10 Unique Travel Gift Ideas The World Traveler on Your List Will Love

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 10 Travel Gift Ideas the World Traveler on Your List Actually Wants

Travel gift ideas, eh?

Here we sit at Cyber Monday on the cusp of the 2019 Christmas season. You’ve survived Black Friday, you spread some local love on Small Business Saturday, but there’s a traveler on your holiday shopping list you still don’t know what to get. Or maybe, as a world traveler yourself, you’ve been using diversionary tactics whenever a loved one asks for your Holiday Wish List.  Despair no more! Enter . . .

The First Annual Beyond the Yellow Brick Road Holiday Gift Guide!

Today, I’ve compiled my top 10 travel gift ideas, which range from “nice to haves” to travel essentials. While most travelers prioritize experience over materialism, I guarantee that each of these item is practical and useful enough to make the cut for even the lightest packer. Each of these items go on trip after trip with me.

1) The Tao of Travel

What’s travel without a good book? Sad, that’s what.

Hands down, I do my best reading on airplanes. You sit me down in a tight little seat, remove all ways to contact the outside world, and I can churn through my book du jour. (Yes, this often means I need to hit up airport bookstores.) If you need your next plane read or want something to tide you through a period of “home-bodying,” try well-known travel writer Paul Theroux’s The Tao of Travel. A compilation of short excerpts from the best travel writers on a myriad of topics, The Tao of Travel lends itself to being read in brief bursts, or you can settle in with it for a long cross-country flight.

2) Journal

I don’t always keep a journal during my travels, but at the very least, I always write down the day’s itinerary in my bullet journal. For bullet journaling, I prefer Leuchtturm 1917 journals while I use Moleskine plain journals for more in-depth note taking and reflecting.

3) Nalgene Bottle

Call me old school, but I’ve been lugging an empty Nalgene bottle through airport security and filling it in the gate area since 2006.

Happily, these days most airports prioritize providing water bottle filling stations so if you’re still paying for overpriced bottled water at the airport, what are you even doing? I always use the 32 oz Nalgene bottle. It’s a tight squeeze in the seatback pocket, but I’ve stuck with Nalgene after all these years because the loop connecting the lid to the bottles makes it so easy to carry around. The quart size guarantees I have enough water to stay hydrated for a good long time.

4) Hydroflask 16 oz canteen mug

On our trip to the Carolinas, my friend Jenny pointed out that I might have a bit of a “canteen problem.” So if these travel gift ideas trend towards reusable liquid containers, well, there’s a reason for that. I prioritize avoiding single-use items like disposable coffee cups and water bottles while traveling.  While there’s not much I can do about jet plane emissions, I can at least take little steps to mitigate my environmental impact while traveling.

This 16 oz Hydro Flask mug keeps me from leaving a trail of paper coffee cups in my wake. It’s also a lot easier to hold onto than a disposable paper cup. Happily, it fits perfectly in airplane seatback pockets on the airplane without having to worry about it making a mess.

One word of warning – it will keep your coffee very, very hot for a good long time. Plan to drink your coffee about two hours after purchasing it unless you use a ton of creamer. Or let it cool off for a while with the lid off.

5) Sleep kit contents

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could give you a good night’s sleep?

If you’ve read my post on my tricks for getting a good night’s sleep while traveling, you know I think being well-rested is the best way to enjoy your travels.

Although you sadly can’t give someone sleep, you can give them a little sleep kit. I recommend using a small zippered pouch like the ones recommended below and throwing in all five items I recommend for getting some quality shut-eye. Pretty sure you’ll win “most thoughtful gift” if you give this to someone with big travel plans on the horizon.

6) Zippered pouches

Small zippered pouches like the makeup bags pictured above keep all my little items sorted and easy to find in my suitcase. While I do use one for my makeup, I also use these little bags for my sleep kit and to keep my chargers, headphones, memory cards, and other cords together. I’ve used them to keep different currencies separated and they’d make a great little first-aid kit. Really, their uses are pretty limitless.

If you’re at all crafty and own a sewing machine these pouches are dead simple to make. I used this tutorial to teach myself how to make them. Now I churn them out whenever I need another one or need a gift for someone with upcoming travels.

7) Passport Wallet

passport wallet travel gift ideas

Remember when we used to travel around with big wads of paper? Confirmations, boarding passes, heck, back in those dark ages pre-iPhone, we even had to print out directions. We’ve come a long way in the last two decades, but you still need to keep track of one very important paper document when you travel: your passport.

A passport wallet keesp your passport and any other important papers secure. It’s also easy to find in my purse. I don’t know how it happens, but you always seem to acquire all sorts of random bits of paper at the airport (like your baggage tracking slip) and this gives them all a safe home.

8) Delta Gift Cards

Most of us can’t give our loved ones a much-deserved trip, no matter how much we want to. But an airline gift card is the second best thing you can do other than straight up booking their flight. While airline gift cards obviously give the recipient a little financial relief when purchasing their tickets, they also can provide a little travel budget boost. With that extra $$, they might consider a more expensive flight with better timing or finally book a long dreamed about trip.

I primarily fly with Delta and I’ve had good luck with their gift cards.

9) Tickets to a show/event

experiences travel gift ideas

If you’re already planning a trip with someone, it’s hard to think of a better present for them than tickets to a show or an event you’ll attend together. Selfishly, these are excellent gifts since you get to come with. To date, my favorite gift I ever gave were tickets to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

There’s a whole wealth of experiential gifts to choose from. Think beyond concerts and shows to boat rides, brunches, spa days, walking tours, and more. Since we travelers tend to value experience over material items, a ticket stub is often the most valuable and memorable gift you can give.

10) A good pair of sunglasses

No matter where you go in the world, you want to have a good look at it. You don’t want to be caught squinting. It’s time to ditch those cheap gas station sunglasses and upgrade to a good pair of polarized sunglasses.

My Maui Jim sunglasses have been around the world with me. Not only are they made in the U.S., I can also send them in for repairs if need be. I consider them an investment to help me enjoy my time outdoors and they dress up nicely for outdoor events like the Kentucky Derby.

And that concludes Beyond the Yellow Brick Road‘s 2019 Travel Gift Guide  


I hope this gives you some great travel gift ideas for the upcoming gifting season!

What’s the best travel gift you ever received? Let me know if the comments below!


Hi! I’m Ada, a travel writer who believes “there’s no place like home.” I started Beyond the Yellow Brick Road to share my travel experiences and lessons learned from the road to help fellow travelers have the best travel experiences possible.

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