Every year around this time, it’s my goal to make holiday shopping for the travel enthusiasts in your life as easy as possible (and these gifts are great to give all year round — from birthdays, to graduations to anniversaries and beyond — so bookmark this page for your future gift giving ne ).
This effort takes the form of my annual gift guide for travelers, where I curate the best travel gifts suited for all types of travelers and explorers. As always, I go way beyond the typical travel gifts to include all kinds of original and thoughtful gift ideas that adventure-minded people will love.
Below you’ll find my selections for 2017, but be sure to also check out my 2016 guide too.
A. Polaroid Pop – Everyone loves a Polaroid photo. But everyone also loves Instagram. The Polaroid Pop — a camera that’s sure to spice up the way you take travel photos — fuses classic Polaroid style with digital flare. Take a photo, and using the touch screen, add text, stickers, drawings, filters, and *then* print it (meaning no more duds). // Connect it via bluetooth to your phone and you can also use the Pop to print photos from your Camera Roll. Check it out in this video.
B. Miggo Pictar One – Using an iPhone as your primary travel camera, while convenient, can sometimes be challenging. It’s thin, delicate, and easy to fumble. Sometimes it’s just nicer to take photos with something more substantial, like a real camera. For the best of both worlds, check out Pictar One, an iPhone attachment which brings DSLR-esque features and functionality to mobile photography. Watch this video to learn all about it.
C. Rylo – Rylo is unlike any camera you’ve seen and is poised to change the game when it comes to shooting travel and adventure video. Made by a team of ex-Instagram and Apple employees, Rylo’s real wow-factor comes in its ability to easily capture incredibly smooth and cinematic video thanks to its breakthrough stabilization technology. But, as if that wasn’t enough, it can also shoot 360 degree video, has a waterproof housing, and offers a variety of mounting options. Watch out GoPro. Check out this video to see Rylo in action.
Bring Travel Home
A. Mixbook – It’s time you got your travel photos out of your phone or iPhoto (where they’re just collecting digital dust) and into a photo book where you, loved ones, and friends can actually enjoy them. Mixbook makes it easy to design professional-quality books to commemorate your travels — the perfect way to showcase all of your best snaps IRL. Our suggestion: make one for your significant other that highlights one or all of your trips together. #Couplegoals.
B. Framafoto – Framafoto allows you to create framed photos entirely on your mobile device, using a sleek app. Just select a travel photo from your camera roll, followed by a frame from their huge variety of modern styles and layouts, and voilà, you’ve got yourself a gift any travel lover will love.
Canvas Pop – From putting your photos on magnets and pillows, to canvas prints and framed photos in all shapes and sizes, CanvasPop makes it easy turn your travel photos into physical keepsakes that you can display with pride. If you won’t be using your best travel photos to design a gift for your own home, CanvasPop offers gift cards that any traveler would love to receive.
A. Grafomap (Custom Map Posters) – Super simple to use, Grafomap allows you to create gorgeous, custom map posters of any destination in the world. Just type in a location, zoom in or out as you please, and select a design from a variety of cool and colorful styles. It’s a great gift to commemorate a trip to a favorite city, show your hometown pride, or simply add a bit of international flare to your living space
B. Wall Hangings from Easy Tiger – These fun wall hangings, among them, this World Map Print and Routed USA Corkboard Map (which comes in two sizes) will make perfect additions to the homes of travel lovers. And if you go for the corkboard, pick up a set of their colorful Location Map Tacks too.
Books are a perfect gift for the general travel enthusiast. Lonely Planet has plenty to choose from, but two of their newest and most exciting include Marvels Of The World: 360 Places You Never Knew Existed and How To Find Them, a guide to the weirdest and “most wonderful” sights in the world, and The Place To Be, a guide to the best places to connect with your emotions (each chapter explores a single emotion or feeling and the best the best places in the world to experience it).
For more on the world’s oddities, pick up a copy of Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide To The World’s Hidden Wonders. Detailing over 700 weird, unexpected, overlooked, hidden, mysterious, strange, and curious places around the world, it’s an offbeat adventurer’s bible.
If you’d rather write, plot and map your own adventure, pick up the Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Journal, a sturdy journal with a mix of lined and grid paper.
Atlas Coffee Club – Know a traveler who also loves coffee? Of course you do. With Atlas, you can buy them single bags of coffee from global destinations like Indonesia and Ethiopia, or sign them up for Atlas’ monthly subscription service to have coffee from a different country delivered on the regular. Plus with the ability to select the amount of coffee you’d like, your roast preferences, whether your want whole beans or ground, and how frequently you’d like it delivered, there’s an option for everyone.
A. Shackleton Scotch Whisky – In 1907, Sir Ernest Shakleton set out on an expedition to Antartica with, among other things, 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky. Shackleton later left three of those cases full of whisky buried at his Antarctic camp. In 2007 when the crates were finally unearthed, a limited edition blend was created by Master Distiller Richard Paterson to honor and match the flavors found in Shackleton’s century-old bottles. Now, that blend is available to the masses in the form of Mackinlay’s Shackleton Scotch Whisky. Needless to say, it’s the perfect gift for any adventure-loving whisky drinker.
Plus, with the bottle’s travel-inspired design, the recipient will want to keep it out on full display.
B. Etched Globe Whiskey Glasses by Wine Enthusiast – Sure you can drink Shackleton Whisky out of any glass you’d like, but you should probably drink it out of these. Because obviously.
C. I Love Micheladas – While you can’t always be traveling, you can at least drink like you’re on vacation — in this case, a Mexican beach vacation. To set the scene, whip up a michelada, a Mexican drink that combines beer and lime juice with assorted sauces, spices and peppers. To make a delicious one quickly and easily, pick up this “I Love Micheladas” mix, made by James Beard Award winning restaurant, Guelaguetza, in Los Angeles. Gift it with a case of beer — and if you’re feeling extra generous, two tickets to Cabo San Lucas.
Travel Health + Wellness
23andMe – While you might have a general idea of where your ancestors come from, you’d be surprised by how much you don’t know — and finding out can be a catalyst to take a trip you otherwise may have never dreamed of (like these people did).
With 23andMe’s at-home Ancestry DNA kit, you’ll get your Ancestry Composition, detailing where in the world you hail from, along with a variety of other fun and interesting results, like how much Neanderthal DNA you inherited. If you want to find out even more, including health information, opt for their Health + Ancestry kit.
A. Calm (The Gift Of Mindfulness Meditation & Sleep) – Traveling can be stressful. Learn to maintain your chill with Calm, a mindfulness meditation and sleep app that’ll help you not only get through the busy holiday travel season with your sanity in tact, but also life. With their holiday gift box, you’ll get a one-year Calm subscription (unlocking the app’s entire suite of guided meditations and SleepStories, which are great for quelling travel anxiety), Calm’s book on mindfulness (important to study since so many people tend to loose their minds at airports), and Calm’s own Sleep Mist (a blend of lavender, frankincense, chamomile and sage essential oils that’s perfect for spritzing on your travel pillow). Trust me, it’ll change your life.
B. Dao Labs Immunity Support – It’s a well known fact that airplanes can be an petri dish of germs and that traveling in general can wear you down. That’s why it’s important to aid your immune system however you can while in transit. One way to do it, and a much welcomed alternative to vitamin C powders, is with Dao Lab’s Immunity Support. This effervescent powder contains no artificial flavors or GMOs and is packed and tested in the USA. Their Immunity Support mix features a tasty combination of pear and ginger — a popular formula across Asia for immunity support.
C. Philips GoLite Blu – This portable energy light, with a rechargeable battery that’ll last for hours, mimics the natural energizing power of daylight to fight fatigue caused by factors such as changing time zones and jet lag. It’s clinically proven to elevate mood and energy levels, and one method to help you stay on your toes after traveling long distances.
SkyHour – SkyHour is sort of like the Venmo of air travel. Using SkyHour, you can give or receive monetary contributions in the form of skyhours (1 skyhour costs $60). Accumulate hours (ex. 4 skyhours = $240) and use them to book flights on over 350 airlines via the SkyHour app or website. It’s remarkably innovative, intuitive, and the easiest way to help a traveler afford a ticket to their dream destination (watch their video to learn all about it).
Of note: Skyhour is backed by JetBlue Ventures, the airline’s venture capital division.
A. Sondre Voyage Pillow – When it comes to travel pillows there are some crazy options out there. And has anyone ever really slept well on a traditional, inflatable, travel pillow? We haven’t. That’s why the Sondre Voyage Pillow, with its simple, ingenious, and compact design is such a breath of fresh air. To see all the ways it functions, watch their video.
B. The Air Hook – Tray tables are annoying (and also full of germs). They get in the way and make it difficult when those sitting in the middle or aisle seats need to get up. One little way to make flying better: The Air Hook. This nifty little device will hold your phone or tablet at eye level for easy viewing and provide a convenient place to put your drink. It’s also sure to turn some heads and result in a few, “I need to get one of those” comments from your seat-mates.
A. Thule Subterra Collection Luggage – It’s possible you know Thule for their car rooftop cargo carriers — now it’s time to get to know them for their equally trustworthy and well-built luggage. For travelers headed on longer trips, or on trips with bulky gear, like a ski trip, opt for the Subterra 70cm/28″. For short hauls or lighter needs, the Subterra Carry-On 55cm/22″ also pairs great design and function in a smaller package.
B. Yeti Panga – If you know an adventure addict prone to getting wet on their travels, look no further than the Yeti Panga. Tough as nails and available in three sizes, this is the ultimate, air-tight, fully submersible, waterproof pack.
C. All Of Us Drifter Travel Pack Messenger Bag– Designed and developed in collaboration with Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern, this pack has it all. Travelers will love the several, thoughtful pockets and organization compartments, as well as the ability to carry it like a backpack, a messenger bag, or to slide it on top of a wheeled suitcase.
Good to know: 10% of All Of Us sales are donated to the International Rescue Committee.
Electronics + Accessories
A. Jabra Elite Sport – Make one wrong move while wearing corded headphones (i.e. picking up your bag or turning in a camped airplane seat) and you’ll catch the cord and yank the buds from your ears.
The fix? Go wireless with bluetooth headphones (trust us, it’s only once you make the switch to bluetooth headphones that you’ll realize just how restrictive and annoying corded headphones actually are, especially while traveling). To experience this wireless freedom to the fullest, opt for the Jabra Elite Sport, 100% wireless earbuds. Not only will they fit snuggly and stay in place, they’re waterproof, sweat-proof, feature noise cancelling technology, and a 13.5 hour battery life (and thanks to the integrated microphone, you can even take calls while wearing them).
B. Altec Lansing Sport In-Ear Earphones – For a budget friendly option, consider Altec Lansing’s Sport In-Ear Earphones. They’re bluetooth enabled (the wire connects the two earbuds and goes around the back of the wearer’s neck), sweat-proof, waterproof, come with three different ear tip sizes for a custom fit, and offer six hours of play-time per charge.
C. SleepPhones – It’s hard enough to sleep on a plane as it is — and sleeping with your head turned to the side can be uncomfortable while wearing large headphones. To remedy this problem, check out SleepPhones, flat headphones placed inside a cozy headband that has been designed specifically to be worn while sleeping. Available in corded and Bluetooth wireless versions.
A. SkyRoam Solis (Global WiFi + Power Bank) – A simple solution to staying connected while abroad, the SkyRoam Solis is a 4G LTE global WiFi hotspot and 6000 mAh power bank in one. This handy device allows travelers to pay for mobile internet access one day at a time, as they need it, with SkyRoam Daypasses. That means no more having to buy a new local sim card in every destination. Plus, with the ability to connect up to 5 devices at once, you’ll be able to share WiFi with your travel buddies both old and new. Check out this video to learn more.
B. Omni Charge Omni 20 – There plenty of mobile power banks out there, but few have the Omni20’s huge 20,400 mAh capacity and a standard electrical socket with a 100 watt output power that allows travelers to plug in and charge items like a laptop. It also features two USB ports and a barrel port, which means the Omni20 can charge almost any device.
C. Meem (Charging Cable with Built-In Memory Backup) – Available for iOS and Android phones in 32, 64 and 128GB capacities, Meem pulls double duty, charging your phone like the single-function charging cable you use now, while also automatically backing up your phone’s memory every time it’s plugged in. The means whenever you charge your phone, your phone’s data, including the amazing travel photos and videos you’ve been taking all vacation long, will be safe and sound. So, if your phone is broken, stolen or lost while adventuring, all of your travel memories won’t be lost with it. Check out this video to learn more.
D. WeBoost Drive Sleek (Cell Phone Signal Booster) – If you know an avid road tripper or camper prone to finding themselves in off-the-beaten path places with limited cell phone service, check out the WeBoost Drive Sleek. It can improve 4G LTE and 3G cellular signals by up to 32x, which means better call quality, fewer dead zones, and faster data speeds while on the road. Check out this video to learn more.
For The Dapper Traveler
A.Filson Rugged Suede Medium Duffle – This is a major splurge, but it’s also a once in a lifetime purchase. Once you own it, you own it. Your duffle-buying days are over. Plus, like other fine leather goods, this bag grows and evolves with wear. In fact, you can hand it down to your favorite grandkid and they’ll be able to use it for years. Basically, it’s your lifelong partner in Indiana Jonesing.
B & C. Filson Luggage Tag and Passport and Card Holder - Whether gifted individually, as a pair, or self-bundled with item D below (to create the ultimate leather travel accessories gift bag), these items are sure to impress even the most stylish travelers. If you can’t afford the fancy bag, these two are much more manageable.
D. Shinola Medium Journal/Mini iPad Cover – This beautiful leather case (available in three colors) is sure to make the traveler on your list look and feel like a first class flyer, no matter which cabin they’re assigned to. Inside, the interior slide pockets can house an iPad mini and one of Shinola’s medium journals (sold separately). Plus, the five additional card pockets make it easy to keep travel documents organized.
E. Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam – Traveling and wrinkled clothes go hand in hand. Hotel irons (which are almost never cleaned) are well known to ruin clothes with rusty water and sending your clothes to be pressed through a hotel’s laundry service can be really expensive. The fix? Traveling with a portable steamer. Whether you’re traveling with formal clothes like a suit or dress, or simply don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed, having a steamer will come in super handy. Plus, the ExtremeSteam’s powerful steam can help remove odors, bedbugs and dust mites from clothes.
A. Lyft Gift Cards – It’s a simple and undisputed fact: travelers love Lyft credit (especially when it’ll get them a ride to the airport, back to their hotel after a night out, or across town to a museum). Seriously, when in doubt this holiday season, get them a Lyft gift card. You can send credit through an eCard via Lyft’s website or purchase a digital or physical Lyft gift card on Amazon (the latter being a nice idea if you physically want to stuff their stocking with it).
And travelers, listen up: Did you know when you link your Delta SkyMilesaccount to your Lyft account, you’ll earn one mile for every dollar spent on Lyft. It’s true and it’s awesome.
B. Comrad Compression Socks – Compression socks have long been used by travelers while traveling for their many reported benefits: increasing circulation, preventing swelling, relieving fatigued legs and improving muscle recovery after exercise). These socks from Comrad do just that, and unlike most other compression socks, they do it with style.
C. Lady Jayne Vaycay Mode Passport Cover – A fun and colorful passport holder (the inside is a pink and blue palm tree print) perfect for colorful travelers ready to enter vacation mode.
D. Burst Toothbrush – Instead of stuffing their stocking with candy this year, surprise them with a Burst, a sonic toothbrush that, after just a one-hour charge, will run for four weeks! And in packs down into a compact carrying case. Finally, you can travel with a good toothbrush instead of the grimy plastic one your keep in your travel toiletry kit.
E. Yeti Rambler 20z – Yeti’s insulated Ramblers are hands down the best on the market. They are tough, they are built to last, and they will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours. It’s the perfect gift for the road-tripper on your list.
A version of this post, written by me, was originally published on Uproxx.
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