You don’t have to be a frequent flier to come up with the best gifts for travelers. In a world put largely on pause due to COVID-related caution, wanderlust persists. Fortunately, you can still do a lot to get the globetrotters in your life outfitted so that they’re ready to roll once things open back up: Just put yourself in their traversing shoes and come up with ideas that will make life on the road easier. An air fryer may do wonders for a homebody in the kitchen, but it won’t be all that beneficial to someone who spends a lot of time traveling by train, plane, and automobile, living out of suitcases, and sleeping in strange beds.
The first rule of picking out the best gifts for travelers is to choose useful gear that will enhance wanderlust rather than hinder it. A few questions to ask: What will make them feel more at home when they’re far from home? They can buy their own souvenirs, so they’ll appreciate something that will remind them of what they’re leaving that will be useful where they’re going.
Next, think portable. Who wants to drag an instant pot around the world? The best gifts for travelers are ones that travel easily and can fit into their luggage without taking up a lot of space.
Finally, lightweight is key, especially when you’re looking for birthday gifts for someone who often travels by air. You don’t want to weigh them down with travel gifts that will cause them to have to pay extra for excess baggage. Instead of buying them the DVD boxed set of every season of Game of Thrones, what about digital copies they can download or stream on the go? See where we’re headed with this? Picking out the best gifts for travelers can be pretty easy once you’ve narrowed down your options with these basic requirements.
- Best unique travel gift: WT2 Language Translator
- Best gift for business travelers: Wooden Pens Set with Pen Gift Case
- Best gift for frequent travelers: MLVOC 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow
- Best gift for world travelers: Safest Travel Adapter Kit
- Best hardside luggage for travelers: Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels
- Best weekender bag: Plambag Canvas Duffle Bag
- Best travel toiletry kit: Convenience Kits International Assembled Necessities Travel Kit
- Best gift for travelers who love music: Echo Dot (4th Gen)
- Best gift for travelers who love movies: This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories (Turner Classic Movies) Kindle Edition
- Best travel accessories gifts: Vankyo Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
How to select the best gifts for travelers
Wondering what are the best gifts for travelers? As you begin to list gift ideas, think useful, portable, and lightweight, and you’ll already be headed in the right direction. Here are some tips for useful gifts that the frequent travelers in your life will appreciate every time they hit the road.
Best unique gifts for travelers: WT2 Language Translator
No WiFi is needed, and the audio transmission remains stable for up to 32 feet. Amazon
Say good-bye to language barriers. International travelers won’t have to learn to speak in new tongues or constantly consult translation guides with this nifty little gift. In “touch” and “simul” mode, both people in the conversation wear an earbud, and when they speak in their own language it is translated into the earbud of the other person into the other person’s language. There’s also a speaker mode for conversations with more than one person in which the translations play through a Bluetooth-connected mobile phone and one earbud. It takes only one to three seconds for the device to complete translations, so communication can take place almost in real-time. Please note: We encourage learning a second language, but this practical gift is for those who don’t have the time to pack 40 into one lifetime.
Best gift for business travelers: Wooden Pens Set with Pen Gift Case
A Signing Bonus
Everything here is handcrafted and made with all-natural materials. Amazon
Even those who are not letter-writing types and aren’t inclined to buy postcards, much less write messages on them and mail them, will find themselves in situations where they need a pen. They especially come in handy when it’s time to fill out the landing card upon arrival in a new country. This three-piece set includes a ball point, gel, and fountain pen as well as refills. They all come in a stylish wooden box designed to make business travelers look extra classy and professional.
Best gift for frequent travelers: MLVOC 100 Percent Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow
For Sound Sleeping
This is sweat-resistant, so at the end of the long trip, it will look and feel as good as new. Amazon
Sleeping in coach can be super-uncomfortable, and those tiny pillows most airlines provide don’t help. A frequent traveler’s head can always use a pillow to rest on, particularly when stuck waiting forever at the departure gate. If they don’t want to lug one of the memory-foam headrests on their bed at home through airports, a neck pillow will serve as a good substitute in a pinch. This travel pillow is curved to fit your neck and stop your head from falling forward while you’re drifting off into dreamland. It comes with a sleep mask and earbuds to ensure a comfortable slumber.
Best gift for world travelers: Safest Travel Adapter Kit
This set is compatible with 110 to 240V devices, and the main unit weighs less than five ounces. Amazon
There are few inconveniences of international travel more frustrating than arriving in a new country and not being able to use your electronics in your hotel or Airbnb because the plugs won’t fit into the wall outlets. This travel adaptor kit has six different adaptors that cover pretty much the entire globe, as well as a main unit that can accommodate two USB and two plug items so you can use one kit to power four different devices. The adapters fit into an opening in the main unit. Surge protection and a voltage indicator protect your electronics from unexpected acts of electricity, and it’s usable with most kinds of electronics, as long as the devices are dual voltage. A travel pouch keeps everything in one place, and the set is lightweight, so it won’t add much bulk to carry-on luggage.
Best hardside luggage for travelers: Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels
This item is designed to fit into overhead compartments and comes in 11 different colors. It’s also available in 24- and 28-inch sizes. Amazon
Hardside luggage may add more weight to check-in allowances than a fabric suitcase (6.8 pounds in the case of this suitcase), but it’s more durable and less likely to be ruined by airport personnel who load and unload luggage. In addition to the durability benefit, this Samsonite suitcase, which comes in multiple hues to suit different tastes, also looks incredible. It features 360-degree spinner wheels to ensure easy mobility, a push-button handle, and a TSA-compatible lock.
Best weekender bag: Plambag Canvas Duffle Bag
Users can carry this with one hand, over one shoulder or across the body, and it should easily fit into overhead storage bins. Amazon
The perfect bag for short-term trips can be an elusive find indeed. How large is too large and how small is too small? Only the travel gods know for sure, but this expandable weekender bag can accommodate short and longer-ish journeys and is able to extend from 20.8 inches to 24.4 inches in length. It comes with four different side compartments to fit smaller essentials as well as a main area for clothing, shoes, a laptop, and other larger items. The body is made mostly of high-density cotton canvas that’s sturdy enough for camping and hiking adventures. For weekends not spent in transit, it can be used for trips to the gym.
Best travel toiletry kit: Convenience Kits International Assembled Necessities Travel Kit
All the Essentials
This gift includes an eye mask and earplugs to help block out unwanted sights and sounds in flight. Amazon
Packing can be a drag, especially when you have to shove oversized toiletries into a miniature bag. A 21-item kit that comes with a selection of sampler-size toiletries packed and ready to go can take that particularly annoying ritual out of the travel prep process. This fabulously unisex, toiletry travel kit, which makes an excellent travel gift for men as well as women, includes everything a person might need to remain well-groomed while away for a few days. It’s all TSA-compliant, too, so if they stuff this into their overhead luggage, they won’t have to worry about size restrictions. Of course, they’ll have to replace the items when they run out, but this kit, which comes with a stylish travel bag, will give frequent jet setters a good start.
Best gift for travelers who love music: Echo Dot (4th Gen)
This device comes in a considerably smaller and slightly less expensive version for those with space concerns. Amazon
High-impact sound can be hard to come by on the road, and the Echo Dot can give music lovers great tunes and excellent audio with just a simple “Hey, Alexa” command. As an added bonus, it includes an alarm clock so travelers with early departure times won’t have to depend on wake-up calls or the natural body clock. This device also can be used to control compatible smart devices back home. While rocking out to a favorite playlist and getting dressed for dinner, just issue a command to Alexa to turn on a light back home so your house doesn’t appear to be vacant all night.
Best gift for travelers who love movies: This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories (Turner Classic Movies)
This eBook allows you to highlight, do word searches, and take notes. Amazon
Movie history buffs, rejoice. If they’d rather read than kill several hours with the in-flight entertainment section, here’s a book that won’t take up any space in their carry-on. This well-reviewed trek through Hollywood history features vintage stars that time forgot, and prominent performers of yesteryear that even the most ardent movie buffs might have never heard of. The digital version can be downloaded on any device, and if you really want to splurge on your traveling movie buff, throw in a Kindle reader to make bingeing it even easier.
Best travel accessories gifts: Vankyo Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
A full charge provides up to 30 hours of listening time. Amazon
Travelers who demand premium audio quality from in-flight entertainment systems or from their own personal devices will appreciate the high fidelity these offer. These headphones help eliminate outside noise so the plane engine and fellow passengers won’t interrupt the listening experience. They’re foldable and come with a carrying bag for easier transport and an airplane adapter plug so you won’t have to worry about compatibility with two-pronged in-flight entertainment headphone ports.
Final words on shopping for the best gifts for travelers
Shopping for the best gifts for travelers doesn’t have to be daunting if you know what to look for. Even if you can’t think of the most unique travel gift, there are so many options to making logging countless frequent flier miles more comfortable. Think small-ish and portable, lightweight and useful. It will also be a reminder of you that your favorite frequent traveler can carry with them, so even when you’re out of sight, you won’t be out of mind.
Pop Sci is here to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: Best Practical Gifts, Tech Gifts for Fitness Junkies, Best Eco-Friendly Gifts.