Best travel gift ideas
Looking for a gift for a travel lover in your life? Whether it’s for a birthday, Christmas, or another holiday, finding the best travel gift is no easy task!
Though I prefer experiences over things and pack lightly when I travel, I still often find myself searching for the best and most useful gear to accompany me on my trips.
If you’re looking for some fun and unique travel gift ideas for a birthday present or the holidays, you’ve come to the right place! Leave the knickknacks and dust-collectors on the shelves, and check out these awesome travel gift ideas that I’ve longed for, gifted, and received over the years.
Best cheap travel gifts under $25
Here are some cheap travel gifts that will bring nostalgia and happiness to that jet setter in your life.
1. Scratch Map
Scratch maps are a great gift for avid travelers. They help you keep track of your prior trips while inspiring you to plan new ones. Using a coin, you can scratch off the countries and states that you’ve been to. In my opinion, it’s much easier (and less dangerous) than sticking a sharp pin into a map. Plus, when friends and family come over, you’ll have some impressive wall art to show off. Scratch maps come in all colors and sizes, so choose wisely!
2. Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are the best way to keep your luggage neat and organized. These small accessories are cheap, weigh nothing, and help you stay organized when you travel. All you have to do is fold your clothes and belongings into each of these cubes to maximize the space in your luggage. When you only spend a night at a hotel, you won’t need to go searching through your entire suitcase to find the clothes you need. Sometimes, I even use one for my laundry.
I’m often asked how I manage to travel long periods of time with just a backpack – I attribute 90% of it to the packing cubes!
3. Luggage Scale
It seems that most airlines these days are charging way too much for baggage fees. There’s honestly no worse feeling than standing at the check-in counter and hearing “your bag is too heavy.” To save cash and avoid this hassle altogether, I’ve relied on portable luggage scales. It’s one of the best cheap travel gifts out there, and will save you so much frustration at the check-in counter.
After getting one of these, you’ll never have to worry about paying baggage overweight fees again. Take that, RyanAir!
4. Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves
Travel as a Political Act is a fascinating read by a fascinating man. Written by the ultimate travel guru, Rick Steves, this book shares compelling stories from his decades of adventures around the world. It brings together travel and politics, and shows how we can learn more about our own country by viewing it from afar.
5. International Travel Adapter
Have you ever arrived at a new destination only to find out you can’t charge your precious devices? Not a great feeling. I always bring an international travel adapter with me wherever I go so I can charge my laptop, phone, and camera gear. The idea is that you’ll want to get an adapter that’s used in most countries and includes USB inputs for mobile devices. This is one of the smallest, cheapest, and most used ones in the market!
6. Travel Journal
I’m often asked “what’s the best way to get started as a travel blogger?” Keeping a travel journal is the secret sauce. That way, you can document all your unique experiences on the road and share them later with your family and friends.
Even if you’re not vying to become the next Rick Steves, having a travel journal is a great way to jot down your thoughts and experiences. It’s one of the best cheap travel gifts out there, and it truly inspires!
7. Travel Padlock
Travel padlocks are essential when you’re backpacking. Most hostels I’ve been to have lockers, so you’ll want to pack one of these to lock up your valuables. Though many hostels rent out padlocks for a few dollars (or Euros), you’re better off buying one of these to save money in the long run.
8. Microfiber Travel Towel
These all-purpose travel towels are perfect for camping, going to the gym, and lounging at the beach. They dry super quickly, so you don’t have to worry about lugging around a wet towel all day after hitting the beach. Versatility is the most important thing to me, which is why I think microfiber travel towels are a great cheap travel gift option.
9. Passport Holder
A simple passport holder is the difference between a crinkly and worn-out passport, and one that looks brand new. I’ve chosen one with a sleek design that can fit cash, boarding passes, and credit cards, all while not feeling too bulky.
10. Travel Neck Pillow
Air travel can be a pain in the neck. That’s why I always use a travel neck pillow, which allows me to sit back and sleep comfortably while on flights. This is a wonderful (and cheap) travel gift idea for tall people, those with back/neck issues, and pretty much anyone else.
11. Lensepen Cleaning Pens
Any photographers in the house? Whether you own a DSLR or point-and-shoot camera, it’s a good idea to clean your camera lenses regularly. The LensPen Pro Pack is cheap, easy to use, and works wonders in cleaning off all types of lenses. This six-piece cleaning kit includes a Hurricane Air Blower, Lens Cleaning Tissues, Lens Cloth, Lens Cleaning Liquid, and Brush and Cotton Swabs.
12. Travel-size Laundry Bag
Let’s face it: doing laundry is one of the most tedious tasks ever. If only there was a way to do laundry and dream about travel at the same time. Enter world map-themed laundry bag. This cheap and creative travel gift is easy to take on the go, and will give you that dose of travel inspiration that you so desperately need when doing laundry. ‘Nuff said!
Earplugs come in handy way more often than not. Perhaps it’s just my luck, but nearly every time I’m on a flight or cooped up in a hostel, I’m right next to a loud snorer. Getting a pair of earplugs could be the difference between a good night’s sleep and being kept up all night by snorlax, late-night drinkers, or loud music. It’s definitely one of the most reliable and cheap travel gifts out there.
14. Travel jigsaw puzzle
Looking for a travel gift for the whole family? Consider getting a jigsaw puzzle of one of your favorite places or landscapes. This Barcelona jigsaw puzzle contains 1,000 pieces that will help you recreate Antoni Gaudí’s beautiful masterpiece, Park Güell! Jigsaw puzzles are a fun activity for kids and adults alike.
15. Travel Throw Pillow
Bring your adventures home with you and get a travel-themed throw pillow. Consider one with your favorite travel quote or a map of the world on it. This travel gift is cheap and it will give you a reason to smile every day.
16. Travel Wall Art
Looking for a cheap travel gift to remind you of your past vacations? Consider getting wall art and prints for your home! I recently made an Etsy shop with some of my favorite travel photos on the road. By clicking the link below, you will receive a 25% discount on the travel prints in my shop. Hope you find one you like!
Best travel gifts under $100
17. Suavs Shoes
SUAVS shoes are super light, comfortable, and versatile – perfect for traveling! They’ve got a minimalist yet elegant feel to them and can be worn without socks. From hikes in the Chinese countryside to strolls down cobbled streets in Boston, I’ve worn my black pair during all kinds of occasions. I even wore them during a networking event (by accident), but honestly, they looked more sophisticated than many of my other shoes and fit right in!
18. LifeStraw Water Filter Bottle
LifeStraw’s water filter bottle is a wonderful substitute for single-use plastic bottles, not only from an environmental standpoint, but also a financial one. Single-use water bottles are costly if you frequently buy them, so you’re better off going with one of these in the long term. They are perfect for hiking and camping, as you can literally take water from the lake and filter it in this bottle.
As far as reusable water bottles go, this is a tad bit on the pricey side. But what makes LifeStraw special is that it has a built-in reusable filter that lasts 5 years.
19. Lightroom Presets for Instagram
Spending too much time editing your photos from recent trips? The best way to cut this down (and restore your sanity) is by using Lightroom Presets. My good friends Bree and Stephen are wedding photographers who know a thing or two about taking stunning photos! They offer a package of Lightroom presets that are absolutely amazing at a great value! Be sure to use my code JONMIKSIS10 to save 10%!
20. Anker PowerCore Portable Charger
If you’re like me and take lots of videos on your phone, you constantly suffer from low battery life. There’s nothing worse than your phone dying just as you’re about to capture that epic landscape or special moment. The Anker PowerCore Portable Charger is small and compact, yet capable of charging your smartphone up to 3 times! I swear by it, as it’s one of the smallest and most powerful of its kind on the market.
21. Travelon Anti-Theft Bag
Looking for a practical gift for a female traveler in your life? Instead of gifting a money belt, consider an anti-theft bag. The Travelon Anti-Theft Bag is one of the best of its kind on the market. The straps and zippers have cool locking compartments and mechanisms to prevent people from unzipping them. They have pouches for passports, credit cards, and other personal belongings. I’ve never used this myself, but my friend Gina, an avid adventurer with years of backpacking experience, swears by it and believes all female travelers should have one.
22. Portable Bluetooth Speakers
Do you love bumping your favorite tunes while traveling? Then the Bose Portable Bluetooth Speaker is definitely for you. Whether you’re camping in the mountains, relaxing on the beach, or trying to watch your favorite movies with a friend or loved one, this speaker is a must. It’s small, easy to pack and attach to a backpack or cooler, and gives you a great bang for your buck.
23. Ancestry DNA Test
Is your friend or loved one a curious soul? If so, an ancestry DNA test kit is an awesome travel gift idea. This genetic ethnicity test allows you to uncover your family’s geographic origins. Not only do the results indicate which countries your family comes from, but also the specific regions within them. Perhaps you’ll even feel inspired to visit the places of your ancestors. If you’re interested in learning your family’s heritage, an ancestry test will set the record straight!
24. Joby Gorillapod
The Joby Gorillapod is a great travel gift idea for the photographer and videographer in your life. Unlike many conventional tripods, this can be mounted pretty much anywhere, supporting cameras under 2.2lbs (1 kg). The Gorillapod is very lightweight, versatile, and easy to transport – perfect for all types of terrains.
25. AmazonBasics Camera and Laptop Backpack
I’ve went through many backpacks over the years, and this is by far my favorite! The AmazonBasics Backpack holds my DSLR, vlog camera, multiple lenses, portable charger, and a laptop, among many other things. The adjustable side strap also holds my tripod. This backpack is ideal when you’re on the move, which is why I think it’s one of the best travel gift ideas out there.
Best travel gifts over $100
26. DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
I love this drone! It’s compact, fun and easy to use, and captures epic 4k videos. The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum has all the bells and whistles, and it’s much quieter than the other drones out there. Check out my TikTok page to see some of my best travel drone videos.
27. Pendleton Acadia National Park Blanket
Don’t you just love America’s National Parks? If so, you’ll love Pendleton’s warm and cozy blankets. There are several National Park-themed blankets you can choose from, but I decided to pick Acadia National Park for this article. I visited there this summer and couldn’t get enough of its epic landscapes and pristine beauty. Part of the blanket proceeds are donated to the National Park Foundation, which supports the restoration efforts of America’s National Parks. If that’s not enough to convince you…well, here are a couple of my favorite photos from Acadia this summer!
28. Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones
There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck on a plane next to a crying baby. While listening to music at full volume on your headphones can partially block out the noise, some babies are just too ear-piercing. Enter Sony’s Noise Cancelling Headphones. These wireless Bluetooth headphones are every traveler’s best friend, perfect for listening to music, watching videos, and blocking out unwanted noises.
29. Samsonite Hardside Luggage
Samsonite’s Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage is my favorite large suitcase that I’ve ever owned. It’s got a rock-solid outer shell, which is scratch-resistant and gives me peace of mind as it’s thrown into the baggage hold. The spinner wheels are always a nice touch, as they make it easy to roll around in multiple directions. With sturdy handles, carrying the suitcase is a breeze. I’ve used my Samsonite on several trips so far, and the suitcase still looks brand new!
30. iPhone 11
Apple’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 11, has such an incredible camera that’s perfect for snapping pictures and videos on the road. Sure, it’s on the expensive side, but it costs much less than many popular DSLRs on the market, and will give you a similar quality photo for your Instagram feed!
31. A travel blog!
Does your special someone love to travel and have a knack for writing? Get them started with a travel blog! It’s super easy to set one up, and who knows, maybe it’ll even turn into a career!
32. Southwest Airlines Gift Card
When in doubt, go with a gift card. That’s been my philosophy for as long as I’ve had a wallet in my pocket. Some folks are tough to buy for, which is what makes the Southwest Airlines gift card an attractive travel gift idea. Southwest flies to more than 100 destinations across the US, Central America, and the Caribbean. It’s considered a budget airline, where your dollar goes much further than many other airlines. What I like about Southwest is that they include two checked bags in their regular fare, which is a lost art amongst the major budget airlines these days (i.e. Ryanair, EasyJet, and Spirit Airlines). Travel is truly the gift that keeps on giving!
Best travel gifts for holidays and other special occasions!
I hope you found my article of the best travel gifts in 2020 to be interesting and helpful! Whether you’re looking for a Christmas gift, birthday present, or something unique for another holiday or special occasion, I hope you found what you were looking for! I regularly use many of the products in this article, as they’ve served me well on adventures around the globe.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy Travels!
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn commission from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. I recommend only products and companies I use and trust, and the income goes towards maintaining my travel website and social channels.
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