Holiday Gift GuideTravel 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 the first-ever HoneyTrek Travel Gift Guide, we scoured our 7-year-long packing list 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!

A Better Travel Towel

best travel giftsHotels 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 friend Travis of the incredible mileage hacking blog, Extra Pack of Peanuts, introduced us to Dryfox’s new design. 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 or keep it in your car for impromptu adventures.

Stay high and dry

The Be-All-End-All Tote Bag

Travel Gift Guide EnvirosakOh, this may look like just another tote bag but the Evironsax has been a secret weapon of our packing strategy since 2012. It was actually given to us as a going-away present from our friend Sarah, and we still call it the “Sarah Bag” (if you called yours the “HoneyTrek Bag” we’d take that as a serious compliment). Of course, it’s great for groceries and is estimated to replace over 5,000 single-use plastic bags over its lifetime, but it’s also the ultimate overflow bag. While packing down to 1.4 ounces, it expands to fit an entire load of laundry, that awkward-shaped souvenir, or become a beach bag full of the day’s supplies. We’ve pushed this thing to the limit and we’re only on our second bag in seven years!

Pick your pattern

Stylish Strap

top travel gifts
It’s funny that no one thinks to swap their stock camera strap, boring black and emblazoned with manufacutuer logos, for something more attractive. (We’re guilty too!). Now that our buds at Bobo & Chichi tipped us off to Arion’s handsome herringbone design with anti-slip surface, I know what’s going in Mike’s stocking this year.

Ready to roll

10 Years A Nomad

Our friend and consummate traveler, Nomadic Matt has a new book out. 10 Years A Nomad is part memoir and part philosophical look at why we travel, filled with stories of Matt’s adventures abroad, an exploration of wanderlust and what it truly means to be a nomad.

Grab a copy

The Answer to Disposable Water Bottles

How does SteriPEN workYou’ve probably heard us geek out over the SteriPEN. Why? It’s allowed us to kick single-use plastic water bottles ever since Feb 2012. With this compact UV-light purifier, we can 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 before you need to recharge it via USB. Make sure your favorite traveler always has clean drinking water and empower them to protect the planet from single-use plastic.

Bye-bye plastic waste!

Carry-on Approved Multi-Tool

TSA Compliant LeathermanWhen MacGyver goes carry-on only he brings the Leatherman Style PS! At just two ounces, this TSA approved multi-tool packs in spring-action needlenose and regular pliers, wire cutters, scissors (which double as a small knife, just don’t tell TSA;), flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers, tweezers, nail file, and combination carabiner and bottle opener. We’ve had ours for years and it has a 25-year warranty, so it’ll keep giving.

MacGyver me

Give Someone a Chance

What is KivaAs a microfinance non-profit serving 80 countries, Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” We just made our 30th loan (yes, these aren’t donations, every amount we’ve leant has been paid back so far, and the entire org has a 96.9% repayment rate). Celebrate Giving Tuesday by sharing Kiva with your loved ones and changing lives together! Through Nov. 27, when you buy $50 in Kiva Cards to give as gifts, Kiva will give you a $25 bonus to make your own loan. Your gift recipients get to choose who and what causes to support (education, environment, arts women, etc.) and you choose which to support with your bonus!

Help a stranger

Jumpstart Your Road Trip

Living the RV Life BookEver taken an RV road trip and thought, I could get used to this? That’s what happened to us after a campervan journey around New Zealand and now we’re proud owners of a 1985 Toyota Camper. Both us and fellow vanlife bloggers Explorist wish we had a copy of Living the RV Life before we set out of on our own multi-year journeys. Full of inspirational and practical information, this book, written by the savvy Marc and Julie from RV Love, is a must-read for anyone looking to live on the road—be it for a summer or years to come.

Hit the road!

Stealthy Safe

For our first two years around the world, we carried a huge PacSafe, a wire net we wrapped around our backpack and locked to a fixed object for safe keeping. It offered excellent peace of mind while we abandoned our bags for a glacier hike in Patagonia or when we stored them at a cafe while we motorbiked Siquijor Island, Philippines, but it was too heavy to schlep everywhere. Adventurous Kate, a friend and blogger who specializes in solo female travel, takes a lot of pride in recommending products to make her readers feel safer on the road. Her pick is the sleek 1.25lb version of our old clunker, and something she says, is her “#1 item that I recommend to travelers.” This steel-wire-lined bag doubles as an in-room or on-the-go safe. Plus it slips into a backpack and provides extra padding for your laptop.

Stay secure

The Keys to Free Lodging

Housesitting is one of the greatest skills we’ve honed to access free lodging and immersive local experiences around the world. More and more people are catching on to this ingenious travel method, making it very competitive to land the “good gigs.” Learn how to crack this nut from the housesitting gurus and our dear friends Nat & Jodie who founded the House Sitting Academy. If you’ve considered becoming location independent or just want to find a way to spend three weeks at a chateau in the south of France for $0, then this is the time to dive in. A lifetime membership gives you weekly live masterminds, a private referral network for secret sits, training, and support for every step of your international housesitting journey. And if you snag it before Monday night (11/26), they’ll throw in the following for free: Roaming Income Membership, Affiliate Marketing Masterclass, and House Sitting Summit videos with wisdom from 60+ international housesitters (ourselves included).

Gimme free lodging

Get a Bird’s Eye View

DJI Mavic 2 ProHaving a drone has elevated not just our coverage of a region but our understanding of it. If we’re debating a hike or a kayak in a remote area, we’ll send the drone up to scout it out. When 1,000 beluga whales are swimming up the Cunningham River, we’re gonna need some aerial footage. That said, it’s a pricey item that needs some practice to make it worth your while. If you’re looking to dabble in drone photography, grab yourself the highly portable and totally capable DJI Spark for $434. If you want a big upgrade in footage and features without the Mavic Pro price tag, our friends Heather & John at Roaming Around the World suggest you step up to the Mavic Air ($655 this week). If you are going to use the footage on your blog or are a discerning photographer, spend the extra grand and get the brand-new Mavic 2 Pro. With a Hasselblad camera mounted on the front, the images and videos are heads are straight incredible. Just pull the trigger, watch the amazing footage roll in or send it straight to Facebook Live or Instagram TV. That’s a wrap!

Fly like a bird

Shoes to Walk the World

World Map ShoesThe crew over at Conquest Maps knows a thing or two about geography-inspired design, and while you should definitely check out their pin boards, framed art, and decals, we love their gift-guide pick from Bucketfeet. A Brooklyn-based watercolorist designed these cool slip-on shoes with continents spread across the tops. Being predominantly white and splashed with a rainbow of colors, they’ll go with any travel outfit and be comfy enough for global adventures.

I would walk 5,000 miles

Road Trip Sidekick

Cell phone holder carWhether 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.

Get 1 Give 1

Trip Protection

Allianz AmbassadorsYou 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 is sending you a check for $300) or when your bags get lost en route to Aspen and you recieve $2,000 to replace your stuff. We’ve had the AllTrips Annual Premier Plan since 2015 so whenever we travel, we are 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 year-round insurance.


Double Duty Travel Adapter

Multi plug travel adapterAn plug adapter is essential for anyone traveling abroad, but we always felt it should be charging more than one device at a time. While we pair ours with a Belkin power strip, Kristin and Tom of Travel Past 50 say this adaptor with USB and Type-C ports is “our new fave item in the electronics bag!” Juice up your computer, Go Pro, tablet…and your friend’s phone too!

Charge me up

City & Summit Trekking Pants

best travel giftsMost bloggers go on treks, but Dan and Audrey of Uncornered Market have hiked the Balkan peaks (125 miles), Camino de Santiago (600 miles), and many more outdoor adventures in these very pants! “And, they still are in good shape even after five years of use,” says Audrey. “We really like all the pockets and zippers that keep our valuables (e.g. smartphone, wallet, passport, keys) safe and secure whether we’re on a mountain trail or a city street.” Plus, Clothing Arts’ Pick-Pocket Proof travel pants have stretch fabric, UPF 50+, and are actually attractive enough to wear in public (unlike those “I’m a tourist” zip-off pants)

Fort Knox pants

The Best Point-n-Shoot Money Can Buy

Best Point and shoot cameraWhenever we need camera advice, we go to our friends Dave and Deb of The Planet D. They are award-winning photographers but they’re also adventurers who know a camera needs to be practical on the go. “We love this Sony. It’s small, lightweight, and easy to use,” says Deb. “We often leave the bulky DSLRs behind for the day and use this as our camera to capture amazing travel photos.” It’s got a Carl Zeiss lens and 20.1 mega pixels so images look pro without the heft.

Say cheese

Airplane Pockets

Airplane pocketYou can picture the scene, you’re waiting to get to your seat on the plane and there are 100 eager beavers behind you. You’ve got 30 seconds to situate before that huge guy comes barreling past. But you’re not stressed, you’ve already pre-organized your flight essentials with this great recommendation from family travel blogger, Eric Stoen of Travel Babbo. “The cover slips over your airplane tray and gives you pockets for all of your things – iPad, Kindle, headphones, pencils/crayons, magic wands, stuffed animals, etc. Then when you arrive you simply take the entire thing off and slip it into your bag…without the risk of leaving something behind in the plane’s seatback pocket.”

Get organized

The Ultimate Shelter

What is a shiftpodDesigned 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 in under 30 seconds), plus, it’s portable and stylish enough for even the most discerning camper.

Get yours here

A Portable Party

Sony Portable Speaker“I love this thing,” says Matt from Expert Vagabond. After trying a slew of portable speakers over his eight years on the road, he can honestly say, “This Sony simply has the best sound quality for its size, and the battery lasts 12 hours! It’s easy to watch movies with other people on your laptop, throw an impromptu hostel party, or play your favorite songs on the beach.” It packs 10 watts of amplification into a super portable 3.4″ x 4.3″ cube.

Let’s rock

An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders

“If you really want to get off the beaten path, this is the book for you. Jam-packed with sights all over the world that are quirky, curious or just downright odd (such as Carhenge in Nebraska), Atlas Obscura will have you pining to hit the road for all sorts of parts unknown or unexplained,” say our friends Larissa & Michael from Changes In Longitude.

Get readin’

Travel with Love

Best Gift for Couple who loves travelOf course, we think you’ll love our couples travel book, with our best tips and 75 favorite destinations, but that might sound better coming from someone other than the authors…like, the AP who put it in their top 10 “Travel Books to Inspire Trips or Give as Gifts” or who said, “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.” We’re also quite proud it recently cracked the top five Amazon Bestsellers in all of “Travel Writing,” next to our author heroes, Bill Bryson, Johh Krakauer, and John Steinbeck! So we have a good feeling that you’ll like it too. Pick up a copy on Amazon or we’d love to sign you a book through the HoneyTrek shop.

Get 35% off

** This gift guide contains affiliate links. These support our work and help keep HoneyTrek going without any extra cost to you. Thanks for holiday shopping with us! **

19 thoughts on “Top Travel Gifts from 18 World Explorers

  • November 23, 2018 at 1:03 am

    Wow! This is such a great gift guide! That travel adapter would be SO handy! I need one! I cannot wait to travel again 🙂

    • November 23, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Yeah, we thought the same thing about that adapter…since we usually use an adapter then another device so we can charge our phone and tablet. NO MORE, hahaah. Glad you enjoyed the gift guide! See you on the road 🚗 🙂

  • November 23, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Thank you so so much for the awesome post! I wanna buy them allllll!!! I am a frequent traveler, and these gadgets are amazing and look very very handy. Super interested in the Sony point and shoot, will check it for sure. Thanks for sharing.
    – Chad

    • November 23, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Thanks so much, Chad. We spent a lot of time researching things that were truly valuable to our traveler friends. Definitely, a few on here we need to buy for ourselves this Christmas, lol!

  • November 23, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    The airplane pocket to slip on the back of the seat in front and hold everything is genius!!!! That would come in super handy for all of the things my children will need during our upcoming flights to Mexico! I’ll definitely need to pick up a few!

    • November 23, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Tell me about it. I am going to get this gift for my sister-in law. I have heard too many stories of people leaving ipads and game systems (and favorite toys) in those seat back pockets. Worth their weight in gold for that reason alone 🙂

  • November 23, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Some great travel items here, some of my favourites are the camera strap, towel and the tote bag. Fabulous when you travel overseas or when you go backpacking.

    • November 23, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks for checking it out. Yeah, I am totally getting that camera strap and that towel (love the reversible patterns). And we already own that bag!!!! Woot Woot!

  • November 23, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Great stuff on here! Definitely found a few new Christmas gift ideas…

    • November 23, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      Love it Daisy! Glad you found a few new ideas in there. Definitely found a few ourselves while building this list. Why does Xmas have to be so far away this year? Hhahahha.

    • November 23, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      I know that quick dry towel has already been ordered. Love that pattern, our current one is just blah blue, and getting a bit worn!

  • November 23, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Awesome, list guys! We’ll admit, your personal recommendation of the Steripen Ultra was so valuable to us over the last year. We’ve been traveling with ours ever since and now we too, recommend it to everyone! We’ve saved ourselves from having to buy hundreds of plastic bottles!

    • November 24, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel guys. It is not always easy to skip the free bottle of water on the bus or hotel, but we have literally done it EVERY single time…and to know that our actions and choices are inspiring other travelers to kick the single-use plastic water bottles makes it TOOOOOOTALLY worth it. Huge love to you both…especially for inspiring others to do the same!!!

  • November 24, 2018 at 10:55 am

    This is a great list – hard to choose a favorite gift but I think power adapter and Matt’s Sony speaker might find their way onto my wishlist!

    • November 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Thanks so much Rachel. Yeah, we have a “portable” speaker but it’s so big and clunky and only lasts a few hours on a charge…so I think we might be getting one of those Sony speakers as well.

  • November 27, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    I enjoy reading gift guides, but I especially loved reading this one because you included picks from so many of my favorite bloggers! And of course you should not be shy about including your Ultimate Journeys for Two, after all, if Forbes /BuzzFeed/ Amazon (along with the entire travel blogger community) are all raving about it, you need to remember that you’re doing travelers a FAVOR by letting people know what a kick as book it is.

    What will make a better gift; a pretty gold necklace, or a magical book that inspires people to finally take that trip they’ve been drying to take for years? Your book will have a powerful, life altering effect on people, so shout it from the rooftops!

    • November 27, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      Loved hearing all the traveler’s favorite picks for products that are worth their weight on the road. I’d take travel over jewelry any day.


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