Buying a gift for an inveterate traveller can be a challenge. Perhaps they travel light and don’t want a lot of stuff to clutter their life; perhaps you want to acknowledge their travel habit but can’t find anything suitable. Or maybe that traveller is you and you want to treat yourself, but can’t quite decide what to buy.

This traveller’s gift guide is here to help, by giving you some gift ideas for the travellers in your life.

Clothes

You might not have considered a goat as a gift...
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Socks and undies may be the tired cliché of a present, but for travellers they can actually be a pretty good gift — things seem to wear out faster on the road and quality makes a difference when you’re wearing the same things almost every day!

Smartwool socks

These socks have a great reputation in the travel community, and for good reason — they’re awesome. They keep your feet warm and wick away moisture, so they’re great for walking… which most travellers seem to do a lot of!

Merino thermal underwear

You never know when the weather’s going to change, so even if the backpack is filled with summer clothes, a small corner should be dedicated to warmer layers. And if the traveller is heading into winter, the more layers the better! Merino wool underwear has the advantage of being really quite attractive, and can be used as an outer layer if necessary. Go for a top first and leggings second.

Tieks

It’s important to have good shoes, and Tieks are excellent ballet flats that take up almost no space in the suitcase. I haven’t used them myself, but many of my friends rave about them.

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You can find the right gift! (cc)

Equipment

We’re always trying to travel light, but sometimes that means replacing old equipment with a better version. If your traveller has a heavy old backpack or scuffed-up suitcase, consider replacing it for them, or choose one of these lighter options:

Document wallet

We travel with all our documents, including marriage and birth certificates. Various currencies that we aren’t currently using, transport cards for cities we plan to go back to — these can’t live in our regular wallets, so we use a Document wallet

Passport cover

We don’t use them ourselves, but if you heard the recent story of the honeymooner who was denied boarding for having a damaged passport, you might consider a passport cover an essential. And there are some pretty ones out there!

Travel adapter

One of the best equipment discoveries we ever made was this multi-adapter, which allows you to plug almost any device into almost any wall socket around the world. We have one each, and your traveller should have one too.

Water bottles

These EcoUsable bottles are a little bulky, but great for water filtering.
These EcoUsable bottles are a little bulky, but great for water filtering.
Water is important, and we can limit the amount of plastic we use by carrying our own, refillable bottles. Consider a Vapur bottle for pack-down size, or a filter bottle like EcoUsable for travel in places where the water can’t be drunk straight from the tap.

Packing cubes

Packing cubes aren’t for everyone, but they can really save space and aid organisation. You could also consider these space-saving bags.

Inspiration

Perhaps your traveller isn’t travelling just yet. In that case, perhaps an inspirational gift is in order.

Coffee table books

There are some truly beautiful coffee-table books out there, full of wonderful photography. Before we started travelling, we liked to look through this kind of book to get ideas about where to go. Consider Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel or National Geographic Simply Beautiful Photographs.

Trip-planning books

If your traveller is more interested in the fine details, a guide book is also a good idea. Choose a print book if your traveller likes to scribble ideas in the margin, or a Kindle version if weight is an issue.

Giant map

A huge map for the bedroom is on many a traveller’s wish-list. I love these ones, which allow you to scratch off the countries you’ve visited. Or pick up these awesome scrunch maps to take on the road.

World map and lights
A world map could be a good gift.

Experience

Why not give the gift of experience? One of the best birthday presents I ever received was a day out with my Spanish friends; they took me bowling and to a spa complex, and even made me lunch!

You can either take your traveller out directly, put some money in a card with instructions on how to use it, or buy a gift voucher for something you think they’ll like.

Gift certificates

Both Context Travel and Urban Adventures have gift certificates available for purchase, and you can set your own value. Check the price of tours in the location the traveller will be to get an idea of how much to make the voucher out for.

Tours

Or you could just book them on to the tour of their choice direct from the company. We like Intrepid for longer journeys and Stray for hop-on hop-off trips in New Zealand, Australia, and Asia.

Accommodation

For our tenth wedding anniversary, Craig’s parents shouted us a stay in a lovely hotel in Spain. It was a fantastic present! Do the same by buying a gift card from AirBnB, hotels.com, or your favourite hotel chain.

Entertainment

We all like to be entertained! There are heaps of options for entertainment gifts, such as gift vouchers for the theatre or the cinema in your traveller’s location, or digital entertainment. My mother always buys us iTunes gift cards as a present, which we can redeem for all sorts of things on the iTunes store — generally movies!

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iTunes vouchers can be a good choice. (cc)

You could also consider a travel-themed game like Ticket To Ride or Thurn und Taxis. Get a printed copy for travellers with a base, or a digital version for nomads.

Life

Perhaps your traveller really just has everything they need; so give them the gift of giving. We love Kiva, which allows people to lend small amounts of money to people who need it. A gift certificate for Kiva lets your traveller choose borrowers to support, and when the loan is repaid, they can relend it. It’s brilliant. (Join our team of lenders, together we’ve lent over $40,000!)

Charities like World Vision and Tear Fund have gift catalogues that allow you to give a gift to someone in the developing world in the name of your traveller. Or you could make a donation in their name to your charity of choice and let them know you’ve done so in their card.

Goat and monastery in Moldova
My aunt once bought a goat in my name through a charity website — great idea!

Technology

One year, Craig decided that it was ridiculous that I was carrying 12 books in my backpack, and bought me a Kindle. It was an excellent gift that my back continues to be thankful for. If your traveller already has one, how about a case? You could also consider upgrading their phone or going the whole hog and buying a fancy computer. Let me tell you, I certainly wouldn’t mind if someone gave me a new MacBook Air for Christmas.

We’ve found our Plox power brick to be an absolute essential for recharging phones when electricity isn’t available, and noise cancelling headphones can ensure a bit of a rest in noisy environments. Craig swore by his Sleepphones until they died in his luggage one sad day — a good choice for a traveller who listens to podcasts or music as they fall asleep.

Beautiful things

Beautiful things are often small and don’t take up much space, but can be truly meaningful. Some friends once gave me a beautiful Kiwi necklace as a going-away present, and I wear it regularly. You could also consider a Pandora charm if your traveller has a Pandora bracelet, or have a custom-made necklace made.

If you want something unique, check out this beautiful jewellery made from crockery shards by a friend of ours. Many of the designs are suitable for men or women.

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Sometimes the best gifts are the smallest. (cc)

Don’t worry!

You might think the traveller in your life is the hardest person in the world to buy for, but I’m sure you’ll find the perfect gift. And if all else fails, there’s always chocolate.

What’s the best travel gift you’ve ever received? Do you prefer receiving an experience as a present, or something you can actually unwrap?

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Your thoughts on "The gift guide for the travellers in your life"

  • Thanks for the great suggestions! My brother is heading off travelling and I'm thinking of getting him an Urban Adventures gift certificate. Love the look of the Tieks myself, but they're a bit exxy for me to buy right now, especially with the way I wear through ballet flats.

    on November 9, 2015 at 4:48 pm Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Shandos! A gift certificate is a great choice, your brother can choose his own adventure but you're providing it! Yep, Tieks aren't cheap but many of our friends swear by them.

      on November 10, 2015 at 10:16 am Reply

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