Thoughtful Gifts for the Travelers on your List – A Budget Conscious Guide

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I debated for a while whether to write this post. Two years ago, my new year’s resolution was to not buy any new clothes for a year – it wasn’t hard to do in the end. Like many habits, once you get going, it gets easier to continue and once I stopped buying new clothes, the mentality of “do I really need this?” transpired to everything else. I’m also conscious of the fact that I’m lucky to have more than I need. However, the holiday is coming around and some of you might be looking for some gift ideas for the world travelers or weekend vacationers in your life. So while I’m not a proponent of consumerism, here is my list of tried and true gifts and essentials for the travelers in your life. There’s nothing fancy, high-tech, or overly expensive; just thoughtful things my travel buddies have used to inspire us or make our travels a little better. (Image Source)

I don’t get paid for any of the links below but they’re there for your convenience. Enjoy!


Pens and Notebooks

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Good stationary can go a long way. I always have a staedtler fineliner pen (because they don’t dry out when I forget to put the lid back on) and they write smoothly when you’re journaling on that bumpy bus ride. I also bring a few tiny notebooks that fit into a pant, skirt, or shirt pocket so I can make notes when I get recommendations from people I meet. I like the moleskine volant pocket-size notebooks because they’re durable (in case you’re sweating through your pocket… it happens!) and small enough to mail home if you’re going to be traveling for a long time. Moleskine also makes a lovely travel journal which I received as a gift but it is a little heavy to carry around day-to-day. With the right gift of stationary, you might even get a lovely handwritten postcard from the recipient of your fine gifts.


A compact shawl, scarf, or infinity scarf

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A good scarf or shawl can be used for multiple purposes. Mine has been used to keep warm, keep cool from the sun, to carry things, protect my camera, as a bed sheet at the hostel with questionable sanitation – just to name a few. A few of my friends like this one because it can be buttoned into an infinity scarf or opened up to use as a blanket but a simple less expensive scarf or shawl will do just fine too! A good scarf works for both women and men.


Food or a recipe from your travels

Turkish DelightsImage Source

I love being brought back food from abroad. Food brought home is almost always accompanied by a good story and is a wonderful way to share in a culture. I also like food because it’s consumable so you can support the local economy, bring back a souvenir, and not fill your friend’s house with chachkas and knick-knacks.


Packing Cubes

I personally don’t use them but many of my friends do. I’ve seen them travel with them and the cubes really help to keep things compact and organized. I choose not to use them as I find being more compact leads to me bringing more things and surpassing the carry-on weight limit – or at least that’s how I justify not buying them. If I were gifted them however, there’s a pretty good chance I’d used them. There are a number of companies out there that make them and I don’t know which ones are best so you’ll have to decide for yourself.


Travel Books

Book StandImage Source

There are lots of travel books to choose from but one that I really like as a holiday gift is Where To Go When which lists places to travel based on time of year and what is happening in that city or country. It’s a great book to curl up on the couch with and makes a great coffee table book. The second book I really like is Ultimate Food Journeys which has a similar premise to Where To Go When except with food as the focus. It lists places in order of geographical location and provides inspiration on what local foods to try there. If you’re looking for an even more specific gift, you could try getting a guide-book to a location that your fellow traveler has been dreaming of! 


Unique Luggage Tags

Luggage TagImage Source

Practical and personal, luggage tags let your friend take your gift along for the journey and help distinguish their bags from others as they travel the globe. I recently received bright coloured luggage tags with my monogram on them along with a matching passport holder; it was very thoughtful. For some inspiration, you can look at this search from Etsy.


Power Bar

power barImage Source

Not the kind you eat but a portable surge protector and power bar can be very useful to those who travel with their gadgets. I use the Belkin surge plus swivel charger and it’s a popular choice. There are other choices out there but just be sure it’s made by a reputable company; when it comes to electronics – safety first!


Quick Drying Clothes

Socks on lineImage Source

Those who want to travel light need to have clothes that will dry quickly after a wash. I never leave home without my Tilley quick drying socks and underwear that dry overnight. They’re durable too (the socks are actually guaranteed to be holes free for 3 years); I still travel with the first pair I bought 8 years ago and they look just like the new ones.

So those are my suggestions of gifts for the travelers in your lives. Ultimately, nothing beats quality time spent with friends and family but rare are those who don’t appreciate a thoughtful gift!

Have other great gift ideas for the traveler, received a really great gift, or have a another travel essential? Do share!

 All images in this post via


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