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Unique gifts for travelers: a short-but-sweet gift guide

I know I’m not the only one who misses travel. Lots of us do. And we’re still planning, at least hypothetically, our future travel.

If you are looking for unique gifts for travelers in your life, look no further.

Pinnable image
Images: a map of the world, a picture containing a spiral notebook and one of a facemask printed with travel images.
Text: Looking for a gift for a travel lover? Read this! A curated list of gifts (and the Rachel's Ruminations logo)

This short-but-sweet list contains items I have or would like to have. Most of them are useful at home as well as away. I’ve chosen items from a range of prices to suit everyone’s budget.

I hope this list helps you find the perfect gift for the travel lover in your life!

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you buy an item through an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect your price.

Travel scarves from Waypoint Goods

I received two scarves from Waypoint Goods as a gift, and I love them.

Here’s the thing: this isn’t just any scarf; it’s a travel scarf. Hidden in its seam is a pocket with a zip closure. It’ll fit your passport, cards, and other small items.

A photo of me from the waiste up. Wearing a black sweatshirt with a scarf around my neck that is patterned in shades of orange and pin. My skin is white, my glasses are red-framed, and I have short brown hair. Behind me is an apple tree.
Waypoint travel scarf.

You might think that it would be obvious that you’re carrying items in your scarf, since the weight would pull it down, but it’s not. The scarf is long enough to double or even triple: put the pocket in front on your chest or up next to your neck. Twist the scarf once and wind it a second time around your neck. The top loop of the scarf covers up the bulge in the lower loop.

What I love about this scarf is that I can use it instead of a handbag so my hands are free for my camera.

I keep my phone in a jeans or jacket pocket since I use it so much. That leaves room in the pocket for my passport, my wallet, my migraine pills for just in case, and a couple of spare camera batteries. I’d suggest, though, that you use a small card holder and just carry necessary cards – a credit card, a bank card and a driver’s licence – and leave the store cards and such at home.

The scarves are pretty too! They come in two weights and lots of patterns or solids. Click on the banner below to go look at the whole range and to order.

The lightweight ones are made of bamboo and cotton; the heavy ones are polyester and significantly warmer. I can see wearing the lightweight scarves pretty much all year, and the heavier ones only in the winter. Both have a nice soft feel.

Waypoint has some other travel-related products too: candles with scents based on particular cities, and travel journals.

PacSafe bags

A travel bag of some sort is always a good gift for a travel lover. PacSafe makes quality bags in all shapes and sizes: backpacks, daypacks, laptop cases: you name it. They pay particular attention to anti-theft devices: anti-slash fabric, RFID safe blocking pockets, lockable zippers, and so on, so they’re great for travel or, for that matter, everyday life.

I just received the Unbox Therapy X Pacsafe 25L Anti-Theft Backpack as a gift from PacSafe and I’m very impressed with the attention to detail. The material has a wire mesh inside it, making it impossible to slash and grab. It has a fancy locking system for the zippers, even the one on the outside that is most likely to be targeted by a pickpocket. No one could open these without you knowing.

The backpack sits on the ground, leaning on a pole. It is grey and rectangular.
My Pacsafe bag.

On a related item, I’ve been pleased this year to see that fanny packs have made a comeback. They were never pretty, but they’re oh-so-convenient. And they feel safe because all your stuff is right there, attached to you and within sight. Nowadays they’re referred to as “waistpacks” and they’re often worn as a cross-body bag instead of at the waist, with the bag itself across your chest. They might be a good gift for someone who needs to carry only a few small items.

Explore Pacsafe’s range of bags to see lots of other unique gifts for travelers in your life:

Key cable

This is another brilliant idea. Especially when I’m traveling, I go through charging cables really fast. All of that coiling them up and packing them each morning and then pulling them out each night to charge my devices means that they break pretty easily. The Native Union key cable from Topdrawer is made to take more abuse, so it won’t break as quickly. It’s quite short, but that’s really all you need. You can hang it on your key chain or just attach it somewhere to your jacket or bag.

The cable looks like a keychain, with a small loop at the top and a larger loop below, which is the actual cable. The plugs are hidden in the part that has a loop at the top.

Unfortunately, it’s only for Apple products. Hopefully they’ll make one for Android soon.

Grayl bottles

Nowadays it’s very common for travelers and also people at home to carry a water bottle. Travelers to countries with unreliable water treatment systems often carry a filter of some sort so that they can clean the water as they go. It’s also distinctly more economical and environmentally-friendly than constantly buying bottled water.

My worry with filtration systems for travelers is that the filters have to be replaced. The instructions might say, for example, “good for 200 liters.” But who keeps count? I know I wouldn’t be able to keep track. I also don’t feel like I can be sure if that last liter, number 200, is going to be as well-filtered as the first liter was.

The way the Grayl filter works is this: you fill it with water – from a stream or a tap – and then you push the filter down through the water. As the filter gets older, it will take longer to push through.

Now here’s the beauty of this system: if it takes 25 seconds to push the filter down, it’s time to replace it. Nevertheless, it will still filter the water, just more slowly. That confidence – that the filtration still works – combined with that signal – the increased time – is why I particularly like this water bottle with filter.

The Grayl filter promises to remove 99.9% of viruses, bacteria and protozoa and to filter for particulates as well as various chemicals and heavy metals.

It comes in two sizes. The bigger one (Geopress) holds more water and the filter lasts longer. I’m told that it’s also good for places (like at home) where you don’t like the taste of the water. The filter will give it a more neutral taste.

The smaller one (Ultralight) is specifically designed for travel. The filter won’t last as long, but it’s easier to pack and carry.

Universal adapter

This may not be such a fun gift for the traveler in your life, but every world traveler needs a universal adapter. I have one much like the one pictured, and it does the job.

These days it’s not just your phone that you need to charge; you might also have a portable modem, a smartwatch, an e-reader, or a tablet that needs charging. This adapter can charge three devices at the same time: one plugged in with its electric cord, and two plugged into the USB slots.

The adapter is white and more or less in the shape of a cube. It has a number of holes at the near end, where a plug from anywhere in the world can be inserted. The USB ports are not visible in this photo.

Keep in mind, if you’re from the US, that if you want to use other sorts of electrical devices, such as a hairdryer, you also need a power converter. If you plug a hairdryer or curler from the US into a 220V power supply, like most of the world uses, you’ll fry it. An adapter like this is only for electronics that can handle 220V.

You can see lots of other travel-related products using this link to Irv’s Luggage or click on the button below for the adapter.

Packing cubes

I resisted the idea of packing cubes for a long time. I just didn’t see how they could possibly make a difference. But when I received a couple as a gift and realized what they could do, I was sold. I use them every single time I travel now.

Packing cubes don’t just help you keep your clothes organized – I put shirts in one, pants in another, underwear in another, etc. They also help you compact your clothes far more than you normally could. You place the items in the bag, nicely folded or rolled, and zip it closed, flattening it. Then, using a second zipper, you flatten it even more. It squeezes the pile to about half its original size.

Two blue packing cubes. They're not actually cubes. They are rectangular and shaped like a briefcase but smaller, with a small cloth handle at the top.

Keep in mind that, while packing cubes will definitely help you fit more clothing into your luggage, they won’t reduce the weight of that clothing. Warn your travel-loving gift recipient that they should keep an eye on the weight of their luggage so they don’t end up with extra fees from the airline!

Face masks

My blogger friend, Ciaran, makes wonderful face masks and sells them on Etsy. Some of them are even travel themed!

Travel Prints  Reversible Cotton Mask With Filter Pocket image 7. The face mask has images of various travel-related businesses.

Ciaran calls her Etsy shop Popshopology and you can get there by clicking on the button below:

Airbnb gift card

Here’s a very useful non-thing gift for travel lovers: a gift card for Airbnb. If you’re a frequent visitor to this blog, you know I’m a fan of Airbnb.

You choose the amount ($25, $50, $100, $200 or $500) and whether it should be delivered by email, text or to you so that you can give it in person. Your gift will be sent immediately. While you and the person you give it to have to be in the US, the cash can be used to pay for a room anywhere in the world. Don’t worry about timing either: the card doesn’t have an expiration date.

A travel guidebook

If the traveler in your life has already chosen a destination, a travel guidebook is a practical gift.

On the other hand, if your travel lover hasn’t decided yet, there are plenty of books out there that can help make the decision. Search on Amazon below:

I received Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book: A Journey through every country in the world as a gift and I absolutely love it. It’s massive and includes every country in the world: two pages per country, with a summary of what to see and do and beautiful photos. It makes a great gift for a world traveler!

Priority Pass

And speaking of non-thing gifts, a Priority Pass would be a great gift for a travel lover. You know those airport lounges that cost an arm and a leg to get into or that are reserved for business or first-class passengers? Well, Priority Pass allows admission to lounges around the world. I used to have one; I had to give it up when I quit my job and needed to economize. While it lasted, it was lovely to be able to relax in an airport lounge while I waited for flights.

The quality of the lounges varies, but they all have comfortable seating and are generally quiet and clean, with plugs for charging devices and good lighting. All offer free drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – and food. I’ve found that the level of the food varies a lot, from light snacks (here in the Netherlands) to complete, delicious hot meals (Mumbai).

Using the “standard plus” membership plan, which includes 10 free visits, I often planned my travel so that I could eat a meal in the lounge, avoiding paying airport prices for food or gambling on the food on the flight. If you count the free meals and the tea and sodas I drank in lounges around the world, my Priority Pass probably paid for itself.

You can click on the banner below to order a Priority Pass with a 10% discount on the first year. However, I’d hold off until flights are going again and your favorite traveler is sure to be able to use it!

Push pin world map

Scratch-off maps are very popular gifts for travelers. I have one myself, and it’s very attractive on the wall behind my desk. However, there’s a bit of a design flaw. Over time, the stuff to scratch off (some sort of coating), hardens. I realized this when I tried to scratch off a country and ended up damaging the map, digging a hole in the backing paper.

So I bought a new one. I wish that I’d known about these push-pin maps then; if I had, I would have bought one of these instead. What appeals to me is that a pin is more precise.

A map of the world, with the countries in a variety of colors with the oceans in blue.
There are many other color schemes and frame options.

For example, I went to Moscow once for a three-day conference. I never left the city so I can’t really claim to have seen Russia. With a push-pin map, I could just mark Moscow, then add more pins if I visit more of the country later.

You can choose from a variety of sizes, designs and frames and they can be personalized as well. The frame is included in the price. If you prefer, they also have US maps, US National Park maps, Europe maps, and individual country maps.

Cards, notebooks, phone cases, etc.

At Redbubble I’ve started a small shop based on my favorite photos. Choose the photo you like and you’ll see a range of different items printed with the photo: a spiral notebook, for example, or coasters for drinks, phone cases or framed pictures to hang on the wall.

When I set the shop up last year, I ordered a few items, just to see if the quality is good. It is. In the photo below you can see a spiral notebook and a small picture to hang on the wall. Check out my shop on Redbubble to see lots more choices: more photos and more different items.

On the left, a spiral notebook with an image of brightly colored warehouses on a canal in Norway, a small boat passing in front of them. On the right, a photo of the New York City skyline against a blue sky with fluffy clouds.
Items from Redbubble.

If there’s a particular picture on Rachel’s Ruminations that you’d like to see in the Redbubble shop, let me know and I can add it to the shop very easily.

Also, please suggest any other special and unique gifts for travelers that you think should be included in this list!

Pinnable image
Text: Perfect gifts for travelers (and the Rachel's Ruminations logo)
Images: top: the face mask. Below: the charging cable and the photo of me wearing the travel scarf.
Perfect for pinning!

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