Looking for practical gifts that the traveler in your life will actually use? Keep scrolling for 27 useful travel gifts!
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for useful travel gifts, you’ve come to the right place. This holiday season, give the traveler in your life something they’ll actually use on their adventures.
This list of useful travel gift ideas won’t break the bank, and by selecting one (or more!) of these travel-related presents, you’re sure to put a smile on that special someone’s face.
Who knows, given how practical these travel gifts are, you might even want to pick something out for yourself to use on your next trip.
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Useful Travel Gifts
1. Osprey Porter 46
When I think back on the most useful travel gifts I’ve ever received, the very first one to come to mind is the Osprey Porter 46. This overhead bin-approved backpack was a college graduation present from my mom.
Since then, I’ve backpacked Europe multiple times and made three international moves with this durable pack which has never so much as gotten a tear.
If the traveler you’re shopping for likes to stay in shared accommodation, then a padlock makes the perfect travel stocking stuffer.
Avoid purchasing a padlock with a key (that will get lost faster than you can say “hostel”). Instead, opt for a padlock with a combination code like this one.
3. Quick-Dry Towel
Speaking of hostel essentials, any backpacker or budget traveler would love to unwrap a quick-dry towel.
Even if you think they might already have one, you can still go ahead and snag them a new set (like this one that comes with a face towel) since they can sometimes get a little moldy-smelling after a lot of uses.
This way, they’ll have a fresh quick-dry towel for their 2021 adventures.
4. Secrets of Long-Term World Travel
Everyone who’s passionate about adventure dreams of spending more time (and less money) seeing the world.
In this must-read for independent spirits, travel writer Rolf Potts shares his secrets for how to finance travel, choose the right destinations, handle the ups and downs of life on the road & more.
Practical travel advice is one of the most useful travel gifts you can give, and the book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term Travel is one of the best resources on the market.
5. Language Classes
When it comes to getting the absolute most out of travel, I highly recommend learning the language of the country you’re visiting (at least the basics).
While apps like Duolingo are good for getting your feet wet, nothing beats working with an actual tutor. I love italki for affordable one-on-one online classes that are tailored to your level.
Get all the details about learning another language with italki in this post & give the useful travel gift of private language classes.
6. Hacks for Cheap Travel
As with Vagabonding, Matt Kepnes’ book How to Travel the World on $50 Per Day teaches travelers how to see the world for longer and for less. They don’t call him “Nomadic Matt” for nothing!
Why not pair these two guides together for the bookworm traveler in your life? Or, if you really want to blow your budget backpacker’s mind…
7. Best Budget Travel Guides on the Market
Given the current global situation, your traveler might not have definitive plans for their next adventure. So rather than buying them a travel guide for a specific country, gift them one of Lonely Planet’s “On A Shoestring” guides for a continent.
Lonely Planet has “On A Shoestring” Guides for:
I own the guides for South America and Central America and regularly flip through them for an armchair adventure. I took many of the Central America guide’s suggestion when I backpacked around Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula & was not disappointed.
For me, reading and traveling go hand in hand (hence all the books on this list of useful travel gifts).
While I love owning physical books, they’re tough to lug around when you’re trying to travel light. It took me a while to switch to an eReader, but now, I’m obsessed with my Kindle.
From overnight buses to long layers, my Kindle Fire is my favorite travel companion (please don’t tell my boyfriend).
9. Portable Charger
Debbie Downers love to tell you about the dangers of “X” country or “Y” city, but what strikes fear in the hearts of real travelers is seeing their phone on 2% battery with no outlet in sight.
This handy portable charger, which doesn’t take up much space in your backpack, guarantees you’ll never be staring at your dead iPhone while desperately trying to remember the address of your Airbnb again.
10. Travel Neck Pillow
Nothing can ruin your first day in a new destination like a stiff neck.
Since the budget traveler in your life, probably isn’t going to swear off middle seats anytime soon, help make that cheap flight as comfortable as possible with this ridiculously comfy travel neck pillow.
11. Foldable Daypack
This foldable daypack is a must for travelers who are committed to packing light. It’s great to have for day hikes or a run to the grocery store.
I love that this practical travel present comes with a carabiner so your traveler can easily hook it on the outside of their primary travel backpack.
12. International Travel Plug Adapter
The day will come (and soon, hopefully) when we get back to international travel. And, when it does, you’ll need to charge your electronics.
I love that this international travel plug adapter is neon green, so it’s easy to find in your backpack & you’re less likely to forget it when you’re packing up to move onto the next hostel.
13. Security Door Stop Alarm
These days, solo travel is more popular than ever. If your favorite traveler likes to hit the road on their own, then you should definitely put this security door stop alarm in their stocking.
Not only does this security door stop make opening a door inwardly tough, but the alarm can be heard up to three football fields away.
14. Selfie Stick on Steroids
Safety isn’t the only thing solo travelers have to think about. Ummm, who is going to snap their pic in front of the Eiffel Tower?
Rather than always asking a passer-by, snag this Bluetooth tripod which one reviewer called a “selfie stick on steroids.” This sturdy, easy to use tripod is the most useful travel gift I’ve ever purchased for myself.
15. Waterproof Dry Bag
If you’ve read my detailed Camino de Santiago packing list, then you know that few things in this life are truly waterproof…
The exception being a waterproof dry bag. Even if you don’t have plans to walk across northern Spain anytime soon, these dry bags great for those items in your backpack that absolutely can’t get wet.
There are lots of different dry bags on the market, but I like that this one is see-through so you can see what the heck you have inside.
I really wish I would have had one of these when I was running in the pouring rain to catch my train in San Sebastian.
16. Sleeping Mask
It doesn’t matter where in the world I’m going, the second-most-important item I won’t leave home without (the first being my passport) is my trusty sleeping mask.
The ability to sleep anywhere is what makes a good traveler, and if that’s a skill you’re trying to cultivate, a comfortable sleeping mask will make all the difference.
17. Not-Your-Momma’s Infinity Scarf
I know some travelers swear by money belts (okay, boomer), but I prefer an infinity scarf with a hidden pocket. Yes, guys can wear them too!
On their own, scarves serve a myriad of purposes from makeshift pillow to modesty covering so you can enter that cathedral everyone said you HAVE to visit. Add a hidden pocket for storing your passport and wallet and this infinity scarf is one heck of a useful travel gift.
18. Collapsible Containers
When you’re trying to travel light, space in your backpack is at a premium. Just like with the foldable daypack (#11) and Kindle (#8), you want to make the most of the space in your Osprey Porter 46 (#1).
That’s why this collapsible water bottle is the perfect way to stay hydrated during your travels. Don’t waste a penny of your hard-earned travel budget on bottled water.
If the traveler in your life is really one for pinching pennies, gift them these collapsible containers for leftovers or whatever they can snag to go from the hostel breakfast. This useful travel gift was one of my most-used items when I walked the Portuguese Camino.
19. Travel Organizer
Let’s face it: wandering spirits aren’t always the most organized. Does a backpack full of loose change from various countries, crumpled up boarding passes and a slightly bent passport sound like your traveler?
Then, they need this practical travel organizer. It can also block RFID so your credit cards are safe.
If you’re making organization the theme of your present, then toss in these packing cubes which avid travelers swear by. Yep, they’ll work great in the Osprey Porter 46.
20. Portable Luggage Scale
After the fear that comes with having a dying electronic in hand and not being able to find an outlet (solve that with useful travel gift #12), the next most anxiety-inducing moment for a traveler is standing in line to check in for a flight with a bag that may (or may not!!) be overweight.
Never blow your travel budget on overweight bag fees again with this easy to use portable luggage scale. Any type of traveler would be grateful to receive this as a present.
21. Travel Journal
Social media posts with exotic location tags and selfies in front of famous sights will never replace good ol’ fashioned journaling about one’s adventures. Perhaps, the traveler you’re shopping for is preparing for their first big trip.
In your card, take a moment to explain that this travel journal and the memories they write in it are theirs forever. On these pages, they don’t need to be concerned with “doing it for the ‘gram,” but rather, being honest and real about how places and experiences make them feel.
Sometimes, you don’t know what a destination meant to you until you’re reading your journal entries about it years later.
22. Toothpaste Tablets
How do these convenient toothpaste tablets work? Just pop one in your mouth, chew it a few times until a little mass of toothpaste, then get to brushing.
23. Knock Knock Pack This List
Even frequent travelers will agree that packing for a trip is a chore. If your traveler tends to leave packing until the last minute and always seems to forget something, this helpful packing list is exactly what they need.
Now, the only thing your traveler needs to worry about is getting to the airport on time.
24. Inflatable Footrest
In addition to a comfy sleeping mask (#16) and a cushy travel pillow (#10), this inflatable footrest will have you thinking you’re flying first class (even if you’re in the last row of coach).
Seriously, elevating your feet is a total game-changer on long flights. Plus, as with pretty much every other item on this list of practical travel presents, this footrest will hardly take up any space in your bag.
25. Cord Organizer
These days, travelers have to contend with a multitude of cords. When every electronic requires a different charger, your carry-on bag turns into a mess fast.
If the traveler in your life is a digital nomad, they’ll appreciate this useful cord organizer which will come in handy when they’re working from the road.
26. Scrubba Wash Bag
Backpackers and long-term travelers have a reputation for being a little grungy. Packing light often requires you to wear the same clothes day after day.
Well, that was the case until you gifted your traveler this Scrubba Wash Bag. Now, they can do their laundry anywhere without having to hand over their precious few garments to a laundromat.
Smelling nice is going to make meeting new people at the hostel bar A LOT easier.
27. Osprey Hiking Backpack
While the Osprey Porter 46 is great for regular travel, you’re going to want to go with a different model if your traveler likes to hit the trails.
Osprey makes sturdy hiking backpacks that will last the traveler in your life for years and years of adventures. The Osprey Kyte 36 is designed to fit a woman’s frame while the Osprey Kestrel 38 is the premium choice for a male hiker.
Final Thoughts on Useful Travel Gifts
There is no better feeling than buying someone a gift you know they will use.
Sure, it might seem like a safer bet to go with a gift card (after all, doesn’t everyone shop at Amazon), but imagine the traveler in your life using the backpack, luggage scale, security doorstop or any one of these useful travel gifts for years to come.
It’s your way of showing you support their adventurous lifestyle.
You can also let them know you snagged a few of these practical travel presents for yourself so you can join them on a future trip.
Want even more useful travel gift ideas? You can check out Expert Vagabond’s gift guide for more awesome gifts for travelers!