I recently had someone approach me about looking for a gift for their friend, telling me I was known for always giving great presents. I had never really thought about it until then to be honest. But after listening to quite a few people stress out about finding gifts for friends/family/significant others, I think it’s high-time I share some of my secrets. Which aren’t really even secrets to begin with considering it consists of two notions; listen & observe.
That’s pretty much it. A few months in advance to birthdays and Christmas, I start a small note on my phone and put everyone’s name that I know I’ll be buying presents for.
And during that time when I’m with them, I listen.
Do they get excited about something small you passed in a store? What about a new lipstick they’re obsessed with? Have they shared an interest in becoming a writer? Whatever excites them, I write down gift ideas so to not forget later on.
If you can’t come up with any key ideas, start observing.
What do they wear? Do they wear tiny pendant necklaces? What about colorful socks? What seems to be a repeating color or pattern in their home? All of those can be stored away for future reference.
The best advice for people who are difficult to shop for isn’t to buy what you think they would like, but rather, something similar to what they already have. My dad is notorious for this one, so I stick to what I know he likes because he already has it. Large mugs for coffee? He goes through at least one a year from somehow snapping the handles off, so that’s an easy gift. With that said, I’ve compiled a list of items for any travelers in your life. They can be hard to shop for at times, preferring experiences to items. Whether they’re travel enthusiasts or hardcore travelers, there should be something for everyone on this ultimate list of gifts for travelers this holiday season.
- Note: I do receive a tiny percentage when you use these links to purchase some of the items listed here. It doesn’t cost anything extra on your end, I just thought I’d let you know. All of these things I either have & love, or have extensively read reviews to make sure it’s not just a bunch of junk.
The Old-School Traveler:
Only in the sense you’ll find them curled up with a good paperback or writing out postcards on their trip. All of these are definitely items I bring with me as a way to slow down and push myself to think about just what it is I’m seeing as well as feeling in a new place.
A Proper Travel Journal ($32)
Alright, so I’m VERY particular when it comes to journals. They need to be the right size, feel, and be free of any decorations on the pages. My mom actually purchased this leather-covered journal for me where I can swap out the inside hardcover with another once I run out. At 4×6, it’s perfect. Better yet, the soft leather cover acts as mini pockets to store notes, business card and postcards. A tad pricey up front, but when you consider the replacement journal you can buy at Michael’s or AC Moore is only $4, it’s a steal. I’m on my second one.
Instax Mini ($124)
I own both the Mini and Wide versions, but the mini is great for anyone who doesn’t want to take up a ton of space in their bags. It’s perfect for night’s out, saying thanks to a kind host in the form of a physical photo, and creating “free” souvenirs of a place.
One Line a Day Journal ($13)
Confession: I’ve bought this book over half a dozen times for various people in my life and am on my second one. I just love this idea so much! Essentially, you’re given a few lines (perfect for those who don’t want to spend hours writing) to record what happened that day, jot down inspiring quotes, or any accomplishments and it’s designed so you see that same day between year 1-5 all on the same page. It’s nice when you’re on year 5 to flip to that date and see just where you were on that very day on year’s 1-4. Again, I really, really love giving this gift.
For the Gadget-Oriented Traveler:
These guys are looking to simplify their lives in every way possible and prefer screens over paper.
Kindle Oasis ($289)
ALRIGHT, this isn’t the cheapest Kindle version out there. There’s always the Kindle Voyage ($199) or the classic Kindle Paperwhite ($119). All great choices. Yet the Kindle Oasis is the first of the series that I’d ever consider ordering. The cover acts as a second rechargeable battery, giving you months on a single charge. Something about the uneven back makes me wonder if it’d feel more like a well-worn paperback where you’ve folded the book in half to better one-hand it. Not that I ever do that, of course.
Tile Combo Pack ($89)
THIS. If they’re anything like me, (ahem..) this is huge. I’m linking up the four pack so there’s a bit of variety in a pack (two slim for passport holders & wallets, two regular to clip onto a suitcase or camera strap.) This links right up to their app, ensuring no more travel mishaps (or at least a few less!)
Portable Charger ($13)
So I threw in one stocking stuffer for those on a budget (aren’t we all..) This lipstick-sized portable charger will give your phone and other devices enough charge to get through those sticky situations. I this constantly as my phone battery drains alarmingly fast while walking around New York City.
For the Practical Traveler:
This section is primarily for anyone who’s been traveling for a bit or thinking about taking a big trip somewhere. Here’s a few practical items that make life a heck of a lot easier, I’ve tried out everything to ensure it’s worth recommending. I’m looking to expand on this section in a later post, so let me know if you have any practical travel items to recommend in the comments!
Flight 001 Spacepak Essentials Kit ($46-115)
I can’t recommend these by Flight 001 enough. Any packing cubes for that matter. These are an absolute life-saver, ESPECIALLY, for those who have a hard time keeping their shit together while on the road. I bring these whether I’m in Europe for three weeks or spending a weekend in Boston. It keeps everything tidy and compartmentalized, ultimately eliminating the need to dig around for things. The clothing cube had a side for clean clothes and a second compartment for dirty laundry on the opposite side. This is important. Pick up a set or a single one depending on your budget. There are a ton of different brands out there that range in pricing, making this one of my favorite gifts for travelers.
Foldable Flip Flops ($7)
I don’t know WHAT this sorcery is or how I’ve never seen/heard of these before. These are honestly perfect to shove in a beach bag, purse for after a night out, or even when your shoes start to give you blisters. They come in a ton of colors and are an absolute essential for hostel showers. It gets gross in there. Quick-drying and durable, your favorite traveler will thank you.
Travel Gifts For The Home:
My favorite part. Whenever I’m not out exploring, I’m looking for beautiful things to fill my apartment to inspire my next trip.
Paris’ underground is pictured in this one and was what prompted me to message the artist to see if they had one of New York City as well. Lo and behold, they replied right away to let me know it’d be created and listed by this weekend. I was blown away; not only are these affordable, but they seem to be open to taking requests! It’s a nice “grown up” piece for any city-lover without being over-the-top.
Magnetic World Globe ($79)
THIS. My heart started racing when I found this magnetic map as I’m currently 9 globes deep into my ever-growing collection. They have three variations I am seriously eyeing that black globe. I cringe at the thought of poking holes into any of mine (even if they were all under $20..) so having the ability to use MAGNETS is incredible to me. Be sure to pick up some extra magnets though (love these gold ones!) I blew through an entire tack container for my wall map. All those little stops add up, after-all.
Scratch Off World Map ($40)
When I first started, I opted for a pin map mainly due to the lack of options for scratch maps or terrible reviews on any of the pretty ones. Companies have upped their game in the past year with a ton of different styles depending on the traveler you’re thinking of. Here’s a beautiful neutral-toned map ($25) as well. The colors aren’t very vibrant underneath, but it does look incredible un-scratched as well.
For the Book-loving Traveler:
Or for even the times they aren’t jumping on a plane, here are my current favorite books I’d recommend to anyone to inspire a trip abroad. I’m not personally a huge fan of country guidebooks, so I’ve decided to leave those out.
Atlas Obscura ($17)
Oh my goodness. This. I just went to their book signing the other day and was thoroughly impressed with this book. First off, it’s physically beautiful. Second, the amount of places in it are incredible. This is great for anyone who loves exploring little-known or forgotten places. Though I said I wasn’t going to include any guidebooks, this is my one exception.
The Lost Girls ($11)
This one’s cute. Three friends who decide to set out on a 60,000 mile journey and of course there are a few mishaps along the way. It’s interesting to see how each of them react to the places they visit, at one point splitting up to fulfill their own travel goals. I couldn’t help identifying with bits of each author whether it was dealing with failing relationships to travel styles.
Rule No. 5: No Sex on the Bus: Confessions of a Tour Leader ($9, Kindle version)
I don’t see this one on a lot of travel book lists out there and I can never understand why. Brian perfectly captures what it’s like to herd 20-somethings along in a dozen different countries. His stories are absolutely hilarious and have made me add a few of his other books to my must-read book for 2017. His style of writing reminds me of Bill Bryson, just slightly more twisted. It also gave me second thoughts on some of the more common European tours and how it can oftentimes be not what you were expecting..
Bonus! Cute Travel Pin
Gold Compass Enamel Pin ($10)
In a pinch? Buy a pin. Looking for something inexpensive? Buy a pin. These are tiny, can be packaged up in a cute box, and attached to any coat or bag. Any wanderlust would appreciate taking a piece of home or a reminder of how much you care when they’re thousands of miles away. I think the only question remaining here is which one to buy..