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Are you shopping for a traveler in your life? You might have noticed that there are about a billion guides out there already, so why did I feel the need to add another one? Well, as much as I love flamingo-print passport covers and scratch-off world map posters, I also feel like the best gift for a frequent traveler is one that will actually help them travel more and make the most of their trips. To that end, I put together this list of 60+ (super amazing!) practical gifts for travelers.
Before you start shopping for your practical gifts for travelers, make sure you’ve got your MyPoints and Swagbucks browser extensions installed so you can get coupon codes and earn points and cash back everywhere you make purchases!
Practical Gifts for Trip Planning
Most people who love to travel would travel even more if their budget allowed, right? With that in mind, I think some of the best and most practical gifts for travelers are those that help them get on the way to their next trip.
CheapOair Gift Card– most of the time, the flight is the most expensive part of the trip. A gift card to go toward booking their airfare is sure to be appreciated by your favorite frequent flyer.
Southwest Airlines gift card– Southwest doesn’t do third party booking like most airlines, so if your gift recipient is a Southwest fan, you’ll want to get them a Southwest gift card to use toward their next flight.
Frequent flyer miles– If you know your recipient earns points on a particular airline, a gift of frequent flyer miles would be a godsend for helping them book or upgrade their next flight.
Hotels.com Gift Card– After flights, accommodations are usually the second most expensive part of a trip. I love Hotels.com because they give you a free night for every 10 you book through them and you’re not limited to just one hotel chain. I’ve gotten some really good deals through them!
Airbnb gift cards– Some people prefer Airbnb to hotels, so an Airbnb gift card might be an even better option. They’re really flexible, also, as they can be used to book Airbnb Experiences in the place your traveler is visiting.
Groupon Gift Card– Like I mentioned in Groupon Travel Deals- 20+ Ways to Book Your Next Vacation for Next to Nothing, Groupon offers some of the best travel secrets on the planet, like 10 day trips to China with airfare and hotels for $549 and Vegas hotel suites for $32/night. If your gift recipient loves to score travel deals, they’ll love a Groupon gift card to get them a step closer to that crazy good vacation deal.
Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium subscription– I’ve tried every free and paid deal alert service out there, and Scott’s stands head and shoulders above the rest. At $39/year, the Premium subscription is worth its weight in gold because it offers more deals faster and with the ability to filter by airport. I used a Scott’s deal to book a round trip flight from the US to Australia for $525, so suffice to say I’ll never be without my Scott’s Premium subscription.
Eurail Pass, Amtrak gift card, or Viarail gift card– If you know your recipient is planning to get around Europe, the US, or Canada by train, a pass or gift card is a great way to help them with their trip.
Practical Gifts for Travelers While They’re Packing
Cash in the currency of the country they’re visiting– One of the worst things about travel is scrambling to get local currency as soon as you arrive at the airport. You hope it’ll be a straightforward deal where you just rock up to the ATM in the terminal and take out what you need with your debit card from home, but it doesn’t always work so smoothly. Sometimes your card doesn’t work at the first ATM you find or it’s out of cash or there’s some other issue and it’s late and you’re jetlagged and it’s just a huge bummer. (Go on, ask me how I know.) It’s a super comforting feeling to arrive with a stack of local currency in your pocket and know that you’ll be able to pay for the taxi to your hotel and your breakfast in the morning before needing to find an ATM. Any bank can order you foreign currency with just a few days’ notice! I use Bank of America and they let you order foreign currency online.
Solid toiletries, shampoo bars, etc.– These make great stocking stuffers for travelers since they won’t count against the amount of liquids they can take in their carry-on.
Travel towel– I travel light, but I always make sure I have my travel towel with me. It has come in handy so many times while traveling- for drying off after an impromptu swim in a Cuban waterfall, after showering in a Sri Lankan guesthouse that didn’t provide towels, etc. This will come in especially handy if your traveler enjoys camping, staying in hostels, or any other type of travel where you might need your own towel.
Universal adapter– Indispensable for anyone who travels outside of their home country! I have amassed kind of a large collection of universal adapters over the years, so I can attest that a traveler can never have too many of these. The more electronics I get, the more adapters I need- it’s not unusual for me to have my phone, kindle, camera battery charger and laptop all plugged into a different universal adapter in my hotel room.
Travel scarf with hidden pocket– This is a really great idea for traveling women, especially women who travel solo and don’t have anyone else to help them keep their eyes open for pickpockets. I always wear a scarf while traveling anyway (to keep my camera hidden so I don’t stand out as a tourist) but this is even more practical.
Packing cubes– I never travel without packing cubes anymore. They’re so good at keeping your stuff organized so you can travel light and not have to dig through a huge mess in your suitcase every day.
Kindle– It took me a long time to embrace traveling with a Kindle– I like holding a physical book, okay? But once I did, I had to admit that it was a lot more convenient. Not only do I not pack my carry on full of heavy paperbacks anymore, but it’s a lot nicer for watching videos than my tiny phone screen.
Before They Leave
Pre-trip spa day– Getting ready for a long-awaited trip can be extremely stressful. You have so much stuff you have to finish up at work so your coworkers aren’t bothering you for the next two weeks. You have to do laundry, pack, clean the house, board the pets, hold the mail… no wonder you need a vacation. A spa day your favorite globetrotter can use before their trip would be a very welcome way to get them relaxed and in vacation mode. Also, what woman doesn’t like having her nails done right before going on vacation?
Pay for their open water PADI course before a beach vacation- Know someone heading to a tropical destination who would love to SCUBA dive there but isn’t certified? Consider signing them up for a course before their trip. Google “open water PADI course = [your traveler’s location]” to find the most convenient spot.
Pay for their pet boarding- For pet owners, boarding their animals can be a very costly part of vacationing that many people don’t factor in. Many boarding facilities now offer gift certificates so you can help make this part of travel more affordable for your animal-loving adventurer. Find out where your traveler usually boards their animals and give them a call to see if they offer gift certificates.
Pay for their uber/lyft to and from the airport– Are they planning to pay for a ride to the airport when they leave and come home? An Uber or Lyft gift card is a really thoughtful way of saying, “Hey, I’d drive you myself, but your flight leaves at 4 a.m., sooo…”
Pay for their airport parking– Do they prefer to drive themselves to the airport? Airport parking can be expensive. Consider a gift card or airport parking Groupon to relieve the burden of this part of their trip.
Practical Gifts for Travelers at the Airport
Priority Pass for Airport Lounge Access– If your recipient is a budget traveler who only dreams about relaxing in the first class lounge while waiting for their flight, you can make their dreams come true with a Priority Pass and let them feel like a traveling rock star.
Airport XpresSpa gift card– Know they’re always bored in the airport during layovers? Hook them up with an XpresSpa gift card and let them go get a quick chair massage or express pedicure to unwind between flights. This is one of my favorite practical gifts for travelers because everyone needs to relax more while they’re traveling but most people don’t want to pay the higher airport prices for a spa treatment.
Practical Gifts for Travelers in the Air
Anyone going on a long flight knows you need to plan ahead for your comfort and entertainment or you’re bound to be miserable the whole time. Here are some practical gifts that will help make your favorite traveler’s flight time more enjoyable.
Audible Gift Subscription– I love listening to audiobooks on flights. My mind doesn’t wander as much as it does when I’m driving and I’m much less likely to fall asleep than when I’m listening to them while relaxing at home. On a plane I can just zone out for a while and enjoy the story. Give your frequent flyer the gift of entertainment to make their flight go by that much faster.
iTunes Gift Card– Think they’d prefer music or movies? An iTunes gift card for your favorite iPhone-owning traveler is a great way to give them entertainment for their trip.
Spotify Premium gift card– Give the gift of unlimited music and podcasts no matter what type of phone they have. I’ve been making Spotify playlists for my trips for years.
Noise canceling headphones– All the music, videos, audiobooks, and podcasts in the world won’t do them any good if they can still hear that one screaming kid from three rows back. Noise canceling headphones are a godsend for anyone flying anywhere.
Inflight Wi-Fi– Know they hate being disconnected even for a few hours? Give the gift of inflight wi-fi and they’ll be able to tweet real-time updates about that screaming kid and how they wish they had noise canceling headphones.
In-flight goodie bag: Warm fuzzy socks, makeup remover wipes, snacks, magazines, mints– Anything that adds a little extra comfort to the flight is a good thing, especially if your traveler is flying a budget airline that doesn’t go all out with the onboard amenities.
At Their Destination
Pure VPN– frequent travelers know the frustration of not being able to stream their favorite Amazon Prime shows or connect to certain websites because of Internet restrictions in the country they’re visiting. Pure VPN encrypts and anonymizes their Internet access *and* adds a layer of security so they can use public wi-fi without compromising their device. Before I went to Asia for four months, I spent some time going through the Amazon Prime video offerings and adding a bunch of movies to my watch list- only to find out they were all blocked once I got there. If I had had Pure VPN, I could have watched all of those nature documentaries on rainy afternoons in Sri Lanka.
Upgrade a trip they’ve already got planned by paying for a tour, experience, or restaurant meal in the place they’re visiting. This is an especially fun gift to give to anyone you know is traveling on a tight budget because they may not splurge on an organized tour or fancy meal for themselves. Things you could add to their upcoming trip: a cooking class, Airbnb Experiences, Xperience Days outings, Viator day tours, wine tastings, distillery tours.
Some location-based ideas:
- London: a London City Cruise
- Paris: an Eiffel Tower Priority Pass
- Barcelona: a three-country day tour
- Dublin: a hop on hop off bus tour
- Rome: a wine & food tour
- Bali: surf lessons
- New York City: a Central Park ghost tour
- Los Angeles: Hollywood sign sunset hike
- Sedona, Arizona: a pink Jeep tour
In most cases you can give the tours as gift certificates so the recipient can choose the day and time that works best for their schedule.
Flytographer gift card– Does your favorite traveler usually adventure solo and bemoan how awful it is to try to get photos of themselves at their destination? The struggle, I know it. Or maybe they travel as a couple or family but want to make sure everyone is in the most iconic shots. Flytographer is an awesome service that connects travelers with photographers in the destination they’re visiting for a photo shoot. This is a fantastic gift for anyone traveling for a special occasion (and I consider Tuesday to be a special occasion, so I use that pretty liberally). Anniversary trips, proposals, honeymoons, major bucket list checking-off, graduation trips- anywhere they want to load up their Instagram feed without the help of random passersby or a selfie stick.
Behind the scenes tour for an attraction they’re planning to visit. This is a fun gift because you already know they’re interested in the attraction but you’re totally upgrading the experience. Tons of places offer behind the scenes experiences, from amusement parks to zoos to museums. Check out the Magic Kingdom Keys to the Kingdom Tour, the Behind the Lines Tour at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, or the Behind the Scenes Tour at the St. Louis Zoo.
ClassPass.com– access to fitness classes and gyms all over the country. Perfect for frequent travelers who want more than the hotel gym. If your home gym isn’t a chain with locations all over the country, it can be such a drag paying drop-in rates for classes or searching out local gyms with free trial periods.
Portable power banks– A good friend gave me one of these before a trip and it was such a game changer. I honestly don’t know how I traveled without one. Well, I do- I just had a dead phone a lot when I was out exploring and taking pictures all day.
City Card– Another great gift idea is a city card for your traveler’s upcoming destination. These give admission to a large number of museums and attractions in a specific city and can really be a big money saver, not to mention give them access to places they might have skipped if they were traveling on a budget. Check out the Go Boston Card, The Go San Francisco Card, or the Go Dubai Card.
Pre-loaded subway card to the city they’re visiting- This is a great gift for anyone traveling to a city where they’ll be getting around by public transportation. Many places (like London) will allow you to order a subway card online ahead of time, which will allow your favorite traveler to get off the plane and then head out on their adventure without having to line up at the ticket machines and try to figure out which card they need.
Amazon Prime for photo storage on the go plus streaming music, movies, and TV– Did you think Amazon Prime was just for shipping? That’s a great feature to have, but it’s just as useful on the road. All of the photos I take with my phone are automatically uploaded to my Amazon Prime photos so I won’t lose anything if something happens to my phone while I’m traveling. Not to mention the benefit of streaming music, movies, and TV for entertainment on the road.
Interesting travel journal or guided travel diary– even though they’ll probably post about their trip all over social media when they get home, it’s still nice to have some memories in writing for a keepsake that will be far more meaningful than another shot glass or cheap tee shirt.
Ticket stub diary– Does your favorite traveler have a drawer full of ticket stubs that they just can’t part with? Since the average vacation produces approximately 11 billion ticket stubs, I’m not surprised. Give them a way to display those little paper memories so they might actually look at them again.
Tep Wireless rental– Want to make sure your traveler can keep in touch while they’re on the road? A personal wifi device is a must for anyone traveling outside of their phone carrier’s network area. Sending messages, uploading photos, navigating with online maps- the uses for wifi on the road are limitless. Let Tep know their travel dates and their Teppy will be delivered to their home a few days before departure and will include a postage paid envelope for them to send it back after they return.
Practical Gifts for Different Types of Travelers
For cruisers: give shipboard credit or a cruise line gift certificate, or prepay the gratuities on their upcoming cruise.
For hostel travelers: give a gift card to a hostel chain like Hostelling Scotland or a silk travel sheet.
For someone looking to travel long term or be a digital nomad: give a TrustedHousesitters membership to help them find free long-term (and sometimes very luxurious!) accommodations
For someone planning a road trip: give gas station gift cards, a AAA Membership, or an XM Radio subscription.
There you have it, lovely and thoughtful gift givers- my 60+ best (and super amazing) practical gifts for travelers. Hopefully I’ve helped you brainstorm the perfect gift for your favorite globetrotter. Got any other suggestions for practical gifts for travelers or want to share the best practical gift you’ve ever gotten that’s made your travels easier? Let me know in the comments!