It’s that time of year when Christmas bells are singing and Mariah Carey or Michael Buble are on repeat in every store. Can I use the C-word yet?
This year, I’m keeping this list of gift ideas for travellers simple: they’re all practical items for people who love to travel.
I’ve grown tired of other bloggers lists of impractical ‘travel gear’. So I’ve decided to share just the very best pieces from my suitcase, and a couple of practical gift ideas I’m lusting for Santa to put under my tree.
PS: I’ve also updated my older post filled with great gifts for travellers of every type!
This combines a good mix of practical and fun gifts depending on the persons travel style.
Oh, and a tip if you’re doing your shopping last minute, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime and get gifts delivered next day or two days. You get 30-days for free and can cancel your trial before they bill you!
11 Practical Gifts for People Who Love to Travel
Access airport lounges around the world for FREE
I love having access to the airline lounge before I travel. I can grab a snack, maybe a drink, and enjoy fast free WiFi in comfort before I board my flight. If you or your loved one don’t quite qualify for lounge access, don’t want to fork out the big bucks for a premium cabin ticket, or are located in a country where there are numerous flight options across a number of different airlines, consider a Priority Pass.
Priority Pass gives travellers access to more than 1,200 lounges around the world just by signing up for their lounge pass. Personally, if you only travel every month or so, I would recommend the Standard Plus membership which gives the user 10 free visits and then costs US$32 for each visit after that.
If you want to splurge big for the frequent flyer in your life, get them the Prestige Membership. This allows your loved one to access their affiliate lounges for free!
While Australia still only had a few lounge options available, mainly in the International departures area, they are expanding quickly. Within Asia, North America and Europe you will have plenty of options no matter which city or terminal you are flying from. Now that’s worth arriving early at the airport for!
Depending on which airports they fly through, and how regularly they travel, the Plaza Premium Lounge pass may be a better gift.
Plaza Premium Lounges are primarily located in Asia Pacific, though have lounges in Canada, Brazil, the UK, Finland and the United Arab Emirates. Their vouchers are the perfect gift for that family member, friend or colleague who are travelling soon but not regularly as they are one-time experiences which you need to book in.
Some lounges, such as the multiple lounges they have in Singapore, also offer access to the lounge and shower facilities for one low rate. Perfect for banishing that icky feeling after a long-haul flight.
Starting from USD$40 for entry into a lounge, they are the affordable gift idea for people who love to travel irregularly that will elevate their next travel experience!
The very first thing I pack in my suitcase – aside from underwear – is my headphones. In fact, they’re one of the first things that get put into my work bag as well. I love me a good pair of headphones.
Recently, I upgraded to the Bose QC35 II. These wireless noise-cancelling over-ear headphones are great for travel, work, and play. Two standout features are that the Bose QC35 II have around 20-hours of listening on a single charge; and with just 15 minutes of charge, your headphones battery will be extended for around 2.5 hours more! Also, Google Assistant is now built in, helping you more efficiently manage your life or business while wearing them.
If you want to use them on the plane for in-flight entertainment be sure to bring the detachable cord for incredible surround sound every time.
I know noise-cancelling isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, nor are on-ear headphones, and I’ve recently been eyeing off the Bose SoundSport Free wireless headphones. There’s no wires, great sound, and come with their own charging case! Best of all, they’re designed for athletes; whether your fitness regime is hiking mountains, pumping iron in the gym or, like me, running to my flight’s departure gate.
A Great Backpack
One of the best gifts for people who love to travel is a great backpack.
For business travellers, you can never look past Samsonite. Right now, the Samsonite Xenon backpack which fits up to a 15.6″ laptop, would be my top pick, particularly for men. It’s sturdy, durable, and comes with a bottle holder, mobile phone pocket, and two zipper pockets on the front of the bag for easy access to important documents and items.
For ladies who are seeking a more sleek, stylish backpack, check out the Samsonite Sanibelle. Simple in design, the PU material has a leather-like feel but is strong and sturdy. There’s a front pocket, separate compartment for a 14″ laptop, and a hidden mobile or passport pocket on the back.
For the travellers who are looking for a reliable anti-theft backpack, I highly recommend the Pacsafe Citysafe CS300. I used to have one of these genius bags and think it’s a great bag, but not quite the right one for my lifestyle and gear.
This is particularly great for people travelling around parts of the world which is more prone to crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching because the bag has a hidden exomesh slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into its fabric to help protect against slash-and-run theft.
It also has an adjustable wire-reinforced carry safe slashguard strap which helps prevent cut-and-run theft and a turn & lock security hook which allows you to attach one of the straps to a secure fixture (like a bolted down table leg, poles, or bed leg) to prevent theft. Oh, and there’s an RFID blocking pocket in the main compartment to protect from hackers stealing your ID or credit card details – genius!
On my wishlist to Santa is the Tumi Harrison Webster Backpack. This stylish travel backpack is fitted with padded, adjustable leather should straps, a top handle for carrying, double zip entry into the main compartment, and space for a 15″ laptop in its own padded compartment. It comes with plenty of pockets for gear, but not enough that I’d overpack such is the problem with my current backpack.
Yes, it’s a little on the steep side but this stylish piece is an investment and Tumi has a reputation for hard-working pieces that survive everything a business traveller can throw at it, and still look great!
Packsafe Portable Safe
That’s right, a portable safe that’s big and it’s big enough to fit your laptop! If this isn’t the ultimate practical gifts for people who love to travel, then I don’t know what is.
Much like the Pacsafe Citysafe backpack I mentioned above, the Pacsafe Travelsafe is fitted with a stainless steel wire exomesh embedded into its fabric to stop would-be thieves from breaking in.
It’s a convenient portable safe that can be locked to a fixed object to protect your valuables and best of all, it folds flat for easy packing when not in use.
The 12L is perfect for tablets, cameras, jewelry and other small items; but for those with a laptop, I highly recommend a 25L which can also double as a backpack.
Waiting by the luggage carousel can be a nervewracking experience as you anxiously await your precious cargo to arrive.
For the past few years, I’ve been using LugLoc. This GPS luggage locator tracks your bags (or any other item you affix it to) anywhere in the world from your smartphone. With a battery life of around 15-days, just slip it in your suitcase and get going!
Recently, my Mum gave me a Tile tracker after discovering how prone I was to losing my house keys. Tiles are a little different to LugLoc in the sense that they have a few more size options, with the TilePro being the most rugged of the lot.
Through Bluetooth, you use the Tile App on your smartphone to ‘ring’ the Tile, and can double tap on the Tile to make your phone ring, even when it’s on silent.
LugLoc has introduced a similar product to Tile while I haven’t trialed yet. Called GEGO, it’s a 3G personal smart tracker that can be left in your car, attached to a phone, or slipped into a bag so your lost or stolen items can easily be tracked. GEGO requires a subscription to track on 3G (after an initial 30-day free trial) but without a subscription, it will still work through Bluetooth and work in a similar manner as a Tile or Trackr.
The jury is still out on which is the best, but I’m a fan of both brands and am sure they’ll be welcome gifts for people who love to travel!
Portable Phone Charger
Portable phone charges are probably the ultimate practical gifts for people who love to travel. Truth be told, I have a bunch of these in my travel kit and I’ve gifted a portable phone charger to pretty much everyone in my immediate family.
For the past year, I’ve been using the Cygnett ChargeUp Power Bank almost daily and it has never failed me. Small and lightweight, but damn this device is powerful. It offers up to 5 smartphone recharges and 1 tablet recharge for one device charge.
With dual USB ports, you can charge phones, laptops, smart watches and other devices with the one device.
Recently they’ve launched the Cygnett ChargeUp Pro Power Bank which has 27,000 mAh of charge. This can deliver a full charge to a power-hungry MacBook Pro 15″ or 7 full charges for an iPhoneX or Galaxy S8. Pure insanity!
A Great Water Bottle
With people becoming more conscious about their impact on the environment, one of the best practical gifts for people who love to travel is a great water bottle.
For those who prefer to pack light, check out the Vapur Foldable Water Bottle. It packs down to almost nothing, saving heaps of space in your backpack or handbag but can hold up to a litre of water!
For the trendier traveller, or the ones who like their gear to be sturdy, I recommend Swell. The stainless steel, double walled bottles keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. Best of all they come in a range of fun colours and patterns to suit every type of person!
For Cold Weather Travellers
This should be at the top of my list of practical gifts for people who love to travel but I moved it a little lower since some people prefer to escape the cold for their vacation! For those that don’t, consider investing in a pair of E-Tip Gloves before you travel to the cooler climates.
These lightweight gloves have been designed so that you can use them on touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablet computers while wearing them! I’ve owned two pairs of North Face E-Tip Gloves (my first pair were lost when British Airways lost my luggage en-route to Russia!) and can’t get enough of them.
There is a slight learning curve to using them. You need to make sure you’ve been wearing them for a few minutes before the heat of your hands warm them
For those skiing or going to seriously cold countries, consider wearing these underneath your gloves or mittens. It sounds silly but trust me, it works – I spent much of last February and March doing this in the US! It allows your fingers to stay warm while typing out a text message in those super cold conditions! If you are a cold-handed person, this set-up is also perfect to slip in a Hot Hands between the two pairs since you aren’t meant to hold Hot Hands directly on the skin.
The Gift of an Experience
With many people choosing to minimise the ‘stuff’ in their lifestyle, or simply not knowing what the perfect practical gifts for people who love to travel look like for your loved one, perhaps the best gift is the gift of an experience to enhance their next experience at home or abroad.
If I’m not booking directly with the experiences company, I choose to book through Viator. A sister company to TripAdvisor, I find their customer service and selection to be among the best in the business. Their tours also cover most countries around the world.
Whether the gift receiver wants to put it towards climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, book tickets to Alcatraz in San Francisco or explore Bangkok’s floating markets; there’s bound to be an experience to suit their travel style.
The Gift of Looking
One area many frequent flyers forget to look after is their skin. This is why this may be my favourite practical gifts for people who love to travel idea of all!
Flying dehydrates you — a lot. Airplanes tend to have a humidity level of around 10-20 percent (that’s drier than the Sahara desert!) Even the Boeing Dreamliner 787 and Airbus A350, which have higher humidity levels, only hover around 25 percent.
I find many men, in particular, don’t know how to look after your skin during a long-haul flight, so start by keeping it simple.
At this time of year, brands like Nivea and Olay put out great little travel-kit bags full of their best goodies at pharmacies and beauty stores. Starting at just $10, you’ll get items like a protective moisturiser, full-size deodorant, and plenty more. Bargain!
For the man in your life who is ready to step-up his skincare to the next level, consider the Clinique for Men range. I’m picking up the Mister in my life the Great Skin for Him pack which includes a charcoal face wash, face scrub, aloe shave gel, and moisturising lotion. Most of these are travel size and come in a great looking black wash bag.
I’m also a fan of the Clinique For Men Custom-Fit Daily Intense Hydration Set which has the charcoal face wash, hydrating gel concentrate, and cream shave which are all travel sized.
For the ladies, there are so many options! I’m personally going to ask Santa for the Stars of Clinique which is full of travel sized skincare and makeup essentials, including their amazing Moisture Surge moisturiser!
If your gift receiver has sensitive skin, try the Dermalogica UltraCalming Skin Kit. These travel-sized minis are some of their best selling products. I really noticed how it helps increase the hydration of my skin and reduce redness when I travel.
While you can get vouchers for Spotify for friends and family, why not treat yourself this Christmas and upgrade your audio experience.
With Spotify Premium, you can download songs, playlists, or podcasts to listen to at home, on the go, or when you are travelling. There are no ads, and the first three months are only $0.99!
Looking for more great gift ideas?
The ULTIMATE holiday gift guide
Gift ideas for every type of traveller