The frequent traveler in your life may not need another neck pillow or eye mask, so what to give them for Christmas this year? With the holiday season drawing closer and the clock starting to wind down on gift-buying, don’t fret: Your favorite jet-setter will love these easily packable, useful, and travel-oriented stocking stuffers as a little something extra to make their future trips even more enjoyable. These are the best last-minute stocking stuffers for travelers.
1. Compression socks
Socks? For Christmas? Again?! But this time, for good reason. Compression socks are now a must-have for any traveler who frequently finds themselves on long-haul flights, as their design improves blood flow, reduces swelling and pain, and prevents blood clots caused by sitting down for long periods. Zensah’s compression socks do all this and more and look snazzy while doing it. This brand has a fantastic selection of colorful and inventive socks that look and feel good.
2. Travel scarf
Move over, fanny pack; there’s a new essential travel garment in town (and it’s much more fashionable). Sholdit scarves feature a hidden pocket in which to store valuables that are important to have on hand at all times, such as a passport, cash, and credit cards. Choose from a variety of styles and colors, so even your most fashion-minded friend will be as excited by the design as by the function.
3. Collapsible travel bottle
Plastic pollution all over the world has all of us rethinking our single-use plastic habits, and reusable water bottles are one of the best ways to ditch plastic bottles. There are so many options to choose from, but que is ideal for travel thanks to its lightweight, collapsible design. Just expand it to fill with water for on-the-go hydration, or squash it down into a compact cube that’s easily storable. Available in a range of colors, que bottles are also 100 percent plastic-free and give back to environmental nonprofits.
4. Cell phone camera lens kit
Cell phone cameras are getting better and better each year, which is great for travelers since they don’t need to pack a bulky camera kit. But sometimes you want to be more experimental or try new things with your photography, which is why this TODI kit of nine interchangeable, clip-on cell phone lenses makes for a great gift for travel photographers. The kit includes macro, wide-angle, fish-eye, and more lenses for around $20.
5. Cord roll
Tangled earbud cords are the bane of any traveler’s existence; no one likes reaching into their bag and extracting a huge knot of cables. A travel cord roll, like this colorful one by Uncommon Goods, is a creative and easy way to keep cords organized and accessible. The rolled design also takes up less space than squared holders so it fits better into carry-on bags, purses, and backpacks.
6. Packing cubes
Make Marie Kondo proud of your excellent organization and packing skills with this set of packing cubes from TravelWise. There are a variety of sets you can choose from, with different sizes and colors, so you can sort similar items together into compact cubes that keep your luggage better organized and make more space for souvenirs.
7. Universal power adaptor
Never be caught in a new place with a low-battery cell phone and no adaptor again. A universal power adaptor that can work around the world is an essential part of any traveler’s kit, and Joomfeen’s small, easily packable universal adaptor makes it easy with a charger that works via standard plug and USB.
Crying babies. Unruly toddlers. Seat neighbors that are snoring too loudly. Sure, you could slip on those expensive noise-canceling headphones, but if you just want to get some shut-eye, there’s nothing like an excellent pair of earplugs. Mack’s makes the best earplugs around, using silicone putty that molds to your ear and blocks out unwanted noises to help you sleep better. You can get them pretty much anywhere and usually for around $5 or less.
9. Give a Lyft
Ride-share apps and on-demand car services have made navigating new destinations even easier and safer. Lyft has digital gift cards available in a range of amounts, so you can ensure traveling friends or family can get around safely and at a great price. At the moment, Lyft gift cards are only redeemable in the US.
10. Digital luggage scale
No more being hit by unexpected checked baggage fees after showing up at the check-in counter with a stuffed suitcase and finding out it’s over the limit. Check the weight at home with a portable luggage scale, like this highly-recommended one from Camry. It can handle up to 110 pounds, is lightweight and durable, has a digital read-out in either pounds or kilos, and is only 5.12 inches in length so it can be easily slid into a side pocket on your luggage for on-the-go checking or to weigh all those souvenirs before heading home.
11. Travel skincare kit
Travel is tough on the skin: long flights in recycled air, jet lag, disrupted sleep patterns, not drinking enough water, and spending too much time having fun to do your standard skincare routine every night. And to save space in your luggage, sometimes you’re forced to leave behind some of your beloved cleansers or washes. Gifting a kit of travel-size skincare essentials is a great way to keep skin hydrated, healthy, and glowing while on the go. All-natural skincare company Ursa Major has a stylish Travel Kit, packaged in a reusable toiletry bag from Topo Design, and includes a face wash, face balm, deodorant, facial wipes, and soap bar. And you can also stock the kit with your favorite sheet masks as well, like this ultra-hydrating single-use mask from Verso.
12. Carry-On Cocktail Kit
You’ve reached your cruising altitude. You’re on your way to that much-deserved vacation. Maybe you want to toast the occasion, or maybe you just need a drink after that long line at security. How about a nice, fancy cocktail? You can make your economy seat feel like first class with these cute and compact cocktail kits. There are eight different options to choose from, like Gin & Tonic, Moscow Mule, and Hot Toddy, and each kit (which comes in a handy little metal tin) comes with the necessary syrups, mixers, bitters, bar spoon, and a recipe card. Just purchase the required liquor from the beverage cart, assemble, and enjoy. They’re also TSA-approved, so there’s no chance of them being taken away.
13. TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership
It may be a bit pricier than most stocking stuffers, but you can give the gift of time and a hassle-free security screening with entry into the TSA PreCheck program. For just $85, you’ll be enrolled in PreCheck for five years and can use that blissfully short security line and not need to remove your shoes, jackets, laptops, or liquids from your luggage. The recipient does need to set up an appointment time at the nearest enrollment center for a 10-minute background check and interview, but 10 minutes for five years of stress-free security experiences is well worth it. And if you travel abroad a lot, there’s Global Entry so you can breeze through US customs and immigration for five years for $100.
14. TSA-approved luggage lock
It’s important to keep your checked baggage safe from wandering hands while in transit, but also make it so TSA agents can check the contents of your suitcase if they need to without damaging the case. These cable combination locks are TSA-approved and have all kinds of nifty features like a red button that pops up to show if your bag has been inspected. You can choose your own three-digit code and the locks are extremely durable so they’ll withstand years of baggage handling.
15. Portable charger
Travel is a drain on your devices, whether you’re taking tons of photos or doing on-the-go research about what to do or where to eat. Before you know it, you’re at 5 percent. Skip the part where you have to park it in a local cafe for an hour while your phone recharges and just use a portable charger until you can get back to your accommodation. This Anker PowerCore+ Mini is about the size of a tube of lipstick, making it super portable, and carries enough power for a single full charge on most smartphones.
A version of this article was previously published on December 12, 2018 and was updated on December 12, 2019.