Travelers can be a pain in the ass to Christmas-shop for. We tend to be non-materialistic types, more interested in accumulating foods tried, experiences had, and countries visited than things gathered. But this by no means that you can’t buy good Christmas presents for the travelers in your life. Here are some things that pretty much every traveler wants.
1. Sky miles
If you’re a frequent business traveler, but don’t think you’ll use any of your miles for yourself, give them to the traveler in your life — most airlines allow this. Most hardcore travelers are points-hoarders anyway, using points credit cards for every purchase so as to make sure all of their money counts double. Your gift of a few thousand points will get them that much closer to their next trip, and if you give them a bunch of points, they might be able to stretch it into a full vacation. And it basically cost you nothing.
2. Gift certificates to places that aren’t stores
A lot of people see gift certificates as a cop-out present: “Yeah, I just didn’t have the time to think about what you might want, so I guess you can just go figure it out yourself.” But a lot of travelers collect things much less than they collect experiences, so buying them an experience is a pretty great gift. You can plan it out a bit yourself if you don’t want to feel like you’re copping out. Try places like restaurants, spas, sky-diving schools, jet-ski rentals, amusement parks, beach passes, or scuba-certification courses.
3. Something to document their travels with
I’ve always loved getting notebooks and a good pen as a gift, especially ones that are travel sized. I’ve filled up dozens of them through the years, and the little tidbits that I wrote down while I was traveling — sometimes no more than two words — have since morphed into awesome travel stories that I’ve gotten to write about. Photographers will be even more appreciative, as their equipment’s a lot pricier than writers equipment.
4. A smartphone
Smartphones are quickly becoming a traveler’s best friend. They have everything you could possibly need: maps and compasses for those who get lost, translation apps for speaking to strangers in strange lands, travel apps for finding and booking cheap flights, photo apps for amateur photographers, e-reader apps for long train rides, and music for when the other people in your hostel won’t shut up at 2am.
Is your traveler a hiker? Get her boots or a backpack. Is your traveler a diver? Buy him a snorkel. Is he a surfer? Buy him a thesaurus. Most habitual travelers have a hobby that drives their travel, and if you help support that hobby, you’ll help support their travels.
I mean, this goes for everyone and not just for travelers, but travelers who don’t have any money are likely going to be saving as much as possible, and thus will probably not be going out as much as they might like to otherwise, so get them a nice bottle of wine or scotch and offer to help them drink it. Travelers with money are still probably going to appreciate it — maybe arrange a pub crawl in whatever town you’re in at the moment, or go visit a winery or a brewery.
7. World peace
Seriously: Afghanistan and Syria are supposed to be incredible. Ditto Ukraine. Ditto Israel and Palestine. There are a billion better reasons than travel to want world peace (like, for example, having fewer children killed or pressed into the armed forces) but travelers want to see the entire world, and it’s hard to do that when entire countries are inaccessible due to violence or disease. And most travelers are humanitarians anyway. So if there’s nothing else you can think of to get for them, try making a donation in their name to effective giving organizations like The Life You Can Save, or making a microloan in their name on sites like Kiva, or get them politically involved in human-rights organizations.