Travel Gifts: The science behind picking the right travel gift!

//Travel Gifts: The science behind picking the right travel gift!

Gift giving is something that almost everyone indulges in. The kind of gift you give a person usually depends on how well you know the person and how much you care about them. Off late since both Shawn and I have been traveling a lot our gifts have been centered around travel. Buying travel gifts is very easy if you know the person well and budget isn’t an issue. It would however surprise you to know that all travel gifts don’t necessarily have to be expensive.


Most people assume that buying a travel related gift is easy because every travel related article can become a gift. While that in essence is true, there is one small flaw in that assumption: There are different kinds of travelers.


This is the guy who heads out to a location for the sole purpose of doing business. He/she usually carries only the requisite amount of things he requires for that duration of time.


Families travel a little differently from individual travelers. This is particularly important to note if they have small children. The kind of activities that they participate in are the ones that are safe for children. You will also notice that the grownups have to pack for the children too. That changes the kind of luggage they carry and how they pack.


Some people love to travel in luxury. They will book 5 star resorts and luxury cruises. These travelers usually travel with suitcase/trolley bag which houses their luggage. Just because they stay in a luxury resort does not however mean that they don’t indulge in activities outside the hotel.


The backpacker is usually on a budget. They pack everything into a backpack (hence the name) and try to conserve as much space as possible. It also helps them be mobile, get off the beaten track and see places that most conventional tours don’t take people to.

Once you know which category the gift recipient falls in, it is so much easier to select a gift. The only issue that will come in the foreground however is the budget. Don’t fear… There are a number of options that we will list and they will fit into different budget ranges.

In order to help you I’ve categorized the different travel gifts into the following sections. You can click on the section to go straight to it.

TRAVEL GIFTS: Luggage And Travel Gear

It goes without saying that every traveler carries some amount of luggage. The amount of luggage that person carries, however is dependent on their style of traveling. I am strong believer that people eventually find their own unique style. The more they travel, the more they know just what they want to pack. So if you are thinking of buying something for them to put their luggage in make sure you know what kind of traveler they are. These are a few suggestions in the luggage department that could make a great travel gifts for Christmas.

A suitcase or a trolley bag as they are so popularly called is an essential for most travelers especially for long term travel. Unless you are backpacking across a country that is! Most people look for a suitcase that fits their personal requirements (Read: how much they carry). It needs to be durable so that you can use if without fear of it breaking down on you and it needs to be light. A suitcase that combines all these features definitely makes the list of great travel gifts!

When Shawn bought a Victorinox suitcase I thought he was crazy because they are usually really expensive. He however was lucky enough to get his white large Victorinox suitcase for half the price during a sale. I have to admit that when we started traveling together, I was a little jealous. The suitcase is light, doesn’t damage easily and has a long warranty. So you are looking for a travel gift that fits a lot of stuff in it then I would suggest thinking of a Victorinox suitcase. This particular one is expandable (comes in really handy when you over shop!).

Features that caught my eye were

  • Light weight and expandable.
  • The Victorinox suitcase that we bought was extremely hardy. It did not damage easily and the warranty offered was also damn good!

Buy from Amazon : Victorinox Spectra 2.0 Medium Expandable Spinner

If you think that getting a suitcase is way too personal then think about a backpack. Every traveler needs that perfect carry on. This particular anti-theft backpack has become the latest craze. I’ve even been tempted to buy one for myself. In addition to the popular anti-theft feature, the backpack is also very well designed.

Features that caught my eye were

  • You can store a laptop (less than 16 inch), an iPhone and an iPad in addition to the usual items (pen, books, wallet, clothes, keys etc.). Now almost every backpack has this feature but the anti-theft backpack is designed in such a way that there is a place for every one of those items (in 3 main pockets and 7 inner small pockets) and they are also easily accessible. That makes the anti-theft backpack one of the coolest travel gifts.
  • It has an external USB interface which means that you can charge your phone without removing the portable charger. I personally love this feature! Another reason why I would think this back pack is a great travel gift.
  • Comfort is very important to me because a backpack tends to be on your shoulders for hours when you are travelling. The back system and strap are made with thick pearl wool to ensure that it is comfortable.

Buy from Amazon: Anti – theft Laptop Backpack

As long as you are looking for a Christmas gift for travelers in the luggage section, you may want to check out the backpack rain covers. Not all backpacks come with their own protective shield against the rain. With the number of electronic gadgets and important documents that go into our backpacks, I find that a rain cover comes in very handy. The fact that they are easy to store is definitely a bonus point.

Buy from Amazon: Waterproof Backpack Rain cover

Shawn was a little bit hesitant to try out the packing cubes. I made a few makeshift ones when traveling last time and I loved how they helped me organize my stuff. It also meant that each time I opened my bag, I wasn’t rummaging around and turning everything upside down. We plan on ordering ourselves a set before our next trip.

There are a number of different types of packing cubes available in the market. Most of them are relatively inexpensive. They are an amazing and thoughtful travel gift.

Buy from Amazon: Packing cubes

I consider the travel cord organizer an extension of the packing cubes. If you are anything like me, you will find that your cables get entangled and mixed up. A small travel cord organizer fits quite easily in every bag. It also makes for budget friendly travel gifts.

Buy from Amazon: Electronics organizer

Sometimes the simplest things make the best travel gifts. One of the things that we struggle with every time we travel is the related to carrying all our shampoos and soaps. One of the best ways to do that is to pour the soap, shampoo and conditioner into more travel friendly bottles. You can also try and do this with creams and lotions too. It saves a lot of space in the bag. In our opinion, anything that helps save space is a great travel gift!

Buy from Amazon: Portable soft silicone travel bottles


Gadgets form an integral part of our lives. Even though I grew up in a time before mobile phones and laptops… scratch that… computers! (yeah, I saw my first computer when I was ten years old and I was one of the lucky few!) were the norm, I find it hard to imagine life without them.

As a traveler and a travel blogger, I find myself on the lookout for gadgets that are light to carry, durable and that make my life easier. Unfortunately most gadgets that fit that specification come with a big price tag. It is the name of the game I guess. A few smaller gadgets however do fall in the budget travel gifts category.

If you really want to make any travelers day then the best pick among all the travel gifts would be a traveler’s laptop. A traveler’s laptop is light (and has a light charger!), easy to carry and is durable. The types of laptops that are coming out are more and more traveler friendly. I have my eye set on the Dell XPS 13 since I am an ardent fan of the XPS series. It is also one of the lightest laptops available in the market today.

For the Macbook fans, I’ve been told that the Apple 15” Macbook Pro is also a great option. I would suggest going for the 256 GB SSD instead of the 128 GB SSD in both the models.

Buy from Amazon: Dell XPS 13 , Apple MacBook Air

Many travelers prefer to carry a tablet instead of a heavy laptop because they are light and portable. Some tablets come with a portable keyboard which makes using them as laptops really easy and practical. One of the most popular ones is the iPad Pro. It’s cheaper and lighter than a good travel laptop. That makes it a great addition to our list of travel gifts.

Buy from Amazon: iPad Pro

Solar phone chargers are definitely not as popular as they should be. I saw my first solar charger in Netherlands and I was taken aback because I did not know that they existed before that. The kind of solar chargers that are available today are mind blowing and if they were available in India I definitely would have had one by now. This particular one in the picture has the following features:

  • Water resistant, shock resistant and dust proof with a compass.
  • Dual USB with outputs that suit most devices
  • Powerful LED flashlight

Buy from Amazon: Solar Power Bank 10000 mAh

Storage of photographs has always been a problem. They tend to occupy way too much space on the laptop. In order to keep the laptop clean and functioning optimally it is always great to have an external hard drive. Space constraints however need to be considered. While there are a number of different larger external hard drives out there, the slim Seagate seven (750 GB) has to catch your eye. I couldn’t resist putting it on my list of travel gifts mainly because of how light it is!

Buy from Amazon: Seagate Seven 750 GB

A lot of travelers like to read. Carrying a number of books along is not feasible because of the weight that would entail. Luckily in today’s hi-tech world you can actually have your cake and eat it too. The Kindle is a great way to carry as many books as you want so that you have a choice on the move. If you really want to spoil a book lover/traveler then don’t scroll any further through the travel gifts. This one is the one you need to buy! While you are at it, don’t forget to take a look at the thinnest, lightest kindle ever!

Buy from Amazon: Kindle

Traveling on any mode of transport can be quite unnerving because of all the noises that you are exposed to. This is especially true if there is a screaming child sitting next to you. Most people like to rest on the way and one way to ensure that they can do that is by donning a pair of noise canceling headphones.

Shawn bought himself a pair of Bose headphones which he loved. The fact that it folds neatly into a pouch and is wireless is an additional bonus. After watching him dose off next to me time and again on the plane, I’m considering getting one for myself too. They are by far one of the best travel gifts that a person could receive.

Buy from Amazon: Bose QuiteComfort  35 noise canceling wireless headphones

We have become extremely dependent on our smart phones and tablets. The problem is that the more we use them the more often we have to charge them. That becomes almost impossible when you are shuttling from place to place or running to catch a connecting flight. So what’s the alternative? Portable chargers or power banks as some people like to call them are a great method to charge your mobile phone on the go. The portable charges today seem to be able to store more and more charge which means you can probably charge your phone twice or thrice over. That is why they make such a great addition to the list of travel gifts.

Buy from Amazon: 22000 mAh Portable Charger

Documenting your journey as you move from place to place is so much easier in today’s world. We keep clicking photographs on the go and we can even record videos with ease. The ideal camera for a traveler is one that is light and compact. We have been lugging our DSLR around wherever we go and it does become tedious and heavy. That’s one of the reasons why we have our eye on the Go Pro. In addition to being light and small, the Go Pro can also be used in the water which makes for some amazing underwater videos and photographs.

Buy from Amazon: GoPro Hero 5

Our first encounter with a clip on phone lens was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A lot of people were using them to get that perfect shot of the Petronas towers. The clip on phone lenses make great travel gifts because they are cool, funky, practical and relatively cheap! Just make sure that they are compatible with the phone the recipient uses before you buy one.

Buy from Amazon: Professional HD camera lens kit

TRAVEL GIFTS: Outdoor Gear

Many people love to get out into the great outdoors when they travel. After all seeing the world often means getting off the beaten track. If you are searching for gifts for a person who loves to be adventurous and trek, hike and explore the wilderness then you have a great lead to follow. Check out some of the interesting travel gifts that we advise considering.

I had honestly never heard of the Lifestraw personal water filter till a fellow blogger introduced me to it in Vietnam. The Lifestraw personal water filter is great for hikers because it helps ensure that the water that they drink is not contaminated with iodine, chlorine or other chemicals. The best part about it is that it does not require batteries so you can take it anywhere without worrying.

The lifestraw is said to remove 99.99% of the waterborne bacteria and protozoan parasites. This helps reduce the risk of food poisoning significantly. It is also light and weighs just 2 ounces.

Buy from Amazon: Lifestraw Personal water filter

If you are searching for travel gifts for a person who loves to take their dog into the great outdoors then you may want to think of a dog pack. We fell in love with it as soon as we saw it and we are trying to get one for our cat. Not sure if she will be as appreciative though! The dog pack is a great way for their pet to carry its own treats and other camping gear.

Buy from Amazon: Dog backpack

I never realized the true value of a LED headlamp until I found myself walking in the dark up a volcano in Indonesia. The headlamp is great because it leaves your hands free to do other things. This comes in particularly useful when you need both hands to steady yourself on a slippery slope. If the recipient of your gift loves to hike and doesn’t have one then this would hands down be one of the best travel gifts you could pick!

Buy from Amazon: LED Headlamp 

The one thing that we love about a pocket knife is that it is small, light, easy to carry and is so practical. One thing that you must remember however is that the pocket knife needs to go into checked in luggage on a plane. Despite the slight inconvenience, a pocket knife is definitely one of the best travel gifts in town.

Buy from Amazon: Swiss Army Pocket Knife

TRAVEL GIFTS: Quirky Ideas

Not all travel gifts needs to be something that a traveler can carry along with them on their journey. Some gifts are just funky and well… Quirky! With that in mind we have compiled a short list of travel gifts that are sure to make the recipient smile.

No matter how well in advance people plan out their packing, they inadvertently leave something behind. This fun packing check list is great for all kinds of travelers. All that the recipient has to do is rip off one of the 60 checklists and tick as they pack.

Buy from Amazon: Knock Knock Pack This! Pad

A lot of traveler’s love National Geographic and religiously follow them for inspiration. If the recipient is one those people then why not gift him/her a book that describes National Geographic’s 500 journey’s of a lifetime? It is a great way to help them where they want to head to next!

Buy from Amazon: Journeys of a lifetime: 500 of the world’s greatest trips

A great and artistic way to document where you have traveled is through a scratch map. The map gives the owner a visual perspective of how much of the world they have covered and how much they have yet to see. It also makes a great ornament on the wall.

Buy from Amazon: Scratch map

Travel gifts

One of the main the reasons why people travel is because of the different experiences that they can indulge in. If you know the recipient well enough then experiences would make great travel gifts. These experiences could be anything from a ride in a hot air balloon to kayaking with the dolphins. It depends on what the person loves to do.

Gift an experience from Amazon

Finding ideas for travel gifts for people is not hard. Sometimes the hardest part is choosing one out of the entire list that is best suited for the recipient. The easiest way to deal with that situation is to filter out the gifts based on your budget. That will help narrow down the list to a few specific items. Next look at how well you know the person and choose the item that suits the recipient best! Picking the best travel gifts now is all a process of elimination!

*This post contains affiliate links.

2017-10-07T23:54:31+00:00 September 29th, 2017|Travel Accessories|4 Comments


  1. Sarah October 21, 2017 at 6:28 am - Reply

    From experience I can attest to the fact that makeshift luggage rain covers (ie, garbage bags) are NOT successful!

    • Penny October 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      We have all had those moments!!!

  2. Sarah October 21, 2017 at 8:49 am - Reply

    This is such a great list – I LOVE my seagatr hard drive and wouldn’t have thought of it that way but it is an amazing gift for a travel lover!

  3. Kristine Li October 21, 2017 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Wow, you really worked them out to a science! Well done on the thoughtfulness. I personally would love that Nat Geo book of inspiration, and who can ever resist a well-designed scratch map right? 😉

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