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Are you stuck wondering what in the heck to get the travel lover in your life? The person always on some new adventure, exploring the outdoors, or on the go? Heck, maybe that person is you!
Christmas is right around the corner and I thought I’d help you out by sharing 21 of the best gift ideas not just for a travel lover, but for anyone! Some of these ideas are even on our Christmas list for this year…ahem…more dry bags please.
All of the ideas listed below are items Scott and I own and use regularly. Whether road tripping in the states, backpacking in the wilderness, or flying overseas we’ve found the items listed below to be ridiculously helpful on our travels. Enjoy!
1. SWISS ARMY KNIFE
Can we all agree this is the most underrated tool of all time? It seems like it’s a gift that always ends up in the drawer never quite used to its full potential. But if you take the time and get to know the tools and functions AND keep it somewhere easily accessible, it will soon be your new favorite tool.
Scott has a Swiss Army Knife that I swear has an endless number of options. Actually, it’s 33 to be exact!
We take his Swiss Army Knife on EVERY trip we take in the US or Canada and use it almost every time. We used it as a saw, rope cutter, tweezers, and about a hundred other things on our last trip to the Boundary Waters (read about that trip here). A Swiss Army Knife is always a great option because of how versatile it is.
We have the Victorinox Swiss Army Champ with its 33 functions and keep it in our Jeep so it’s always with us.
2. INFLATABLE SOLAR LANTERN
This is the light of all travel lights my friend! If you haven’t heard of a Luci light before, let me tell you more.
Luci lights are inflatable solar lights. They’re super lightweight, compact, weather-resistant, and are powered by the freaking sun. We have 3 ourselves and keep them in our Jeep so they’re always with us. MPOWERED makes a variety of colors and options and I’ve even seen the newer ones come with a USB cord for charging electronics.
When Scott and I first met, he used the Luci light as the “candlelight” for a date. He also got me my own for our first Christmas and we often use them to color paint our night photography. They’re pretty awesome!
3. THE ALCHEMIST
Get The Alchemist for your lover, your friend, your mom, your dad, your kid neighbor who is all grown up and somehow now in college, get this for anyone.
It’s my favorite book. A friend gave it to me when I started traveling the world and I remember reading it on the plane to London. It finally felt like what I was doing wasn’t doing was so crazy after all. It’s not just for the travel lover, it’s for anyone looking to follow their heart.
Sidenote: I gave The Alchemist to Scott 2 weeks after we met and he thought it was me telling him I wasn’t ready for a relationship and wanted to keep traveling. Fast forward to June 2018 and had a part of it read at our wedding. Seriously, it’s a good one my friends!
4. PACKING CUBES
Packing cubes have been a game-changer for me when I travel and don’t get enough credit for how much easier they make the journey. We use them when we travel overseas or even on a quick road trip.
They help keep everything organized and compact and instead of unpacking your entire bag just to find what you were looking for at the bottom, use packing cubes to keep everything neat. I roll my clothes up to maximize space and sort my cubes by ‘type’ of clothing.
5. MOMENT LENS
The moment lens is our latest big purchase and we absolutely love it! It’s a lens attachment for your cell phone and we take ours everywhere.
Moment offers different types of lenses but I highly recommend the wide-angle lens as your first one because it’s the most versatile.
The moment lens requires a specific case that is only compatible with certain phones so double check before you make a purchase.
The Moment setup is a little pricey but 100% worth it if you use your phone for pictures. You can find cheaper options but they reduce the image quality. The Moment lens is one of the best on the market. We’re starting to recommend them to people when they travel as a budget option instead of buying a new camera.
6. TRAVEL HAT
Boy, oh boy, do I have the perfect gift for you!
Scott and I ALWAYS have a hat with us when we travel and now that we’ve made our own, you better believe they’re the ones we’re taking on our future trips.
We made them as a reminder to GO, wherever and in whatever way that means for each person. Go to the mountains, go to the trees, go to the water, just….go. They’re great for protection from the sun, when you have helmet hair after riding a scooter (our favorite way to get around overseas), or those long travel days without a shower.
Another perk of the snapback is that it allows you to hook the hat onto something, like a backpack or purse, when you’re not wearing it.
7. BACKPACKING STOVE AND MESS KIT
This gift screams backpacker. We use our stove way more than I would have ever expected. We keep the stove, canister fuel, mess kit, and lighter in a drawstring bag and grab it anytime we even mention the word road trip.
We’ve cooked tuna steaks on the beach, roasted marshmallows on top of a mountain in a blizzard, and made instant coffee in the morning of our Boundary Water adventure.
The stove itself is just over 3 oz and is compatible with most self-sealing canister fuels. It has a fully adjustable flame and is awesome! The mess kit is ideal for any cooking needs but we have a collection of different items we’ve bought over the years.
8. OUR FAVORITE OUTDOOR BLANKET
I promise this will be your new favorite item you keep in your car. My sister (what up Haley!) got this for us as a gift and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times we’ve used it this year.
Quick picnic by the water? Good thing we have the blanket.
Raining and windy at the high school football game? Let’s use the blanket to block them both.
Music in the park? Yep, blanket.
It is polar fleece on one side with polyester backing on the other for water and wind resistance. It’s lightweight, rolls up, and is easy to carry. The best part? It’s machine washable. No this is not a dream, it’s just that awesome.
We often tie ours to the outside of our backpacks and use it when we hike or go backpacking. I also like the red color because of how it pops in photos!
A hammock is one of my favorite gift ideas in general. Trust me when I say, EVERYONE enjoys some hammock time. The one linked here is the one we have and it’s enough to fit two people.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to make your photos pop, get a hammock that’s a bright color. Green or gray might look nice as a hammock but won’t show up against those natural colors out in the wild. Stick with orange, yellow, or red for that pop you’re looking for.
10. DRY BAGS
You can never have enough dry bags, am I right? You never know when you’re going to need them and it’s better to be safe than sorry when protecting your gear. Hence, why we have more of these on our own Christmas list! We usually use dry bags for camping or backpacking when we know we’re going to be exposed to the elements.
11. QUALITY SOCKS
Good socks are a must when traveling. It doesn’t matter where you’re going, you want to be comfortable and socks are a big part of that.
Avoid cotton at all costs, they’re not ideal for traveling. Look for either wool, synthetic, or a combination of both. Get your socks based on what you’re going to be doing and what the weather is like. I’ll link this blog article that’s a few years old but shows you where you can find just the socks you’re looking for!
12. COMPRESSION PILLOW
This pillow is magic. It’s made of chunks of foam that allow it to compress within itself. You fold it up when you’re not using it and when you are ready to use it, unfold, shake it, and watch it expand. The pillow expands 4 inches! We have the medium size and it’s good for traveling in the car, airplanes, or even saving space while backpacking.
13. DRY TOWEL
Dry towels get so compact it’s ridiculous. They’re good for any trip but especially one that’s more unpredictable and you’re trying to save space. You never know when you need to shower in a lake, clean the mud off your backpack, pay a ridiculous fee for a towel at a hostel, or get yourself in some other weird situation. Dry towels are always a simple and useful gift option.
14. NALGENE WATER BOTTLE
A Nalgene water bottle is the perfect gift for the on-the-go traveler.
I love mine because of how durable it is. Nalgene’s are guaranteed for life and when mine broke from a freak fall, they replaced it the next week. With so many different water bottle and thermos options, Nalgene is my favorite general use water bottle. Mine has traveled around the world with me and it’s still the water bottle I find myself using the most.
15. SOLAR PANEL CHARGER
This solar panel charger was gifted to us (thanks Debby!) and we love it! We’ve used it a few different times including a day at the beach when we played music all day as well as our latest trip to the Boundary Waters. It’s super lightweight, easy to use, durable, and kept our phones charged so we could have music and take photos. We plan to backpack with this more in the future! It’s easy to connect to the outside of your backpack or set out somewhere at camp to soak up the sun.
*Edit: Scott took this on a bike trip through Oregon and it stopped working. We think it has something to do with the extreme temps we put it through but aren’t sure. They’re highly rated and recommended but wanted to share a bit of our experience.
16. SLEEPING BAG
We have a few different sleeping bags we take for different reasons
LIGHT SLEEPING BAG
Here is a sleeping bag similar to the lightest one we have. Weighing less than 2 lbs, it compresses super small and is great for warmer climates and backpacking or traveling overseas. I took mine when I first traveled to Europe and it doubled as a sleeping bag or pillow if I needed it.
MEDIUM SLEEPING BAG
Our medium sleeping bag is a step up from the light one. It’s a 15 degree bag and is ideal for cooler weather but still great for backpacking because of how lightweight it is. Sleeping bags tend to get more expensive the better quality materials that are used and the lighter weight it is. Also, this bag is labeled at 15 degrees but you can be used in much colder weather if you use it with a sleeping bag liner and wear layered clothes!
HEAVY SLEEPING BAG
Finally, we have our biggest sleeping bag. It’s the warmest but also the heaviest. The one linked is made of flannel and canvas. It’s more rugged than the Marmot’s but a downside is if it gets wet, it will be wet for days. We use it for extreme cold situations mostly when we know we don’t have to haul it very far, for example on a road trip when we sleep in the Jeep or are tent camping at a campsite.
A headlamp is a classic travel must. It’s a hands-free light source that shines wherever you’re looking. They’re awesome for backpacking but we take ours when we travel overseas too (there was only power at certain times of the day when we were in Malaysia). They’re versatile enough to use as a regular flashlight, tie up to your bike, or hang in your tent. Sometimes we rig them to a water bottle and make a lantern!
Everyone needs a travel journal!
Ok, I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of journaling but I’m not the best at being consistent. Nonetheless, I would encourage everyone who’s traveling to take and keep up with their journal. You’d like to think you’ll remember names and places and food and memories and details but you don’t. Sure, sometimes you do but after a while, it all starts to meld together.
Also, consider a journal without lines and just blank pages instead for the person who doesn’t love writing but has a blank canvas to journal. They can draw what they see or work out little moments without being constricted by the lines of a traditional journal.
I was gifted a beautiful leather journal when I first left for my travels. Now, I love cracking it open once in a while to take me back to a special time in my life.
19. COMPRESSION SACKS
Compression sacks are ideal for saving space. Our compression sacks are water-resistant and we often keep our sleeping bags or clothes in them when we’re backpacking. We also use them for any odds and ends if we want to keep things organized. Like the dry bags, it seems like you can never have enough of these!
The Tentsile is a change-up to make your next adventure a bit more adventurous.
The Tentsile is a tent hammock that suspends from three points in the air. We didn’t sleep in our tent once in 2018, we used the Tentsile every time. It’s a new twist on the old way of doing things and makes for some really great photos. One of my favorite places we used it was at the Boundary Waters. We set it up so it was suspended over the end of the water. It was pretty darn awesome to wake up, unzip the window, and see nothing but water across the horizon.
21. THE LITTLE THINGS
Everyone needs stocking stuffers, right? I’d recommend carabiners, paracord, gear ties, duct tape, and playing cards just to name a few. They are fun little odds and ends for that person you’re buying for!
There you have it! A different kind of Christmas list for anyone in your life. I hope you found something useful from it and got different ideas than you had before. If you want to use this list as a reference or suggestion for others, feel free to share!