We’ve done it, folks! Despite all that has happened in 2020, we’ve somehow made it to the point that Halloween is behind us and (American) Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away. The holiday season is almost upon us!
Regardless of how this crazy year has treated you, I hope that you’re still feeling some joy and excitement about the impending holiday season. I know that I’m looking forward to this next month and a half as a nice distraction from all the stresses, worries, and disappointments of the rest of the year. It may not look like it usually does, but there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate family, be generous toward others, seek out the peace and stillness of the season, and enjoy that special feeling that comes this time of year. For people of Christian faith like myself, it’s also a wonderful time to be reminded of the joy of Christ and all the promises that God has made and fulfilled.
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is giving gifts to friends and family. Last year, I had a blast putting together a gift guide to help you find something to delight the people in your life who love to travel. Because it was such fun, I’ve spent 2020 keeping my eyes peeled for great gifts for travelers to be able to make an even better list! Below is the result: our 2020 Holiday Travel Gift Guide with fifteen great ideas for the traveler in your life. Most are under $30 (score!), but there’s something for every budget! Check it out, and don’t forget to visit last year’s gift guide for even more thoughtful options.
(Note: many of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission from your purchase at no additional cost to you. Your support is greatly appreciated and ensures that great content like this will always be free for readers! You can find the full disclosure here. Also, please note that all prices are accurate to the time of publishing but may change throughout the season.)
Gifts at a Glance
- Hanging Toiletry Organizer
- Tech Organizer
- Universal Adapter and/or Voltage Converter
- Blister or Chafing Balm
- PacSafe TravelSafe Portable Safe
- Airbnb Gift Card
- National Parks (America the Beautiful) Pass
- Full Life, Full Passport Planning Services
- Itchy Feet Travel Game
- Travel-Themed Coloring Book and Colored Pencils
- Travel-Related Puzzles
- Silicone Ring(s)
- Scratch-Off Travel Map
- Shadow Boxes
- Travel-Themed Jewelry
Practical Gifts for Travelers
Hanging Toiletry Organizer
Probably one of my most under-appreciated pieces of travel gear, my toiletry organizer goes with me everywhere. This is another gift that your loved ones can use anytime they spend a night away from home, not just on vacation. Personally, I prefer hanging bags since they keep your stuff off of a wet bathroom floor and don’t take up precious counter space beside a sink.
Even if your loved one isn’t a total techie, he or she probably still travels with plenty of chargers, headphones, cords, and the like. Throw in adapters, external hard drives, batteries, and/or a stylus and you’ve got the makings of an organizational nightmare.
Not so with this compact, water-resistant tech organizer. Your loved one will always be able to find what he or she needs without having to detangle cords or fish that tiny iPhone adapter from the bottom of a bag. I like that it provides a lot of organizational value without taking up too much space in a carry-on. Traveler approved!
Universal Adapter and/or Voltage Converter
A must for every international traveler’s bag, a universal adapter ensures that no matter what sort of plug your electronic device has, you can use it in a local outlet. Different countries use different kinds of plugs, and having a single adapter that does it all will ensure that your loved one is never without power.
One thing to note, though, is that the adapter above does not convert voltage, so your loved one will need to double-check before using electronics in countries with different voltages. (North American and many Caribbean outlets are 110-130 volts, while much of the rest of the world is between 220-240. A comprehensive guide can be found here.) While many electronics nowadays are made to withstand the full range of global voltages, some are not, and plugging something like a hairdryer into an outlet with too-high voltage can fry your electronics at best and cause a fire at worst. To give your loved one some peace of mind, throw in a voltage converter, too.
Cost: $12 (adapter), $40 (converter)
Blister or Chafing Balm
Few things can put a damper on your sightseeing like developing a blister early in the day. With a good blister balm, your loved one can walk all day in any kind of shoe without fear of blisters derailing the fun. No more choosing boring, practical sneakers just to save your feet!
Similarly, many of my female readers can relate to the annoyance of chafing on your inner thighs when wearing shorts, a dress, or a swimsuit. (I tried to find an alternative term to “chub rub,” but apparently that’s pretty much the official moniker.) An anti-chafing balm is an inexpensive gift that would go a long way in helping your traveling loved ones stay stylish and comfortable on the road. A perfect stocking stuffer!
PacSafe TravelSafe Portable Safe
If your loved one is a fan of staying in hostels or would just appreciate a little extra security on the road, a PacSafe TravelSafe would make a great gift. Unlike other travel safes, this one lies flat and doesn’t take up much of your valuable luggage space. It’s made of cut- and water-resistant material and has a stainless steel cable so that you can secure it to something immovable in your room. Since not all accommodations come with an in-room safe, this is the perfect place to store your passport, money, electronics, and other valuables while you’re out and about.
Cost: $60 – $100+ depending on color, size, and style
Note: You can also buy direct from the manufacturer here.
Gifts for Travelers Who Value Experiences Over Things
Airbnb Gift Card
The great thing about giving an Airbnb gift card is that it can be used almost anywhere: across the world, the next town over, or even right from your loved one’s living room. Your recipient can put it toward lodging or an experience during their next far-flung getaway, use it to take a COVID-friendly local vacation, or travel the globe from the couch through an online experience. Plus, they never expire, so your gift will be there as soon as your loved one is ready to travel again.
National Parks Pass
If your loved one loves the outdoors, one of the best gifts out there is an annual pass to the United States national parks, officially known as an America the Beautiful Pass. It grants the owner admission to over 2,000 federal recreation sites in the USA and covers any accompanying fees. Especially as COVID-19 continues to necessitate social distancing and outdoor activities, a national parks pass will come in very handy.
One of the best things about the America the Beautiful Pass is that it not only covers the bearer, but also up to three people over the age of sixteen traveling with them. (Accompanying children fifteen and under are free.)
Cost: $80, plus $5 a processing fee
Full Life, Full Passport Planning Services
Does your loved one need a little help getting out the door? Would he or she appreciate being able to hand off the stressful parts of travel planning to an expert? Why not give them the gift of a completely customized vacation! Contact me for more information about how we can work together to help your loved one see the world.
Cost: $50+, depending on the scope of the trip
Fun and Games
Itchy Feet Travel Game
I’ve followed Itchy Feet on Instagram for years now and usually get a chuckle out of their cartoons about travel, cultural differences, and language mix-ups. Recently, they came out with a travel-themed card game that seems like a lot of fun and a perfect gift for travelers.
Anyone who has spent any length of time traveling knows how much downtime you can have on the road. Whether you’re in the airport before a flight, waiting for a delayed bus, chilling in a hostel common room at night, or stuck in your guest house while a downpour ruins your beach day, it’s always good to have something fun to do stashed away in your luggage. That’s why this game is perfect. It’s small, weighs less than a pound, provides hours of entertainment for two to six people, and also doubles as a deck of playing cards for solo play or changing things up.
Cost: Currently on sale for $15! (It’s usually $29.)
Travel Coloring Book and Colored Pencils
I can’t think of a more relaxing way to dream about far-off places than by coloring them in this travel-themed coloring book from Lonely Planet. It features drawings of one hundred of the most bucket list-worthy destinations on earth along with short descriptions of each place. This is a great gift for anyone who wants to reminisce about past trips, get inspired for future vacations, and learn a little more about exciting destinations around the globe.
Oh, and don’t forget to include a pack of colored pencils!
Cost: $15 for the coloring book, $6 for the pencils
Puzzles were all the rage in 2020 thanks to COVID-19, and travel-themed puzzles are a great pastime for people in between vacations. There are tons of options based on your loved one’s interests, travel style and bucket list. You can go for a travel collage filled with lots of destinations, like this one of famous landmarks around the world, or a scene from a specific place, like this gorgeous Positano sunset. I like these puzzles of vintage travel ad posters from the United States and the world, and this 550-piece stunner is probably my favorite of all.
Cost: $15 – $40
Jewelry and Decor
As small and simple as it may seem, this was one of my best travel-related purchases this year. Before I left for Puerto Rico, I happened to mention to M’s cousin Joy that I was looking for a simple ring to wear on the trip in place of my engagement ring and wedding band. I knew that we would be going to the beach and doing some fun activities, and I wanted to leave my more precious and valuable jewelry at home. It was Joy who suggested that I pick up one of these silicone rings, and it ended up being a great purchase! The ring was light and comfortable and I didn’t have to worry about losing it while snorkeling, swimming, or doing anything active.
If your loved one is wild about adventure sports or is traveling to a place where he or she might not feel safe sporting expensive jewelry, a silicone ring would make a great gift. It’s also not a gift that’s limited to travel; I still use mine all the time when we go hiking or to the beach as well as when I work out.
Cost: $8 – $11, depending on how many rings you purchase.
Scratch-Off Travel Map
This is a classic gift for travelers, but there’s a reason that it’s on so many holiday gift guides each year. Everyone loves keeping track of the places they’ve been, and it’s so fun to return from a trip and scratch off the places you’ve just visited. You can pick up a world map for more far-flung travelers (I love that it has the flags underneath!) or a map of US states for those who spend most of their time exploring the USA.
Cost: $20 – $30
If your loved one is anything like me, he or she probably returns home with lots of ticket stubs, museum brochures, interesting receipts, and other bits of paper that tell the story of the trip. A great way to commemorate a vacation is by organizing these little souvenirs with some photos in a shadow box. They don’t take up much space, can be arranged in fun collages as you go on more vacations, and allow you to display your keepsakes rather than just shoving them in a box somewhere. They also come in lots of different designs and styles to suit most any home: some are obviously travel-themed, while others keep things clean and simple.
If you’re the crafty sort, this might even be a great gift to DIY!
What better way for your loved one to show a passion for travel than by wearing a sweet piece of travel-themed jewelry? There are so many pretty options out there, from the bangle bracelet pictured above to a compass pendant or an airplane anklet.
Etsy is a great place to find beautiful jewelry to suit your loved one’s unique style, and you’ll support small business owners in the process. Check out this earth bracelet, mountain silhouette necklace, and heart and airplane necklace for starters.
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