With any luck, 2021 will bring the safe reopening of borders and allow travel-deprived globetrotters to embark on their next vacation. Now that the holidays are upon us, you’re likely making your list and checking it twice. To help you find the perfect present for the traveler in your life, U.S. News found the best travel gifts on the market. Grandma, Fido and everyone in between will be happy with something from this list.
The Top Travel Gifts:
Homesick Road Trip Candle
Homesick is often lauded for its scented candles that remind customers of states, cities and countries. And while those are great holiday picks, particularly for a loved one who may have just moved away from home, the company’s Road Trip candle is ideal for true wanderers. Fragrance notes include lime and leather with hints of fresh air and jasmine – which travelers say smell exactly like the open road. Each candle is made from soy wax and cotton wicks; it’ll burn for up to 80 hours. It starts at $34.
Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle
Water is a necessity during travel, but carrying a huge water bottle can be cumbersome and purchasing disposable water bottles throughout a trip can really add up (not to mention, it’s bad for the planet). Save some coin with Hydaway’s collapsible water bottle. At full expansion, the small bottle holds 17 ounces of liquid while the large bottle holds 25 ounces. When empty, it collapses down to a 1 ½-inch disc that can easily be stashed in your pocket or bag. It comes with a spout lid as well as a carrying case. Bottle colors include yellow, blue, green and an ocean wave pattern, among others. Reviewers love the bottle and its portability. Prices start at $34.94 for the set with the small bottle and $39.95 for the set with the large bottle.
Parents say this travel cot from phil&teds is their favorite for its portability: It weighs 7 pounds and compresses down to about 2 feet long and 8 inches wide. The mesh crib also comes with a small, insulated mattress and a fitted sheet, and is equipped with a side panel that zips opens for playtime. Parents appreciate the crib’s portability, citing is as a perfect cot to take on vacation. Though the manufacturer says the crib works for children up to 3 years, parents often said the crib was too small for their toddlers. The crib costs around $200.
SublimeWare Power Plug Adapter – International Travel
According to the company, this plug adapter works in more than 150 countries and fits plugs in the United States, Europe and Asia. It features four USB ports to charge smartphones, headsets, extra batteries and other devices at the same time. Travelers are complimentary of the device, saying they’ve used it across the globe, as well as in their U.S. homes, with success. The device comes in multiple colors including pink, gray and teal. It costs around $15, but the price can vary based on which color you choose.
by Humankind Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is a must-have travel accessory. For an eco-friendly alternative, try by Humankind’s variety. The gel hand sanitizer is formulated with 65% alcohol to comply with the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it also has hyaluronic acid to keep hands soft. Three aluminum bottles that hold a little more than 2 ounces each are included in each pack; larger bottles to refill the travel sizes are also available. Plus, the reusable pump cap can be used from one bottle to the next. Reviewers generally like this company’s products, but say the customer service is sometimes lackluster. The hand sanitizer comes in both grapefruit and eucalyptus scents as well as an unscented variety. The three-pack of sanitizers costs $14; pumps cost an additional $1.
(Courtesy of Toadfish Outfitters)
Toadfish Non-Tipping Can Cooler
Thrill-seekers who prefer vacations on high-speed boats, parents taking their kids to hotel pools and a variety of other travelers will benefit from Toadfish’s koozie. The Non-Tipping Can Cooler features the company’s SmartGrip technology (a souped-up suction cup) that keeps the koozie and the beverage upright on smooth surfaces, even on boats and car dashboards or when it’s knocked by wayward elbows. Reviewers, particularly boaters, rave about the product, regularly reporting that their family owns multiple coolers. Koozies start at $24 and come in colors like teal, orange and red. The standard can cooler holds 12-ounce cans and comes with an adapter to fit slim cans.
Jet-setters agree: Trtl’s travel pillow is one of the best on the market. The pillow features an internal support that cradles the wearer’s neck (either at the back or the side) or under the chin, depending on how it’s worn. It also features a wrap that allows the pillow to fit securely in place. The machine-washable fleece cover provides extra padding and support. Trtl’s flagship product is compact and weighs half a pound. The pillow comes in black, coral and teal, among other colors. Prices start at $24 and vary depending on color choice.
Watching shows and movies on a smartphone or tablet while traveling is becoming commonplace, whether adventurers are in their hotel rooms, in the air or on the road. The Flex Flap seeks to make viewing easier with its innovative, travel-friendly product, coming in at 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. The aluminum core is covered in leather and is completely moldable to prop up any device in multiple scenarios. It’s decorated with cameras, suitcases, airplanes and other travel-related imagery. Reviewers praise the product, saying it’s perfect for both cellphones and tablets. The Flex Flap costs around $20.
SCOTTeVEST Essential Jacket 2.0
If your globetrotter prefers exploring with as little luggage as possible, this could be the perfect gift. SCOTTeVEST’s essential jacket boasts 24 pockets – yes, you read that right – that fit everything from glasses to smartphones to tablets. The jacket can become a vest thanks to zip off sleeves. Both men and women rave about the jacket, calling out its craftsmanship and storage. Jackets come in beige or black and are available in both men’s and women’s sizes. Prices start at $224.
(Courtesy of Peter Pauper Press)
Junior globetrotters will jump at the chance to record memories of their latest family trip with Peter Pauper Press’ travel journal. The 96-page book not only includes pages and prompts for children to write down the trip’s events, but it also has activities like puzzles and blank spaces to paste ticket stubs and maps. Parents say their kids really enjoyed keeping the journal during vacation. The book is recommended for kids ages 7 to 12. It costs $12.99.
Despite its name, Matador’s blanket doesn’t go overtop a person’s lap: it goes underneath them when they need a break during a hike or want to sit in a park for a picnic. The blanket is 63 inches long and 44 inches wide, which Matador says can fit up to four adults. It has weighted corners to prevent flapping on windy days, plus built-in stakes for extra security. The ripstop nylon is puncture- and water-resistant. Additionally, the blanket weighs a little less than 4 ounces and folds down to fit in your palm. Reviewers rave about the blanket’s portability, but warn that the material isn’t padded so you may get poked by rocks or feel the ground’s chill. Blankets come in black, green or red and cost $30.
Don’t forget about your canine best friend while doing your holiday shopping. Whether you take your pup on a long hike or to a dog-friendly beach, you’ll want to have some water for them. PETKIT’s water bottle provides a compact solution. The bottle’s cap doubles as a water bowl for your pet and its button allows you to control the flow of the water. As an added bonus, it has a built-in coconut fiber water filter (which helps strip impurities and residual chlorine from water). Pet owners say the bottle is great to have, though a few said their bottle leaked occasionally. Bottles come in a 400 milliliter size in blue, green or white. It costs $12.99.
Scrubba Portable Wash Bag
Ideal for washing often-used garments like underwear, socks and base layers, Scrubba’s portable wash bag is a boon for those who like to travel light or for campers on dayslong outings. To clean clothes, simply add water and liquid detergent to the bag, seal it up and rub it from the outside to create washing machine-like agitation. Inside, there are tiny scrubbers to help clean the clothes. Travelers generally give the product positive reviews, though some say the bags can leak. They also note the bag can only accommodate small loads. When rolled out, the bag is approximatley a foot wide and 2 feet long; however, it folds up to palm-size for easy portability. The Scrubba costs around $55; prices vary slightly depending on which color you select. Options are black, green and khaki.
(Courtesy of The Wordy Traveler)
Subscription boxes come in all shapes and sizes to suit every taste, so it’s no wonder that there’s one dedicated to travel junkies. The Wordy Traveler is designed for book-loving globetrotters. Each quarterly box focuses on one destination and contains one or three books, ethically sourced tea, an art print and other goodies. When you purchase, you can select whether the recipient will get one book (the Backpacking Edition) or three books (the Full Suitcase) and whether those titles will be fiction or nonfiction. Bibliophiles love their boxes, particularly the extra trinkets included in each package. The cost varies depending on the subscription edition you select as well as the subscription length. Prices start at $49.99 for a single quarter Backpacking Edition and go up to $593.99 for an 18-month Full Suitcase subscription.
Sunski’s sunglasses are made from recycled plastic and are so lightweight that wearers say they hardly feel them on their face. The brand’s Topeka shades are part of its Sport collection. The unisex style has wide frames for maximum coverage, a slight curvature to better fit your face and nose pads to ensure the glasses stay put. Plus, lenses are polarized. Reviewers not only praise the frame’s style, but also appreciate their function, saying they’re great for everyday activities, as well as biking and running. The glasses are available in three different colors and all have a lifetime warranty. They cost $68.
Kindle Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Parents of travelers-in-training appreciate the variety of content available on Amazon’s latest iteration of its Fire HD tablet. The tablet is a fully functioning Fire HD 8, but comes with a sturdy case in pink, blue or purple. Through Amazon Kids, parents can control what their children interact with on the web, provide access to top apps like Netflix and set time limits. Parents like the tablets for their children, saying the devices are easy to use and their kids love them. They also appreciate updates to the case, which includes a kickstand for easy video viewing. One drawback? To access a full range of precurated content – think games, videos and books – you’ll have to purchase Amazon Kids+ for $2.99 per month. The tablet costs $139.99 and comes with a free year of Amazon Kids+.
HiBar Solid Shampoo Bar and Solid Conditioner Bar
Shampoo and conditioner bars are not only eco-friendly, but also help travelers circumvent the TSA’s pesky 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage. HiBar is just one of many companies that produces the nifty little bars. Its bars are available in three different formulas: “Maintain” for normal hair, “Moisturize” for dry hair and “Volumize” for hair that needs extra body. Reviewers say the bars smell wonderful and work well for their hair type. An added bonus? The bars last for months, according to customers (though this may vary depending on the length and thickness of the user’s hair). Each set costs $26.50.
(Courtesy of Bellroy)
Bellroy is a Certified B Corporation that uses environmentally friendly materials. Its Tech Kit Compact is no exception. The stylish tech case features a soft, recycled body fabric that’s water-resistant. Inside, you’ll find compartments for a wireless mouse and a power bank as well as elastic loops to corral charging cords or headphones. It also zips closed to ensure nothing will slip out in transit. Reviewers are pleased with their purchases, saying the kit has both style and substance. The kit starts at $55 and is available in a variety of colors, including blue and black.
Teamoy Travel Hanging Wet Dry Bag Organizer
Parents with infants in cloth diapers, beachgoers and frequent travelers alike appreciate this bag’s ability to hold their dirty and damp garments. The bag has two different compartments to keep dirty and clean items separate. It’s also got handles to hang on a doorknob or hook. There are two different sizes to choose from: 10 inches by 6 inches or 24 inches by 18 inches. When travelers return home to do laundry, they can throw this bag right in the washer. The manufacturer notes that the fabric is water-resistant, meaning it’s not designed to hold sopping items. The laundry bag comes in a variety of patterns including arrows, stripes and chevron. The medium bag costs around $10, while the large bag runs around $15.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set
Believe the hype: Packing cubes are a life-changing travel accessory. Backpackers in particular praise this Eagle Creek set for the cubes’ lightweight construction and the ease with which they help travelers to organize. Travelers trying to pack suitcases, however, wish the cubes were a bit bigger. The Specter set comes with three different sized cubes (extra small, small and medium) each with a zip closure. The ripstop material is water-resistant and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Each set costs around $35, but prices may vary slightly depending on the color selected.
Yogasleep Rohm Portable White Noise Machine
This travel-size white noise machine may be a good buy for globetrotters who have trouble sleeping in new places. The device is small – just 3 ½ inches – but it’s mighty. It reaches up to 85 decibels: the same noise level as city traffic from inside a car. Choose from two different levels of white noise or the sound of ocean waves. It’s rechargeable via an included USB cord; the manufacturer says one charge will last all night. Overall, owners say the machine works well and love the portability, but some say they found the sounds a little irritating and the construction unreliable. Machines cost around $30, but you can spend a bit extra to receive an accompanying travel case.
(Courtesy of spAIRtray)
Flyers who prefer the window seat say that the spAIRtray helps maximize seat space and comfort, especially on long flights. The tray slots into the shade track on an airplane’s window and folds out to provide an extra shelf for your phone, drink or other items. It’s 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. It folds for easy storage and comes with a carrying pouch. Though convenient, some travelers caution that certain airlines would not allow them to use the device and that it may not fit all aircraft’s windows. The spAIRtray starts at $25.
Portable Non-Contact Door Opener
Traveling during and after the coronavirus pandemic will require taking extra precautions. This key-shaped device allows users to open doors, sign electronic pads, push buttons and more without directly interacting with those high-touch surfaces. There’s also a large ring to slip your finger through to have a secure grip on the opener. Reviewers say the opener works well and were particularly impressed with the stylus tip at the end of the key. The openers come in four packs and include gold, rose gold, black and silver colorways. Each pack costs $10.99 and includes four additional rubber tips, as well as a black velvet carrying pouch.
Super Silly Mad Libs Junior
For years, Mad Libs has been an ideal way for families to pass the time during long road trips. This kid-centered version is no exception. The book, ideal for youngsters ages 5 to 8, provides Mad Libs’ classic fill-in-the-blank stories as well as a word bank for nouns, verbs and adjectives. Parents say their kiddos loved the book and that it helped to improve the kids’ handwriting and ability to identify parts of speech. The paperback book costs $5.99.
No matter what kind of smartphone you use, this power bank has you covered. It has attached micro USB, lightning and USB C cords as well as an integrated AC plug, which means you won’t need to worry about carrying additional cords or adapters. There’s also a traditional USB port on the device to plug in other cables. Reviewers agree that this is a convenient device to have to recharge while out and about. Others say the product is a bit heavy, given it’s 6 inches by 3 inches. The charger starts at $60.