The ultimate travel gift guide: Christmas gifts ideas for travelers

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you (thank you!). For more info, check out my disclosure policy.

Are you on a <$10 budget? Or are you on a >$50 budget?

Do your friends have everything already? Or do your friends hate having things?

Is your friend artsy? Is your friend high maintenance? Is your friend into the outdoors?

Are you looking for cute gifts to make or are you looking for easy gifts to buy?

If you answered yes to anything above, then this is for you. This Christmas gift guide covers everything for all types of travel lovers in your life. Plus, these are all things I own or have done, and things that I love or help me so much on my travels- so you know that they’ve been tested on at least one Internet person!

christmas gifts ideas for travelers pinterest image

Note: This is ordered roughly by price. $ is $0-$20. $ is $21-$50. $$$ is $50+. Rough prices are at the time I wrote this article and are subject to change. 

Unique travel gifts: Christmas gift ideas for travelers who already have everything

Inspirational travel quote room decor ($)

These travel room decals are a fun way to decorate their space and also keep them inspired.

Travel puzzles ($)

Does your friend like puzzles? Does your friend have a favorite place? Consider getting them a puzzle to remind them of that place- like the picturesque Cinque Terre in Italy! Or, a generic pretty city or mountain/lake puzzle, depending on their favorite type of place to travel to.

Travel inspired jewelry ($)

I love using Etsy to find these things. There are so many creative pieces people have made- globe bracelets, map necklaces, airplane charms, pieces with cute sayings, etc. Take a look to see if anything would speak to your friend!

Scrapbook ($)

What better way to help them remember their travels then by helping the scrapbook them (if they’re into scrapbooks, anyway)?

Travel adult coloring books ($)

For travel friends who need to relax in a way that may involve less wine, adult coloring is really useful. And then adult coloring travel pictures can help remind them of their trips! Lonely Planet’s is a lot of fun, but there are a ton of different travel coloring books you can choose from. Throwing in colored pencils with the book would make a really cute present too.

Selfie / food picture light ($)

Does your friend take phone pictures in dark places? Club selfies, romantic restaurant food pictures, etc? If so, you have to get them this light so that their pictures won’t be grainy.

Shirts with fun travel sayings ($)

If they are a t-shirt person, there are a ton of fun travel shirts with funny slogans and cute travel shirts with tame sayings. I like using Cafe Press to find sassier shirts, and of course, Etsy to find cute ones.

Games for the plane ($)

Sure, traveling is fun, but plane rides suck. Consider getting them something fun to do on their many flights, like this set of crosswords, sudoku, word searches, and other types of brain games. If not brain games, whatever time passing activity they’re into!

Scratch maps ($$)

These are all over the Internet, but they’re actually a cute, visual, and satisfying way to remember where you’ve been. Alternatively, you could get them a regular map for a more classic wall decoration.

Language learning books/CDs ($$-$$$)

Traveling is more meaningful when you can communicate with the people. Yes, there are a ton of free language learning apps and cheap language learning textbooks, but if your friend is anything like me, the guilt of having spent a lot of money on something will force them to actually stick to trying to learn. For a pricier, but tried and true way to learn, Rosetta Stone ($119+) makes an awesome present. For a more affordable option, I honestly really like Living Language ($30+).

An instant camera ($$$)

They probably already have a nice, reliable camera. So instead, consider getting them the Fujifilm Instax which makes a great present because you get the pictures right away. It’s perfect for sharing quick memories easily with new friends on the road!

Mini printer ($$$)

Specifically for mini printer brands, I would recommend this Kodak printer. Setting it up initially can be tricky, but it’s another great present for the friends who like printing cute hard copies of their pictures.

Souvenirs you can get online ($-$$)

Is your friend one of those people who loves souvenirs like shot glasses and magnets, but they forgot to get some from one of their favorite trips? You can get those now for them online- especially if it’s a major city like Paris or London.

Cooking classes ($$)

These can be a really good way to help remember the time they were in Thailand, Italy, France, etc. See if there’s a local country-based cooking class near them- Groupon is usually where I start because of the deals.

Travel books ($$)

If they’re going somewhere specific, both fiction books that take place in the destination and non-fiction books about the destination are a fun way to start getting them in the mood- like I’m reading Turn Right at Macchu Picchu to prepare for a trip to Peru.

If they don’t have a trip planned, there are a ton of books to help inspire which destinations to go to- like 1000 Places To See Before You Die or National Geographic’s series of gorgeous travel ideas.

For general books that inspire wanderlust, check out anything by Jack Kerouac if they’re a little hipster, Wild by Cheryl Strayed– which is an amazing book especially if they’re a female who loves solo or outdoorsy travel, or From Excuses to Excursions by Gloria Atanmo if they need a little push to help them go for their travel dreams.

Language phrase books or dictionaries ($-$$)

I know, I know- the Internet has everything now. But sometimes they won’t have Wi-Fi or easy access to their phone, so having a hard copy of something they can look up key words/phrases in is still important. For example, this Spanish phrase book saved me in Ecuador.

Donation to their favorite non-profit ($-$$$)

Did they volunteer somewhere they absolutely love or is there an organization they visited in their favorite country that does something amazing? Consider making a donation to them in your friend’s name!

Essential travel gifts: Practical Christmas gift ideas for travelers

Leggings or Sweatpants ($ – $$$)

Your friend is crazy if they don’t like being comfy, and no one in thinks they have too many leggings. For the budget people, Forever 21’s $3.90 basics leggings shouldn’t hurt your bank account too much and are always my cheap go-to. For the people who want to support high quality, sustainable, fair trade, and organic products, prAna’s pillar leggings ($45 – $68) are the absolute best. Actually, even their jeans feel super comfortable. If your friend is more of a sweatpants

Travel journal ($)

If your friend likes writing, consider getting (or making – if you’re crafty) them a nice journal so they can document their travels! Sentimental me loves looking through these randomly and reliving travel memories in a way that’s hard to do if they’re not written down.

External battery ($ -$$$)

Not sure if you’re noticing a theme with my life choices, but for these you could either go cheap, cute, and not long lasting, with like this Starbucks cup, unicorn, or cute bear reusable charger. Or you could go for the pricier, uglier, but trusted brand, with Anker’s PowerCore series being my favorite in this category. Just depends on your friend’s preferences and your budget too.

For more information on what to look for to get the most efficient charger, I found this guide really useful.

Travel blanket ($)

I have become unreasonably fearful of airline blankets ever since reading this article about how often they get reused without cleaning! So I bought the prettiest, cheapest travel blanket I could find ASAP. I love this brand because it doesn’t take up a lot of room in your carry-on.

Travel guidebooks ($)

Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, Rick Steves – blogs are great, but sometimes you need info offline, which is why guidebooks are so helpful! I usually go for whatever is on sale, but if you know that your friend is going somewhere specific, help them out by getting a guidebook for that place!

Reusable water bottle ($ – $$)

Reusable water bottles are perfect for the environmentally friendly person in your life who gets thirsty. I absolutely love my purple Hydroflask ($29.95 – $34.95) because it actually does keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for a long period of time. This water bottle is my baby. The only issues are it’s heavy and pricey, so if you’re on a budget and your friend doesn’t have arm strength, Nalgene‘s water bottles ($12 – $19.99) are always a good bet.

Drawstring bag ($)

For a cheaper luggage-y alternative, consider getting them a drawstring bag. These are always handy for day trips and won’t take up a lot of room in their luggage. There are a ton of cheap ones on the Internet, but they always fall apart quickly in my experience, so I really like Nike’s.

Travel organizer ($)

If you’re friend is anything like me circa 3 months ago, they just reused the same plastic baggies for their toiletries. This travel organizer from Target literally changed my life. It’s so much easier to store/find/access small stuff!

Long wool socks ($-$$)

If your friend likes hiking on their trips, they need comfy socks that will lessen the chance of them getting blisters. Socks sound funny as a present, but think of all the times when one of your socks go missing? Now think about how nice it would be to have more? Yeah, socks are an awesome present. Darn Tough’s ($21.95 for one) are my absolute favorite because they have literally not fallen apart for me yet, but I still have a ton of Costco’s ($19.95 for four) because they’re so much more affordable.

Quick drying towels ($$)

Sometimes your friend has to stay in places that don’t offer free towels, or sometimes they can’t bring those towels to the beach! Regular towels are so bulky and take forever to dry, and these towels are better for traveling because they dry quickly and take up less space. Plus they get less sandy!

Noise canceling headphones ($$$)

Noise cancelling headphones are a super useful present. Airplanes and airports get really loud, so these are perfect for blocking out loud babies, coughing, and loud announcements. And of course, they usually have high quality, bass boosting sound. I don’t care what everyone says, I love my wireless Beats by Dre headphones ($197), but most people will tell you to get these Bose headphones ($349) which my ex had. I liked those too, they’re just expensive and while the sound is even better, it’s not worth another ~$150 to me (I also have $100k in debt, so).

Ultra light down jackets ($$$)

These jackets changed my traveling life. I only travel with these jackets now. They are super warm and super compact – not bulky! Mine is from Uniqlo and (again) I love it, but Amazon has a slightly cheaper version if you don’t have a Uniqlo near you.

Rolling luggage ($$$)

These not only look cool, but they’re so much easier to bring around then a travel backpack- if your friend is not changing cities often during their trip. If they are, then a backpack is easier. But the right backpack really depends on their body and what feels comfortable for them, so it’s much easier to recommend a rolling luggage as a good gift for travelers. If you have a lot of disposable income, Away’s luggages ($225+) are probably the most popular brand, otherwise you could opt for a generic brand ($49.99+).

Travel size stuff ($)

Of all the travel-related presents I’ve received, these are my absolute favorites because then there’s always needed and usually forgotten when packing. Travel size lotion, travel size soap, travel size toothpaste – heck even regular size lip balm with SPF was really useful as a present. Since they’re cute and small, if you get a few, you can arrange them super cute. Like put them all in a mug. Everyone loves mugs. Or if you have less time, the Internet puts a bunch together at once for you.

Airline, hotel, or Airbnb gift cards ($$-$$$)

Hey, I’m just throwing ideas out there. If they like traveling, they’ll love free/discounted trips and accommodation! If it’s hard thinking of a material thing, consider getting them an always appreciated gift card.

Cruise tickets ($$-$$$)

If this is what you choose, can I be your friend? LOL jk. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I loved doing an Alaska cruise, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who likes adventure and leisure.

Crafty travel gifts: Christmas gift ideas if you or they like DIY stuff

Okay, this section is now in videos because for me they’re so much easier to follow along to.

If you have access to their travel pictures and they’re okay with you printing them out, consider doing something creative with them like…

Travel photo light frame

This is one of my FAVORITE things in my room! If your friend is crafty and would enjoy doing this for themselves, print out some travel pictures for them as a present, throw in some clothes pins and white lights, and send them a link to this video.

Travel photo calendar

Again, you could get them the supplies so they could do this on their own or arrange it for them as the present. Technically the video is any picture, but I loved doing this for my friend’s travel pictures.

Exploding travel photo box

Want to take scrapbooking to the next level? Try making them one of these, or giving them supplies to do it themselves!

Travel photo box

Similar to the above, but this one is a little easier to make and play around with.

Homemade photo album

Even though it’s easier to buy a photo album, making one on your own for your friends is so much fun because you can put your own spin on it.

Travel photo mugs, magnets, photobooks, pillows, etc

If you’re not so crafty, but still want to do something creative, head to stores like Walgreens where you can get a picture printed on all kinds of mediums. Check out their site for the full list!

If you don’t have access to their pictures, you can still give them crafty presents or supplies so they can make them themselves! Consider:

Recycled Map Crafts

General travel room decor crafts

Boxes to store small souvenirs

DIY inspirational quote art

Similar to earlier when you could buy a saying to hang on their wall, if you have trouble finding their favorite travel quote, consider making one for them.

Liked this post? Pin it to remember it for their birthday too!

travel christmas gift guide


Traveler. Foodie. Student debt haver. I love finding the best things to do and eat when traveling, and sharing them with everyone else who likes experiencing local culture or exploring the outdoors too! You can read more about me in my about page.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you (thank you!). For more info, check out my disclosure policy.


  1. September 24, 2018 / 8:40 am

    I love all of these, especially the DIY ones! Need to quit my job and spend all my time making travel gifts. šŸ˜€

    • Angelica
      September 25, 2018 / 7:22 am

      That’s how I feel sometimes too šŸ˜‚. I wish I was creative enough to make up my own DIY ideas šŸ˜‚

  2. October 8, 2018 / 3:23 pm

    Love this post! So many cool items that I see for myself never mind for others! lol

    • Angelica
      October 8, 2018 / 9:58 pm

      Honestly, I feel like that every time I look at gift ideas too šŸ˜‚

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