My 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers


a camera in christmas lights
Posted: 11/25/19 | November 25th, 2019

Travelers can be a fickle group of people to buy gifts for. We’re constantly coming and going, we usually don’t carry a lot of stuff with us, and no two travelers are alike so finding the perfect gift for the traveler in your life can be tricky.

While a plane ticket is never a bad idea (I’m a window seat in case anyone is thinking of getting me one), I’ve put together this ultimate holiday gift guide for travelers as there’s a lot of great travel gear out there these days that helps people travel cheaper and better.

Even me, the gear-adverse traveler, likes a lot of this stuff!

This is stuff I actually think is super useful. No nonsense. No fluff. Just the best gifts for intrepid travelers and globetrotting nomads!


Gifts Under $25

1. Packing Cubes

travel packing cubesPacking cubes are an awesome tool to help you stay organized while you travel. Whether you’re a budget backpacker or traveling with half a dozen suitcases, packing cubes will keep you organized as you travel the world. They come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to store items big and small. If you know a traveler who needs a hand staying organized, this is the gift for them!

Buy now on Amazon!

2. Travel Padlock

Master travel padlockThis simple item is one of the most important for the budget traveler. Since many hostels have lockers, backpackers need to have their own travel lock when they’re on the road. While you can usually rent them at hostels, those prices add up after a while. I never leave home without a lock because I know it will come in handy.

Buy now on Amazon!

3. Earplugs

travel ear plugsAnyone who has ever stayed in a hostel knows that a quality pair of earplugs is a necessity. From chronic snorers to late-night drinkers to copulating couples in creaking bunks, hostels are known for their less-than-quiet accommodation. Add some earplugs to your shopping list. Because the gift of a good sleep is priceless!

Buy now on Amazon!

4. Sea to Summit Quick Dry Travel Towel

sea to summit travel towelHaving a lightweight, quick-drying towel makes a huge difference when you’re on the road. Big, bulky towels take up a lot of space in your backpack and they take a long time to dry. If you’re on the road, you don’t want a towel to delay your plans or stink up your bag. Enter the travel towel. It’s the compact, quick-drying solution that every backpacker needs.

Buy now on Amazon!

5. Travel Adapter

travel adapterNothing is more tedious than arriving to a new destination only to realize you can’t charge your devices because the electrical outlets are different. That’s why you’ll need a travel adapter. They’re a simple accessory. There’s a million out there but this is one I use as it covers every region of the world and comes with USB ports too. It’s cheap, easy to use, and lightweight. Everything you need in an adapter.

Buy now on Amazon!

6. Scratch Travel Maps from Landmass

travel scratch mapScartch maps are a fun way to keep track of your past travels while helping you stay inspired as you plan your future trips. You simply scratch off the parts of the world you’ve been. Simple. Easy. Landmass is my favorite company that makes these, though there are plenty of other companies that make them now so you can find them in all sorts of sizes and colors.

Buy now on Amazon!

7. Passport Holder

travel scratch mapA passport holder is a must-have for any avid traveler. Not only does it protect your passport from wear and tear, it makes your travels much more convenient. Most passport holders have slots for your travel credit cards as well as any cash you have, making it a safe and convenient way to keep your valuables secure while you travel. While there are tons of expensive and fancy passport holders out there, a simple one will get the job done and save you money in the process (money you can spend on more travels!).

Buy now on Amazon!

8. Toothpaste Bites

Bites toothpaste jar with spilled toothpaste tabsTraveling with liquids is always a pain. They’re a hassle at airport security and, when it comes to toothpaste, there is a lot of waste. The plastic tubes end up in landfills and you can never really get all the toothpaste out of the tube. Enter toothpaste bites. These dry tabs of toothpaste that come in a recyclable jar (no plastic!). They take some getting used to but they’re an eco-friendly option for the environmentally-conscious traveler. (And they clean your teeth well, which is also very important!)

Buy now at Bite!

9. Hand-drawn Food Maps

hand drawn food maps from Legal NomadsThese are unique, hand-drawn typographic maps of food from Legal Nomads and artist Ella Frances Sanders. They make a thoughtful gift for anyone who loves to eat and travel (and who doesn’t!). They come in a variety of sizes too! Jodi’s maps are the best! (Use the code SEALUP for 15% off!)

Buy now at Legal Nomads!

10. The Fearless Guide to Solo Female Travel

Solo female travel guidebookKristin Addis created this detailed guide to solo female travel, addressing all the concerns women have about traveling. The book includes tons of tips and advice, as well as interviews with other female travelers and writers. It gives you the specific, actionable information you need to conquer the world on any trip!

Buy now at Nomadic Matt!

11. Moleskine Notebook

moleskine travel notebookI never leave home without one of these. They are the perfect notebook for journaling during your trip as well as for writing down travel notes such as directions, contact information, and language tips. I think everyone needs to write more during their travels so they have something to look back on (other than photos).

Buy now on Amazon!

12. Travel Books

The Alchemist book coverFew things can inspire you to travel like a good book. They can transport you to new places and keep your wanderlust stoked while you work towards making your own travel dreams a reality. If you’ve got an avid reader who loves to travel on your holiday list (or if you’re just looking for something to read over the holidays), get a travel book. Books are the best gift in the world and on my Amazon page you can get a list of all the best travel books I’ve read over the years.

Buy now on Amazon!

13. Celiac Travel Cards

Legal Nomads celiac logoMy friend Jodi from Legal Nomads created these helpful travel cards for anyone traveling with Celiac disease. They are in-depth resources that communicate your concerns to restaurant staff in a way that allows anyone traveling with the disease to have a worry-free meal. If you or someone you love has Celiac disease, these travel cards are a useful resource! (Use the code SEALUP for 15% off!)

Buy now at Legal Nomads!

14. Dry Shampoo

Lush's dry shampoo in a clear plastic bottle
Dry shampoo is a convenient liquid-free alternative to regular shampoo. It’s a useful minimalist solution for budget travelers who travel carry-on only and an eco-friendly choice as well. Natural dry shampoos absorb the grease and oil in your hair, keeping it clean while you’re on the road — and with minimal effort too. It works for all types of hair and hair lengths as well so you don’t need to shave your head or do anythign drastic either.

Buy now on Amazon!

15. Ten Years a Nomad

$50 a day by Matt KepnesThis book is my memoir about my ten years traveling and backpacking the world, my philosophy on travel, and the lessons I learned that can help you travel better. It takes you on a trip around the world from start to finish: getting the bug, the planning, setting off, the highs, the lows, the friends, what happens when you come back — and the lessons and advice that come with all that. People have been really enjoying and connecting with it and I think you or any other traveler would love it!! (Plus, getting it helps support everything we do here!)

Buy now on Amazon!

16. Donate to Charity!

flyte charity logoFor the traveler in your life who has everything, why not make a donation to charity on their behalf! FLYTE is an awesome charity that I started back in 2015 to help high school students in underserved communities experience the transformational power of travel. Every year we send a new group of students abroad, but we can’t do it without your help!

Donate the gift of travel today!


Gifts Under $100

17. Trtl Travel Pillow

a comfortable travel pillowTravel pillows are perfect for those long-haul flights, delayed buses, and airport naps. Every traveler needs to have a travel pillow on hand to maximize that downtime and time in transit, and Trtl pillows are the best on the market. They help prevent jetlag and make even the longest, most uncomfortable trip a little more bearable.

Buy now on Amazon!

18. Suavs shoes

suavs shoesSuavs shoes are super versatile and durable, making them perfect for traveling. Whether you’re just exploring the city or in need of something that looks a bit fancier, these shoes can do it all so you don’t have to pack multiple shoes. They are flexible, light, washable, and breathable. I love them! (They look great too!)

Buy now on Suavs!

19. Travel Headlamp

travel head lampThis is a handy tool for both backpackers and anyone looking to do any hiking or camping. In a hostel, a headlamp is helpful if you need to check in or out but don’t want to disturb your fellow travelers. For outdoorsy folks, they’re useful for hiking, setting up camp in the dark, and for emergencies.

Buy now on Amazon!

20. LifeStraw

lifestraw water filterEnvironmentally, pollution from single-use plastics is something every traveler has witnessed. And, monetarily, when you’re traveling, continuiously buying water gets expensive. Do your part to help the planet by traveling with a reusable filter. LifeStraw is an awesome brand with a built in water filter. The filters last 5 years so you save money on changing them too.

Buy now on Amazon!

21. Superstar Blogging

Superstar BloggingIs there someone on your list looking to start a new career? Why not give them a leg up and enroll them in Superstar Blogging! We offer comprehensive courses on blogging, writing, photography, and vlogging that outline everything you need to know to succeed in the travel industry. You’ll learn from me and other top travel experts on how to level up your game, reduce mistakes, and get you heard above the noise!

Buy now on Superstar Blogging!


Gifts Over $100

22. Travel Backpack

REI Flash travel backpackIf you’ve got a budget traveler on your holiday list, a travel backpack is the gift that keeps on giving. A well-made bag will last for years and through dozens of adventures. Having a reliable travel backpack is one of the most important items for a traveler.

My favorite bag is the Flash 45 from REI but other companies worth checking out for high-quality bags are Osprey, Nomatic, and MEC (for Canadians).

Some bags worth checking out are:

(For a different backpack, check out my guide finding the right backpack for more options!)

23. Travel Clothing from Unbound Merino

Unbound Merino wool shirtThese travel clothes are some of the most versatile on the market. Made from merino wool, Unbound offers clothing that can be worn daily for weeks (and months!) without getting smelly. They are perfect for the traveler who wants to pack lighter. I really love the material, they’re comfortable, they hardly ever need a wash, and they last forever!

Buy now on Unbound!

24. Eco-friendly Luggage from Samsonite

samsonite recycled eco-friendly travel luggageIf you’re in need of proper luggage, Samsonite has been a go-to brand for durable, reliable luggage for ages. Now, I’m a backpack guy but I love this new luggage set. It’s made from 100% recycled plastic! Every little part of it! I can get behind something that environmentally friendly. It also comes with a limited 10 year warranty too in case something goes wrong.

Buy now on Amazon!

25. MacBook Air

MacBook air laptopThis is my favorite travel computer. It’s light, it’s powerful enough for regular use, and the battery life lasts a long time. While an iPad might be another potential travel choice, I find the Air much more versatile. You can do a lot more with it. When I’m on the road, this is the laptop I travel with.

Buy now on Amazon!

26. iPhone

iPhone 11While not a cheap phone, the iPhone 11 has such a high-tech camera that you don’t need to take a traditonal camera with you when you travel. It has a solid battery life, a grat lens, beautiful screen, and, is overall, just awesome. True, I’m an Apple fanboy so I might be biased but hey, it’s my list!

Buy now on Amazon!

27. Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Bose QC35 headphonesThese are ideal for those long flights or bus trips as they block out background noise so you can read, work, or sleep without being disturbed. The wireless Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones are fan favorites and my go-to brand. They are comfortable, rechargable, and do an amazing job at removing background noise. If you’re on a budget, consider the QuietComfort 25 instead.

Buy now on Amazon!

28. Mophie External Battery

mophie external batteryThese days, we all travel with numerous electronic devices like phones and tablets. It can be hard to keep them all charged. An external battery solves that problem. Two high-output USB ports make this external battery incredibly convenient, and it can charge up to 100 hours of battery in one go.

Buy now on Amazon!

29. Kindle

a kindle from AmazonWhile I personally prefer to read physical books, I can’t argue against the convenience and simplicity of the Kindle. Hauling around physical books is a pain if you’re traveling often. With a Kindle, you can pack hundreds of books into a single device, and many versions can also use apps and access the internet. It’s a wonderful gift for the avid reader.

Buy now on Amazon!

30. GoPro Hero 7 Black

gopro hero 7Every traveler needs a camera, and few are as versatile and durable as the GoPro. They’re incredible for photos and video no matter the climate. They’re waterproof and are perfect for both everyday city exploring as well as more extreme and adventurous activities. They’re just awesome.

Buy now on Amazon!

Whether you’re searching for the perfect holiday gift for a traveler in your life or just looking for some holiday inspiration for yourself, this list will help you find an awesome gift for the holidays. No matter your budget, there is something here for you that will help you level up your travels or the travels of a loved one.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Photo credit: 13 – Electric Teeth

The post My 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

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