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It's been said that traveling is the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer. But as far as spending money on the traveler in your life... that can be tricky. It's difficult to know exactly what your favorite wanderluster wants, needs, or already has.
Maybe your favorite travel enthusiast is the outdoorsy type, hiking through national parks with no room for extraneous possessions. Or maybe they're a frequent flier to Europe who won't check luggage, no matter what. Or maybe you know an aspiring travel blogger who needs to bring along two dozen outfits. To help you shop for your travel-lovers, we've rounded up the best gifts for travelers of 2018.
This list includes 25 awesome options for every type of traveler in your life, whether it's the chronic overpacker, the guy who always flies red-eyes, the friend who has everything, the germaphobe, or the one who's always cold. That's right, we have 'em all covered, with nary a "where I've been" map in sight. Without further delay, here are the best gifts for travelers of 2018, according to Reviewed:
1. For the friend who always flies red-eyes: This incredible Zojirushi travel mug
No one knows the need for caffeine better than frequent red-eye fliers. Those overnight trips can leave you bleary-eye, exhausted, and in need of a great travel coffee mug—and this Zojirushi mug, as we can personally attest, is incredible. Don't expect your beverages to change temperature inside that stainless steel torpedo: day-old coffee can still burn you after sitting for 24 hours in the 16-ounce mug. Its sleek design and its airtight, lockable lid make this travel mug perfect for tossing into your bag on the go, too.
2. For the one who needs to take the edge off: A pocket-sized cocktail kit
There are many reasons people choose to imbibe on travel days. Maybe they're headed home for a stressful, family-filled holiday. Maybe they hate flying and need to take the edge off with a stiff drink. Maybe they're just taking advantage of the fact that time seems to warp in an airport, making it acceptable to have an Old Fashioned at 10 a.m. Am I here to judge? No. I'm just here to tell you how to make your time spent boozing more enjoyable: with this cocktail-in-a-box.
The kit is equal parts adorable and efficient, with the ingredients needed to prepare six Old Fashioned cocktails, including three bitters variants, cocktail picks, a spoon, sugar, and a linen napkin—all of which fit inside your pocket.
3. For the person who takes forever to pack: Game-changing packing cubes
Packing itself can be a feat, but keeping your suitcase or backpack in neat, working order through the duration of your trip is the real challenge. Too often, my meticulously arranged bag has become a hurricane of bunched-up clothes and missing socks. If this sounds like someone you know, do them a solid: get them some truly amazing packing cubes.
While it may, at first, seem foolish to pack your bag full of more bags, the nylon, zippered pouches keep contents organized and fresh, so you can rifle through your overnighter without fear of wrinkling your clothing or losing track of an outfit you really wanted to wear. They're game-changing.
4. For the one who loves weekend trips: An overnight bag by Sole Society or Timbuk2
You know the type: never around on the weekends because she's on a road trip to a nearby town, or on a quick getaway visiting a friend in some far-flung city. Naturally, this person needs a weekender bag which is the perfect size for a short, few-day trip. The best under-seat luggage you can buy is this Timbuk2 bag with tons of zippered compartments and enough room for a laptop, snacks, and iPad, plus a 22-liter interior main compartment for clothing and toiletries.
If you're looking for a less utilitarian option, this Sole Society bag is trendy, reasonably priced, and made with vegan leather. The best part? Both of these bags fit the dimensions for a personal item, so you can skirt those increasingly common carry-on fees.
- Get the Timbuk2 Never Check Overnight Briefcase at Timbuk2 for $190
- Buy the Sole Society Cassidy Overnighter at Nordstrom for $70
5. For the friend who needs their quiet time: Bose noise-cancelling headphones
Is there anything worse than a wailing baby on a plane? Yes: loud chewers. And chatty neighbors. And snoring seat mates. Honestly, traveling is stressful enough as it is. These top-rated noise-cancelling headphones can, at the very least, give you a respite of peace and quiet whether you're on a long family road trip or stuck in a crowded airport on a long layover. Yes, these headphones are pricey but don't let the sticker price dissuade you from moving forward: the true-silence noise cancellation capability and unmatched comfort of these Bose headphones makes them worth the investment.
6. For the friend who's always cold: A jumbo, super-soft blanket scarf
I won't travel without my huge(ly versatile) blanket scarf. At its most simple, it's a cozy, cute accessory. It can also act wonderfully as a blanket, a pillow, an eye mask, a cushion for your back, even a makeshift umbrella in a pinch. The key to a good blanket scarf is high-quality, lightweight material, and size.
This one is made of super-soft acrylic and measures 55" x 55", which is about half the size of a twin blanket. Whether you wear it as a shawl while exploring a new town or jam it under your head as you catch some Zzz's, a blanket scarf should always make it into your suitcase.
7. For the one who's always hydrating: A well-designed CamelBak water bottle
It's so important to bring your own water bottle while traveling. First off, who has the kind of dispensable income to shell out $5 for a tiny bottle of water?! Secondly, fresh water isn't always readily available and hydration is crucial: becoming dehydrated on hectic travel days will only make you feel like a cranky garbage can.
This CamelBak Chute water bottle is one of those simple yet brilliantly designed products that makes life so much easier. It holds a ton of water yet easily fits in cup holders, and its spout is large enough to get a good sip without spilling all over yourself on bumpy car rides. Another win: The threads of the screw-top are on the inside of the spout, which prevents water from dipping onto your chin or shirt.
8. For the bookworm: The Kindle Paperwhite
Whether it's a long flight or a long hike, traveling is a great time to unplug and catch up on your reading. But thanks to our favorite e-reader, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, you don't have to lug around even one hard copy. The Paperwhite gives you thousands of books at your fingertips, has an adjustable backlight, and excellent battery life that lasts about three weeks on a single charge. The best part? This new and improved version is lightweight and waterproof, so feel free to read in the tub, on the boat, in the pool, etc. The opportunities are endless.
9. For the one who could use some quick R&R: A refreshing facial mist
A long day on a plane, like a long day hiking or exploring a new town, can leave you in desperate need of a refresh. Whether your skin is actually dry or you just need a refreshing boost, Caudalie's Grape Water is your answer. The organic formula is extracted from grapes in Bordeaux and has the power to both increase hydration and reduce sensitivity.
"Our entire Sephora Pro Team is obsessed with this because we realize that it takes away redness in the skin," says Helen Phillips, Sephora Pro Artist. Thanks to its moisturizing polysaccharides, mineral salts, and potassium, the formula can moisturize, calm sensitive skin, reduce redness, and rehydrate after a particularly long day. And at 2.5 ounces, it's TSA-friendly to boot.
10. For the backpacker: A versatile, ergonomic Osprey backpack
I wish I could write a love letter to my Osprey backpack. I purchased the Porter 46 prior to a three-month backpacking excursion, and though it's been beaten up on many hikes and trips since, it's still comfortable as ever. The 46-liter pack is acceptable as a carry-on, though I've also shoved it beneath the seat in front of me on stingy airlines, thanks to its very effective compression straps.
This backpack is even perfect for long trips since it flips open like a suitcase, and the padded shoulder straps feel plush and high-quality. Its adjustable support straps made easy work of carrying three months' worth of belongings on my back. I'd buy it a hundred times over.
11. For the one who uses their phone for everything: Anker PowerCore Portable Charger
Travelers use their phones for everything as they navigate a new locale. It can act as your compass on a hike, a resource to find the best dinner spot around, a better camera than your DSLR, a navigational system for new terrain, a flashlight in the middle of the night, and so much more. I guess it should come as no surprise that sometimes we look down to see a draining battery alert at 10:30 a.m. That's why a great external phone charger can be invaluable for travelers.
This is one of our favorites because it has three USB ports (including one for Quick Charge) and holds enough to power to quickly re-juice a dead iPhone three times. So you don't have to skimp on your phone usage while waiting for a flight in fear of a declining battery.
12. For the one who'd lose their head if it wasn't attached: Tile Trackers
If your pal often gets paged to security to reclaim their forgotten belongings, or has had to ask the owner of a bar to turn the lights on to find her phone during a night out (you know who you are), for the sake of everyone in your friend group, consider getting them a Tile tracker.
We love the Tile, a small tracking device that you can attach to your most important—or most often forgotten—personal items (think: keys, wallet, purse, luggage, laptop bike, etc.) You can use an app on your phone to track your Tiles—but you can also use the Tile to track your phone if (read: when) you lose it. One main user gripe has been that its battery life gives out after a year—but luckily, Tile just released replaceable batteries for these little life savers.
13. For the one who can't pack light: The Away Large Suitcase
Whether you need to transport medication or an abundance of shoes, or you're just headed for an extra-long vacation, sometimes it's impossible to jam everything you need into a carry-on sized piece of luggage. That's why it's important to have the best checked luggage money can buy.
The Away Large's tough yet flexible polycarbonate shell saves your suitcase's contents from being crushed, comes in a wide variety of colors, and is resistant to scuffs and dirt. Inside, you'll find about 100 liters of packing space, mesh pockets, and a clip-in compression panel to hold two weeks' worth of clothing (and a ton of souvenirs), as well a laundry bag and a combination lock.
14. For the one who can't sleep on planes: A cozy, supportive wrap neck pillow
I find sleeping on an airplane near-impossible. The conditions have to be perfect: a window seat, a dark, warm cabin, and preferably an empty middle seat. Even so, I'll lurch awake as soon as my head lulls to the side (or cringe if I slump onto my seat mate). Allegedly, this scarf neck pillow can convert anyone into a bonafide plane sleeper.
Better than any U-shaped neck pillow, the looped Huzi neck pillow has an infinity design, so there is support at every angle. The flexible design also makes it possible to fold it into a traditional pillow, finagle it into a sleep mask, or prop it up as a back cushion. It's a must for anyone who values their beauty rest.
15. For the safety-first type: A TSA-approved travel lock
Locking up your belongings might not be necessary for flying, but a good luggage lock can be crucially important—and offer peace of mind—for travelers staying in shared homes, hostels, or the like. This weatherproof wire lock has a lifetime warranty, and is TSA-approved: that means it can be unlocked and then relocked by TSA agents without having to break the padlock. With 2,000 reviews and an average 4.4 star rating, it's a favorite among Amazon customers.
16. For the germaphobe: Cozy (and hygienic) Muk Luk slippers
Slippers are peak cozy and can help transform a mundane hotel stay into feeling more like a luxe spa getaway. However, beyond coziness, it's worth noting that hotels are pretty disgusting: those ubiquitous carpets are often dark and patterned to disguise stains, dirt, and grime. That's why it's always prudent to wear house shoes when you're on an overnight trip.
These ballerina-style slippers are lined with plush faux fur and have non-slip rubberized soles to prevent sliding on hardwood and tile. Plus, since they don't have a stiff sole, you can roll them up and stuff them in a side compartment of your luggage. They take up almost no room, and are so comfortable you'll probably forget you're wearing them for hygienic reasons.
17. For the Type-A traveler: A holds-everything travel wallet
This slim envelope wallet holds all the travel essentials, making it perfect for the friend who loves to keep their ducks in a row. It has designated pockets and pouches for pretty much everything you could think of: your passport, boarding passes, credit cards and IDs, cell phone, keys, pens, and a zippered pocket for money and coins. Bonus: It even includes an RFID blocking shield to prevent identity theft, and it comes in over 30 colors, from classic black to bold coral. To avoid tapping into your Type-A friend's neuroses, consider slipping a Tile tracker in there, too.
18. For the overpacker: A lightweight digital luggage scale
I have a friend who always gets stuck paying last-minute bag overage fees at the airport. "My scale said 48 pounds!" she always exclaims to an unimpressed TSA agent who slaps her overweight bag with a "heavy" sticker and a $25 charge. Great as she is otherwise, don't be like my friend: invest in a luggage scale.
This one is the best we've ever tested, in part because to use it, you simply turn it on, attach it to the handle of your luggage, and lift. Since it only weighs about 3 ounces, you’ll never even notice it in your bag until you need it. And, unlike your scale at home, it will accurately measure all weight within a few decimal places.
19. For the souvenir addict: A compact reusable tote
Maybe it seems feasible to stuff all of your belongings into a backpack or carry-on, but where do you put all of the clothes uh, I mean, souvenirs, you accrue on a trip? Easy answer: a flimsy, roomy tote that folds down into nothing. This one has a 4.7 star rating and is made of a stretchy, durable nylon/spandex blend, yet can hold up to 35 pounds.
Its single strap has a non-slip pad to keep the bag from slipping off your shoulder while you juggle your other luggage. And if you don't end up using it, the bag folds down into a convenient 3-inch ball, about the size of a peach. It's a no-brainer.
20. For the one who needs a full 8 hours: An award-winning deep-sleep mask
If you've ever been stuck waking up with the sun thanks to a room with sheer curtains, or if you've had a long travel day where the sun's already up yet you know you should be sleeping, you know the importance of a good sleep mask.
This mask is the best we've tested because it feels like having personal blackout curtains for your eyes and it won’t fall off in the middle of the night, thanks to its adjustable Velcro strap. The contoured design doesn’t put pressure on eyes, so you can actually blink while wearing it, which is great for those mid-day travel naps. You'll wake up well-rested (and in complete darkness).
21. For the Euro-tripper: A well-made European plug adapter
No, this is not a glamorous gift. Yet it's also one of the best gifts I've ever received. In my experience, European plug adapters can be flimsy and poorly made, and are often susceptible to short circuiting—at worst leaving your appliances fried, and at best, leaving you without power in a foreign country. But this handy adapter is well-made and sturdy. Its slim design won't block other outlets, yet offers two ports to allow you to plug in two electrical devices at once. I buy it for all of my friends before they head abroad.
22. For the beauty- and skincare-lover: A Sephora Play! beauty subscription
Lugging around the full-sized versions of your favorite skincare and beauty products on a trip is just unnecessary. However, you don't have to sacrifice quality and hit the drugstore to stock up trial-sized shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and yes, even makeup.
Sephora's Play! box is our favorite monthly beauty subscription service because it's filled with high-quality samples of the store's cult-favorite brands that are curated to match your preferences, lifestyle, and interests. Each month, you'll get five sample-sized luxury products (from designer mascara to high-end face serum) at a great price—and at the perfect size for tossing into your carry-on.
23. For the one who will never check luggage: The best carry-on suitcase
It's time we all admit that checking bags is kind of the worst. Between the financial burden of exorbitant checked bag fees, the possibility of losing your bag in transit, and the frustrating amount time it takes to wait for your luggage to clunk down the carousel after a long flight, it's at best, annoying, and at worst, a nightmare to check bags.
Luckily, this Samsonite bag is a TSA-approved carry-on that will fit everything you need for a week-long trip—and it's the best carry-on luggage you can buy. Its 360-degree wheels and sturdy handles make maneuvering this thing through crowded airports a breeze, and it features 2600 cubic inches of packing space with self-healing zippered mesh and water-resistant compartments. It strikes the perfect balance of affordability, features, and build quality.
24. For the journaler: A travel journal for the curious-minded
As great as a classic Moleskine notebook is, this travel-centric journal is ideal for any creative traveler. It's a colorfully illustrated journal that encourages readers to explore the easily overlooked, the mistakenly mundane, and the everyday details. Some examples: "have a local draw you a map to their favorite place in their neighborhood," and, "for one day, shoot all photos from hip height."
There are more unique journeys that can be taken in any city, with plenty of space to record discoveries, addresses, itineraries, reviews, and tips from locals. There's even a pocket for collecting memorabilia. It's great for anyone who's ready to step out of their comfort zone.
25. For the friend who has everything: An Airbnb gift card
You know your friend likes traveling—you just don't know what else they could possibly need in their arsenal. In that case, a gift card that plays into his or her interests is your best bet. Airbnb lets you live like local with homes and experiences around the world. They offer gift cards from $25-$500 (depending on your generosity and bankroll), so you can help fund your friend's next excursion.
The site is jam-packed with unique accommodations from house boats to tree houses—and that's without mentioning its newly launched experiences that offer tours, activities, and courses throughout the world. Don't worry if your pal isn't hot on the Airbnb fad: hotels.com has great deals on hotels, rental cars, and even flights, and they offer gift cards too.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.