Do you or someone you know have big travel plans coming up in 2023? It doesn’t matter if it’s a honeymoon, career break, digital nomad trip, weekend warrior, road trip, travel abroad, semester abroad, or even business travel – everyone needs travel gear! That’s why I put together this list of gifts for friends going traveling.
I’ve been traveling for 17 years as a travel blogger, for 11 of them I was nomadic and lived out of my suitcase, so I have developed a few gear ‘favorites’ over those years. I’ve put together a list of my favorite fun travel gifts and gear that are perfect gift ideas for someone going travelling. This isn’t just a standard list of Christmas gifts for travellers or the frequent traveler, there are some unique travel gift ideas I’ve included that have been lifesavers for my travels.
Table of Contents
How This Travel Gift List Works
First – I update this list every year with new things I’ve tried or remove things that are no longer available. It was last updated in Dec. 2022.
I have split this list into categories of the types of gear you need for travel. Within each category, I have tried to include a variety of price points.
Please note, I take travel gear really seriously. Unlike many publications, I believe that reviewing a piece of gear implies actually using that piece of gear for an extended amount of time. I use the gear I’m writing about, not just once, but many times. This isn’t simply about getting you to shop on Amazon, it’s about getting you the best travel gear solutions for upcoming travels.
The list is to give you ideas for cool gifts for travellers, for someone with an upcoming trip, or for people who are frequent travelers and constantly on the road. These are some of my favorite most important things for travel. Some are perfect gifts for women who travel.
However, I didn’t include EVERYTHING in this guide. If you are looking for specialty travel gear for a specific trip, then check out my other gear guides. Or feel free to leave me a comment below and ask me any travel gear questions!
Travel During Rainy Season Travel Gear List
Winter Travel Gear List
Antarctica Travel Gear List
India Monsoon Season Travel Gear List
Essential Hiking Gear List
My Favorite Hiking and Travel Gear List
My Favorite Travel Photography Gear
This list contains some affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the costs of running this site – that’s it…full disclosure.
The Best Gift Ideas for a Traveler – Give an Experience
Before I get into physical products, I want to give a shout-out to less stuff, and more experiences! Check out some of my favorite gifts for a traveler below.
1. Tinggly Experience Gift Box
Tinggly is an experience-based gift that allows you to gift a cool travel experience. There are thousands of experiences the recipient can choose from and it all comes in a great ‘gift box’ if you are one of those people who like to wrap a physical gift! I love this fun gift idea for travelers, honeymooners, staycations, and career breakers – it’s a truly unique gift. And the best part…this gift doesn’t require any space in anyone’s home!
Learn how to share the gift of travel
2. Get Your Guide Tours Around the World
Another fun experience-based gift any travel lover would enjoy is tours from Get Your Guide. This is a super way to supplement a trip with a city tour, cooking class, museum visit, etc. This is less adventure activity-focused than Tinggly and more city-focused. Just put in your destination and see what they offer!
Wherever your travels take you, Get Your Guide experiences show you the unique and unmissable things to do in your destination. This is perfect for adding experiences to your trip!
3. National Parks Pass for 2023
This is the favorite of all my vacation gift ideas. It’s the best travel gift idea that keeps giving ALL YEAR! Did you know that you can skip the lines at the park entrance and get a National Park Annual Pass from REI? It’s so simple! Plus REI will donate 10% of pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation, and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.
The pass covers entrance for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person (kids 15 & under get in free). I get an annual parks pass every year – it pays off as soon as you visit 3 parks as normal daily entry fees cost $30 a car.
Skips the lines and get your Annual National Parks Pass from REI! The America the Beautiful Pass Covers entrance for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person (kids 15 & under get in free)
Learn about some of my Favorite National Parks to Visit
Why You Should Go to Lake Clark – A Least Visited National Park
US National Parks in Pictures
10 Days Rafting in Grand Canyon National Park
Badlands National Park
4. Get a Local Tour Guide
For the independent travelers in your life, consider this cool travel experience gift – a local tour guide! Tours By Locals makes it easy to find reliable, experienced, and inspiring local tour guides in 190 different countries. It’s a way to craft your own unique tour and do what you want to do on your timeline. I used them on a recent trip to Merida Mexico and it was the highlight of our entire trip! You can simply get your traveling friend a Tours By Locals gift card and then let them choose the guide they want to hire! Check out all the destinations they cover here.
Suitcases, Backpacks, and Packing Essentials for Travel Gift Ideas
Let’s start at the beginning, How are you going to carry things? For me, it’s really important that a suitcase is durable, yet light. I’ve been testing a few out this year – some made the cut and some didn’t – but here are my favorites.
5. Eagle Creek Warrior Suitcases and Duffels
If you’ve followed me at all, then you know I love my Eagle Creek gear – I’ve been carrying Eagle Creek suitcases for all of my 17 years of traveling. The Gear Warrior is the latest one I’m using. And I have it in both a carry-on size and a checked size! Due to supply chain issues – they are hard to find these days – so I suggest you go directly to Eagle Creek and see what they have in stock. Or you can get the carry-on version on Amazon here.
Why I like it: There are no bells and whistles or special compartments – it’s just basic – and that’s what keeps it light and versatile. You can fit a TON into it when you have to. The material is durable, water-repellent, and lightweight. I use Eagle Creek packing cubes (more on those below!) and organizers to keep everything organized in the bag and it works perfectly. The Gear Warrior comes in a carry-on and checked size. They currently only have 4 wheels options, however mine is a 2-wheel version.
This is my most used piece of luggage! Lightweight and simple. Use packing cubes with this and save so much space and weight! Plus all Eagle Creek luggage has a lifetime warranty.
Another great Eagle Creek option is this super durable wheeled duffel. I love this for adventure travel where I’m carrying lots of outdoor gear (why do hiking boots take so much space?!!). It’s waterproof and holds everything you need on an outdoor adventure trip!
I've been traveling with Eagle Creek luggage for 17 years - they make great products! This is a great wheeled duffle that will fit plenty of gear inside! I like the minimal design inside to keep it uncomplicated. Just use packing cubes to organize and you are set for a long term trip!
6. Peak Design Sling Bag
A camera bag that looks and acts like a purse…yes there is such a thing! I’ve been using the Peak Design Sling bag as my ‘personal carry-on’ item. It’s a great day-to-day bag for my photo and laptop gear. It looks and acts like a purse honestly – so this is a great dual-purpose bag for the ladies!
I can fit in my small mirrorless camera plus an extra lens and filters. Plus I bring my wallet and other essential purse items. It also has room for an iPad or other small notebook. So it’s perfect to take out exploring a town and have everything with you. It might not work for a fancy night on the town, but it’s a great all-purpose travel bag for the photo enthusiast!
The perfect companion for minimalist, on-the-go carry of everyday or photo gear. The Sling’s padded cross-body strap features a quick-adjuster that you can loosen when accessing gear and tighten when actively hiking, biking, or walking.
7. Fjallraven Hip Pack
Fanny Packs are Cool Again. I hate to admit it – but fanny packs are back ‘in’ AND…they are great for travel! I have actually stopped using a purse and have become one of ‘those’ people…A person who carries a fanny pack…now called a hip pack! This Fjallraven hip pack fits the necessities plus my phone and it has a hidden pocket too that I love – and it’s washable!
This hip pack/fanny pack is great for travel as they can hold your essentials that you need to get to quickly (passport, phone, wallet), but securely. I typically wear mine around my shoulder/chest as opposed to around my waist. I just feel like it's more secure that way. This cute hip pack by Fjallraven is the perfect size for me and I love that you can throw it in the laundry and clean it up after 4 weeks traveling around Europe!
8. Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are the key to packing happiness – they turn your bag into a piece of furniture. I use mine to organize my different types of clothes, just like I would a dresser; this packing cube has t-shirts, this one has pants, this one has socks. You get the idea – it’s packing bliss. I use and love Eagle Creek Packing Solutions. Not only do they keep me organized, but you can’t even imagine how much more I can fit into a suitcase or bag thanks to these babies!
There are a couple of versions – the original more durable ones, and the Pack-It sets that are lighter weight material…but I do find the zippers to be a bit more flimsy. Check out all of Eagle Creek’s affordable travel gift sets of packing cubes.
These are the original packing cubes from Eagle Creek - and I must admit - they are my favorite. I find the fabric to be durable and the zippers are much more rugged than the lighter weight versions.
9. Stasher Bags
I was introduced to Stasher Bags a couple of years ago. They are marketed for food storage, but I use them for travel! If you’re an organized packer or an aspiring zero-waste traveler, you’re going to want to travel with several empty stasher bags in your luggage… stasher bags can do it all! I use a big one in my toiletry bag to put my liquids in just in case they explode. I used to always use a plastic bag, but I love the Stasher bag as a multiple-use solution!
10. Sherpani Fashion Tote for the Business Traveler
This is a new addition to my travel gear arsenal and I love it! I just started using the Sherpani Tempest Tote/Backpack for trips that are less active and more business-oriented.
Why I Like It: Sometimes you just need to have something versatile and nice and the Tempest is just that. It looks like a business tote, is fashionable, and holds my camera and my laptop. However, it also can easily switch into a backpack and leave your hands free which is great when moving through airports or on buses/trains. You don’t even have to unhook anything for it to switch from tote to backpack! In addition, the tote is ethically sourced, it is hand-painted and uses vegan leather.
Toiletry Items for Travel Gift Ideas
Toiletry items are a large part of packing so make sure that you have the most efficient and earth-friendly ones! Here’s the gear I use in my toiletry case…including the case!
11. Hanging Toiletry Bag
I’ve been using this style of hanging toiletry bag since the day I left in 2006. I like the different compartments and the fact that you can stand the bottles upright. You can fit more than you think in this beauty!
12. Silicone Travel Bottles
I started using these reusable bottles for my shampoos and conditioners and I love them! They have big openings to make it easy to fill, and they have a locking mechanism so there will be no surprise spills!
13. Travel Washcloth
I know what you are thinking…a washcloth…huh? But trust me when I say that this is one of my favorite essential but cheap travel gifts. I personally am a washcloth person – and I don’t like to use the ones in hotels with liquid soap (that you frequently find in a hotel room). But this gem is really tiny and weightless and suds up so easily with just a little drop of liquid soap! The best part is that it’s completely odor-free and super fast drying, plus has the texture of a loofah sponge. A little gentle exfoliation never hurt anyone on the road! This is a great stocking stuffer idea for your friends going traveling!
I LOVE this piece of travel gear! It's in my packing list every time I travel. It's a super alternative to hotel washclothes that soak up all the liquid soap. Plus, it's odor-free, quick drying (like literally a few seconds rubbed in a towel and it's dry) & provides light exfoliation. It's great for camping and backpacking too!
14. Kula Antimicrobial Pee Cloth
Yes, you read that right. For the female who travels and often finds herself out in nature when nature calls, this pee cloth is amazing! I used to carry toilet paper for peeing while hiking – but then you have to pack it out and generally, I would just be lazy and ‘drip dry’. Until I learned about pee cloths! This can snap onto your backpack and you can use it to dry (it’s odor resistant and antimicrobial AND has a waterproof side where you hold it), and then snap it to your backpack to dry out quickly as you hike along!
When nature calls (and it will), the Kula Cloth Reusable Antimicrobial Pee Cloth keeps your hands dry on one side while sopping moisture into the absorbent, antimicrobial side that won't show stains. Perfect for hiking when you have to pee in nature. This cloth is so much better than toilet paper and can easily be cleaned when you get home.
15. Tide Travel Sink Packets
I often find myself doing a little ‘sink laundry’ on a longer trip. Instead of trying to use the hotel soap that is attached to the wall, just squeeze in one of these single-use tide packets and start your sink laundry! Also great stocking stuffers!
I always throw one of these in my toiletry bag when I travel. Many times when I travel I don't need to do an entire load of laundry - but just a few things in the sink and these are perfect for just that! Does 3 Loads (3 packs of 3)
Gifts That Make Flying Easier
I spend a lot of time on planes, so comfort is my priority. Even though I sit back in economy the majority of the time, I have found some ways to be comfortable. Here are my best travel presents for friends going traveling who sit back in the cheap seats like me!
Tip – Note down below I’ve included my favorite travel pants and
16. Stop the Plastic Waste and Bring a Water Bottle
Have you ever thought about how much plastic is used on a plane? Every passenger gets multiple drinks in plastic cups. Say no to this airplane waste and take your own bottle when you travel. I always bring my water bottles on planes and simply ask them to fill them up or fill them up at the airport before I get on. Hydration is important…and so are single-use bottles! Here are a couple of brands that I use that I love!
One of the things I like about Klean Kanteen insulated bottles is that they have a system where you really just need to purchase one insulated bottle and then use their interchangeable caps for your different needs; caps for sipping drinks, straws lids for cold drinks, or chug caps. One bottle is really all you need! In addition, they continue to innovate making their latest containers with certified 90% post-consumer recycled steel. By using recycled instead of virgin steel, Klean Kanteen will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from steel by 40%, achieve a 30% reduction in energy demand, and a 60-80% reduction in ecosystem impacts.
One of the things I like about Klean Kanteen is that they have a system where you really just need to purchase one insulated bottle and then use their interchangeable caps for your different needs; caps for sipping drinks, straws lids for cold drinks, or chug caps. One bottle is really all you need!
17. Neck Pillow
I’ve tried many different neck pillows, but I keep coming back to this one! This memory foam Neck Pillow provides enough support AND it folds up pretty small – the best of both worlds!
I love the soft yet firm memory foam and the fact that you can use the clip to pull it tight so it doesn't move around as much. Plus - becuase it's memory foam it folds up small and always retains its shape! After sitting in a compact ball during COVID I got mine out and it snapped back into shape in no time!
18. Best Travel Earplugs
Planes can be really noisy, so be prepared with earplugs. However don’t bother with those soft squishy ones, use silicon earplugs. I was actually introduced to these when I hiked the Camino de Santiago trail. The silicon earplugs block so much more noise, I didn’t even hear people getting up and packing around me in the morning! You can use them for a few days and then replace them with another pair.
19. Airplane Leg Sling
Even though you may be flying in economy – there are ways you can be more comfortable in your seat. Leg slings provide a way for you to get your feet elevated more on long-haul flights and decrease the pressure on your lower back
Consider this your portable foot hammock that changes your economy class seat to a premium seat! Elevate your feet on flights or train rides with this Memory Foam sling. Increases comfort and reduces swelling
20. Melatonin Tablets
If you are like me and have trouble falling asleep on planes, then pack some Melatonin with you. It will help you fall asleep faster and also can aid in getting over jetlag!
Jetlag sucks - but one thing I do to help me get through it quicker is take Melatonin tablets. These help you Fall Asleep Faster, Stay Asleep Longer, Strawberry Flavor, 10mg, 100Count
21. Priority Pass Lounge Membership
Now this is a sweet gift for your friends going traveling! Get lounge access at most airports around the world so you can wait out those inevitable long layovers in style and comfort! I love my Priority Pass membership – it has ‘saved me’ many times in my travels. They have a simple app to use to locate the lounges and provide some info about them. It sort of feels like you’re flying first class!
With a Priority Pass Membership, enjoy a VIP experience – whoever you fly with, in whatever class of travel and without the need to book in advance. Choose from three plans and on your next flight enjoy access to quiet, comfortable spaces with complimentary refreshments, something to read, Wi-Fi to tap in to, and even showers, bed and spa facilities to refresh in*.
Technology Travel Gifts
Technology is a part of our life and it is certainly a part of our travels. I know depend on my phone when I travel – it is my guide, my map, my safety. Here are a few of my best travel gift ideas around keeping that technology up and running and keeping your sanity!
22. Universal Plug Adapter
One of the best gifts for international travelers is one of these Universal Plug Adapters. However, the good news is that you’ll only need one, no matter where you go!
23. Battery Charger
With the number of electronics we now depend on while we are traveling, you must have a backup for your essential items when they are low on battery. I decided to invest in a good portable battery charger – one that might be a bit bigger – but charges more. Plus – a portable charger is essential if you are traveling off-grid for a number of days and need multiple charges. This is what I used when I rafted the Grand Canyon.
When I am on more remote trips, this is perfect as it provides multiple charges for when you are in the backcountry! Provides more than 5 and a half charges for iPhone XS, more than 4 full charges for Samsung Galaxy S10, and over 2 and a half charges for iPad mini 5.
24. Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
If I could marry these headphones and have their babies I would. I love, love, love them for long flights. When I started using noise-canceling headphones my first reaction was “Oh Baby…where have you been my whole traveling life?” I don’t know about you but I adore shutting everyone out and just being in my own world for a bit and that’s exactly what these do – better than any other on the market. They remove all of the low-level hums and buzzing from our completely plugged-in world, making you realize just how loud the world is.
25. Small Power Strip for Travel
More electronics means more needs for plugs when you travel. Even nice hotels are sometimes deficient on plugs or on easy-to-reach plugs. When traveling internationally I use my world adapter to plug into the wall, then plug this power strip into that. It’s a perfect gift for charging multiple things at once and the long chord is a must!
This power strip is ultra minisized and light. I love the 5 foot cord since you can never predict where wall outlets will be in a hotel! The chord wraps around the power strip itself when you’re not using it.
There are a number of brands I love for travel clothes. I’ve tested out many, but the ones I always love are Title Nine, Kuhl, Prana, and Exofficio are at the top of my list. They are a company that focuses on comfortable clothes that are often quick-drying and sustainable fabrics. However, I also have a few new items I’ve been trying out this year that have won me over!
26. Anatomie Lightweight Travel Coat
I am in love with this Anatomie coat. It’s lightweight, totally fashionable, and really comfortable. It’s a mix of stretchy soft fleece fabric and slick waterproof paneling. Anatomie is a high-end travel clothing line that I was just introduced to. Lightweight and wrinkle-free, I love all of their styles. However, I find that I’m not the right shape to fit into their many cute pairs of pants. Check out their entire travel clothing line!
Compression Socks for Travel
This is a travel gift idea that can save someone’s life. As you are probably aware, I had a very big scare recently with blood clots that formed during a long-haul flight. I could have easily died, and many people do. Ever since I made it through that experience, I have been a huge advocate of wearing
Plus – use Discount code is OTT15 – good for 15% off your order.
28. The Perfect Travel Pants
I fly a lot. And when you fly as much as I do you want to be comfortable. I’ve been testing out various pairs of ‘flying pants’ this year and have come up with my favorite. Try out the comfortable and super soft Vuori Performance Joggers. They are like butter!
29. LuluLemon Vinyasa Scarf
I had my eye on this scarf for over a year before I finally purchased it. First – I love anything reversible – just about as much as I love products that have dual uses – and this awesome scarf is both. It’s not just a scarf – it’s a little shrug, a blanket, a poncho – there are multiple ways to wear it. The fabric is super soft and I always carry it onto the plane for when I inevitably get cold.
30. Point6 Socks
My feet sweat a lot – but I’ve found a solution! Point6 wool socks are GREAT for travel. They dry really fast, don’t hold odor, and stay warm in the cold and cool in the heat. Because they don’t get smelly, I only have to take a couple of pairs in my suitcase. I run in them, hike in them, and wear them to bed when my feet are cold and have no one to snuggle with. They are the only socks I travel with!
The cozy merino wool cushioning next to the skin insulates the foot from hot spots. Now featuring 37.5 Technology to keep you dry in the office or on the mountain.
31. Branwyn Wool Underwear
Merino wool has made it into underwear. Once again merino is a great fabric for underwear thanks to its natural ability to resist odor. Plus – they dry super fast for washing in the middle of your trip. Really – I take half the underwear that I used to on trips with this miracle fabric! Branwyn has focused on making undies and bras made from this miracle fabric! If you are still skeptical about wool underwear – Branwyn has a ‘First Pair Guarantee’ that allows you to try 1 pair of each unique style/size/color on your first order, and return risk-free within 14 days of receiving your order.
32. Wallaroo Hats
This was one of my absolute favorite finds this year – Wallaroo hats! If you have followed me on social media then you know that I love hats; I normally pack at least 2 for each trip! They are perfect for sun protection, when I’m too lazy to shower, and bad hair days that happen frequently when I travel! Wallaroo is a Colorado company that specializes in sun-protective hats that remain stylish. Each hat has SPF in them to help protect against skin cancer. Check out their many styles!
Plus, use the OTTSWORLD20 promo code and get 20% off your Wallaroo purchase!
I love all of their styles and normally always have at least 2 of their different hats with me on every trip I take! All of their styles offer superb sun protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the material of every Wallaroo hat with a UPF rating and a 3+ inch brim as an effective UV protectant. Plus - they have so many fashionable styles!
Use my Discount code, OTTSWORLD20, for an extra 20% regular priced items!
Buffs/Tubes are great for so many uses – a hat, scarf, eye mask, tube top, washcloth, helmet liner, and even handkerchief. My favorite brand I’ve recently used is Turtle Fur. They have some of the softest fabric around – and you want it to be soft if it’s around your neck or head! I’ve used mine for every single one of those situations… and never leave ‘home’ without it!
Travel Gifts That Inspire
Looking for some travel inspiration? Need to know where to go, how to hike the Appalachian Trail, or how to travel on a budget? I’ve had a number of friends finish some books this year that are about travel – here are my favs for travel gift ideas when you are looking for inspiration!
34. Artistic Gifts for Travelers
I also recommend that you check out my Unique Gifts for Travelers Gift List here. I curated this list of Inspiring travel gifts from Etsy and it has some really fun ideas on it! These are all one-of-a-kind artistic gifts. Like these customized state maps for walls and hats made by my niece!
During the pandemic, my niece took up embroidery and started free-styling her own designs to put on hats, sweatshirts, pet collars, and walls. She typically focuses her designs on flowers, because she’s a plant lover. I love everything she does (because I’m a proud aunt), but when she started making state maps with state flowers, and iconic sites – I got really excited! I asked her to do a Colorado design for me.
You can tell her what you want/like, and she’ll put together a design for you – or you can look through the designs that are available in her shop.
35. For the Person Planning an Upcoming Trip
Ultimate Journeys for Two I know that I really specialize in solo travel, however this year I had a couple of good friends publish this awesome travel idea book for couples. If you are trying to figure out where to go, check out Ultimate Journeys for Two for ideas!
36. For the Person Who Loves to Hike
Make sure you pick up a copy of the External Hiking Book from my friend Dustin. He finished the Appalachian Trail…but not without a few bumps along the way!
37. For the Person Who Loves Glamping
My friends Mike and Anne Howard have been glamping all over the US and have put together a book about this new craze sweeping the travel world. Learn about all of the incredible places you can stay in style in Comfortably Wild
38. For the Budget Traveler
Long-time friend Matt Kepnes wrote this book about how to travel cheaply, but still have a rich experience all over the world! Read Travel the World on $50 a Day.
Shop My Complete Travel Gear Guides on my Amazon Store
This list really is only the new stuff I discovered and used this year in my travels, however, to see a complete list of all of my favorite travel gift ideas go shop at my Ottsworld Amazon store for all of my travel gear must-haves!
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This post contains some affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the costs of running this site