life. But what gifts do you buy for travelers? We’ve carefully culled together and researched some of our favorite travel gifts of the season for 2016. All of these recommended travel gifts are things we personally own, we’re buying (or have bought) as travel gifts for our friends & family, and a few other travel gifts that we would love to have ourselves.
We tried to pick new and interesting items that are useful for the modern traveler. Ever the bargain-hunters, we’ve tried to focus on items that offer a good value. Many of these travel gift ideas can be purchased directly on Amazon and we’ve particularly zeroed in on items available on Prime, for free 2-day shipping. Don’t have Amazon Prime yet? Use this link to get a 30-Day Free Trial to Amazon Prime! (Side note: For some travel inspiration, Prime just released The Grand Tour on streaming!)
We hope this gift guide for travelers provides you with some great travel gift ideas. You may even want to pick up a few things for yourself. 😉 Happy browsing!
Travel Gadgets and Gizmos
A Mobile Printer for Your Smartphone
These are so much fun! It basically transforms your smartphone into a Polaroid camera. Snap a picture with your phone, then print it out right away with this little device. The best thing about these smartphone printers is for those instances where you’re traveling off the beaten path and you take pictures with the locals. They always want to have the photos but often they may not have a phone or a computer to receive them by email (let alone a way to print it). This mobile printer solves that problem and allows you to connect with your new friends. It’s also a lot of fun to have at parties and social gatherings.
Smartphone Camera Lenses
Smartphone cameras have come a long way. Some of the newest models are almost beginning to rival some good DSRL and mirrorless cameras. But not quite. Yet with an inexpensive lens attachment, you can nearly get it to that level. Our Samsung Galaxy S6 takes great pictures but has a hard time focusing on close-up shots for meals, etc. The macro lens included in this smartphone lens kit takes all the blur away. The kit works for any phone and also includes a fish eye and a wide angle lens. This is the perfect phone accessory for your Instagramming friend whose always posting about their latest trip.
A Solar Powered Charger
How cool is this! For the traveler who likes to go off-the-grid yet stay connected, there’s a solar powered charger. This portable and lightweight charger gets its energy from the sun to keep all your gadgets charged, even if you’re camping out in the middle of Africa! 😉 That alone gives it a deserving spot in our 2016 Travel Gift Guide! The two USB ports will allow you to charge two gadgets at once.
A New GoPro: The GoPro Session
We love our GoPro, which is what we’ve been using to capture all those underwater and extreme videos that you see us posting on Youtube. We find the photo quality to be just okay, but the video GoPros capture is awesome! We’ve been using an older GoPro Hero 3 but after three years of constant hard usage, the housing that protects the GoPro has finally cracked while kloofing (canyoning) in South Africa. So we’ve decided to buy a GoPro Session to replace it. It’s smaller, more simple, and much less expensive than the latest GoPro Hero model. Yet the GoPro Session still captures that signature crisp HD video with the wide angels that GoPro is known for. It’s rugged, waterproof up to 33 feet (10 meters), and there’s no housing for us to break. We’re very excited for our new GoPro Session, which is why we had to add it to this travel gift guide.
The Best Value Tablet for Travelers
We love traveling with our Fire tablet and have purchased them as gifts for our family members. Sure, an iPad is arguably a better product. But why travel around with such an expensive tablet that can succumb to loss or theft, when you can take the Fire HD 8? We find the Fire HD 8 to be the best value tablet on the market, at only $89. We mostly use our Fire during those long travel days to read books, watch movies, and play games. The new Fire HD 8 has a long-lasting 12-hour battery life, double the storage, and now even has Alexa cloud-based voice service. Prime members get free movies, ebooks, music and more. The Fire HD makes a perfect gift for any traveler who doesn’t already have a tablet or for someone not wanting to risk their iPad during their next trip.
Set the mood during your travels by playing some tunes wherever you go. Portable speakers make awesome gifts for travelers! Play your own music in your hotel room, on the beach, or at the pool. For an inexpensive option, try the Logitech x100 Mobile Wireless Speakers. They’re small and lightweight making it perfect for travel, yet the sound packs a punch for it’s portable size and price.
If you can spend a little bit more, consider getting speakers that are waterproof, like the JBL Clip 2 or the UE Roll. Both speakers are portable, super rugged and can get wet, making them a safe bet for the beach or any adventure.
For those who want to splurge on some travel speakers, anyone who is on the receiving end of these BOOM 2 Tropical Mobile Wireless Speakers will definitely be thrilled with them. CNET rates it as one of their favorite portable Bluetooth speakers, and the latest model includes full waterproofing and enhanced sound.
Good Value: Buy Waterproof Bluetooth Travel Speakers JBL Clip 2 or the UE Roll
The Year of the Drone
Drones seem to be the new “it” gadget for any traveler wanting to document their adventures. You can now get amazing aerial shots and video of beaches, mountains, waterfalls, wildlife, or whaterever. We finally splurged on a drone ourselves and bought a DJI Phantom 3 Standard, which seems to be a good beginner’s drone at a decent price point. We’ll let you know what we think once we finally use it! Meanwhile, it’s pricier counterpart the DJI Phantom 4 has all the latest technology, bells & whistles.
If you’re not sure if you want to splurge on such an expense as a gift, then check out this Syma Quad Copter. It’s a cheap drone that includes a 2 mp camera. You probably won’t get any spectacular shots with this, but you can snag it for under $50 on Amazon, play around with it and decide if you’re ready to upgrade to a more serious drone. This little drone could also make a great gift for kids to play around with while traveling.
Good Value: Buy an Entry-Level Drone: DJI Phantom 3 Standard
Travel Accessories Travel Gift Ideas
We just got one of these last month and love it! If you’re ever trying to balance your backpack, handbag, or anything else on top of your roller bag while traversing through the airport, you need a Demi Hugger! This is a novel travel gift that will enable someone to breeze through the airport handsfree as this luggage strap holds in place whatever else you’re schlepping around with you.
Packing Cubes – Great for Couples
Packing cubes are a great travel gift idea for the traveler who likes to stay organized. These travel cubes make it easy to compartmentalize all your belongings so that you arrive to your destination with everything already in order. We love using them during shorter trips for when we only take a single bag for two people. The packing cubes allow us to take a single bag yet still keep our belongings separate. So consider this as a gift for a traveling couple too!
The Best Travel Coffee Table Books
A perennial favorite and the perfect gift for any travel addict is Patricia Schultz’s 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. This will keep travel lovers day-dreaming for years. Yet what really gives us wanderlust is National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips. Meanwhile the recently released (Sept 2016) Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders shows offs loads of strange destinations off-the-beaten-path that you never knew existed. These gifts will not only make someone smile, but will inspire travel! Yet fair warning: these books are addicting.
A Micro-Fiber Quick Drying Travel Towel
This is another great travel gift idea particularly for outdoor enthusiast. These microfiber towels are super absorbent, lightweight, and dry fast. They’re perfect for travel or using at the beach. We love ours. Despite always trying to pack as little as possible, we actually recommend a large size towel because it can double as a blanket during long train rides or chilly bus trips. It makes for a great beach blanket too!
Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Travelers
A Modern Update to the Swiss Army Knife: Add a USB Drive
A multi-tool is an essential item for any traveler. And in today’s digital world, USB sticks seem to be growing in increasing need while on road. This Multitool w/ 32 GB USB is a modern update to a traditional Swiss Army Knife and makes for a perfect gift for a digital nomad. Just make sure that it’s packed in checked luggage or else it’ll be taken away when flying.
This is an upgraded version of a classic gift for any frequent traveler. The pillow’s memory foam will help you actually get some sleep on that long haul flight without bobbing your head and drooling on the person next to you. Feel like your sleeping in the clouds while your plane flies through them. This makes for a great gift set.
Anyone receiving this awesome gift will be able to drink water from virtually anywhere in the world. The Lifestraw is great for camping, those wary of drinking the tap water, or just to have in case of emergencies. This invention that won Time Magazine’s Invention of the Year will filter out 99.9% of waterborne bacteria & parasites without the need for chemicals.
Buy the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter on its own, or
Wool Hiking Socks
Socks are a classic stocking stuffer. The active traveler in your life deserves a good pair for hiking. We like these soft Thermal 80% Merino Wool Socks not only for hiking but to keep our feet warm in cold destinations. Cotton won’t cut it. Any traveler, unless their a beach bum, needs at least one good pair of wool socks.
Magic Underwear That Are Great for Long Travel
The other classic stocking-stuffer is underwear. But for the traveler, you can’t just buy regular old Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. They need something that’s going to hold up on those long flights and bus ride in addition to grueling hikes and excursions. I personally love my ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxers and never travel without them. Their ability to hold up continually amazes and astonishes me. I gave them the ultimate test recently during 2-months of camping in Africa. They’re quick-drying, soft & comfy, lightweight, and somehow never ever get smelly. We call them magic underwear. Highly recommend! ExOfficio makes women’s bikini briefs too!
This an essential item for any frequent traveler’s arsenal. We always travel with a luggage scale to ensure that we avoid those overweight baggage fees that are different for each airline. Use this device to weigh your bags before you go to the airport, instead of holding up the check-in line by attempting to shuffle the weight around to your carry-on at the airport. We like this light weight, strong, yet inexpensive digital luggage scale that includes the battery.
A Waterproof Phone Case
When traveling, you regularly face obstacles such as waterfall mist, freak rainstorms, splashes while boating, and even the occasional water gun fight.For any of these instances, a waterproof phone case is an absolute must. We always travel with ours. This universal waterproof phone case fits most all smartphone sizes and can even be submerged up 100 feet! Get one for yourself, if not for some gifts that your friends and family maybe never thought of.
A TSA-Approved Luggage Lock
It’s a good idea to lock your luggage to protect your personal belongings. But if flying through the US, the TSA is permitted to inspect your checked baggage. In doing so, they regularly cut off many locks from traveler’s luggage. But TSA agents have a special master key to open these TSA-Aprproved Luggage Locks. So having one of these on your bag will ensure your belongings stay safe and your lock doesn’t get clipped. It’s always good to travel with locks, which can also be used to lock up your luggage at hostels or left luggage stations.
A Worldwide Universal Power Converter
If you know someone whose always fumbling around with a sack full of different power converters, this is the gift for them. We used to carry around an arsenal of converters for all the different regions around the world. It turns out that really all you need is one of these little devices. This Worldwide Universal Converter will provide you with two USB ports and an AC Adapter in 150+ countries around the world.
What To Buy The Traveler Who Has Everything?
Many seasoned travelers may already have all their favorite travel gear. So what the heck do you get this well-stocked breed of traveler?
Travel Gift Cards
Buy these difficult-to-shop for travelers some travel gift cards. Most avid travelers tend to value experiences over “stuff” anyways. So buy them a travel gift that will actually help them travel and to enjoy the experiences they love so much! Travelers always need a place to stay and excursions to go on. Hence the following two travel gift card recommendations.
Viator Gift Certificates for Thousands of Excursions Around the World
We love Viator, as they make it so easy to book excursions all around the world. We’ve used Viator to book a boat trip down Germany’s Rhine River, bungee jumping in New Zealand, a cruise down the Nile River, a wine tour through Bordeaux France, and most recently a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls in Zambia. They’ve got it all.
Travelers can redeem a Viator Gift Certificate for thousands of awesome experiences all over the world, whether near or far. If you know where your gift recipient is traveling to next, you can even suggest an excursion in that destination and purchase a Viator gift card to cover that amount. Or just leave it up to the recipient entirely. The possibilities are endless.
Hotels.com Gift Cards for Millions of Hotels Around the World
We use Hotels.com more than any other booking site because of their low prices, inventory of hotels, and they have the best loyalty program (one free night after every 10 nights). But hotels.com is also one of the only booking sites to offer gift cards. Travelers on the receiving end of these gift cards can use them in nearly all countries around the world at over 150,000 hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and resorts. You send them by email or print them at home to have a physical item to give. And they never expire!
What’s On Your Travel Gear Wish List?
We’re excited to pick up one of those GoPro Sessions, which is high up on our travel gear wish list this year. What’s on your wish list? Did you see anything here you’d like to pick up for yourself or as a travel gift someone else? Let us know in the comments!
And if you’re not ready to shop for the holidays yet, be sure to bookmark this Travel Gift Guide 2016 page to save these travel gift ideas for later. Or Pin this to your Pinterest boards using the images below.
-John & Heather, Roaming Around the World