Fully revised for 2018!
The older I get, the more I prefer to do much of my gift shopping online; I find little appeal in fighting my way through crowded shopping centres, queuing for hours to pay and lugging around heavy purchases. So to make it easier for those of you shopping for travel lovers like me, I’ve gathered a lovely long list of gift ideas, most based on my personal travel essentials and the rest on things I’m currently coveting!
Do also check out my list of over 100 fantastic books for globetrotters, dreamers and armchair travellers!
Keeping the weight of a bag off my shoulders massively reduces neck and shoulder tension, and the resulting headaches, which wipe out a few precious hours of holiday time. In the last couple of years I’ve taken to using a bum bag (or fanny pack as our American friends call them). Mine has space for my phone, tissues, travel tickets / passport, pen and small notepad, business cards, some basic meds and other small bits and pieces I would never go back to a shoulder bag now and use it at home, not just when travelling.
I’ve always taken a paper journal with me when travelling, even as a kid. Some trips I write loads, and other times I just bullet point a few activities or scribbled impressions, but either way, I love having my notes to reference when I come home, especially in the nine years I’ve been blogging. I know I could type and save notes on my phone, but I’m still old school and much prefer paper and pen!
I use two different types of travel neck pillows – the inflatable kind that take hardly any space in my hand luggage, and memory foam or microbead ones that are permanently filled, perfect for self-drive trips. I spotted some fun hoodie versions, including ones with animal designs!
Travel Documents Organiser
We always have a few key documents to keep safe when travelling, not just our passport and currency but hotel and car rental confirmations, travel insurance, emergency contacts and our printed itinerary. All of these are stored in a travel documents organiser which we usually keep on our person most of the time. Receipts for big purchases go in there too, so we can check our bank statements when we get home.
Power Bank (External Battery)
I use my phone a lot! Not just for emails and web browsing but for photography, social media, google map navigation and more. Even though it has pretty good battery life, it makes sense to have a power bank with me for quick recharging on the go. In my bum bag, I usually carry an Anker power bank, and we have a larger dual-charge (solar and regular power source) one which lives in the main back pack (carried by Pete). The large solar one is particularly handy on safaris or any trip where you may not have plug sockets in your overnight accommodation or on the road.
USB Charging Block
These days, most of our devices – phones, e-readers, power banks, fitness bands – charge via a USB cable, so a USB charging block is very handy in places with limited plug sockets available.
Business Card Holder
This probably isn’t relevant for all travellers, but it may be handy for bloggers. Whether I’m on a press trip or personal holiday, I sometimes share my cards with friends and hosts along the way. Likewise, when I attend a food / travel blogger conference or event, it’s great to have a wallet to store cards I collect from others.
Our citybreak habits have changed hugely in recent years, to the extent that most out-and-about photos are taken using our phone cameras. But for wildlife and landscape holidays, we still pack our DSLRs with multiple lenses, tripods and accessories. A good quality camera backpack – one that protects our gear and is comfortable to carry – is essential.
We own several different Lowepro bags, different size ones and one that is properly waterproof when sealed. I’m also impressed by the features of several Manfrotto, K&F Concept, Tenba and National Geographic offerings too.
I’d not really thought about passport covers (since ours usually lives in our travel documents organiser) but when I travelled solo recently, I shoved my passport into my bum bag instead (into the pocket sat flat against my belly, so very hard to reach while I’m wearing the bum bag). And realised it would be better protected from the other stuff in my bag if it had a lovely cover, like one of these!
Large Toiletry Bag
I tend to prefer large toiletry bags that can hold my full size shampoo and conditioner bottles, for when I’m going on a longer trip and not somewhere I can easily by replacements from local shops. Plus a huge pile of other stuff, from toothpaste to sunblock, from clothes mending sewing kits to daily prescription drugs, from earplugs to travel wash and a whole lot more. One of the bags we used until recently was actually a waterproof shoe bag as we couldn’t find suitably large toiletry bags on that occasion – the double zip flap along the full length made rummaging through everything much easier, and it was light and sturdy too. After several years hard duty, we’ve recently replaced it with actual toiletry bags, having found a lot of great designs in larger sizes. On some kinds of trips, the hanging style wash bags are super useful, especially where there’s minimal surface space in the bathroom to set down our usual style.
If we have space, and we’re travelling somewhere we may spend a little more time in our room, I love to have a beautifully scented candle to make the room smell lovely, preferably one that is long and slow to burn so it can be used for an hour or two a day throughout the stay.
A few last items that we find super useful including a universal plug adaptor, super warm thermal leggings (bought for our first Antarctica trip and also very comfortable when visiting Sweden’s ice hotel, and winters here in England!), inflatable bottle pouches in which to safely carry home bottles inside your hold luggage and a travel towel that’s lightweight and quick to dry. I’m also coveting a neoprene wrist strap and neoprene neck strap for SLR cameras (the latter is a quick release design which looks extremely versatile), a rotating tripod head for panoramas and time lapse photography and a gorilla pod mini tripod that will take heavier SLR camera bodies than the original model for point and shoots.
That’s it for now, though I may add a few more items as I continue to do my own gift shopping this week. Happy shopping!
Need more ideas? Here’s my list of over 100 fantastic books for globetrotters, dreamers and armchair travellers! You may also want to look at this guide to the best rucksacks with wheels.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you find this guide useful, please consider making your Amazon purchases via our links to support the site. Originally published 1 December 2017, updated for December 2018.