Great Gifts for Travel Lovers They’ll Actually Use

Table of Contents

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)

Framed photo of elephants at a water trough with their trunks entertwined by Susan Portnoy

Photo Prints

For the holidays all my images––wildlife, landscapes, portraits, and classic cultural travel photos––are available for purchase either on inkjet paper or on fancy fine art paper, depending on what floats your boat. Just click on the “Buy Photos” button and it’s yours.

In addition to prints, you can purchase a variety of keepsakes (photo box, acrylic photo blocks (see above), luggage tags, and the like. You can also turn a photo into a 252-piece puzzle measuring 14 inches by 10 inches with 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″.


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 enable me to speak through the Micro when using my phone.

Jabra Elite Active 75t True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Jabra Elite 75t Wireless Earbuds with Case

I mistakenly thought wireless earbuds didn’t have noise-canceling capabilities. I’m happy to say the Jabra Elite is great at it. A smartphone app assists in setting up the buds which first gives you a hearing test to customize the technology to your ears. If you are at a place where you need to hear what’s around you, a simple tap of the left bud changes the noise-canceling to “hear-though” mode. There’s a small, sleek carrying case that also acts as a charger.

Airplane Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter for Headphones

Airplane Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter for Headphones

One of the reasons I was so excited about my earbuds was the thought that I could use them on flights. Then I realized that without a thingy to plug into the entertainment system, I couldn’t. Of course, I realized that after I’d boarded. Enter a Bluetooth transmitter that works whether there is one outlet or two, and comes in its own charging case. Voilà.

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.

UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip

UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip

I won’t go anywhere without a mini power strip. It’s probably the one thing other than my phone that 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 charger 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. It is super light, and at 6 inches in length, it fits in any purse or carry-on bag.

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.

Yoozon Selfie Stick Phone Tripod, All in One Extendable & Portable iPhone Tripod Selfie Stick with Wireless Remote,

Yoozon Selfie Stick Phone Tripod

I’m not a selfie person. I take them now and then but overall I find them tedious. Who wants to see me in front of something amazing? I rather show the amazing thing. However, I do carry a selfie stick with me, mainly for the tripod and remote shutter control. When I’m on the road, I’ll often work on my laptop and watch videos on my phone held by the tripod. Time lapses require a tripod, and a selfie stick offers a level of stability for creating videos. This model is really compact, versatile, and unlike other sticks I’ve used, it really holds my phone secure in both portrait and landscape positions.



Eagle Creek Pack-it Tech Pouch (Small)

This is a great tech pouch for when you only have a few items with you like a couple of cords, an adapter, and a power bank. If you have more it’ll be too small but for a purse and simple excursions, it’s perfect.

I used this pouch to carry the bare necessities with me on a long-haul flight to Kenya which included an Anker power bank and cord, iPhone charging cord, earbuds/case, and cord, and a Bluetooth adapter for in-flight entertainment. There’s also a pen holder and two slash pockets where I kept my extra money and passport.

Photo of Peak Design wash pouch

Peak Design Wash Pouch

In my opinion, Peak Design has the same design sensibility as Apple in that it is beautifully and thoughtfully designed to provide superior form and function. And yes, like Apple, the products are pricey, though I think you’ll find they are worth the splurge.

I took this wash pouch with me on a 3 week trip to Kenya. It carried everything I needed and then some without being too cumbersome.

Check out my packing video below.

This is a video I made this past October before my trip to Kenya

Sage Peak Design Tech Pouch

Peak Design Tech Pouch

Before I received this tech pouch, I had all my charges, power blocks, cords, etc in various places around my apartment. Now I use this as my tech hub. Everything goes in here and I take things out as I need them. For me, it’s too large to take on trips unless I have all the room in the world, which is rare. Instead, I take out what I need for the journey. As you can see from my photo, my Eagle Creek pouch with my inflight gear fits inside.

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.

Becko Jewelry Organizer Roll Travel Jewel Bag case for Multiple Necklaces, Rings, Bracelets, Supple Leather & Suede, Large Capacity Without Crease, Lightweight, Portable & Practical (Gray)

Becko Jewelry Organizer

This jewelry organizer is sleek, virtually flat, and super affordable. I don’t wear much jewelry but I inherited a lot of my mother’s, and this is where I keep it at home, but it’s made for travel and is very easy to pack even in the tightest of circumstances.

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.


Royal Robbins Women's Expedition Dry Stretch Tunic in Chrysanthemum

Royal Robbins Women’s Expedition Dry Stretch Tunic

Sometimes I feel like I live under a rock. It was only this past summer I became aware of the Royal Robbins brand, and I really like it. Not only for its clothing but the company’s dedication to ethical production. Take this tunic. It’s made of 100 recycled polyesters, it’s light, has 50 SPF sun protection baked in, is machine washable, and quick-drying. Perfect for holidays spent in warmer climates. (Note: The cut of the tunic is generous so order a size down from your usual.)

Guys, don’t fret. Royal Robbins makes men’s clothes too!


Royal Robbins Jammer Zip Go Pant

Another warm-weather must. These pants are flattering and can be converted to a Capri with an easy velcro release and zipper, which makes it effortless to switch without removing your shoes.


Woolx Merino Wool Base Layers for Men & Women

The benefits of merino wool are 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.

I prefer Woolx’s midweight and heavyweight base layers. I found the lightweight to be too transparent.

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 to. They are nice fitting, comfortable, and keep me warm.

Arcadia Women’s Heated Jacket - 9 Hours of Heat | Battery and Charge

Gobi Heat: Arcadia Women’s Heated Jacket

Think of the days when you’re outside, and it’s cold. Bitter cold. You’re wearing three layers and yet you’re still cursing Mother Nature. Cue the Arcadia heated Jacket. The key to what makes this baby extra special is the five heated regions (four front, one in back) which you can adjust as needed by clicking on the individual power button located above the left breast. It. Is. Toasty. Especially when it’s on high.

Other than the weight of the battery inside behind the left lower pocket, you’d never know the coat was different than any other. On the lowest setting, the battery lasts up to nine hours. Medium about 6.5 hours and 4.5 on high.

Arcadia Women’s Heated Jacket - 9 Hours of Heat | Battery and Charge

Aesthetically I loved it for the deep green color and the cute FAUX fur-trimmed hood. But what immediately caught my attention were the generous hip and chest pockets and the additional pockets on the upper sleeve. I don’t know why manufacturers don’t seem to understand that women want pockets as much as men but they are rarely added to women’s outwear designs.

The design also includes built-in thumb cuffs, the hood can be cinched or removed, and the waist and cuffs are adjustable. It’s also machine washable.

A nice touch: the battery has a USB port enabling the wearer to use it to charge a phone.

It comes in green, red, and black

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

LOWA renegade gtx women hiking boot in Cayenne

LOWA Renegade GTX Hiking Boot

I haven’t done a ton of hiking in my time, but it is something I want to pursue more, but the last time I invested in a hiking boot, the blisters I developed breaking them in still gives me PTSD. When a LOWA rep said that one of the great things about the Renegade is that it’s already broken in and very comfortable, I was highly skeptical. Weeks later, my LOWA boots arrived. I’d requested them in Cayenne which I love. I didn’t have any hiking trips on my schedule but walking around the concrete streets of New York I do a lot (Trust me, there’s no mountain around that pounds your lower back like New York streets). One afternoon, I walked the equivalent of 5 miles and in the end, I felt great. They were really comfortable. So there you have it.

Swiftwick- FLITE XT FIVE

Swiftwick- FLITE XT

Ok, socks are far from a sexy present but for anyone who has hiked or spent time walking around in hot climates, a good sock can make the difference between a happy experience and wanting to chop off your foot.

Swiftwick is a brand with which I’ve only recently become familiar. According to the rep, the sock is built with “Ankle Lock technology and GripDry fibers on the sole of the sock for maximum stability.” Plus, they are designed with “medium compression around the arch.” I can’t speak to the technology, but what I can say is that the socks hug my foot as if I was wearing very, stretchy and comfy Spanks for my feet. As I have a very high arch, they are especially nice.

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.

Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler wearing Wallaroo's Victoria Fedora with 50 UPF and packab.e

Wallaroo Hats

Hats can be difficult to buy for another person but if you are game I highly recommend this “Victoria”

Use this code: THEINSATIABLETRAVELER20 for 20% off your purchase!

Another favorite is the wide-brimmed Victoria Fedora that DOES pack easily and the UPF 50+ fabric blocks 97.5% of ultraviolet rays, according to the Australian Radiation Protection Agency.


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 saltwater or sand, for that matter. My Gill kept my gear safe from both.

Lightweight Foldable Waterproof Packable

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 waterproof 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.

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.

Other Cool Stuff

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.

Pressure Relief Seat Cushion for Long Sitting Hours

Pressure Relief Seat Cushion (Road Trip Relief)

I love this for my home office, but where it really earned high marks was in the car on a week-long project driving around the Finger Lake Wine Region in upstate New York. Typically, when driving long distances, my lower back and/or the back of my thighs became achy or numb after a couple of hours. But with the seat cushion, not once was my tush achy. *sigh*

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.

Stocking Stuffers: Small Yet Special

Olita: Mineral Sunscreen Lotion - SPF 30

Olita: Mineral Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 30

Olita Mineral Sunscreen is organic, non-toxic, fragrance-free, reef-safe, and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. I came across this sunscreen at the Outdoor Retailer Show. I was immediately attracted to the “protect and nourish your skin without harming the environment” message and stopped to talk to Laurie O’Hara who created the brand. Ten percent of sales go to The Coral Reef Alliance. I used the 30 SPF in Kenya and loved it. Because of its clean ingredients, there aren’t any preservatives that keep the formula runny and it can be a tad hard to squeeze out of the tube. But if you warm it up a bit in the sun it comes out just fine.

YASUOA 15 Pieces Travel Size Refillable Empty Squeeze Pouch, TSA Approved Stand Up Pouch for Toiletry Lotion Shampoo Shower Gel Squeezable Bags, Leakproof Travel Containers for Toiletries, 30/50/100ml

15 Pieces Travel Size Refillable Empty Squeeze Pouch, 30/50/100ml (5 pouches each)

Forget travel-sized bottles of shampoo, face wash, conditioner, and the like and transfer their contents into these great squeeze pouches. They can lie flat for packing but can also stand on their own. All these pouches fit into my Peak Design Wash Pouch (see above) with plenty of room to spare. I’ll never pack a bottle again.

BLACKRAPID Wander Bundle

BLACKRAPID Wander Bundle iPhone Tether

This has saved me from losing my phone umpteen times. I don’t use it as a wrist band, I use the enclosed carabiner to hook it onto a bag, or a belt loop so that when I’m leaning over the side of a boat and it falls (which has happened twice), I have it anchored. I keep it on my phone 24/7.

Black Klean Kanteen TKWide 16oz (w/Twist Cap) - Black

Klean Kanteen TKWide 16oz (w/Twist Cap) – Black

There are a million different water containers and I feel like I’ve tried all of them. I like this Klean Kanteen for a couple of reasons. It’s made of steel, not plastic (not new but glad it’s a fact), it’s insulated to keep cold beverages cold. Plus, it has a straw, which is a must for me––I hate having to tip my bottles to the sky to drink. What caught my attention the most was the twist top. Twist it one way and the staw pops up. Twist it the other way and it collapses leaving a smooth surface at the top which makes it easier to carry. It also comes apart for thorough cleaning which can be done on the top rack of a dishwasher.

Note: While it is insulated, the metal straw makes it very risky to use it with hot or carbonated beverages. Trust me, I know. To navigate this, I use the TK Wide Cafe cap. Another great thing about Klean Kanteen, you can switch tops easily.

Red 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.

Puffin Beverage Jacket,

Puffin Beverage Jacket (a.k.a. Coozie)

If you’re a coozie person, go no further. I don’t know why this “beverage jacket” cracks me up so much but it does. I love mine. It fits my Diet Coke perfectly. The Puffin lin has beverage sweaters and awesome wine bottle sleeping bags. It’s a cute little addendum to any gift and pretty funny too.

Puffin Beverage Jacket,

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 most masks, the side closest to your face is contoured and padded—no smushing of 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 you need.

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.

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 has 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 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, I guarantee your traveler will appreciate it.

Travel First Aid 'Kit

First Aid Kit

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

Inclusion Policy

Every product I’ve included in this gift guide is an item I have used on multiple occasions and loved. Though brands send me free products to try, my policy is clear: I am happy to receive and road test but I offer absolutely no guarantees of promotion. I estimate only 40% of the merchandise I try is included here or in my Go-to Travel Gear page.

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

  1. MaryannB says:

    Thanks for putting this list together! I have a few gifts left to get this season and your recommendations have given me some great ideas to work with.

  2. Sandra Collins says:

    Love these items for travel! We are always looking for something new and streamlined.
    Loved following you on Instagram on your Kenya trip.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?