Traveling is one of the most enriching activities a person could choose. Exploring new places introduces us to ideas, cultures and people who will open our minds. Unfortunately, there is one downside to modern travel: the actual traveling part. Fortunately, the right unique travel gifts can make it easier.
Packing, printing documents, and anticipating airport snafus creates a whole bundle of anxiety in the days leading up to the departure. Whether they’re going abroad for the first time or traveling every week, the best thing you can get the traveler in your life is stuff to make the whole process easier. The team here at Babbel collected some of the items we can’t travel without. You can be the savior of your jet-setter friend with any of these travel gifts.
1. Flip-Flops ($3)
If the person you’re shopping for is traveling on the cheap, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll run into a disreputable shower. Flip-flops are the solution! The best ones to get are Old Navy flip-flops because they’re extremely cheap, and that’s pretty much all you need in a flip-flop you’ll be bathing in. After all, there’s no reason to have fancy shoes in the shower.
2. Big Scarf/Wrap ($8-$35)
We could spend days expounding on the importance of neck warmth, but that’s only one of the many functions of a scarf. The right scarf can provide your neck with support to sleep on a plane, act as a blanket when you can’t turn that tiny air-blower thing off, and transform into a tarp if you only brought khakis in your suitcase and need to sit on the ground. Loritta Women’s Fashion Long Plaid Shawl is one good option, but we would recommend seeing a scarf in person before purchasing it as one of your travel gifts.
3. Leggings ($15)
We often think about keeping our upper bodies warm, but what about our legs? For the friend going to Spain in April with no idea of how cold it can get there, warm leggings are definitely the way to go. Uniqlo’s Heattech Leggings are our favorites because they work very well. They’re the best solution for keeping your friend from freezing.
4. Silicone Travel Bottles ($16)
When you’re avoiding the checked bag fee, you need to get as much in your carry-on as possible. Fortunately, you can get away from the liquid ounce limits by getting travel bottles. MythGeek Squeezable & Refillable Silicone Travel Bottle Containers are a great option because they save you from having to go out and buy new tiny shampoos and body washes every time you’re headed somewhere new.
5. First Aid Kit ($16)
A first aid kit is something everyone needs, but that very few people think to actually go out and buy. It’s kind of like renter’s insurance, because how often do apartments flood, really? In any case, a good one to get is the First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Essentials Kit, because it’s compact but covers all the basic needs.
6. Babbel ($6.95–$12.95 A Month)
It would be great if you could give the automatic ability to speak a language as a gift, but since that’s impossible, Babbel is the next best thing. Whether your recipient wants to master a language or just nail down the basics before traveling to a new country, Babbel is a great place to start. With specific lessons on ordering food and asking for directions, having this app will very much come in handy in a new country.
7. Compression Packing Cubes ($16–$50)
Is the person you’re shopping for one of those people who talks about the efficiency of rolling clothes while packing? Perhaps they’re ready to move on to the next level with packing cubes. The bags we like, TRIPPED Compression Packing Cubes for Travel, work without needing a vacuum by using a zipper system. Plus, they come in handy as a way to keep your clothes and belongings organized. There are many different sizes you can get to suit your needs.
8. Compression Socks ($20)
We know that, as far as travel gifts go, socks sound a bit boring. But compression socks can literally save your friend’s life. Wearing them reduces the risk of blood clots forming in your legs. Travelsox are some of the most highly rated that we’ve found (though prices vary by style). And of course, compression stockings make a great stocking stuffer.
9. Umbrella ($20)
An umbrella is one of those things you completely forget about until it’s already started raining. And judging by the number of broken ones you see on the street, it can be hard to find a really good one. The Teflon Windproof Travel Umbrella is a fantastic umbrella because it’s super compact and light, and the rain slides off it like water off a duck’s back. Always remember the rule: friends don’t let friends go to England without an umbrella.
10. Travel Adapter ($25)
Most people who have gone overseas probably already have an adapter for their plugs, but it’s an indispensable item to have. Our personal favorite is Flight 001’s 4-In-1 Universal Travel Adapter because it both looks really cool and works in 150 countries. For someone who doesn’t realize England has a different kind of plug than Spain, it can be a life-saver.
11. Travel Belt ($25)
The only really “hip” thing about a travel belt is that it literally sits on your hips, but don’t let its looks deter you. Having a single place to store your keys, money, ID, phone and whatever else is useful (just ask travel extraordinaire Rick Steves). Our recommendation is the FlipBelt, which comes in many colors and hugs tightly to your body without being uncomfortable.
12. Portable Charger ($30-50)
We cannot overstate how awful it is when your phone dies in a country you’ve never been to before. Yes, you can probably make a statement about how we’ve become reliant on our phones to an unhealthy extent. But having a portable charger is pretty much necessary nowadays, and one of the best and cheapest on the market is the Anker PowerCore 13000.
13. Passport Case ($30)
It’s kind of silly to think that the most important thing you need to travel is a smallish book with your identifying information in it. Just imagining what it would be like to show up at the airport and realize we forgot our passports is enough to send our heart rates through the roof. But with a stylish passport case, we can rest easy knowing our passports are safe from theft, harm and loss. We like the Madewell Leather Passport Case, but there are countless designs at a range of prices to choose from.
14. Soundproof Headphones ($40-$60)
Look, we like babies as much as the next person. But when we see one getting on the plane, we know we might be in for a bad flight. If you want to block out the noise, those tiny earbuds that you’re given on the plane probably won’t cut it, so bringing soundproof headphones is your best option to ensure a more peaceful voyage. COWIN E7 Active Noise Canceling Headphones are a great option that doesn’t break the bank, but still does a good job of blocking out the sound. You can also get the AKAMATE Wireless Headband Set for someone who would prefer earbuds to ear-covering headphones.
15. TSA-Approved Toiletry Bag ($40-$88)
Having a stylish toiletry bag doesn’t mean much if you have to dump everything out to go through security. Having a see-through plastic pouch makes everything much easier, and fortunately, there are options out there that combine fashion and utility. We recommend Truffle’s products, which include the Clarity Jetset Case and the Clarity Clutch Mini. To really pull the gift together, you can fill it with the recipient’s favorite toiletries.
16. E-Reader ($80)
We would love more than anything to carry all our books with us when traveling, but they are sadly too heavy. We’ll admit we were skeptics about e-books at first because we love reading on paper, but we’ve since come around to the Kindle E-Reader because it is so much easier to travel with than copies of Moby-Dick and Ulysses. Plus, you can still frequent your local library with your e-reader, because a number of library systems now allow electronic checkouts.
17. Film Camera ($120)
While it’s true that most people have phones with cameras, that hasn’t made the film camera obsolete. Giving your photog friend a camera like the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera is a great way to help them commemorate their traveling. Digital photos are nice, but nothing compares with getting your film developed and living your vacation again through the photo memories. It’s one of those travel gifts that keeps on giving.
18. Carry-On ($225)
A bad carry-on can be the bane of an entire trip, whereas a good one is too often unappreciated. There’s really nothing worse than when a wheel breaks off your bag when you’re running to your gate because you missed the train you wanted to take to get to the airport. The Carry-On by Away is sturdy, spacious and secure. It even has a charger! This is one of those travel gifts definitely worth the money, and it helps that this one looks beautiful, too.