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Great Gifts for Travel Lovers They’ll Actually Use

Table of Contents

Essential Gifts for World Travelers-chelsea-london-phillips-780446-unsplash-2018123002

If you’re looking for gifts for the travel lovers in your life, you’ve come to the right place. Every item is something I use and recommend to my friends and family. They’re products and services every adventurer will thank you for and actually mean it.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you buy products using the links below, I receive a small percentage of the sale with no cost to you.)

Great Gifts for Travel Lovers

(On another note: Here are great gifts for photography lovers)


Photo of 3 Penguins in a River

Photo Prints: Susan Portnoy Photography

“In the world of photography, you get to share a captured moment with other people.”

– James Wilson

I’ve had many readers ask me about prints of my images and I finally have selling capabilities set up on my portfolio site: Susan Portnoy Photography.

All my images––wildlife, landscapes, portraits, and classic cultural travel photos––are available for purchase either on more affordable inkjet paper or on fancy fine art paper depending on what floats your boat.

You can even turn one of my photos into a 252-piece puzzle that measures 14 inches by 10 inches and has a glossy finish. It comes in a black box with a 5 x 7 print of the image on top of the box. Box measures 5.625″ x 7.625″ x 1.2″.

Puzzle - Mongolian baby laughing on a bed with his grandmother

Amazon Essentials Women's Quarter-Zip Polar Fleece Pullover Jacket

Amazon Essentials Women’s Quarter-Zip Polar Fleece Pullover

I admit, I didn’t have much faith in a $20.00 fleece but I bought one to try, assuming I would end up returning it. Surprisingly, I really like it. The fleece is thick and plush, comes in a variety of colors, is very cozy, and a great length. A wonderful piece to pack for any kind of cold-weather adventure. Who knew?

Amazon Essentials Men’s Quarter-Zip Polar Fleece Jacket

This is the men’s version.


WOMEN'S HANNAH LONG SLEEVE TOP 230 MIDWEIGHT

Woolx Merino Wool Base Layers for Men & Women

A couple of years ago, a rep for Woolx sent me a few items for use and feedback. As with all similar situations, I promise nothing, and I use it for at least three months before considering any promotional opportunities. I am happy to report I really like their products. My preference is for the midweight and heavyweight base layers. I found the lightweight to be too transparent.

The benefit of merino wool is that it breathes and is antimicrobial, which really comes in handy when laundry facilities are limited. They dry quickly too when I have to do the ole sink wash.

The website suggests the wool has a “plush soft feel.” To me, that suggests a cashmere-type feel, which it doesn’t have. The items feel absolutely fine, but I don’t think of them as particularly cozy. They just work the way I need them too. They are nice fitting, comfortable, and keep me warm.

For cold weather packing ideas my post Use this Winter Packing List and you’ll Never Be Cold Again is very helpful.


Wallaroo Hailey Hat

Wallaroo Hailey Cowboy Hat

Hats can be difficult to buy for another person but if you are game I highly recommend this Wallaroo cowboy hat. It’s made with sun protection and a wire-rimmed brim so the shape can be adjusted. I’ve bought three of these hats (lost one, one stolen) and I’d buy another. The only con is it can’t pack it. That said, other Wallaroo hats pack well so if that’s a dealbreaker check out their other styles.

Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler wearing a Wallaroo Hat
Yep.. that’s me wearing my cowboy hat while in Greenland with an earmuff. Let’s face it, cold-weather hats and headbands do nothing to block the sun. So, I improvised.

Woman holding an orange Bose SoundLink Micro, Portable Outdoor Speaker

Bose SoundLink Micro, Portable Outdoor Speaker

I’d been looking for a small, portable speaker to enhance my computer audio when I was at home and to provide a little more oomph to my music and podcasts on the road. The Soundlink Micro is perfect for my needs. It’s small, durable, waterproof (up to 3.2 ft), and delivers great sound for up to six hours between charges. I also like that I can pair multiple Bluetooth devices at once. I use the attached strap to keep it from getting lost, and its size (1.4 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches) and weight (less than a pound) make it easy to carry. A multi-function button and microphone also enables me to speak through the Micro when using my phone.


Great Gifts for Travel Lovers:Aiwa Prodigy-1 Earphones: $49.99

Aiwa Prodigy-1 Earphones

Months ago, I received an email from the PR people representing Aiwa’s Prodigy-1 earphones to ask me if I’d be interested in trying them out. Sure, I said. But I won’t write about them unless I genuinely like them. They agreed. After using the earphones on multiple trips (I have a podcast habit), I think they’re great. The sound with these is substantially better–richer, fuller, more sound surround-ish. It’s a bit of a struggle to get the earphones to stay in–I find inserting and twisting works– but I’m addicted to the audio quality and noise reduction so I deal with it. I trashed the case because it wasn’t very user-friendly and I use my old Bose circular pouch (which I love) to carry my Aiwa around. That said, I still think they make a great gift.


myCharge HubMax Portable Charger 10050mAh / 3.4A External Battery Pack with Built-in USB Port, Integrated Apple Lightning and Micro-USB Cables, Foldable Wall Plug for iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy Roll over image to zoom in myCharge HubMax Portable Charger

My Charge HubPlus Portable Charger 

This is another device a company sent to me to test drive. A portable charger is a must nowadays and makes a great gift for anyone let alone a travel lover. I’ve used it for a year now and I really like it. It’s sleek, compact, and the integrated cords (I don’t have to worry about forgetting mine) is a great feature. I can charge my phone at least 3 times with MyCharge before having to recharge the device. Another nice touch: When you plug it into the wall you can simultaneously charge other devices too.


Anker PowerCore 10000

More economical than the MyCharge above, the Anker Powercore requires a USB cord and you can’t charge things while the device is plugged in. I use it as a backup and if your budget doesn’t allow for the MyCharge, this is a great option.


Outdoor Products 345;Pack Ultimate Dry Sack

3 Pack Ultimate Dry Sack

For cruises, island visits, or casual boating, dry sacks are a great investment to have that extra bit of protection. These are lightweight and large enough for things like a camera and lens, wallets, etc. 8-liter sack measures 10.75 x 22 inches; 4-liter sack measures 9.5 x 15.5 inches; 2-liter sack measures 7.75 x 13 inches


Foldable Backpack Packable Travel Backpack - 35L

Foldable Packable Travel Backpack – 35L

It’s always a good idea to have an extra bag in your luggage if you need it. Souvenirs anyone? I’ve used this foldable large backpack to carry towels and sunscreen in the summer and extra layers and gloves in the cold. It’s not for serious hiking but for a few miles carrying a little wine, bread, and cheese? Divine.


Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Shopping Tote

A great personal tote for flying that also doubles as an overnight bag. The exterior is ballistic nylon so it doesn’t get dirty, or if it does it’s easy to clean. It’s big enough to carry my laptop in a sleeve and has a variety of pockets that make it easy to find things when you need them.


The Roost - Great Gifts for Travel Lovers

The Roost

This saved my life. Ok, that is an overstatement but it really helped me a lot. I rarely travel without my computer and The Roost collapsible laptop stand has been instrumental in alleviating neck and shoulder pain as a result of hunching over my computer by holding my computer screen at eye level.  The Roost weighs almost nothing, is adjustable, and packs easily. There’s also an optional case (sold separately) that holds a keyboard, mouse and The Roost in one sleek pouch.


ComfiLife Gel Enhanced Seat Cushion - Non-Slip Orthopedic Gel & Memory Foam Coccyx Cushion for Tailbone Pain

ComfiLife Gel Enhanced Seat Cushion (A road trip must!)

Speaking of staying comfortable and pain-free when sitting, this seat cushion saved my life in my home office. What I really loved is it was the same on a solo-road trip. Typically when driving long distances, I found my lower back and/or the back of my thighs eventually became achy or numb. As an experiment, I took it along with me on a recent 10-day trip around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Not once do I recall being achy.

It was genius.


Pacsafe Metrosafe LS200 Anti Theft Shoulder Bag, 7 Liter

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS200 Anti Theft Shoulder Bag

Ask any professional traveler which anti-theft bags they recommend, and they are likely to suggest a Pacsafe brand. I was a little late to the party, but I have to say they make some great, lightweight options which are great for travel. A rep from the company offered to send me a few items I picked out, and I am pleased to say they live up to their reputation.

My favorite is this cross-body should bag. I always prefer cross-body because I hate having to fiddle with straps. There’s plenty of room in the main section plus two interior pockets (one zippered, the other is padded, RFIDsafe, and large enough for a tablet mini). The fabric is slash-proof, and two lockable exterior pockets. There are also 2″ side pockets for small water bottles or an umbrella.


Unigear Winter Waterproof Gloves

Unigear Winter Waterproof Gloves

I’ve bought four pairs of these gloves over the last year and a half–I have an issue with losing or forgetting my gloves when I travel. I keep buying them because they’re fantastic AND only $15.29. They are warm (I used them in Antarctica, though temps didn’t drop lower than 20 degrees F), close-fitting (meaning, I can change my camera settings without taking them off), and waterproof. A perfect combo if you ask me.


TUMI - Alpha 3 Split Travel Kit

TUMI – Alpha 3 Split Travel Kit

I received this Dop kit as a gift and love it. Most travel kits end up being bulky or due to their design, it’s difficult to find what you need. The Tumi kit opens like a book so available space is wide and shallow, not narrow and deep like many options.

The three storage areas are covered in zippered plastic making it easy to pack and see within. Is it pricey? Yes. Too pricey for a Dopp kit in my opinion. That said, it’s the best kit I’ve used, and I would buy a replacement if I lost mine.

Dimensions in inches: 5.5″ x 8.5″ x 3.5″; Weight in pounds: 0.5 lbs


Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set 3Pk 

Speak to almost any ardent traveler and I bet you they’re using packing cubes. They’re ideal for keeping your clothes sorted, organized, and streamlined. I use three cubes to separate my undies, tops, and bottoms. I especially love them when I’m faced with a multi-stop itinerary–packing and unpacking is infinitely easier.


Cabeau - Great Gifts for Travel Lovers

Cabeau Fold ‘n Go Travel and Throw Blanket Plus Compact Case 

When I get on a plane, especially for an international flight, I like to bring things that will make me as cozy as possible. Not just comfortable, but cozy. There is a difference. The former is physical, the latter is emotional.

Cut to the Fold N Go Blanket and Travel Case, which I found running through JFK one morning picking up last-minute essentials (water, lip balm, granola bar) for a 16-hour flight to South Africa.

The fleece is so soft I want to make sheets out of it. It triggered that same “snuggly” feeling you get when you hold an armful of clothes fresh from the dryer.

I use the blanket in the case as a pillow for my lower back because that’s where I tend to get sore on long flights.

The blanket is dreamy too, big (60 x 36) and soft – and did I mention that it was cozy?


UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip

UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip

I won’t be without a mini power strip. It’s probably the one thing other than my phone I always have with me when I travel. I like this model by Upwade because it has two widely spaced international outlets which provide ample room for those pesky wide plugs that come with cameras and other devices, as well as four USB ports. The cord is a little longer than I need at 5 ft but I’d rather have it longer than too short. At 6 inches in length, it fits in any purse or carry-on bag.


Portable Travel Bottles Set

So many of the travel bottles out there are made with stiff plastic which makes it difficult to empty and makes me nuts. These, however, are squeezable and so much easier to use.


Ceptics International Worldwide Travel Plug Adapter 5 Piece Set,

Ceptics International Worldwide Travel Plug Adapter 5 Piece Set

A lot of people like universal cubes that contain every adapter known to man deployed by a series of sliders, and while I appreciate the concept, I’ve never found one that doesn’t break almost immediately or size-wise didn’t annoy me. Too clunky. This 5-piece set is great because I can cherry-pick what I need and plop it into my Think Tank case (see below) which I pack into my carry-on. I use the case that comes with it to keep all the adapters together at home; I rarely take the whole shebang with me.


Reusable Travel Utensils Silverware with Case

Reusable Travel Utensils Silverware with Case

In an effort to make more conscious decisions around sustainability, I treated myself to an 8-piece, rustproof, reusable silverware with a zippered carrying case. Inside you’ll find a stainless steel spoon, knife and fork, travel chopsticks, two straws (one straight, one bent), and a cleaning brush. Perfect for camping, road trips, or any time you want to avoid single-use plastic.


Dream Essentials Escape Luxury Travel and Sleep Mask with Earplugs and Carry Pouch

Dream Essentials Escape Luxury Travel and Sleep Mask with Earplugs and Carry Pouch 

If you can’t sleep without a mask when you travel, Dream Essentials is the way to go. Unlike the most masks the side closest to your face is contoured and padded—no smashing your eyelids.  It’s far more comfortable than the standard design. The mask comes with a pouch and a set of earplugs so you’re sure to get the rest that you need.


Compression Socks for Men Women 

A dear friend of mine threw blood clots in her lungs after a plane trip to India. She’d never had issues before. If someone travels on long flights, these fun compression socks are a must.


Athalon 29" 15 Pocket Duffel Navy Rolling Duffe

Athalon 29″ 15 Pocket Duffel Rolling Duffel

I don’t remember how I first found this bag but I’ve been using it for the past 5 years. It’s incredibly durable—it looks the same as when I first got it and I’m hard on my luggage. It has 15 pockets, which I love. (I like things to have their place.) The top flap has a mesh pocket for wet clothes and it collapses for easy storage.

Gill Race Team 60L 60 Litre Capacity Waterproof Bag

Gill Race Team 60L 60 Litre Capacity Waterproof Bag 

For trips and activities where a big dry bag is needed––think Antarctica, mountain climbing, scuba diving, or any active ocean journey––the Gill Race Team duffle is both up for the job (and then some) and significantly less expensive than the usual brands people flock to like The North Face or Patagonia for example. I used my Gill in Antarctica to transport my Gura Gear camera bag when going from the ship to the shore in a zodiac. Waves and spray are a given and nothing is worse for camera equipment than salt water or sand, for that matter. My Gill kept my gear safe from both.


PureSteam Portable Fabric Steamer (White) - Powerful, Fast-Heating, Garment Steamer

PureSteam Portable Fabric Steamer

THIS. IS. THE. BEST. STEAMER. EVER. I use it on the road and at home. It is so much easier (and faster) than ironing. Enough said.


While a road kit is far from the most personal gift, it's one of those things people hate to spend their own money on but love to receive. Road trips are a great way to escape but require some preparation; otherwise, they may turn into nightmares. This 42-piece kit includes everything you might need if your car breaks down or some other emergency, including jumper cables, flashlight, tools batteries, and rain poncho, among other useful items.

Lifeline AAA Premium Road Kit

While a road kit is far from the most personal gift, it’s one of those things people hate to spend their own money on but love to receive. Road trips are a great way to escape but require some preparation; otherwise, they may turn into nightmares. This 42-piece kit includes everything you might need if your car breaks down or some other emergency, including jumper cables, flashlight, tools batteries, and rain poncho, among other useful items. 


Pentax UP 10×25 Binoculars

A compact set of binoculars is always great for holidays where wildlife and nature are on the agenda. It comes with its own carrying case and is only 0.7 lbs.


Ultimate Journeys for Two_CoverStyled (1)

Ultimate Journeys for Two

When travel bloggers want to know where to go, what’s cool or what to avoid, we ask other bloggers. It’s an inner circle with tips and suggestions I’ve always found valuable. My friends, Mike and Anne Howard of the blog HoneyTrek, have put together an amazing guide with National Geographic Books based on their own experiences and those of other travel-wise couples. If you’re in need of a little inspiration for your next amazing adventure, Ultimate Journeys for Two is where to look for a treasure trove of ideas.


Comfortably Wild

Comfortably Wild

The second book from my friends Mike and Anne Howard of Honeytrek. For those who love the idea of being close to nature yet want a little more than a pup tent, you should check out this book. But why take my word for it, here’s renowned travel editor Peter Greenberg’s take.

“I have always believed that if you understand and appreciate the process, that’s the only time you can value the product. And that’s exactly what Anne and Mike have done here in addressing the brave new world of glamping. For those who are both adverse to as well as unable to pitch a tent—let alone survive in one—but still want to enjoy the wonders of life outdoors, this book is for you.” —Peter Greenberg, travel editor at CBS News


Small Yet Special

Dingbats D5408R A6 Lined"Wildlife Portrait Pocket Hardcover" Notebook - Red

Dingbats “Wildlife Portrait Pocket Hardcover” Notebook

I use my phone and computer a lot to take notes but I rarely travel without a notebook as well.It feels more personal and by handwriting, I often remember more details than when I type it. This journal makes a great present because it’s small and fits in a fanny pack or other small bag. The big ones I find are too awkward to carry around.

Moisture Proof Pill Organizer

Moisture Proof Pill Organizer 

If you travel with prescriptions and supplements, you know what a pain it is to carry multiple bottles with you in a carry-on bag. I found this moisture-proof, 8- compartment case, and it’s made things so much easier. I dump each supplement into a compartment and drop the whole shebang in my bag. It’s also great for small items like safety pins, buttons, etc.

AmazonBasics USB A Cable with Lightning Connector

AmazonBasics USB A Cable with Lightning Connector

Why pay nearly twice as much for an Apple-brand connector? Plus, these come in colors (I bought red), making them easier to discern from my friends’ cables.


Sink Suds - Great Gifts for Travel Lovers

SinkSuds Travel Laundry Detergent Liquid Soap

Longer trips require spending money on laundry services or doing it yourself. This box of 8 packets makes it easy to stick in your luggage and have enough liquid for the basics.


Great Gifts for Travel Lovers - AmazonBasics Portable Digital Luggage Weight Scale

AmazonBasics Portable Digital Luggage Weight Scale

With the neverending restrictions on air travel, a luggage scale is a wise investment. But it’s far from an exciting purchase so buy it for your favorite traveler so they don’t have to.


Crest Regular Paste .85 oz – (Pack of 12)

It’s funny how the ordinary little things can be a great gift. Traveling as much as I do, having an easy stash of travel toothpaste is so convenient.. not to mention cheaper. As a stocking stuffer, guaranteed your traveler will appreciate it.


Travel First Aid 'Kit

First Aid Kit

I wonderful light and compact kit for when you need it.


Tile Pro

Tile Pro (2020) – 2 Pack

My sister called me one night from the airport in New Jersey. Her flight home to D.C. had been canceled and her luggage was missing. She got home but her luggage didn’t and the carrier couldn’t find it. My sister had a tile in her bag and she was able to locate it when no one else could. I received my own a few weeks later.

Better safe than sorry. 


Hothands Insole Foot Warmer

You’re probably familiar with hand and foot warmers, but these soul warmers are the best. Classic foot warmers concentrate on the toes, while these warm the whole foot. A great gift for any travel lover who enjoys cold-weather activities. Love them!


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28 thoughts on “Great Gifts for Travel Lovers They’ll Actually Use

  1. English Jumping Saddle says:

    I Am A Travel Lover, And Loved Your Post. it Includes Items With Description And Prices It Will Help Me To Choose The Right Thing.

    Thanks For Sharing This.

  2. John Rodgers says:

    Your ideas are great and loaded with itemized information. Very helpful. My wife and I both travel so this list will help me find her (and me) a special Valentine’s gift this year. Thanks for the post.

  3. Liz says:

    Susan, the links on the last four or five items on your list returns to the fleece pullover. I think there’s an error somewhere. ??? Thanks for the lists.

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      Have you had a chance to check this out? Definitely get boots, pants and coats rated to -50 below. That’s what I had. The weather hit about -39F which is similar to Mongolia from what I understand.

I would love to hear from you! What did you think of the post?