Updated: April 30, 2021
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One of the biggest challenges with getting gifts for world travelers is they don’t have a lot of space, and you want to give them something they will actually use. I’ve been given gifts for travel that I have left behind because they aren’t practical.
After traveling around the world for one year, we have tried and tested a lot of different travel gear. We wanted to create a list of the most useful and practical items for anyone going abroad long-term.
We have used every single item on this list (or a variation of it), and we would highly recommend any of these as a gift for a world traveler!
Gifts Under $25
This compact, lightweight microfiber towel is a necessity while on the road! It doesn’t take up much space in your bag and it drys quickly.
I would recommend buying an extra-large size towel, so it can be used for all sorts of activities like beach days and picnics.
I always aspired to be an organized traveler, and I never was until I got packing cubes.
Packing cubes make your life easier on long-term trips by keeping your belongings organized. It’s nice to know exactly where everything is instead of having to dig through your bag to find that one specific item.
I have given these as gifts to loved ones because they have changed the way I travel. I would recommend them to anyone looking to stay more organized on the road!
Fancy option – Cal Pak packing cubes
The Lifestraw is a water filter that removes 99.99% of bacteria and parasites from water. You can drink out of rivers and non-potable tap water with a Lifestraw, and it’ll purify the water through its filter as you drink.
I like to keep this on hand just in case we run out of water or are ever in a situation where we can’t access safe drinking water. This is also a cheaper alternative to the Steripen (see further down).
Most regions around the world tend to have a unique power socket. If you want to keep your devices charged or you don’t want them to explode, you’ll need to travel with a universal adapter.
I would recommend getting this Epicka universal adapter. It can be used in more than 150 countries and can charge multiple devices at once. It also has 4 USB ports which is a huge plus!
Mini First Aid Kit
A mini first aid kit is a practical gift option for a world traveler. I’m a bit clumsy, so I always travel with a mini first aid kit. It’s nice to have bandaids and antibiotic ointment on hand in case of any minor cuts or injuries.
While traveling long-term, you’ll need to make trips to the grocery store if you plan on cooking your food. Instead of wasting plastic grocery bags, buy a reusable bag that you can use over and over again.
I like these reusable bags that fold into smaller bags because they easily fit into any travel backpack or suitcase. This is a good sustainable gift option that will come in handy more times than not!
Colin and I got these eye masks as a gift before our trip around the world, and we used them all the time. Eye masks are great for long plane and bus rides and for when you are sensitive to light while sleeping.
I like this eye mask because it is soft and flexible. It also doesn’t touch my eyes directly, so I don’t feel like something is pressed on my face while I sleep.
I never leave for a trip without a notebook to use as a journal. Writing in a journal is the best way to capture your feelings and memories of a trip.
The Moleskine notebook is my go-to journal for traveling. It’s compact, lightweight, and stylish, and you can also choose the size you want. Colin usually travels with the mini notebook and I travel with the mid-size notebook. Both sizes fit easily into a travel backpack.
It’s always a good idea to be extra prepared for a world trip. You never know if you will get caught in an emergency or if the power will go out.
Even if none of those things happen, it’s nice to have a small flashlight on hand just in case.
Gifts Under $100
I always thought fanny packs looked funny, so I never wanted to wear one. However, after a year of wearing one all over the world, I am happy to say that they are 100% worth it. And they are way better than carrying around a purse.
My favorite part about a fanny pack is that you don’t have to worry about leaving it somewhere. It’s strapped to your body, so never have to stress about losing your passport or wallet. I would highly recommend this as a gift!
Most countries do not have drinkable tap water, which is why it is always smart to travel with some sort of water purifier.
The Steripen is a UV water purifier. If used properly, it can kill up to 99.99% of bacteria in unsanitary water making the water drinkable. I know many long-term travelers use the Steripen for regular drinking water, so they don’t have to buy a plastic water bottle.
This is an essential item for world travel.
A portable charger is a practical and useful gift for world travelers. We used ours pretty much every single day of our trip.
While traveling, you’ll use your phone a lot for maps, directions, to look up restaurants, Instagram, etc. You’ll also be out of the hotel for most of the day meaning your phone will probably die.
It was so nice to have this charger so that we always had a charge on our phone and could get to where we needed to go.
The Anker portable charger is compact and can charge the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy multiple times on one battery charge.
While we were staying in New Zealand, we stayed at an Airbnb that had a kitchen outside. It was fall, so it got dark early. Wondering how in the world we were going to cook our dinner without any light, we remembered that we had a headlamp. It was a very random circumstance to have to use our headlamp, but I’m glad we had one nonetheless.
A headlamp is an item that is nice to have just in case the power goes out or if you run into a random situation like ours in New Zealand. It’s also great if you love hiking and camping.
It’s a small item that will fit in any travel bag and is convenient to have on hand.
I don’t go anywhere without my water bottle. Ask Colin, and he will say so. I’ve had a Hydroflask for years, and it is by far my favorite water bottle.
Hydroflask’s TempShield technology also keeps liquids inside your bottle nice and cool (or warm) throughout the day. This is convenient while you are out exploring all day.
I like to travel with a water bottle so I don’t have to buy a plastic water bottle everywhere I go. You can also pair the water bottle with the SteriPen, so you never have to purchase a plastic water bottle on your trip!
Stasher bags are good gifts for the long-term traveler on a budget. Traveling on a budget means you are often packing lunches and cooking most meals.
We used our Stasher bags almost every day on the road to pack our lunches, snacks, and leftovers. They are reusable and durable and can fit in any travel backpack. I guarantee your friend will be grateful to have these on their trip!
If your world-traveling friend is going to a sunny destination, add a hat to their gift list. They will appreciate it on those hot days!
Colin’s brother gave us a Cotopaxi daypack for our long-term travels, and it was by far the most-used item on this list. I can’t imagine traveling without it!
The bag fits everything you need to take with you during the day – water bottles, snacks, passports, towels, and more. If you aren’t sure what to get for your friend, this is the #1 item I would get them.
A high-quality rain jacket is an item that I never travel without! When you are on the road, you’ll run into rainstorms here and there. It’s better to be prepared with a rain jacket than to have to walk around in wet clothes all day.
Does your friend already have everything they need? Ask them if they have a cause that they would like to support and donate to a charity on their behalf as a gift instead.
We asked our family to donate to a charity helping fight malaria in Africa instead of giving us a physical gift. Neither of us needed anything else and we all felt good about donating to a good cause.
Another charity option is Global Giving. Global Giving connects people with grassroots projects all over the world. You can donate to a specific project and help educate children, help with forest restoration, help to rescue animals, and many more.
Gifts Over $100
I usually only travel with two pairs of shoes – tennis shoes and Chacos. Chacos are the most versatile and comfortable sandals out there. You can hike, swim, bike, and walk around cities all day, and these shoes will hold up.
I’ve had my Chacos for almost 2 years, and I’ve done all of the above in them. They are still in excellent condition. I would recommend these for any long-term traveler who needs a pair of durable sandals for warmer climates.
As a traveler, I know how little space there is for extra things like books.
That’s where the e-reader comes in. An e-reader is a great gift because it gives you something to do while you are on flights, trains, bus rides, or at night. You can connect it to a library, so you have the option to check out thousands of books for free. This is one of the main reasons why we love our Kobo!
It’s also compact enough to fit into any travel backpack – a huge bonus!
A versatile jacket is a must for long-term travelers! You’ll want one that you can wear hiking, on chilly days, on the plane, and walking around cities.
These are our favorite travel jackets for men and women:
The Tortuga Setout backpack is what we took on our 12-month trip around the world. We chose this backpack for a few reasons. The backpack is carry-on size, so it fits as a carry-on with all major airlines (except the European budget airlines). It is a front-loader, which makes it easy to access everything in the main compartment. There is a padded laptop pocket in the back of the bag. And there are plenty of pockets inside to keep all of the essentials organized.
The backpack was durable and held up well the entire time.
A backpack is a wonderful gift idea for travelers looking to travel minimally and on a budget.
If you don’t want to travel with a backpack but still want to travel light, then a carry-on suitcase is the next best thing. I prefer to travel with a carry-on or medium-sized suitcase instead of a backpack. Backpacks tend to get quite heavy and I like the option of being able to roll the suitcase around.
I’ve heard excellent things about Away suitcases. They are sturdy, stylish, and lightweight, and have all the compartments any traveler needs for a long trip.
DJI Osmo Pocket
The DJI Osmo Pocket is a hand-held gimbal that is good for taking photos and videos. The gimbal stabilization makes videos smooth and focused, which is one of the main reasons we got this for our trip. It also shoots 4k video and in slow motion.
The Osmo Pocket connects to your phone, which gives you more control while you shoot. The one con about this product is that it is not waterproof, so if you are looking to get underwater shots, then a GoPro would be a better fit.
Colin really liked the Osmo Pocket because we were tight on space and it takes up virtually no room in your bag.
For your adventure-seeking friends, the GoPro is an excellent camera for action shots, underwater shots, and everything in between.
The GoPro camera has a fish-eye look to it, which is why we opted to sell ours and get the Osmo Pocket instead. But if you are buying a gift for someone who plans action-packed trips, then the GoPro is perfect for them.
Drones are a great gift for travelers who are into or want to get into aerial photography and videography. Not everyone will want one, but we loved the images we were able to capture from our trip with the drone.
We took the Mavic Pro on our trip, and it is no longer in production. The DJI Mini is another option that is ultralight and compact and captures video in 4K HD making it a high-quality drone.