25 perfect gifts for people who love traveling
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Whether you're shopping for a frequent flier or a camping enthusiast, finding gifts for those who love to travel is all about focusing on utility and design. From a power bank that keeps their phones and cameras fully-charged to an e-reader that packs as many books as one could possibly read, these presents can mean the difference between an okay journey and an amazing one. We've rounded up the best gifts for travelers of 2019 based on our testing and experience to help you on your gifting journey.
1. For the one who can’t pack light: Away Large Suitcase
Whether you're going on an extra-long journey or just need to pack a ton of shoes, sometimes it's impossible to jam everything into a carry-on. That's why it's important to have a piece of the best checked luggage money can buy.
Our favorite checked suitcase, the Away Large, has a tough yet flexible polycarbonate shell that protects its contents from being crushed. It also comes in a wide variety of trendy colors and is resistant to scuffs and dirt. Inside, there are 100 liters of packing space, mesh pockets, and a clip-in compression panel to hold two weeks' worth of clothing (and a ton of souvenirs), as well as a laundry bag and a combination lock.
2. For the serious hiker: Deuter Aircontact Backpack
Serious hikers need serious hiking packs, and words can’t describe how much I love my Aircontact from Deuter. I purchased mine years ago for a backpacking trip along the southern Mediterranean coast into the Middle East, and the bag survived wind, sand, rain, and more while carrying up to 70 pounds of stuff. And when my journey was over, only a light wash was needed to get the backpack looking good as new.
This lightweight backpack is entirely adjustable for different body types, while the back system keeps weight close to the body for effective load transfer. It's the real deal.
3. For the one who never checks a bag: Samsonite Flexis Softside Luggage
It's time we all admit that checking bags is kind of the worst. Between the financial burden of exorbitant checked bag fees, the possibility of losing your bag in transit, and the frustrating amount time it takes to wait for your luggage to clunk down the carousel after a long flight, checking bags is at best annoying, and at worst a nightmare.
Luckily, this Samsonite bag is a TSA-approved carry-on that will fit everything you need for a week-long trip—and it's the best carry-on luggage you can buy. Its 360-degree wheels and sturdy handles make maneuvering this thing through crowded airports a breeze, and it features 2,600 cubic inches of packing space with self-healing zippered mesh and water-resistant compartments. It strikes the perfect balance of affordability, features, and build quality.
4. For the weekend warrior: Lo & Sons Catalina Weekender
Weekend getaways are the special sauce that make stressful work weeks bearable. But it's hard to find the perfect bag for short trips that meets all our requirements: heavy-duty yet lightweight, spacious yet not overly large, practical yet stylish.
The organic cotton Catalina bag is closest thing we've found to that perfect bag. On one side, there're a pocket to store your phone, keys, and travel documents within reach, and on the other, a luggage sleeve that can slide right over any suitcase handle. The bottom even has a padded compartment to keep shoes separate from clean clothes. It's the perfect size and design for any weekend warriors in your life. If you're not looking for a weekend bag, their other bags can also make a great gifts for different travel needs.
5. For the one with a messy bag: eBags Classic Packing Cubes
Packing is hard to begin with, but throw in the task of keeping your bag organized throughout your trip, and you've got an impossible task. Too often, my meticulously arranged bag becomes a hurricane of bunched-up clothes and missing socks after a few days. If this sounds like someone you know, you might want to gift them some truly amazing packing cubes.
While it might seem counterintuitive to pack your bag full of more bags, these nylon, zippered pouches from eBags keep their contents organized and fresh, so you can rifle through your overnighter without fear of wrinkling your clothing or losing track of an outfit you really wanted to wear. They're game-changing.
6. For the chronic over-packer: Dr. Meter Digital Luggage Scale
I have a friend who always gets stuck paying last-minute bag overage fees at the airport. "My scale said 48 pounds!" she always exclaims to an unimpressed TSA agent who slaps her overweight bag with a "heavy" sticker and a $25 charge. Great as she is otherwise, don't be like my friend: Invest in a good luggage scale.
The Dr. Meter Digital Luggage Scale is the best we've ever tested. To use it, simply turn it on, attach it to the handle of your luggage, and lift. Since it only weighs about 3 ounces, you’ll never even notice it in your bag until you need it. And, unlike your scale at home, it will accurately measure all weight within a few decimal places.
7. For the one who wants to smell amazing: Perricone MD Jet Set
Known for its nourishing eye cream that has over 10k loves at Sephora, Perricone MD's travel set bundles up six of their top-selling products that reduce any travel-related skin issues to minimum. This value pack includes a cleanser, a moisturizer, a serum, and the iconic Cold Plasma Plus treatment for face and eyes, which can cover all of skincare needs when traveling.
8. For the caffeine addict: Zojirushi Travel Mug
Whether hiking through snowy mountains or taking red-eye flights, having a hot coffee or tea on hand will keep you a lot more relaxed on your journey. This Zojirushi stainless steel travel mug is the perfect travel companion—it took first place in our roundup of the best travel mugs for its ability to keep liquids hot overnight.
Its slim and sleek design makes it easy to slide into the side pocket of your backpack or purse, and its airtight, lockable lid gives you an ease of mind that nothing will leak and destroy your precious personal items, too. Your giftee will thank you.
9. For the one who needs some shut-eye: Nidra Sleep Mask
If you've ever woken up with the sun thanks to a room with sheer curtains, or needed to catch some shut-eye in the middle of a long travel day, you know the importance of a good sleep mask.
After testing the best sleep masks on the market, we awarded this mask from Nidra our top spot. It feels like having personal blackout curtains for your eyes, and it won’t fall off in the middle of the night. The contoured design doesn’t put pressure on eyes, either, so you can actually blink while wearing it. Whether fitting in a nap or a full eight hours, you'll wake up well-rested (and in complete darkness).
10. For the resourceful adventurer: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Whether your giftee likes taking one-day hiking trips with friends or going on months-long expeditions, this LifeStraw personal water filter can help them access safe and clean water anywhere. Having access to clean drinking water is key to a successful outdoor expedition, and this small but amazing gadget uses hollow fiber membrane technology to make water safe to drink.
11. For the one who's serious about skincare: SK-II Facial Treatment Mask
Traveling is exhausting, and exhaustion can result in skin dryness and sometimes breakouts. When I lose sleep on my journey, I like to use this cotton face mask from SK-II to save my skin. It reduces redness and dark circles, and its world-famous formula gives my face an instant boost that's comparable to an actual spa session.
Unlike face cream that can take up a lot of valuable space in a suitcase, the mask can easily fit into any small pockets or packing cubes in luggage bags.
12. For the one who's always thirsty: Brita BB11 Water Bottle
It's so important to bring your own water bottle while traveling. First off, who has the kind of dispensable income to shell out $5 for a tiny bottle of water? Secondly, fresh water isn't always readily available and hydration is crucial: Becoming dehydrated on hectic travel days will only make you feel like a cranky garbage can.
This Brita water bottle is the best water bottle we've tested, meeting every parameter of what we look for in a water bottle. At 20-ounces it’s not overly bulky, but still carries enough that you won’t need to source multiple refills throughout the day. Its wide-mouth easily accommodates ice cubes, a slim build allows it to fit in car coffee holders or the pockets of bags, and a securely locking lid (topped with a handy loop for comfy carrying) guards against accidents or spills. We love that it opens with a one-handed push of a button, and is affixed with a straw, so there's little chance of accidental spillage, by rushing out of the mouth and landing straight in your lap.
13. For the one with ankle swelling: Dr. Scholl Compression Socks
I always pack a pair of compression socks or leggings in my carry-on because my legs swell up like balloons after a couple of hours of flying. Compression socks can help increase blood circulation and reduce the risk of clotting on a flight.
I swear by the pair of Dr. Scholl’s compression socks I bought in Tokyo. They’re so durable that they always come out looking and feeling like new after I throw them in the washing machine. They're specifically made for the Japanese market, but I recently discovered them for sale on Amazon. But if the price is beyond what you’re comfortable with, Physix Gear also makes highly-rated compression socks with a more competitive price tag.
- Get the Dr. Scholl's Compression Socks on Amazon for $20.88
- Get the Physix Gear Sports Compression Socks on Amazon for $16.99
14. For the friend who always wants to sleep: AirComfy Neck Pillow
I find sleeping on an airplane near-impossible. The conditions have to be perfect: a window seat, a dark, warm cabin, and preferably an empty middle seat. Even so, I'll lurch awake as soon as my head lulls to the side (or, cringe, if I slump onto my seat mate). But this well-fitted, inflatable neck pillow can convert anyone into a bonafide plane sleeper.
This AirComfy pillow features two supportive "legs" that give support at every angle. Unlike traditional neck pillows that you'll need to inflate by mouth, the pump design lets you fill up the pillow with air within a minute. To release, you'll only need to press down the valve and it'll start releasing the air so you can fold it up and pack it in your bag.
15. For the one who walks everywhere: Allbirds wool sneakers
When it comes to comfort and design, Allbirds sneakers stand above the rest of the footwear market. Their trendy design and soft material makes them perfect for gifting—and their durability guarantees they won’t break down on long hikes or city strolls. They’re also machine-washable, which makes for painless cleaning.
16. For the traveler who craves silence: Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones
Is there anything worse than a wailing baby on a plane? Yes: loud chewers. And chatty neighbors. And snoring seat mates. Honestly, traveling is stressful enough as it is without all these extra noises.
These top-rated noise-canceling headphones can give your giftee a respite of peace and quiet whether they're on a family road trip or stuck in a crowded airport on a long layover. Yes, these headphones are pricey, but don't let the sticker price dissuade you from moving forward: The true-silence noise cancellation capability and unmatched comfort of these Sony headphones make them worth the investment.
17. For the avid reader: Kindle Paperwhite
Whether you're camping or flying, traveling is a great time to unplug and catch up on your reading. But thanks to our favorite e-reader, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, you don't have to lug around a bunch of hard copies. The Paperwhite can give you thousands of books at your fingertips, all with an adjustable backlight and an excellent battery life that lasts about three weeks on a single charge.
The best part? This new and improved version is lightweight and waterproof, so feel free to read in the tub, on the boat, in the pool, etc. The opportunities are endless.
18. For the one who's always online: RavPower USB Battery Pack
Travelers use their phones for everything as they navigate a new locale. A smartphone can act as your compass on a hike, a resource to find the best dinner spots, a better camera than your DSLR, a navigational system for new terrain, a flashlight in the middle of the night, and so much more—it should come as no surprise when our phones to start to die by 10:30 a.m. That's why a great external phone charger can be invaluable for travelers.
The RAVPower USB Battery Pack is one of out favorites because it has three USB ports (including one for quick charge) and holds enough power to quickly re-juice a dead iPhone three times. No more skimping on your phone usage while waiting for a flight in fear of a declining battery.
19. For the one who's always working: Kate Spade Laptop Sleeve
Laptops are essential travel companions, but their fragile nature makes them prone to damage. The frequent travelers in your life will thank you for gifting them a well-made, long-lasting laptop sleeve that protects from water-spillage, accidental drops, and scratches from sharp objects. This Kate Spade laptop sleeve is stylish, but it's also durable, and it passed every test we threw at it in our roundup of the best laptop sleeves.
20. For the one who's all about good vibes: JBL Portable Bluetooth Speaker
While we can play music using our smartphones, the quality simply can’t compete with a speaker that creates the volume and depth needed for the perfect ambience. As the functionality of portable bluetooth speakers improves, it’s even easier to bring good music and good vibes no matter where we are. With its long battery life, hard plastic chassis, and awesome sound quality, the JBL Bluetooth Speaker makes a great gift for travelers who like to enjoy music everywhere they go.
21. For the passionate photographer: JOBY Portable Tripod
Taking photos is a great way to document every memorable moment on a journey. However, that moment can sometimes be difficult to catch. Carrying a tripod like a professional can help you capture the best photos wherever you are, making your expensive cameras worth the money. Plus, having a tripod makes taking selfies much easier, especially for someone who’s a little bit shy to ask strangers to take photos for them.
22. For the globetrotter: Bonazza International Adapter
No, this is not a glamorous gift. But it's one of the best gifts for world travelers who always find themselves in a country with unfamiliar sockets. This universal adapter doesn’t take up much space in a backpack or suitcase, its slim design won’t block other outlets, and it offers two plug outlets and four USB ports for charging multiple devices at the same time.
Like most adapters, it doesn’t convert voltage, so electronics that require different voltage (such as hairdryers) shouldn’t be used in conjunction.
23. For the friend who’s obsessed with Polaroids: Fujifilm Instant Camera
While digital cameras aren’t for everyone, instant film cameras are fun and simple to use. We tested the best instant cameras and we love this model from Fujifilm because it's durable and portable—and better than the competition. The retro-looking camera comes in a black leather finish and a brown leather finish, and it allows for double exposure in low-light conditions, which means better photos no matter where you are.
24. For the one who likes to keep a journal: "I Was Here" Travel Journal
As great as a classic Moleskin notebook is, this travel-centric journal is ideal for any creative traveler. It's colorful illustrations and instructions encourage readers to explore the easily overlooked details of their new surroundings. Some examples include, "Have a local draw you a map to their favorite place in their neighborhood," and, "For one day, shoot all photos from hip height."
The journal also has plenty of space to record discoveries, addresses, itineraries, reviews, and tips from locals. There's even a pocket for collecting memorabilia. It's great for anyone who's ready to step out of their comfort zone.
25. For the friend who travels with pets: Wild One Air Travel Carrier
For pet owners, traveling with a furry friend in tow is never an easy task. That's why we've tested a number of pet carriers that are designed to maximize comfort for you and your pets. This air travel carrier, from the popular pet brand Wild One, is stylish and airline-compliant. The soft, breathable mesh offers necessary ventilation, while the sturdy material of the bag gives your pets support. For the owners, it has a suitcase-attachment feature that allows you to slide the bag over the suitcase handle so you can travel handsfree.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.