If you’re short on time and low on travel gift ideas, this post is going to save your life this year! I’ve spent the past three years traveling full-time, so I’ve got a prettty good sense of what gifts travelers actually want – and which will just end up collecting dust in a box somewhere.
Whether you’re looking for gifts for friends going travelling, something sweet for your special someone, or making a last-ditch effort to shop for that random person who has everything — I GOT YOU. This giant list of unique travel gifts & ideas will have something that’ll pique your interest, I promise.
(PS: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you. I’m also a participant in the Amazon Associates program, and earn commissions on any qualifying purchases made through this site)
Table of Contents
Unique Travel Gifts $50 and Under
You definitely don’t have to break the bank to find good travel gifts! So many of my favorites are under $50 and would make great travel stocking stuffers, or nice going-away gifts for friends going travelling. I tried to include a good mix of fun travel gifts and practical travel gifts in this list.
I own and use many of these already, and most of the others are sitting in my various carts for future trips. Real-Life Traveler Approved™.
My TOP unique travel gift idea this year!! It’s one of the best ways I’ve found to commemorate my travels and keep all my travel memories alive 🙂 These handmade wooden world travel maps can be customised with flag pushpins for all the places you or your loved one have visited. They make an incredible accent piece for any home.
I am also stoked on this brand because of their focus on sustainability and their small-scale manufacturing. Most importantly – they’re based in Ukraine. Their manufacturing centre was completely destroyed and they’re currently trying to offload their existing inventory and rebuild. Every purchase helps them do so. The maps are extremely high quality and just a really lovely, thoughtful travel gift. I’m obsessed and couldn’t recommend these more highly as a gift for people who like to travel.
Click here to check out all the Enjoy the Wood wooden travel maps, or make a donation through their site to support Ukraine. Use code JALEH10 for 10% off 🙂
For anyone who loves taking photos — this portable phone tripod is a must! The flexible arms can wrap around railings, furniture, or other objects to create the perfect angle for a photo. This will definitely help to up anyone’s Instagram game, especially solo travelers who struggle to get good shots.
Looking for meaningful but inexpensive travel gifts? I’m currently obsessed with these jewelry-quality custom metal pins. These are PERFECT gifts for travel lovers and offer endless style options for anyone who wants to add a little personality to their travel outfits.
These travel gift accessories easily upgrade a whole look, whether popped onto a hat, jacket, or backpack! The pins are fully customizable with unique elements like name, destinations, or travel quotes. They make a fantastic custom travel gift for this year.
Shop & check out the best custom metal pins manufacturer here! There’s a 40% bulk discount right now, so it’s a great time to pick up a few gifts for friends who travel!
If you’re looking for a gift for adventure lovers or wanderlusters missing international travel, this is it!!! This incredible book from National Geographic is devoted to travel inspiration around the world and features their typical (stunning) full-color photography, plus in-depth explanations for each destination. There’s something here for everyone.
This is such a thoughtful travel gift and would make an amazing gift idea for someone who misses traveling. Guarantee they’ll be thanking you for the inspiration for their next trip.
If you want bang for your buck, this is the option for what to gift someone who loves travelling. Most hotel rooms and even some in homestays/hostels have TVs, but they can be pretty much worthless in certain countries. I have watched more hours of TV in languages I don’t speak than I could count lol. Chromecast solves that problem, allowing you to stream Netflix/anything from your browser directly to your TV. It’s a LIFESAVER.
The PERFECT travel gift for her this year — this gorgeous pendant necklace features a plane and a globe, in classic sterling silver dotted with cubic zirconia. Cute, stylish, and tarnish-free, it’s one of the most unique and functional gifts for the traveling woman! This is probably one of my favorite pieces on this travel gift guide – it’s SO cute in person, too.
Is this a little sad? Yes, lol. But in current times, will it come UNBELIEVABLY IN HANDY for your favorite traveler? Yes, lol. This is a super basic, durable, clear plastic card holder to protect your card – literally one of THE best 2021 travel gift ideas. My card is not encased in one of these bad boys, and only 3 months and 5 countries later it is completely BATTERED. I would definitely recommend this as a travel stocking stuffer this year or including it as one of your travel gift basket ideas!
For anyone (me, lol) who loves getting a little tipsy during their flights but craves a PROPER cocktail, this is a BRILLIANT affordable travel gift idea!! The kit comes sans tequila but contains everything else your fave traveler (or you) needs to make a marg in-flight. And it’s TSA-approved. Yes. YESSS!! Seriously such a fun travel gift. I’m picking these up for my friends this year.
If nothing else, give the gift of free travel! There’s a whole world of unbelievable Airbnbs out there. And I don’t know any traveler who wouldn’t jump at a few nights of free accommodation in a cosy house or laid-back beach bungalow.
Please note Airbnb gift cards are currently redeemable to USA ACCOUNT HOLDERS ONLY.
A stainless steel bottle is great for travelers and the environment – win-win. This is a GREAT practical travel gift that most people never get around to buying for themselves. This one has tons of color & size options and it’s top-rated.
These are an organizational godsend and probably my favorite travel item I own. They make packing an absolute breeze because they compress to save space and help organize your items. They’re an absolute game-changer. Buy these as gifts for someone going travelling and I guarantee they will use them on every single trip.
Another great gift for travel photographers! This clip-on lens attaches to the phone to allow a wider frame and higher quality shots – and it’s compatible with iPhone, Samsung, and Google phones. The macro lens also allows for close-up detail shots. These are SO much fun to shoot with and make a really fun travel gift.
Boring, yes, but necessary. A good travel adapter will always be appreciated, and most travelers just opt for the cheapest version when shopping for themselves. Pick up a compact but multi-functional one with extra USB ports to charge devices, and you’ll get some SERIOUS brownie points.
This is another must-have that will get a ton of use. There’s nothing worse than your phone running out of juice in middle-of-nowhere, Uzbekistan (I can tell you from experience). Go for a slim, lightweight version to make sure your favorite traveler can always keep it on-hand, just in case!
This is the single best travel gift I could recommend if you’re looking for value. If you know any travelers who don’t have a neck pillow, get them one. Immediately. It will change their life and make flights so much more comfortable & restful. I’ve been using this wraparound pillow for 2+ years and refuse to travel without it, but the one pictured is better-rated and offers a bit more support.
If you know someone who struggles to sleep on flights, get them a foot hammock!! They hang off the tray table and allow you to elevate your feet, creating a much more comfortable resting position. I MacGyver myself a hammock with a sweatshirt or blanket, but would definitely appreciate a legit version. Elevating my feet has completely cured my plane insomnia and saved my life on long flights.
A lightweight, quick-drying travel towel is a godsend for any long-term traveler. This is one of those things people often don’t realize they need until they’ve already left.
My mom got me the scratch off version for Christmas last year and it was one of my best travel themed gifts! It’s so satisfying scratching off new countries, and it makes a cute conversation piece in my room. One of my best friends has the pushpin version which I love too. These are definitely awesome gifts for any avid traveler.
Perfect gifts for environmentally conscious travelers. I use mine for everything, from coffees to hostel water refills. It’s super compact and lightweight and fits easily in my bag, it’s cute af, and I love that I’m not contributing to creating plastic waste (especially in developing countries where that plastic is likely going to end up in the ocean).
This is the perfect gift for world travelers – especially in 2020, where lots of us are stuck at home unexpectedly and unable to travel 🙁 You can gift a little taste of feeling abroad with a round-the-world spice set featuring blends from Morocco, Jamaica, and Thailand, among others! It’s a super unique travel gift idea and one I’d love to get myself.
Pretty much every traveler I know has destroyed their phone at least once due to an accident, flood, or falling into a lake (last example being me). Save your traveler friends the hassle and gift them a STURDY waterproof phone case to protect their electronics, so that they too don’t end up abroad with a fried phone. Again, a great practical travel gift that a lot of people won’t bother picking up for themselves, but will literally KISS you for gifting them when they get home.
Another “boring” but unbelievably useful travel gift. For some reason, many countries like to put their power ports in completely incomprehensible positions – and it is NOT A VIBE. I never thought to bring one but would have KILLED for one the past 8 months in Vietnam as I’ve navigated housing with the literal dumbest wiring imaginable. Your traveler might go “wtf” when they open this one, but I PROMISE they will use it on one of their trips and bless you for saving them from a really common inconvenience.
This one also has USB ports and is super compact for travel. I just bought one and am looking forward to trying it out on my next trip!
Unique Travel Gift Ideas Under $200
If you’re looking for super useful travel gift ideas for the travelers in your life, here are some solid mid-range options.
I cannot & will not stop raving about this backpack lol. The KnackPack is a first-of-its kind multifunctional luggage and is by FAR the best travel backpack I’ve ever used. It’s an AMAZING practical travel gift idea. It has a ton of unique and thoughtful features for travelers looking for something sleek and functional. My medium pack is TSA-approved as a carry on but fits literally an INSANE amount of stuff in it.
Amongst other features, it packs like a suitcase, and has a ton of additional pockets, making storage super easy. It also has a side water bottle pocket, comfy padding on the back, and a trolley sleeve for easy stacking on my roller bag. I genuinely cannot recommend this bag more highly. They’ve thought of EVERYTHING and I truly couldn’t recommend this more highly as a unique travel gift this year!! It’s a game-changer.
Books and travel are… not compatible. When you’ve got limited space in your bag, it’s really not practical to lug around more than a book or two (if that). And that SUCKS if you love to read. If you know a bookworm who loves to travel, get them an e-reader and they will love you forever. Curling up in bed or passing a long train ride with all your favorite books at your fingertips… that’s priceless. I would love to get one of these… are you reading this, Mom? 😉
This nifty invention by a friend of mine is a patented-design carry bag that expands out into a fullsize tray. It’s SO HANDY. The sides are magnetised so once you want access to all your makeup, art supplies, etc at once, you just pop the sides and everything is laid out – no more rummaging through your bag for what you’re looking for. It comes in small/medium versions and a ton of different color options!!!
For the caffeine-addicted traveler. I had no idea a “nanopresso” was a thing until recently, but it looks AMAZING. Basically it’s a teeny-tiny portable machine that brews coffee! Just add coffee grounds and water. I was a bit skeptical of the functionality, but the reviews are actually solid – so this one is a safe bet for coffee lovers! Grab the NS adapter to make it Nespresso-pod compatible!
Especially in the age of ultra-curated social media, there’s something really special about real snapshots. Your fave traveler will have a blast snapping pics with one of these, and they’ll come home with a stack of absolutely priceless photos. My favorite travel photos are consistently the grainy, garbage quality late-night snaps on friends’ Polaroids – those are always the real moments, and the ones I most want to remember!
There’s something about speakers that makes everything more fun – whether you’re laying on a beach in Thailand, enjoying a beer in Germany, or hiking in Switzerland. This one is waterproof, compact, and the sound quality is amazing! My flatmates have this exact model and it’s survived countless trips to Bondi Beach.
For anyone who lives online, a mobile hotspot is a must have travel gift! This little contraption creates a mobile wifi network, so your favorite traveler can stay connected, even in the middle of nowhere. This is great for people who travel frequently because I guarantee they are sick of weak wi-fi and dropped connection.
Priority Pass is an exclusive service that grants members discounted access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world. Especially between long-haul international flights, it makes a huge difference to be able to relax, take a shower, and squeeze in a (complimentary!) gin & tonic. Whoever you pick this one up for will LOVE you.
Unique & Useful Travel Gift Ideas $200 and Over AKA Presents For People You REALLY Love
Kidding, I know you can’t put a price tag on love 😉 But if you’ve got a bit higher budget, here are some mid-range to luxury travel gift ideas that your giftee would DIE to have, but probably won’t splurge on themselves.
An absolute game-changer on flights, and probably one of the greatest investment items for a frequent traveler. You don’t realize how loud and disruptive airplane or outside noise can be until you can switch it off with the flick of a button. It makes a huge difference in sleep and comfort to upgrade from regular headphones. This Bose pair is one of the highest-rated noise cancelling headphones on the market, and my personal fave.
For any adventurers, a GoPro is a must have travel gift!! This bad boy can handle any weather condition and the picture quality is amazing considering how compact it is. It’s so fun to shoot with one and I’ve always come out with some gorgeous, in-the-moment adventure snaps. Don’t forget to pick up a GoPro dome to take some seriously cool half-underwater photos!
DJI drones are some of the highest-rated on the market. They create spectacular aerial shots and are one of the best gifts for travel photographers. This is a definite investment but seriously opens up a whole new world of possibility for photos! I personally would kill for a drone, especially as a solo traveler who often struggles to take pics unassisted.
Who wouldn’t love some sleek new luggage? My personal favorite brand Calpak makes beautiful luggage sets in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The rose-gold (pictured) is the most popular, but I own the white marble set, and have my eye on the rainbow gradient. They’re super lightweight but very sturdy and well-made.
Shay Mitchell’s Beis line is also EXTREMELY well-rated and very sleek. Revolve currently stocks a ton of luggage options including a 29” roller linked here, or a 21” roller linked here (both come in black and beige!).
If you know anyone who loves photography and travel, get them a mirrorless camera. An iPhone simply doesn’t do incredible destinations justice, but a DSLR is way too bulky to be practical for travel (I hate lugging mine around everywhere). A mirrorless camera gives you all the quality of a DSLR without the heft – it’s the perfect travel camera. I’ll be swapping out my Canon 6D for the Panasonic as soon as I can afford it!
Traveling does a number on your body, and it’s really hard to stay in shape (especially when you love trying new foods). Any long-term traveler would love a tracker to help monitor their activity and stay on top of their health while abroad. This was my personal most-wanted item this year, and I’m confident I’ll get a ton of use out of it on future travels.
Gift an Experience
If all else fails, and you don’t want to burden your traveler with more Stuff – give them a gift they’ll never forget! Like a Harry Potter studio tour in London. Or a hot air balloon ride over Sydney’s Hunter Valley wine country. Or a romantic dinner cruise through the San Francisco Bay.
Unique Travel Gifts for Her
Trying to sleep on a flight or in an unfamiliar environment (like a night train) can be absolutely miserable – a sleep mask will help to get some shut-eye. I have this pink silk version and it’s so cute and super soft.
Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
The number of times my shampoo/conditioner have leaked into my bag and destroyed some important possession are like… endless. And continually lugging around/purchasing new (sh*tty) hair products is both impractical, and bad for your hair. Solution? Gift travelers shampoo/conditioner bars (and bar soap!), which travel easy and leak-proof, while keeping hair sleek and moisturised even in the most remote destinations.
Especially if someone has indistinct luggage (like a basic black case), these will help avoid any mix-ups at the airport. And in case the bag gets lost, airport staff will easily be able to identify it. Plus they’re cute. My ex’s family got me these one year and I LOVE them – I use them every time I fly!
Your passport is the most important thing you take with you on your travels! And especially with frequent trips, they can get pretty banged up – mine is literally falling apart. If you know someone whose passport looks a little worse for the wear, get them a passport holder. They look nice and they’re a super functional travel gift.
I know it’s a running joke that you know you’re old once you get excited about socks for Christmas, but like, I would really love some socks lol. Whatever you decide to buy this year, just chuck some socks in the package too.
If you or someone you love needs socks too, here’s a link. You can never have enough socks, guys.
ANYWAY, I hope this helped you sort out your last-minute Christmas shopping this year!! Hope you guys have a lovely holiday season, and please let me know if you ended up buying any of these gifts for world travelers in your life. I’d love to hear about it!
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(Disclosure: This post is a paid collaboration with Enjoy the Wood, Pins US, and KnackPack)