Travel has taught us to boil down our possessions to the essentials—the handiest, sturdiest, coolest items that make a difference in our day-to-day lives, and hopefully the planet too. To create our second annual HoneyTrek Travel Gift Guide, we scoured our years of packing lists and looked to our circle of globetrotting friends for their tested-and-approved picks. What we’ve come up with are the best travel gifts that won’t just be “stuff” under the tree…but the tools, resources, and ideas to help the traveler in your life get out there and explore!
One-of-a-kind Water Bottle
We’ve been rocking Nalgene bottles since the 1990s–they’re simple, sturdy, BPA-free, and inline with our mission to reduce single-use plastics. They’ve always let you mix and match colors (even glow-in-the-dark!) but now you can completely customize your bottle. With their easy-to-use design tool, you can choose your vessel style then upload your own photos, text, and graphics for a one-of-a-kind chalice. We were so excited, we designed two (one to commemorate our cross-continent road trip and another of us getting #ComfortablyWild at a favorite glamp camp) and LOVE how they turned out. The photos printed beautifully and the text is embossed for a high-quality and personal gift. Make one for the sporty or eco-conscious person on your list!
The Ultimate Vacation Compromise
No matter if you’ve got an outdoorsman or a city girl in the family, everyone can get on board with glamping—especially when they see our new coffee-table book! Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America is the culmination of our 2.5-year, 73,000-mile, 9-country quest for the most unforgettable outdoor accommodations. You’ll find fabulous treehouses, Airstreams, domes, teepees, and more creative structures, plus uncommon adventures and inspiring people. Organized by type of experience (farmstays, wellness retreats, safari, etc), this book is about discovering new ways to immerse yourself in the great outdoors and reconnect with the people you love. To make this gift extra personal, we can sign a copy with the message of your choosing.
Live Language Classes
Know someone getting ready for a trip abroad or brushing up on their foreign language skills? Take it from us, nothing works better than practicing with a native speaker. Rebecca and The World tipped us off to iTalki and their 10,000 teachers, who give 1-on-1 language lessons online—for as little as $5 an hour. With a gift card, your budding linguist can find their ideal teacher (each one offers an intro video to get a sense of their style, plus trial sessions to make sure it’s a fit). Plus, you only pay per lesson so even a $25 credit can reignite someone’s love of languages.
The Adventurer’s Picnic Blanket
GoNomad knows what’s up; they’ve been travel blogging since 2000! In this year’s gift guide, they included one of our favorite travel accessories…the Matador pocket blanket! It’s a mere 4 x 1.2 x 3 inches when packed away, but as our buddy Max says, “Don’t be fooled by its mini proportions, when spread out, the throw is big enough for four people sitting and two people laying down.” We always keep one in our day-pack (it weighs nothing!) so when we see a pretty place to relax, we can have a water-repellent, puncture-resistant blanket for picnics or an excuse to gaze up at the clouds.
Art for All
As a photographer raking in prestigious Lowell Thomas Awards, our friend Susan of The Insatiable Traveler could certainly charge oodles for her work. Instead, she’s made her fine art accessible with a slew of travel gifts. Gorgeous landscape, wildlife, and abstract scenes are the patterns for everything from tote bags to laptop sleeves. We particularly like the Moroccan Mosaic Kitty, Riding the Wake, and Polar Bear Against a Blue Sky prints to bring life to your everyday devices.
Beyond the Lawn Game
In a 104-square-foot camper, we can only have so many toys, and the fun of bocce is worth every inch. We bring this Italian bowling game with us wherever we go because it fits neatly in our trunk and can be played on virtually any terrain. Don’t let those dirt courts box you in, bocce takes on a whole new dimension at the beach, in a dense forest, indoors with furniture obstacles, or out a second-story window (#VerticalBocce).
Support Great Journalism
Giving to a non-profit is one of the best travel gifts. In the Travel Past 50 gift guide, our friends Tom and Kris included a number of noble suggestions like Doctors Without Borders, the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund, and an inspiring option we’d never heard of, Round Earth Media (a division of the International Women’s Media Foundation). They mentor young journalists around the world, support under-reported stories, and help broadcast or publish them in the U.S. and the countries they cover. In an era of “fake news,” now is the time to support honest media and a bright future for journalists around the world.
Get Rich in Experiences
As couples travel bloggers since 2008, The Planet D earns our respect for their travel advice and product picks. Their gift guides are always filled with practical and beautiful things, like Dave’s fine art metal prints and this adorable Travel Fund Piggy Bank by the Sterling James Company. Having this retro wooden design is a positive reminder for your aspiring world explorer to put their money towards what matters most…life experiences!
Tip: Drop in a few foreign coins to add extra wanderlust and the cost of their first celebratory beer abroad.
A Year of Adventures
A must-have for every US explorer, The America The Beautiful parks pass gets you and a carload of friends into 2,000+ federal recreation sites—for just $80 bucks! Just having it in our glovebox has prompted the best detours. (We’ve seen 10 national parks on this year’s pass alone, saving over $300 and creating countless memories.) Have someone over 62 on your list? They get a lifetime pass for the same price! To make it official, purchase the pass under your name and it will come with two blank signature lines for use by the gift recipient. Inspire exploration, promote conservation, and earn shotgun on their next road trip.
A Better Travel Towel
Hotels and Airbnbs rarely offer towels that you can take to the beach, waterfall, or mountaintop picnic spot. And you wouldn’t even want to carry that bulky terrycloth for the day–much less haul one on a week-long trip. Packing your own compact, quick-dry microfiber towel makes a ton of sense–from a space, time, and hygiene standpoint. We’ve always carried one, but we’ll admit it was less than stylish–until now. Our friends Travis and Heather, of the savvy blog Extra Pack of Peanuts and the most fun travel conference Camp Indie, introduced us to DryFox designs. They come in fun (reversible!) patterns and have a built-in pocket to store your cash and keys while you’re swimming. At 60″x30″ these extra soft towels completely cover your body, but only weigh 8 oz. Toss one in your luggage and keep one in your car for impromptu adventures.
E-bikes for The Win
E-bikes are a game-changer. You can be nearly any age or fitness level and still have the stamina for an all-day ride, no matter if it’s on a 20-mile beach path or up a mountain trail. We rented Rad Power Electric Fat Bikes to cruise up the coast of San Luis Obispo County and after feeling how powerful and zippy they were, we wanted to see if it could make it up the steep dirt trails to Ontario Ridge. As if we were pedaling down easy street, we sped up to the peak with 750W of power and had a blast without breaking a sweat. And the craziest part was that Anne’s e-bike was foldable. The RadMini packs down to 43″ x 22″ x 28″ so you can store it in your closet or keep it in your car trunk. While we can fully vouch for Rad Power Bikes, we understand it’s a little pricey, so you can also check out this comparable option that gets great reviews on Amazon.
The Secrets of Nomad Living
In this new memoir, our friend and consummate traveler, Nomadic Matt shares his decade-long journey. More than the places he’s been, it offers lessons only long-term travel can teach us about the world and ourselves. We’ve known Matt since 2011 and have seen his incredible rise as an travel media star and were impressed not just with the quality of his writing, but his brutal honesty. Ten Years a Nomad reminds us that vulnerability takes bravery and success starts with the risks we take.
The Stuffable, Lovable Jacket
Packing light and packing for the cold are generally at odds, unless you can find that perfectly toasty and space-saving jacket. Our intrepid explorer buddy Marielena of Epic 7 Travel swears by her Arc’teyrx Cerium LT Hoody Down Jacket－it’s kept her warm and dry everywhere from Canada to New Zealand. Their products are top of the line and offer a lifetime guarantee to back it up, plus stellar customer service (she had a friend return an Arc’teyrx jacket after nine years of use and they sent her a brand new one.)
Global Coffee of the Month Club
Who doesn’t love a good cup o’ coffee…especially when it’s got a story to tell. We were reading Two Drifter’s travel gift guide, and we totally gravitated to the Atlas Coffee Club. Each box arrives as a gorgeous gift with some of the world’s best single origin coffee, plus tasting notes, brewing tips, and a postcard from said country…be it Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, or other rich-soil locales. Do you like a certain strength? Prefer whole bean or pre-ground? Choose your preferences, this Joe is sure to please.
Inflatable Solar Lanterns
We already loved our Luci inflatable solar light but its virtues were completely affirmed when our friends at Divergent Travelers (who don’t travel with a RV) said, “My Luci inflatable solar light goes everywhere I travel. We have used it in our tents while camping, on picnic tables while enjoying a nice summer night and to light up pathways.” No batteries needed and made of tough waterproof material, it’s charged by the sun and creates an inviting light that lasts for hours—be it for an emergency or ambiance.
The Traveler’s Card Game
Every traveler has great stories, all you need to do is ask. Spark up lively, thought-provoking, and hysterical conversations with the Travel Banter card game. Designed by our clever friend Nicolette, these 98 questions are printed on the back of gorgeous travel photographs with topics that run the gamut…Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, Life & Lessons, People, and Culture. We played with my mom over Thanksgiving and we reminisced about past vacations, shared untold stories, and even learned new things about each other. This compact deck is the perfect stocking stuffer and great trick up your sleeve for long car rides, family reunions, solo trips, and unforgettable nights.
Carry-on Approved Multi-Tool
When MacGyver goes carry-on he brings the Leatherman Style PS! At just two ounces, this TSA approved multi-tool packs in spring-action needle-nose and regular pliers, wire cutters, scissors (which double as a small knife, just don’t tell TSA;), flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers, tweezers, a nail file, carabiner, and a bottle opener. We’ve had ours for years and it has a 25-year warranty, so it’ll keep on giving.
You’ve probably heard us geek out over the Steripen. Why? Because it has allowed us to completely kick single-use plastic water bottles (our last one was February 2012). With this compact UV-light purifier, we quickly sterilize any H20 (be it from the Amazon river or a faucet in a Cambodian bus station). Our favorite model is the Ultra Light, which can treat 20 liters of water on a single USB charge. Make sure your favorite traveler always has clean drinking water and empower them to protect the planet from single-use plastic.
Road Trip Sidekick
Whether in our camper or a rental car in a foreign county, we always bring this mount. A thin metal square sits in your phone case (or sticks to the back) and the circular magnet clips onto the air vent. It doesn’t clutter your dashboard or windshield, there’s no adjustable plastic thing to fumble with, and you can release your phone with one hand. Hop in a rental car and instantly set up your GPS, music, and hands-free phone.
Nuture Curious Minds
For my first trip to Europe, my dad gave me a travel journal and it changed the way I looked at the world. When we saw this interactive journal on one of our favorite family travel blogs, we had to include it! More than blank pages, this diary offers maps, games, language tips, quizzes, and prompts to spark a kid’s memory and imagination. The founders of yTravel blog, Caz and Craig, gave it to their 9-year-old daughter and say she loves to write or draw illustrations about her daily experiences on the road; plus, it’s helped her become more a part of their planning process. Encourage your little explorer to journal their adventures and see where it takes them!
We met the guys at Unbound Merino at TravelCon last year and loved their passion for travel and quality gear. Our feeling was echoed when our friends behind the sustainable travel blog, Drink Tea & Travel said, “Their clothes are not made to be disposable, they last longer, need to be washed less and are perfect for just about any travel occasion.” The blog’s co-founder Max has worn his Unbound boxers, socks, t-shirt, and zip-up merino hoodie in warm and cold climates, urban settings, and remote outdoor destinations and thanks to the unique properties of Unbound Merino, “he’s been able to wear them for days without washing.” As minimalists and environmentalists ourselves, we can completely get on board with Unbound’s organic biodegradable merino wool and commitment to reducing consumption.
The Non-Profit That Keeps Giving
As a microfinance non-profit serving 77 countries, Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” We just made our 31st loan (yes, these aren’t donations, every amount we’ve leant has been paid back so far, and the entire org has a 96.7% repayment rate). Celebrate Giving Tuesday by sharing Kiva with your loved ones and changing lives together! Your gift recipient gets to choose who and what causes to support (education, environment, arts, women, etc.).
For The Lovebirds
With our best global travel tips and 75 favorite destinations from our first five years on the road, this Nat Geo book still makes us proud. Especially when the AP puts it in their top 10 “Travel Books to Inspire Trips or Give as Gifts” or Forbes.com says, “This lively, engaging travelogue is pumped with invigorating ideas and advice galore” or in the wise words of BuzzFeed it’s “the perfect holiday gift to get the dude you like a lot.” Not to mention, it’s consistently in the top five Amazon Bestsellers for “Travelogues,” next to our author heroes, Bill Bryson, Johh Krakauer, and Cheryl Strayed, plus it almost always ranks #1 in Amazon’s “honeymoon travel” category. So we have a good feeling that your partner or that cute couple in your life will like it too. Pick up a copy on Amazon or we’d love to sign you a book through the HoneyTrek shop.
Trip Protection Hero
You may not get the coolest husband or mom award for this gift, but if anything goes wrong on your next trip, you’re gonna reach hero status…like when your flight gets delayed and you take everyone out for a gourmet dinner (because Allianz Travel is sending you a check for $300) or when your bags get lost en route to Paris and you receive $1,000 to get a new wardrobe. We’ve had the AllTrips Premier Plan since 2015, so whenever we travel we’re automatically covered for emergency medical care, trip delays, cancellations, lost luggage, trip interruption, rental car damage, and lots more. If you take more than two flights per year, it’s time to stop rolling the dice and get some “set-it-and-forget-it” travel insurance. #TravelHappy
Who likes the taste of French-press coffee but doesn’t like that it gets cold so quickly? Who’s a solo coffee drinker in the household and doesn’t want to make a whole pot or resort to those wasteful plastic pods? Who lives in a 1985 camper run on solar panels too weak to plug in a coffee maker? OK, maybe the last one is just me, but I have the answer for us all…The Presse by Bobble! It’s an insulated coffee mug with a built-in French Press. I just add grounds, pour hot water, hop in the front seat, and press it down at the first stop light. No waiting around, no transfer of liquid, and always hot coffee. Now there are a few of these on the market, but I particularly like that the Presse doesn’t have a plunger handle that pokes you in the nose when you take a sip and it’s got a lid plug to keep it from overflowing on bumpy roads. I had an AeroPress, which many VanLifers swear by, but when this baby arrived, I never looked back.
With limited storage space and a love of outdoor recreation, we don’t do rollie bags anymore. It’s all about duffel bags, particularly those that double as a backpack for easy maneuvering. Our intreprid buddy Angel The Travel Ambassador has taken his Eagle Creek Migrate Duffel all over the world and ranks it as his “go-to.” Made of recycled car windshields, it’s super durable, water-proof, and eco-friendly. Eagle Creek is one of our favorite outdoor brands for their adventure-tested designs and “No Matter What” lifetime warranty. We’re also fans of their Load Hauler Duffel if you’re looking for something a little bigger.
The Keys to RVing
When embarking on a multi-month adventure, nothing beats having a mentor who’s been there and done that. That’s why we started Trip Coach for prospective long-term travelers and why our friends at RV Love launched RV Success School. In their various courses, they tackle all the fears and questions to help you (or your favorite road tripper) create a plan, budget, and vision for your RV lifestyle. Their courses combine videos with written lessons, quizzes, and a workbook to put your learning into practice with recommended action steps. As fellow RVers and coaches, we can wholeheartedly say they know their stuff. If you aren’t ready for a course and just want to dabble with the idea of RVing, check out their book Living The RV Life, it will rev your engine no matter where you are in the process.
The Super Tent
Designed by Burning Man veterans who understand what it’s like to camp in the dusty, freezing cold, and blazing hot “Playa,” Christian Weber and the SHIFTPOD team came up with the ultimate shelter. Made of a high-tech, seven-layer fabric that insulates from heat/cold/wind/dust/rain/sun, this spacious pole-free tent is super easy to set up (like under 30 seconds), plus, it’s portable and stylish enough for even the most discerning camper. Read our full review over here!
We’ve seen compression socks on a lot of travel gift guides and didn’t think much of it until our friend Sherry of Ottsworld said, “This is a travel gift idea that can save someone’s life…I had a very big scare recently with blood clots that formed during a long haul flight. Ever since I made it through that experience, I have been a huge advocate of wearing compression socks on any flight over 3 hours.” If you can give something cute and cozy that also reduces the risk of a life-threatening condition, then that’s a heck of a gift. Get a few pairs using the discount code SHERRY15 for 15% off through December 31.
Happy Holidays everyone! We appreciate you checking out our travel gift guide and shopping through the links we provided. These affiliate links support our work and help keep HoneyTrek going without any extra cost to you. Cheers to a wonderful holiday season and more adventures in the new year!