It is that time of year again… time to shop for holiday gifts. Many people find joy in shopping for the right gift for family and friends. Unfortunately, gift shopping can also be frustrating. We’ll do what we can to reduce some of that stress with these travel gifts for men, women and couples.
We know not everyone is a frequent traveler. But most everyone travels at least a little bit, even if it’s just a weekend trip to visit friends or family. While some items are focused on serious travel, most of these holiday gifts are great for the occasional traveler or even for use at home.
Everything on this list is something we use and love. So, if you have questions about any of the products, please ask!
We tried to sort everything by price point, but with all things, it depends on what’s on sale and sometimes certain colors and sizes are more or less expensive.
Updated November 2021
(Disclaimer: When we link to places you can buy our stuff or places we stayed, we are using special codes which earn us commissions on the sales at no additional cost to you. Please see our Review Policy for more information.)
Price Range: Less Than $30
Amazon Basics Cables
Let’s be honest, electronics are a part of our everyday life now. And keeping them charged is important! We have found that chargers make great holiday gifts because they can always be used at home, work, in the car, on the road and, well, just about anywhere! We use Apple products and we live by Amazon Basics cables because they work just as well, for a fraction of what Apple charges for their charging cables.
The quality is great… we have never had to replace one and we’ve been using these almost exclusively for many years. Instead, we just keep buying additional cables to keep in the truck, RV and portable charging station so that we don’t have to remember to pack the ones we keep at the house.
And, if you’re not an Apple user, you can probably still find an Amazon Basics cable that will work at a fraction of the cost of a branded cable.
You’ve got your charging cables, but what if you don’t have electricity? We picked up an Anker PowerCore portable charger, similar to this one, a couple of years ago and we love it! It will provide three iPhone charges and can also charge an iPad. It’s one of the smallest and lightest portable chargers out there.
Dual USB Car Charger
Being able to charge your electronics is essential. Being able to charge two devices at one time…even better! In terms of holiday gifts for couples, any item both people can use at the same time is always a win.
While many newer cars have built-in USB chargers, like our F-150, if you’re still rocking an old-school charging plug (or even a cigarette lighter), you’ll need an adapter.
This inexpensive dual car charger, along with a couple of Amazon Basics charging cables, makes for the perfect mobile charging station!
Lots of travel-industry folks will suggest using a money belt when traveling to hide your cash. We like this one, from Eagle Creek, that is actually a belt. Traditional money belts hide under your clothes and pretty much require you to undress to access.
While this one will not hold your passport, etc., it will hold emergency cash and it’s a belt! An actual, functional, comfortable belt!
Whether you are at home or away, being able to easily slip your sunglasses on and off is essential! I got my first pair of Croakies many, many years ago and they have been a staple of my life ever since. Grant now regularly uses them, too.
While Croakies are useful every day, they are a lifesaver while traveling. Being able to slip the sunglasses on and off quickly and easily as we move in and out of buildings is fantastic. One may say that they look a little silly. But, if it prevents me from losing my sunglasses, it’s worth it!
A good travel towel is essential, especially when backpacking or camping. We used similar towels from REI when tent camping because they dry quickly. They also roll up fairly tight, thus not taking up a lot of room in your luggage.
Having a towel when traveling is great just in case you need to shower at a train station or if you get caught in the rain and just need to dry off. Plus, if you plan on visiting the beach, you’ll generally want a towel!
Nobody likes overweight baggage! Check your weight with a luggage scale BEFORE you get to the airport. If you’ve ever tried to weigh luggage with the bathroom scale, you know it’s not as easy as it may sound. Plus, this is easy enough to pack with you so that you can make sure all that shopping you did while on vacation doesn’t put your bag over the weight limit.
If you’re a backpacker, you can make sure you don’t load your pack so that it is too heavy for body weight. Believe me, that pack will feel A LOT heavier after 45 minutes than it does whenever you first pick it up!
Travel Power Adapter
If you are traveling internationally, you will need an adapter plug. Sometimes you will need a converter but, usually, just an adapter will do. Since every region is different, we recommend an all-in-one Travel Adapter, like this one. This compact adapter covers 150 countries with a built-in surge protector. Note: we have not personally used this exact product but have something very similar that is now out of production. Actually, this device might be even better than what we currently have!
Headlamps may look silly, but the functionality can’t be beaten. Our Petzl headlamps have lasted us for nearly 10 years.
We recently got a USB rechargeable headlamp from UCO in a Cairn Box. We love that with this headlamp we don’t have to worry about batteries while we are traveling.
Maybe you are navigating streets without streetlights or changing a tire on the side of the road. We’ve needed the headlamps to set up our tent and RV when arriving at the campground after dark.
Heck, Grant even got his out one night when the sun went down before he was done mowing the grass! Yes, that is just one reason why we now live in an apartment!
For anyone on the go, having an extra small bag is never a bad thing. We love this Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable 30L Pack. It packs into its own pouch so you can easily pack it in your main bag. At 30L it is big enough for a full day out and about. Grant even used it for our overnight trip to Isle Royale National Park.
We each have one of these packs and take them with us just about every time we travel.
When you gotta go, you gotta go, right? Doesn’t matter if there is a bathroom nearby or not, sometimes nature calls and you just have to answer. With as much travel and hiking as we do, we’ve definitely had our fair share of TP “emergencies.” We’ve had to stop along the trail and pull over on the side of more than one remote road. The worst was when Grant realized AFTER taking care of business that he should have gotten toilet paper BEFORE going into the stall in a train station in Budapest, Hungary.
When we heard about TP Kits, we knew it was something we just had to try! These small packages each contain 5 two-ply tissues and 2 wet wipes in a resealable packet. And, yes, the wet wipes are each in their own sealed package. Best of all, all contents are 100% biodegradable. Grant and I both now keep one of these packets in our daypacks and in our travel backpacks.
TP Kits are available in singles or a 10-pack, which is what we recommend. Yes, you can just keep a stash of toilet paper in a plastic bag. Honestly, though, having one easy-to-grab packet that includes toilet paper and a couple of wet wipes is worth the small expense.
Price Range: $30-$50
Scratch Off Map
The Landmass Travel Tracker Scratch Off maps are a great way for any traveler to record (and show off) where they’ve visited. Available in a World map or the United States (with National Parks), any traveler will love this gift! This easy to scratch off map is a great display of where you’ve been and where you still need to explore.
A fun map and conversation starter!
Travel WiFi Router
We take this small (2.2″ by 2.2″ by 0.7″) WiFi Router by TP-Link with us everywhere we travel. Combined with a retractable Ethernet cable, we can both use just about any wired ethernet connection at a hotel. Admittedly, it doesn’t always work, but when it does, we get a boost in speed and not as much “congestion” as we would on the hotel’s router. Plus, it’s more secure.
Amazon Fire Stick
We have gotten to where we almost always travel with an Amazon Fire Stick. It is small and easy to pack and allows you to stream just about anything you want to, provided you have the subscription.
The best part about the Fire Stick is that it has the ability to log into Web-enabled internet portals, found in most hotels. This makes it the perfect device for streaming Netflix, etc. while on the road. That’s right, no more fighting over ESPN or Lifetime; couples can just stream whatever shows they enjoy together at home while even while traveling!
The Amazon Fire Stick is one of the best holiday gifts that can be used at home or on the road!
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
We first bought these pillows for tent camping. They roll up into themselves, making them easy to pack and store while traveling. The pillows naturally expand in a reasonable amount of time to be comfortable while sleeping.
Our two pillows now “live” in the camper, as the perfect companion to our “normal” pillows on the bed. Recently, we bought two additional pillows to take with us on road trips without the camper. We just aren’t a big fan of the feather pillows we seem to find at most hotels these days.
Nike Dri-Fit Shirts
Grant and I both love Nike Legend Dri-Fit t-shirts. These shirts are light, wick moisture, breathe very well, feel good and are the most comfortable synthetic t-shirts we have found yet. You can get them with various logos on them, but I like the solid colors for travel. They are timeless.
Columbia Declination Button-Up Shirt
Grant has been wearing the Columbia Declination shirts while traveling since our first trip to Italy. The shirt is lightweight, very breathable and the modal/poly blend resists wrinkles, no matter how tightly you roll it.
Women’s Columbia PFG Tamiami II Short Sleeve Shirt
If you want something nicer than a t-shirt, but still lightweight and quick-drying, this is a great option! I love this shirt for sightseeing and light hiking. With moisture-wicking fabric and UPF protection, this is one of my favorite travel shirts.
For years, we traveled with a dedicated charging station that had a built-in battery pack. While it did a great job, it had some limitations in terms of power and it was a bit bulky. Additionally, we travel with more electronics than we did when we first started traveling, so we wanted to get something that would handle charging a laptop in addition to our phones and watches.
When Grant spotted the iSmart 65W Charger and saw it would charge his MacBook Pro plus all of his other electronics, he jumped on it. This one device eliminates both the laptop power brick and charging station with one compact and lightweight (5.6 ounces) charging station.
Price Range: $50-$100
One of the best ways to make a small backpack or suitcase work is to use packing cubes. You will be amazed at how much more you can fit if you pack your clothes into these cubes. Packing cubes also allow couples who pack together in one bag to keep their clothes separated.
We use eBags Hyper-Lite Packing Cubes. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, so you can get whatever size best fits your backpack, suitcase, or whatever you are packing in. They also sell multi-packs if you want or need a variety of sizes.
Women’s Convertible Pants
Convertible pants (which convert to shorts) may not be the most stylish, but they sure are convenient! One of my favorite styles is the prAna Sage Convertible Pants. They are fairly lightweight and roll up nice and tight for packing. The legs are easy to zip on and off or roll up to capri length. The shorts are a little longer than I generally like, but when visiting churches or museums, I usually find that is better.
Men’s Travel Pants
Grant has been wearing the Eddie Bauer Men’s Guide Pro Pants for travel and hiking and loves them. They are light, have great pockets, wrinkles just fall out of them quite easily and they are quite comfy regardless of where you are. He likes them so much, he wears them to work, too!
REI Trail 25 Pack
This pack is a bit heavier than past packs Grant has used but it has some excellent features which make it perfect for our hikes. It has a hydration sleeve, so we can rock a water bladder. It has multiple mesh pockets on the side for stuffing odds and ends plus a top pocket for accessing snacks.
The pack has a framesheet, which adds structure but still keeps the weight down. This pack adds more space than his former pack, allowing him to more easily stow layers when hiking in cold weather.
For more information, check out our article on choosing the right daypack here.
Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack
I am now carrying the Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack for a hiking pack. This 20L pack will hold an extra layer, snacks and all the essential hiking gear. It also has a large main compartment, a medium front pocket and a small pocket for keys or other small items. The stuff-it pocket on the front is perfect for stashing a trail map for easy access or an outer layer as temperatures warm up.
For longer hikes, there is a hydration bladder sleeve. For shorter hikes, there are two mesh side pockets for water bottles. There is even a padded compartment for a tablet or small laptop if you wanted to use the bag as a carry-on.
For someone who likes to stay organized even when on the trail, this is a great pack!
Laptop Power Bank
The more and more we spend on the road, the more we end up in remote locations and need to get work done. Especially during the pandemic, the idea of sitting down to work in a coffee shop for several hours to take advantage of free Wifi is not really appealing.
That’s why Grant really loves this Laptop Power Bank the folks from Eggtronic sent us. It allows us to work from pretty much anywhere, regardless of having an outlet to power our devices.
It has serious capacity (20,000 mAh), produces enough juice (63W) to charge his MacBook Pro and has a small display that indicates the current charge level. We took this with us glamping near Great Sand Dunes National Park and it really saved the day in terms of keeping our devices charged for the next day.
For something that only weighs a pound, it has found a permanent spot in Grant’s gear.
CrazyCap UV Water Purifier and Bottle
This bottle is the perfect gift for someone who travels to places where you can’t trust the tap water on a regular basis. The folks at CrazyCap sent us one of these bottles and we really like how simple and easy to use this is.
This stainless steel bottle incorporates a UV lamp into the cap. This allows you to fill up the bottle from pretty much any source and then hit the button on the top to run a UV sterilization cycle. Sixty seconds later and you have drinkable water. If the source is really sketchy, you can do the “Crazy Mode,” which runs the UV lamp for two minutes, making sure everything is sterilized.
The cap comes with a charger that plugs into a USB-A port. While the cap does hold a decent charge and will go for a while, the cap does run a self-cleaning cycle every four hours. That makes it a great product to take with you to the office where you don’t always clean the bottle on a regular basis.
The CrazyCap comes in two sizes. Personally, we found the 17-ounce size too small. The 25-ounce bottle is far more useful. Also, get a handle… That will make carrying the bottle a lot easier.
Having good rain gear when traveling is essential. At the very least, take a packable raincoat with you in case of the rain rolling in. We each have a couple of raincoats that we use for different purposes.
Grant hates hoods, so he always goes for jackets with a hood that packs into the collar or zips off. He has a Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket from Columbia he got several years ago. It packs into its own pocket and doesn’t weigh that much. For casual use, it’s great and it stays in the truck most of the time. For travel and backpacking, he recently got a Rainier Jacket from REI, which weighs a bit more but is far more robust and has pit zips for ventilation. He wore that coat at a very soggy Army football game and loved it. Were he not averse to hoods, he would certainly be interested in the men’s version of my Eddie Bauer Rainfoil Packable Jacket.
I have two raincoats, one designed to be packable and one I have used a stuff sack with. My newest raincoat is an Eddie Bauer Rainfoil Packable Jacket, which works really well. It has kept me dry every time I have used it. My first raincoat, a Marmot PreCip, was actually a wedding gift from Grant. I had it for more than 10 years before it finally had to be retired. The only downside is that it does not pack down as well as the one from Eddie Bauer.
Price Range: More than $100
Grant bought and loves this eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack.
This laptop bag has a ton of smart features. With several compartments, an AC adaptor “garage” and a water bottle pocket, this bag has it all! It converts from a backpack to a briefcase and will slip over suitcase handles. In our eyes, this bag is perfect for any kind of travel.
I use this Travelon Quilted Anti-Theft Tote to carry my laptop and important papers.
This tote bag has a separate slot for a 15″ laptop and the main compartment will hold a small binder, notepad or other items. The front compartment holds smaller items such as pens or a wallet and has several smaller pockets and zippered pouches inside. There is a traditional shoulder strap or you can wear it as a cross-body.
Best of all, the zippers have anti-theft locks, so you can feel confident your stuff is secure. A side pocket unzips to securely hold a water bottle. There’s even a “pass-though” for strapping the tote onto the handle of a roller bag. This is a great tote bag for women that is functional, secure and stylish.
While we rarely travel with a suitcase, there are times when that is just the best way to pack. We mostly use a suitcase when cruising or going to a resort… basically, any trip that involves unpacking just one time.
Buying the right suitcase for your needs is essential. It needs to be sturdy, yet lightweight. Wheels and a handle are a must. The size that you need will vary, so think about that before you buy one.
We each have a hard-sided Samsonite suitcase, similar to this one. Four wheels allow it to spin and pull easily. It has a built-in TSA lock. The size allows us to easily pack for more than a week. And it’s expandable… essential if you typically do a lot of shopping while on vacation!
When traveling overseas, or anytime that we will be moving around a lot, we carry a backpack rather than a suitcase. If you have ever tried to pull a suitcase across cobblestone streets, you will understand why we love to travel with a backpack. Being able to have our hands free when getting on a train or walking through the airport is also great.
With some careful packing, we can fit about five days’ worth of clothes, plus toiletries, electronics, and any other essential items. It does taking some creative packing and VERY careful consideration of what you actually need, but we have lived out of a backpack for more than a month at a time in Europe.
When we traveled to Italy in 2017, we actually managed to pack for eight days and both of these packs performed like a charm. Personally, I would rather take 5-6 days and do laundry but both of these packs impressed us on that trip.
Tablet (iPad or Amazon Fire)
I know not everyone is on the Apple bandwagon, but we are and that is what we recommend. The iPad Mini is our tablet of choice, allowing us to read books, work, or just catch up on the day’s news. Until recently, we both had iPad Minis. When the time came for me to replace mine due to a cracked screen, though, I opted for an Amazon Fire Tablet.
Both tablets are the perfect size for reading and they fit in the front pocket of our backpacks for easy access on the train or in the airport. Yes, the iPad Mini is faster and lighter. It also communicates with our iPhones and MacBooks. The Fire Tablet was cheaper, though, and since we find ourselves mainly using the tablets to read, I opted to save a bit of money.
Whether you opt for an iPad or a Fire Tablet, anything that allows you to carry just about unlimited books while traveling is a great option!
While the camera on the iPhone is great, sometimes you just need a bit more. This is where the Canon SX70 comes in. It is lightweight, making it perfect for hiking or backpacking around the world.
The camera is light, has an AMAZING optical zoom and weighs about a pound.
Looking to spend a lot more money on a travel camera? Then look no further than the Sony RX10 IV.
While this camera does not have the zoom range that the SX70HS, it has a MUCH better lens and a MUCH better sensor. But that extra performance comes with a significant additional cost over the SX70HS. Still, this camera is easily Grant’s favorite camera.
Can’t Decide on a Gift? Check Out Cairn
Cairn is a subscription box for hiking and travel gear. We have received more than a year’s worth of boxes and have gotten some really impressive gear. We are constantly amazed at how thoughtful the boxes are. The USB-rechargeable headlamp, in particular, is a favorite. We have also gotten a great packable water bottle, sunglasses and several different granola bars to try.
You can gift multiple months so it really fits any budget. This is one of our favorite holiday gifts for anyone who travels or enjoys the outdoors. Opening each box together is tons of fun and we tend to be able to easily determine which one of us the various items are best suited for.
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Still Need More Ideas?
You can find many of these items and much more on our Amazon Influencer page. Check it out for additional gear suggestions.
Final Thoughts on Holiday Gifts for Travelers
Hopefully, we made shopping for the holidays just a bit easier! Every item is something that we use ourselves and feel comfortable recommending as holiday gifts for anyone who travels extensively or occasionally. If you have any questions or are looking for recommendations on something we haven’t covered here, please contact us! We are happy to answer any questions about our recommendations.