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. No need to worry, though, we’ve updated our annual gift guide for travelers to help you find the right gift for everyone on your list. And maybe even something for yourself!
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.
Unless otherwise noted, 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 2022
(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.)
Holiday Gifts: 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 with our portable charging stations 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 find an Amazon Basics cable that will work at a fraction of the cost of just about any 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. This is a life-saver when you know you will be out and about and need to keep your phone charged.
Dual USB Car Charger
Being able to charge your electronics is essential. Being able to charge two devices at one time… even better! With as much as we rely on our phones and other devices, it’s important to keep yours charged on the road.
Many newer cars have built-in USB chargers, like our F-150. But, 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, which is actually a belt. Traditional money belts hide under your clothes and pretty much require you to undress to access them.
While this one will not hold your passport, etc., it will hold emergency cash and it’s a real 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.
Since then, we have gotten these great glasses straps, which are quite comfy. While they do not float, they last have lasted longer than Croakies and you can tighten them down on your head to keep your glasses snug against your face.
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 easy and, often, not accurate. 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 your 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.
Maybe you are navigating streets without streetlights or changing a tire on the side of the road. We’ve even used the headlamps to set up our tent or 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.
Owala FreeSip Insulated Water Bottle with Straw
For a “normal” water bottle, when you know you’ll have access to safe drinking water, this Owala insulated bottle is what we both carry these days. The insulation is top-notch, keeping ice all day long or even overnight. The freeSip spout allows you to swig from the spout or sip through a built-in straw. A leak-proof seal prevents spills.
For travel, the 24-ounce fits in the cupholder in the truck and in the side pouch of a backpack. Or, you can choose 32 or 40 ounces. Choose from a variety of colors, depending on whether you prefer neutrals or something more colorful.
Holiday Gifts: $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 original 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.
My go-to shirts for travel these days is the Amazon Essentials Women’s Tech Strech T-Shirt. They are quick-dry and moisture-wicking, with just a little bit of stretch. You can dress them up or down and they come in a variety of colors. It really is a great, versatile shirt!
Grant has recently fallen in love with the Eddie Bauer Resolution t-shirts. The Eddie Bauer Resolution shirts are light and comfy and can be worn just about anywhere, from the trail to dinner.
How many times have you gotten home from a trip and realized you have no pictures of yourself? Yep, it’s happened to us many times. So, we finally broke down a bought a selfie stick. Yes, it’s sometimes a little cumbersome to use, but it does make getting pictures of yourself and your entire group a lot easier!
We like this Bluetooth selfie stick because it also opens up to a small tripod and has a wireless remote. It really is very versatile!
Travel Laptop Backpack
Grant and I both are always on the hunt for the perfect backpack for every situation. I initially purchased this laptop backpack to use for work but quickly realized that it was better for travel! It worked as the perfect carry-on when I flew to Paris, with plenty of room for my laptop, a change of clothes and all the other stuff I wanted with me on the plane.
It’s a medium-sized backpack… not big enough to pack more than 1 or maybe 2 days’ worth of clothes but also maybe a little too big for a daypack. But, it was perfect for what I needed! I really loved that the laptop sleeve has a lock on it; it also has a couple of “hidden” pockets for cash or other small items. Add in several small front and side pockets and a connection for a battery pack and it really is a versatile pack.
Holiday Gifts: $50-$100
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 now travel with more electronics than we used to, 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 (formerly RAV Power) and saw it would charge his MacBook Pro (now MacBook Air) 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.
Laptop Power Bank
The more time 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 was 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 Air and has a small display that indicates the current charge level. We took this with us while 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.
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.
Convertible pants (which zip off and 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.
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 he can carry a water bladder. It also 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 has more space than his former one, 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 have been using the Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack for a hiking pack for a couple of years now. 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!
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. It holds a decent charge and will go for a while, which is great since it runs 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.
Having good rain gear when traveling is essential. At the very least, you should always 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.
eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
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.
Travelon Anti-Theft Tote
I use this Travelon Anti-Theft Tote (the link is to an updated version) 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-through” 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.
We always do our best to not check bags when we fly. And, if you use packing cubes, choose the right outfits and plan to do laundry, it’s really not that difficult even on a long trip. In fact, we managed both a month in Eastern Europe and a month in Italy with just a carry-on backpack! But, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and check a bag, which is what we did when we went to Greece.
While you’re still at the mercy of the airline baggage handlers, we found that placing an AirTag in our suitcase reduces a lot of stress. You can easily check the location of your bag before you get on the plane and when you land. While it doesn’t prevent your bag from getting left behind, it at least answers your question before you are the last person waiting at baggage claim.
We picked up a set of four AirTags, along with a 4-pack of silicone case key chains. Two of the AirTags go in our checked bags and we have the other two on my keys and Grant’s work backpack. Yes, AirTags are handy for anything that you are likely to leave behind or misplace.
National Park Pass
Did you know you can purchase an America The Beautiful Pass, which grants access to most public lands, including units of the National Park Service, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management, as a gift? You can and it makes a great gift for the adventurous folks in your life.
You can purchase the pass at any National Park site which charges a fee. If you don’t live close to a site, you can get one online from REI. They cost $80 and are good for a year.
Pro Tip: Buy this the same month you plan on giving the gift so the recipient gets the most value out of the gift. The passes come pre-punched to expire a year from the month they were purchased.
Holiday Gifts: More than $100
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!
For our most recent trip to Greece, we decided to get smaller suitcases we picked up at eBags since we knew we would be unable to do laundry and most everyone was checking bags anyway. These suitcases were quite good and useful for a 10-day trip. They are still too big to use as a carry-on, though.
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.
I use the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible and Grant uses the Lowepro Highline BP 400 AW. I wish you could still buy Grant’s bag but it has been discontinued by Lowepro, along with most of their non-camera bags. It’s too bad because we both have daypacks from Lowepro which are awesome but have been sadly discontinued as well.
With some careful packing, we can fit about five days’ worth of clothes, plus toiletries, electronics, and any other essential items. It does take 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.
I know not everyone is on the Apple bandwagon, but we are and that is what we recommend. The iPad Mini is my tablet of choice, allowing me to read books, work, or just catch up on the day’s news. Until recently, we both had iPad Minis. Grant now has a full-size iPad Air, which he uses extensively to read books, play games, watch movies and perform basic work tasks. Additionally, we can use both tablets as extra screens for our Macbook Airs.
Both tablets are the perfect size for reading and they fit easily in our backpacks for easy access on the train or in the airport. Yes, the iPad Mini is smaller and lighter.
In the past, when my old iPad Mini’s screen broke, I opted for a Fire Tablet. It worked really well as an e-reader but it’s all of the other things where an iPad excels and is worth the additional price.
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.
Grant used the SX40, a previous version and we have taken it on hikes, to Eastern Europe and twice to Italy. While he has since upgraded to a different camera, he really likes this camera for a relatively inexpensive travel camera. The camera is light, has an AMAZING optical zoom and weighs about a pound.
Sony RX10 Mk IV
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.
Cotton Carrier Sling Belt
Looking to upgrade your camera strap? Grant is a huge fan of the Cotton Carrier Sling Belt. He uses this belt whenever he hikes or does any sort of walking tour while traveling.
The Sling Belt has three components: a belt with a mount on the right side, a sling strap, which attaches to one of the strap loops on the camera, and a cam that screws into the tripod lug.
The cam slides into the mount and securely locks the camera to the belt, making it quite secure for hiking and travel. The belt takes the weight of the camera off your neck/shoulders and is quite comfy. The sling provides drop security when you are using the camera and can be used by itself.
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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.
We use Skyscanner to find deals on flights. Skyscanner has a great interface and compares tons of airlines for the best pricing and routing. That said, it does not always have every airline and some airlines will have better deals on their website. Still, Skyscanner is a great place to start.
Click here to search for a flight.
We typically stay at Hilton properties, so we use the Hilton website. You can find good Hilton Honors discounts or AAA discounts for a hotel there. We make great use of our free night certificates from our Hilton Honors American Express.
Click here to book a Hilton property.
If there are no Hilton properties available, we use TripAdvisor to read reviews and book the hotel. We find we can get the best price that way.
Click here to search for a hotel.
We use Vrbo for the times when we have rented a cabin for a weekend getaway, like this cabin in Townsend, TN, or needed to rent a house for a large family vacation. We had a great experience with them in terms of refunding deposits when COVID hit and will continue to use them.
Click here to search for a vacation rental.
As a general rule, we book with Hertz for rental cars. We have had nothing but good experiences with them. Plus, we really like unlimited mileage and not worrying about crossing state lines. We have even rented from Hertz overseas in both Slovenia and Croatia.
Click here to book a rental car.
We have found some amazing prices booking a cruise through Cruise Direct. We have saved a lot of money on our cruises compared to what we found elsewhere, making a last-minute Bahamas cruise even cheaper.
Click here to book a cruise.
We highly recommend Outdoorsy for RV rentals. We rented a camper van for a week to visit Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut and Custer State Park for the Buffalo Round-Up and had a blast. The program was easy to use and we really enjoyed the freedom of having a camper van for that trip.
Click here to rent an RV.
We don’t often book tours. Typically, we like to do stuff on our own. That said, there are some experiences you just can’t have any other way. So, when we do want to book a tour, we always check Viatour first.
Click here to book a tour.
We make extensive use of both Good Sam and AAA on the road. Good Sam is normally regarded as a discount card for RVers at campgrounds and Camping World but anyone can use the 5 cents off a gallon at the pump at both Pilot and Flying J.
Click here to get a Good Sam membership.
We have had AAA as long as we have been married and it has more than paid for itself in discounts at hotels, aside from the peace of mind of having roadside assistance. Add in paper maps and the ability to get an international driver’s license and it is more than worth it for any traveler out there.
Click here to get a AAA membership.