The Best Gifts for Travel Lovers 2020
Looking for the best gifts for travel lovers after the horror show that was 2020? Well, you need to tread carefully but it can be done. Here's our travel gift guide for the year when travel stopped. Because 2021 is going to be better, right?!
If you book or buy through the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. However, we only ever recommend things we believe in and use ourselves, with the exception of a few amazing ideas which we haven't had the chance to test yet. Some products may have been sent to us on a complimentary basis for review purposes. See the small print below for thrillingly exciting details. And you can always ask us if you're looking for more information!
Gifts for Someone Going to Japan
Hey, with the World Cup just around the corner, I know that many of you know someone about to travel to Japan. What are some great gifts for someone going to Japan? Here's a quick round up. Scroll on down for the full details.
- The Lonely Planet Guide to Japan - Yes, it's paper. But paper is good when travelling! Not to mention, gorgeous to look at before and after the trip.
- A Travis Touch Translator - Going one step beyond an app on your phone is the new Travis Translator. Speak into the palm-sized device and it will translate into one of more than 100 languages. It then plays out in audio and you can pass to the other person for them to do the same. Less risky than handing over your phone and ideal for travel through a country where you can't speak the language.
- DK Eyewitness Guide to Japan - Another beautiful and brilliant book. The one above covers more practical details, this one fills in more background knowledge.
- Folding Travel Duffle Bag - Your traveller will find so many beautiful, interesting and unusual things in Japan that make great souvenirs (kimonos, teapots, Hello Kitty in every costume imaginable, matcha tea...) Buy them a travel bag to bring them all home in!
- Sushi socks - Well, these are just great fun!
- Kindle Unlimited Subscription - unlimited books and audio. Perfect for long journeys.
- Suitcase - Read below for the full lowdown on buying a suitcase as a gift or here to read about the best cabin luggage for all occasions. Want the short version? Try the Rimowa Classic silver wheelie.
- See more present ideas for men and gift ideas for kids and find something you and they will love.
Present Ideas for People Who Love Travel
How about a gift that really stands out?
For the first time ever, you can buy access to our signature course Write Better, Right Now as a gift. It teaches the secrets published writers know and helps to launch a writing career right from the start. So if someone you know has always wanted to be a writer... This could be the gift for them! It's run entirely online so is lightweight and eco-friendly to boot ;-) Check out the course here.
The Best Travel Gift Ideas for Under $50
1) Noise Canceling Headphones
Headphone technology changes fast, making them one of the best travel gift ideas when someone already has all the basic kit. Travellers use headphones all the time to get through long journeys and avoid annoying people around them. Prices can shoot through hundreds of bucks but you can also find some decent budget options as well.
The two big distinctions are:
2 - A personalised compass with a gift box
Let's face it, this is unlikely to be that practical but it is a gorgeous gift idea. Make sure you eave enough time for the workshop to process the engraving. Buy a personalised compass here.
3 - Travel Diary
No matter how many screens and gadgets we relish, there's something special about putting pen to paper that finger to touchpad just can't beat. Research even shows it helps us remember our travel memories better.
The Ponderlily travel diary removes one of the biggest drawbacks in the business: weight. This one is slimline and light, with a flexible cover and yet just as gorgeous in your hands.
Inside, find a few structured pages including maps, journey times and things to meet, try, learn and celebrate but mostly this is a diary for freeform writing and doodling.
4) Travel Books
Buying travel guide books can be tricky on a gift basis because the chances are someone's already bought the book if they've already bought the ticket.
Enter this gorgeous coffee table book, Where to Go When by Lonely Planet which breaks down the world into seasonal recommendations based on your personal tastes.
If it wouldn't be considered offensive to some people, I'd be calling it my bible... £19.99
5) A Charitable Donation
However hard any of us work, to be able to travel anywhere or even have the luxury of electricity and an internet connection in order to read this post involves privileges most of the world can only dream of. Some charities, such as Oxfam, offer the chance to "buy a goat" and have an e-card to send your friend or relative on the big day. Others, such as the Red Cross and Crescent simply accept straight donations. Then, there's the WWF Shop that offers everything from holidays to soft cuddly toys in order to raise funds. It's just a thought, particularly if you've read all of the other suggestions and nothing seems to fit.
6) Travel Size Sunscreen
And a longer life expectancy... Blame it on the doctor in me but we all need to protect our skin when we travel. Skin cancer's on the rise and while the application of said screens may not make us look as beautiful and blissed out as the girl in the photo, they may just keep us alive. Trouble is, as we all know, sunscreen can be gloopy and greasy and bring us out in spots. Not much of a price to pay when it comes to fending off cancer (and even wrinkles!) but annoying nonetheless. So, my happy discovery this year was Ultrasun which lasts a long time, feels nice and dry and is designed for those with sensitive skin. Costs £5-30 - find them here.
7) Aromatherapy Lockets and Bracelets for Sniffy Situations
The idea is that each locket has a different aromatherapy smell - perfect for when you're on a crowded tube, train, plane, automobile with someone or several someones who, well, are in need of a shower and a change of clothes...
8) Water Bottles
Water bottles have come a long way in recent years. So even though they may seem like a staple, they could make the perfect travel gift with an eco twist. These stainless steel, insulated, powder coated water bottles come in a range of colours and designs on Amazon. They keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold while on the road.
9) Sand Free Beach Towel
Australia's Tesalate creates sand-free beach towels in a myriad of funky cool designs. The best part? A full size towel folds down to the size of a paperback book. Which makes them a perfect gift for people who travel.
10) Ready Packed Toiletries
Toiletry bags and contents frequently make the best travel gift guides. But let's face it, they rarely contain what people need! Hardly anyone uses body lotion but we all need hand sanitizer and ear plugs these days ;-) Enter the Settinies company, who sell pre-packed colourless toiletry bags with contents like cotton buds, hairbrushes and a travel-size deodorant. Check out the Settinies website for the full range.
More Travel Gifts for Under $50
- Travel washbag - look for one with a hook to hang on the door, and that zip shuts. I love this washbag design. Follow that up with a set of travel toiletry refill bottles.
- When even legacy airlines are weighing luggage, it's handy to have a portable luggage scale.
- Be environmentally friendly and stylish with this lovely bamboo cutlery set.
Recommended reading: The Best Travel Gifts for Kids (That Parents Will Thank You For)
What's in a word?
Hey! If you're wondering why we're saying travelling instead of traveling, travellers instead of travelers, and favourite instead of favorite, it's because we're British. I realise (!) that's only half an explanation, since it doesn't really explain WHY we add in all those extra letters but there you go. It's not a typo. It's just the way we do things around there... ;-)
Luxury Travel Gift Ideas
1) The Hotelgift Card
What it is: A beautiful voucher-style gift card that you can use instead of a home-printed IOU or (worse) a voucher that ties people into a place, hotel brand or date that might actually make life more difficult for them.
How it works: as the world's leading hotel gift card brand, the cards can be redeemed in over 110 000 hotels in over 170 countries. The program covers more than 140 different brands, including independent and boutique hotels as well as the bigger chains.
You pay the amount and the recipient gets to use the card through the Hotelgift website. You can either ask for a physical gift card or an e-version if you have left things to the last minute (as if anyone would...)
Using Hotelgift Card
The delivery options are:
- A customisable, digital gift card that can be emailed to the recipient, or printed for hand delivery.
- A luxury printed gift card with a handwritten message (shipping takes 2-4 working days).
- A recorded video greeting that can be sent alongside the ecard.
I tested it out and it's really, really easy to use. And what I love about it, as I mentioned above, is that it's so flexible. No more surreptitiously trying to track down dates or panicking that you can't rearrange schedules to accommodate what was supposed to be a lovely, thoughtful gift!
Just the bit you wanted (the lovely gift) without giving someone a headache. Love it.
2) A Speakeasy Scarf with a Secret Compartment
Scarves make great travel companions to begin with. You can use them as a sarong, loop together broken handles on a suitcase, swaddle a baby, build a tent and even use them to keep your neck warm if the AC gets over ambitious.
But these beautiful hand-made scarves from Speakeasy Travel step it up a notch. How? With their hidden zippable pocket, that's how. Passport, room key, cash. Hidden in the scarf. Using this really is one of the best travel tips I know of.
WAY more comfortable than those down your pants money belts. And more stylish too. $49.99 (Made in America.)
3) A Phone Gimbal - A Device for Better Video on the Road
Mobile phones are fantastic for snapping images on the go but more and more people are using them to create high quality videos of their travels or taking the chance to conduct a live broadcast while on the road.
Swaying motion ruins most video clips because it makes viewers feel seasick. Enter the Smooth Q3 Gimbal which lets people shoot quality videos by smoothing out the bumps. I can' tell you the difference this has made to my video clips - and by the number of people who approach me on the road and ask about it, if you know a travel photography enthusiast, they'll love this.
A Case That Won't Break
A Suitcase for City Slickers
I've no idea why I battled with so many bags for so long! I love using my Samsonite SCure. It rolls easily, I can stack bags on top of it and everything inside is secure (perfect for when you can't check in to a room and you've a pretty good idea that your suitcase, complete with laptop and lenses, will be at the bottom of a colossal suitcase heap.)
A Suitcase for Adventurers
The Osprey Transporter combines a tough, on the road duffel with a tough, handle anything wheelie system. You can read my review of the largest size (The Osprey Transporter 120 over here.)
Of course, if you're buying this as a gift, make sure they don't already have a suitcase that they love. It's expensive and difficult to store otherwise!
Plenty of travel gizmos rely on gimmicks and just get in the way. These are the gifts that travellers will actually use. They help me pack in record time, keep my belongings safe - and help me find things while I'm on the road.
Pro Packing Cubes
Essentially, these are zip mesh pockets that come in different sizes. Lightweight and slippery, they slide easily around a case and the mesh let's you see what's inside (in case, ahem, you forget.) Ideal for T shirts, socks, underwear and bedding.
Eagle Creek Packing Envelopes
Lightweight with removable, washable covers, these envelopes are perfect for clothes that need to stay folded, like shirts, dresses and blazers.
Thule Power Shuttles
These are basically packing cubes for your electronics and all their gadgets. Before I found these, I used toiletry bags but because these have been designed with the job in mind they work far better. Available in different sizes, they have a crush resistant case that's still lightweight and inner meshes, zip pockets and elastic ties to keep cables organised and power banks safe. They also slide easily into an airline mesh pocket so that instead of scrabbling around when boarding a plane, you can just pull out this and your laptop. Sorted.
Universal Travel Adapter
One gadget, power anywhere. Buy your traveller or traveler a universal travel adapter and they never need to worry about plugs again. Buy a travel adapter here on Amazon.
A decent travel pillow isn't a gimmick. It's the difference between a refreshing sleep on a plane and a red-eyed, grumpy, yawning travel day. Check out my ideas for putting together a travel sleep kit over here. There are many, many different types of travel pillows, each with their own pros and cons. If in doubt, I'd go for an inflatable one. It won't take up space nor add weight. Check prices for travel pillows on Amazon here. And look for other advice on how to sleep on a plane here.