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When buying gifts for a seasoned traveler, one tends to get stuck on all the things they don’t need.

It’s almost the traveler credo to shun worldly possessions (fancy clothing, DVDs, cutlery) just as they shun society’s expectations of a ‘normal life’ (regular income, stability, white picket fence).

The truth is, all travelers need the odd useful gift now and then. Here are 5 gift ideas to get your creativity flowing.

1. Socks

Put yourself in their shoes…and buy them Wind River Ultimate Adventure Socks. Who wouldn’t want to receive a pair of socks with a name like that? You can never have too many pairs of socks, as they tend to get wet, stinky, and dirty very quickly on the road.

These particular magical socks have a moisture control system, are odor resistant, and have friction free yarn to avoid feet with blisters. Really these are the socks to buy; for anyone, but especially a traveler.

2. Face Wipes

Next put yourself in their position. Imagine you are standing in line at a bus stop off the beaten path, and you know it will be crowded, uncomfortable and very dusty. You’ve been up all night traveling, and are ready to transfer if only the blasted bus would come.

What would you like right now? (No, not McDonalds). What you should have said was a face wipe. Yes, a cool wet face wipe would be nice — and just think how refreshing it would be to have a clean face.

Check out inexpensive the face wipes from Nivea: 3 in 1, or Biore Daily Deep Cleansing face wipes. (Note: they can be used all over the body if one is in need, making them doubly useful.)

3. Electric Adapter

Find out if your traveling friend owns a UL- Approved electric adapter/converter and if not, consider buying them one.

There may come a day somewhere in the world when they find themselves sprawled flat on the floor, eyes tightly shut, repeating a single phrase over and over in their minds: Should have bought an adapter. Should have bought an adapter. I should have bought an adapter.

(And you could have saved your friend from a calamity…or at least a battery dead iPod).

4. Umbrella

One thing most people wouldn’t think to give a world traveler is an umbrella. A small thin umbrella can be very useful, as it tends to rain while you are traveling, and these handy things prevent you from getting wet.

But don’t be safe and buy the standard black. Buy them a fun umbrella instead. Everyone has a black umbrella, black doesn’t say: I care enough about you to spend some time finding you just the right thing. It says: here is a black umbrella, I hope you do not get wet.

And who wants to say that? No, buy them a colorful, patterned, interesting umbrella and they will thank you when they have to find it in a stack of other drying umbrellas.

5. A Good Book

You can never overestimate the value of a good book. Especially one as entertaining and fresh as the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbooks.

Recommended for the traveler: Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel. (Obviously.) The book is full of realistic to humorous/bizarre scenarios and the wide range of choices that can be made in each one.

For example: they advise “earplugs are useful when you want to sleep in a battle zone” which leads into the next section “How To Survive A Hostage Situation.” An entertaining read for anyone. (Just don’t let them see you have read it before you gave it to them).

Gift To Avoid: A Clock

One note: many people believe it is handy to buy the traveler a clock.

But part of the fun of traveling is forgetting the normal constraints we live by at home: clocks, pagers, cell phones etc. That’s why the clock idea did not make it onto the list.

Though if you are going to buy one anyway, please make sure it doesn’t tick loudly (there is nothing worse) and be sure to include them a stash of extra batteries.

What are some gift ideas you’ve found for travelers?



About The Author

Miriam Anderson

Miriam Anderson grew up in Egypt, and spent her vacations travelling to the Red Sea and the valley of the kings in Luxor. When she moved to Canada, the travel bug hit, and by 19 she was traveling on her own. Her favourite places are Morocco, Spain, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Germany, Lebanon and New York.

More By This Author

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  • travel portrait painting

    Can I add more? I’d like to suggest giving him the following: (a) travel/mobile cellphone charger; (b) camera for taking travel pictures; and what can you say about (c) diary where you can keep travel experiences.

  • John Oates

    Another idea is a Maglite – the small ones are just amazing objects to hold, and every traveller needs a torch in their rucksack. I wouldn’t travel without mine (plus the headband I bought for strapping it to my head, particularly useful when answering the call of nature in places with no lighting).

  • Ian MacKenzie

    great suggestions! the maglite is particularly a useful gift – strong, durable, and light whenever you need it. have they made a version without batteries yet though? that would just top off the perfect invention.

  • Joel Marc

    Awesome article…I got to disagree with the diary comment though… everyones thinking the same thing. I gave a girl a travel diary once, she said thanks and added it to the stack her other friends had given her. She could have written a 8 book digression on the history of Thailand…

  • travelina

    I’d suggest duct tape, which has a million emergency uses, and some good quality luggage locks (you’ll regret the cheapo ones when you can’t open your bag).

  • Rocco

    Love the suggestions! It’s funny you mentioned a good book because whenever I have a friend going on a trip I always try to pick them up a book on the bestseller list. Why not take a mental trip too, right? But another thoughtful gift I like to give sometimes is gift cards for hotel stays.

    Looking forward to more great suggestions!

  • jeff

    I have another too, bug spray. when I was in Australia I got biten alive and bug spray is now always on my list!

  • Bobby Capps

    My suggestion would be for disabled travelers. Make sure you bring a good sturdy wheelchair.

  • Jeff

    an Eagle Creek money belt, the kind with the lengthwise zipper
    a box of BIG ziploc bags
    cheap gloves (some cities are filthy and they make good bath scrubbies)
    and a novel about the region, especially something old, so they can see the changes.

  • Kathy

    My problem is what to get rich relatives who like to travel, because I’m not rich and, like you said, they don’t really NEED anything. I’ve had plenty of bad guesses but my two Christmas-gift successes were (a) a British hair dryer that never needs an adapter, which they love and always take with them to London (which is where I bought it); and (b) something called Passport Newsletter, which tells rich people things like how to stay in a castle without getting ripped off for too high a cost, and where to find restaurants with really good chefs who aren’t always famous.
    Of course, I found both of these by accident! The hairdryer idea came to me when my own hairdryer and converter fried themselves in a London hotel during a business trip; and the newsletter idea popped up as an ad when I was searching for how to renew my passport (I had never heard of Passport Newsletter before then.)

  • Matt

    5 pack of Bic lighters, if your traveler smokes. Bics are hard to come by in a lot of foreign countries. Trust me, they’ll come in handy.

  • Pianist702

    I disagree with the electrical adaptor, umbrella, and good book. Most travelers already have these items and they automatically pack them in their suitcase. As for the “good book” most people want to pick their own reading material. I know I do. If somebody were giving me a gift before traveling, I would like consumables that I would definitely make use of; Starbucks gift card, extra camera cards, packets of mayonaise, ketchup, mustard, snacks to eat on the plane, travel size toiletries that don’t take up much room in the suitcase.

    I also disagree with the travel diary. I think it depends on the person. Whenever I travel, I always buy a new diary and write in it each day of my travels.

  • unusualweddinggifts

    This is really useful. My mate goes travelling all the time (lucky thing) and I never know what to get him because he seems to have everything.

  • brett

    zip loc bags are perfect, cheap and invaluable in lots of unforseen cases. shoe strings/clothes line, dual use, cheap and light weight. balloons also work well when attempting to quickly dry clothes washed by hand in a sink. i like to keep all those fake cards you recieve in the mail and put them in a fake wallet and jam a few euros in it and it i get held up, just give em the fake wallet and run. my next purchase will be the trackstick super, check it out. geo tags all you locations.

  • tara

    The problem with a stack of great gadgets is that the person then feels guilty when they come to pack and not everything fits. If you don’t know them that well then the gift card idea is great – especially something like itunes or coffee is always gratefully received.

    There are blogs, facebook, email to keep friends and family up to date but I think travel diaries are great for recording the stuff you think noone wants or needs to know – those eureka life moments, those days you’re feeling really low or how someone has made you smile. Also great to stick in the little memories eg a beer label, entry to a theatre or a newspaper article you were quoted in.

  • Jessie

    Headlamps! There’s always a situation where these come in handy (as I learned from many “dang, I wish I had a headlamp” moments while travelling in developed, develloping, rural, and urban places)

  • Helenable

    A good sleeping mask and maybe a few pair of quality earplugs!

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