8 Useful, Clever Gifts For Travelers

gifts for travelers

Travelers tend to be people who pride themselves on minimal worldly possessions and lots of memories instead of stuff. Which can make them impossible to buy gifts for! Here’s some great ideas for gifts for travelers.

Dear Sarah Von,
My bestie is about to embark on an epic six month trip. Of course, we’re throwing her a going-away party and each of us is on a quest to give her The Best Gift Ever. But what do you give to someone who can only take things that fit in her backpack? And that backpack is already almost full?

Good question, friend! I like to fancy myself a great gift giver, but it’s hard to know what to give someone who’s got limited space, isn’t it?

A few ideas?

8 Great Gifts for Travelers

  1. An extra camera battery or memory card
    These are a) always overpriced on the road b) always running out. Just be sure to sneak a peak at their camera and get something that’s compatible!
  2.  Skype credit
    So they can call you on the land line at your parents’ house.
  3. A Pro Account on Flickr
    The free accounts are limited to 200 photos and surely they’ll take that many at Angkor Wat alone!
  4. Make a podcast of all your friends sharing stories and sending them good wishes
    They can listen to it when they’re stuck in a dirty hostel in Rio, trying to drown out the noise of that couple making out in the next bunk.
  5. A solid version of their favorite perfume/cologne
    The solid version will last longer and get through customs without any trouble. Annnnd it’ll help them smell human after taking the overnight bus to Saigon. I particularly love this amber butter in a sweet little wooden box.
  6. Packing cubes
    Friends don’t let friends travel without packing cubes. I promise, they will name their first-born after you if you give them these.
  7. A Really Good Travel Journal
    In my mind, a good travel journal is slim (not bulky or spiral bound) comes with a place to tuck a pen, and is water resistant – but your mileage may vary. This one is particularly cute.
  8. Tiny Luxuries
    When I travel, I usually frequent developing countries and find myself washing my clothes in buckets and walking around behind gaseous mules. After two months of this, I will start to fall apart and want to blow $200 on a fancy hotel with nice sheets and hot water. I imagine many backpackers are the same. Give you friend a bit of luxury to take with them: a gorgeously scented travel candle, fancy bar shampoo, a silky cami, luxurious cuticle cream – anything that’s small, fancy and nicely-scented will do.

What gifts do you give to the travelers in your life? What would you like to receive?

P.S. How to plan a multi-month, quit-your-job, adventure-of-a-lifetime trip.

photo by Nikolay Loubet // cc


Liz OT

I salivate over those travel cubes, but I fear that owning them will turn me into the kind of person who needs hand-held fans and a decent system of organization.

Sarah Von Bargen

Liz, I promise you, they *will change your travel life*! I'm still the traveler who washes her underwear with bar soap in the hostel sink – they haven't turned me into a high maintenance fancy cat, yet! 😉


An iPod (seriously!), a gift certificate for a good backpack or a wheelie bag or a gift certificate towards one (in terms of a wheelie bag I suggest the brand Rimowa). A security cable to lock the bag so whatever so that it isn't stolen. Not very romantic gifts but pragmatic. Toss in small rememberance gifts that can be carried easily.

defining amy

i am obsessed with angkor wat. i want to go there so bad!! my sister made me a new "taiwanese" styled blog header before i went and taught there for six months. i loved her thoughtfulness. i always love to give friends little tide packets to for washing their clothes. how awesome for her!!

Elle Sees

Yes and yes to all of the above!
I've never used the packing cubes, but man am I intrigued.
I was thinking of what could be added, and honestly I think you hit it out the park.
I love, love, love to travel and I'm always up for more travel stories/tips.


Great ideas Sarah! I love them all and would be pleased to find them hiding in my backpack. 🙂 What about a pack of those microfiber face clothes you mentioned a few weeks ago? I'm planning on bringing those with me for my next trip.


my best friend is off to live in Ghana for two years, I'm getting her a super new pair of sunglasses
a pretty bracelet or nice fabric head band would probably also be appreiciated


You're right about the blowing money on a fancy hotel for one night after slumming it for months nothing is nicer than a real hot shower and nice sheets. What about a gift certificate to Hilton or Sheraton or some fancy hotel chain that is all over the world-could be used any time? Do they even make those?


Haha I agree about taking so many photos at Angkor Wat! I swear when I was there I took about 600 lol. One present I got that I really liked was before my trip to Costa Rica – my Mum gave me a toiletry bag and put in it some sunblock, insect repellent, anti-septic and a few other things.


If you want to be spendy or go in with some other people GPS is pretty much the best thing ever. They make fun little handheld ones, or apps for phones if she's taking a cell. Seriously even if you're mostly doing public transportation and have a map of the place there are times when a nice little voice telling you exactly when to turn can prevent a meltdown. Also pictures of people and places, digital, physical, whatever, I used to google earth my house when I was homesick. Maybe you could do a collaborative blog for her, and post pics and updates of what everyone back home is doing, that way she doesn't feel like she's missing out on stuff happening.


Hey, Sarah! Thanks for visiting my blog! Your karma cards are awsome.
A travel gift could be to offer to take care of their home and pets while they're gone. Peace of mind is a great gift!


Sarah! Thank you SO much for answering my question, I was at a total loss as to what to get her. You life saver 😀


I'm a huge fan of travel clotheslines-they have these little slots in the elastic line/braid and no pins are needed–you can string panties (or jeans) like garland in the breeziest place in the room and they'll dry super fast. They only weigh a couple of ounces. They tie and hook over everything-(skip the suction cup models) Really, these are worth it.


What great ideas. I think I'd be hestitant to buy someone a travel journal because I'd think they'd either have one already or they just aren't the journal type.

The podcast is such an awesome idea 😀


These are all good ideas since they are each things I buy for myself!

If your friend has a camera larger than pocket-size, an attractive padded camera strap would also make a good gift. There are lots on Etsy.

A note: Skype is fine for calling cell phones, too, not just land lines.


These are all great travel gift ideas, I shall keep them in mind for all my travel loving friends.


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