I use the gear I’m writing about, not just once, but many times.
Article by Sherry Ott
Photography by Sherry Ott
2020 has been a very challenging year for travelers and the travel industry. But I’m feeling hopeful with the news of pending vaccines that our travel future is looking up. I can’t wait to hit the road again internationally when it’s safe, and I’m sure I’m not alone. That’s why I updated this list of gift ideas for frequent travelers. Why not be ready to get back on the road in 2021 with these travel gift ideas!
These are all products that I’ve personally used during the last 14 years of traveling. When you live out of a suitcase, you don’t have room for stuff in your life that isn’t great!
Please note, I take travel gear really seriously. I believe that reviewing a piece of gear implies actually using that piece of gear for an extended amount of time. I use the gear I’m writing about, not just once, but many times.
How This Travel Gift List Works
The list is to give you travel gift ideas for someone with an upcoming trip or for people who are constantly on the road. These are some of my favorite most important things for travel. I have split this list into categories of the types of gear you need for travel. Within each category, I have tried to include a variety of price points.
However, I didn’t include EVERYTHING in this guide. If you are looking for specialty travel gear for a specific trip, then check out my other gear guides:
And I’ll tell you upfront – This list contains some affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
The Best Gift for a Traveler – Give an Experience
Before I get into physical products, I want to give a shout out to less stuff, more experiences!
1. Tinggly Experience Gift Box
Tinggly is an experience based gift that allows you to gift a cool travel experience. There are thousands of experiences the recipient can choose from and it all comes in a great ‘giftbox’ if you are one of those people who like to wrap a physical gift! I love this gift idea for travelers, honeymooners, staycations, and career breakers – it’s a truly unique gift. And the best part…this gift doesn’t require any space in anyone’s home!
Suitcases, Backpacks, and Packing Essentials for Travel Gift Ideas
Lets start at the beginning, how are you going to carry things! For me, it’s really important that a suitcase is durable, yet light. I’ve been testing a few out this year – some made the cut and some didn’t – but here are my favorites.
2. Eagle Creek Warrior Suitcase
If you’ve followed me at all, then you know I love my Eagle Creek gear – I’ve been carrying Eagle Creek suitcases for all of my 14 years of traveling. The Gear Warrior Suitcase is the latest one I’m using. And I have it in both a carry-on size and a checked size!
Why I like it: There are no bells and whistles or special compartments – it’s just basic – and that’s what keeps it light and versatile. You can fit a TON into it when you have to. The material is durable, water repellent, and lightweight. I use Eagle Creek packing cubes and organizers to keep everything organized in the bag and it works perfectly. The Gear Warrior comes in carry-on and checked size and 2 or 4 wheels depending on your preference!
3. Lowepro Passport Sling
A camera bag that looks and acts like a purse…yes there is such a thing! I’ve been using the Lowepro Passport Sling for 5 years now as my ‘personal carryon’ item. It’s a great day-to-day bag for my photo and laptop gear. It looks and acts like a purse honestly – so this is a great dual purpose bag for the ladies!
I can fit in my small mirrorless camera plus an extra lens and filters. Plus I bring my wallet and other essential purse items. It actually expands and I can even fit my 13 inch MacBook Pro in it too with a little jiggling around of items! So it’s perfect to take out exploring a town and have everything with you. It might not work for a fancy night on the town, but it’s a great all purpose travel bag for the photo enthusiast!
4. Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are the key to packing happiness – they turn your bag into a piece of furniture. I use mine to organize my different types of clothes, just like I would a dresser; this packing cube has t-shirts, this on has pants, this one has socks. You get the idea – it’s packing bliss. I use and love Eagle Creek Packing solutions. Not only do they keep me organized, but you can’t even imagine how much more I can fit into a suitcase or bag thanks to these babies!
5. Stasher Bags
I was introduced to Stasher bags this year. They are marketed for food storage, but I use them for travel! If you’re an organized packer or an aspiring zero-waste traveler, you’re going to want to travel with several empty stasher bags in your luggage… stasher bags can do it all! I use a big one in my toiletry bag to put my liquids in just in case they explode. I used to always use a plastic bag, but I love the Stasher bag as a multiple use solution!
6. Sherpani Fashion Tote
This is a new addition to my travel gear arsenal and I love it! I just started using the Sherpani Tempest Tote/Backpack for trips that are less active and more business oriented.
Why I Like It: Sometimes you just need to have something versatile and nice and the Tempest is just that. It looks like a business tote, is fashionable, and holds my camera and my laptop. However it also can easily switch into a backpack and leave your hands free which is great when moving through airports or on buses/trains. You don’t even have to unhook anything for it to switch from tote to backpack! In addition the tote is ethically sourced, it is hand painted, and uses vegan leathers.
Toiletry Gear Travel Gift Ideas
Toiletry items is a large part of packing so make sure that you have the most efficient and earth friendly ones! Here’s the gear I use in my toiletry case…including the case!
7. Victorinox Toiletry Bag
I’ve been using this Victorinox hanging toiletry bag since the day I left in 2006. I like the different compartments and the fact that you can stand the bottles upright. You can fit more than you think in this beauty!
8. Silicone Travel Bottles
I started using these reusable Silicone travel bottles for my shampoos and conditioners and I’m loving them! They have big openings to make it easy to fill, and they have a locking mechanism so there will be no surprise spills!
9. Travel Washcloth
Looking for a stocking stuffer travel gift idea? Here’s the perfect thing. I’ve been using this Lunatec travel washcloth for probably 7 years now – I love it! It’s odor free and super fast drying and has the texture of a loofah sponge. A little gentle exfoliation never hurt anyone on the road!
Gifts That Make Flying Easier
I spend a lot of time on planes, so comfort is my priority. Even though I sit back in economy the majority of the time, I have found some ways to be comfortable. Here are my best travel gift ideas for those people back in the cheap seats like me!
Tip – note down below I’ve included my favorite travel pants and compression socks that I put in the clothing section…these are also a big part of my flying gear!
10. Stop the Waste and Bring a Water Bottle
Have you ever thought about how much plastic is used on a plane? Every passenger gets multiple drinks in plastic cups. Say no to this airplane waste and take your own bottle when you travel. I always bring my Contigo water bottle on planes and simply ask them to fill it up or fill it up in the airport before I get on. Hydration is important…and so are single use bottles!
11. Neck Pillow
I’ve tried many different neck pillows, but I keep coming back to this one! This memory foam Neck Pillow provides enough support AND it folds up pretty small – the best of both worlds!
12. Best Travel Earplugs
Planes can be really noisy, so be prepared with ear plugs. However don’t bother with those soft squishy ones, use silicon earplugs. I was actually introduced to these when I hiked the Camino de Santiago trail. The silicon earplugs block so much more noise, I didn’t even hear people getting up and packing around me in the morning! You can use them for a few days and then replace with another pair.
13. Comfortable Face Mask
This is a new addition for 2020, we all must have multiple face masks if we travel anywhere! I’ve tried a number of different kinds of masks from cheap paper ones to more expensive ones. But my favorite masks that I wear every day are from Turtle Fur. They have the softest fabric I’ve used. And if you have to have something covering your face for hours, it better be soft! Plus – it comes in a number of fun designs.
Technology Travel Gifts
Technology is a part of our life and it is certainly a part of our travels. I know depend on my phone when I travel – it is my guide, my map, my safety. Here are a few of my travel gift ideas around keeping that technology up and running and keeping your sanity!
14. Universal Plug Adapter
If you are traveling internationally, you’ll need one of these Universal Plug Adapters. However the good news is that you’ll only need one, no matter where you go!
15. Battery Charger
With the number of electronics we now depend on while we are traveling you must have a backup for your essential items when they are low on battery. I decided to invest in a good portable battery charger – one that might be a bit bigger – but charges more.
16. Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
If I could marry these Bose Wireless headphones and have it’s babies I would. I love, love, love them. I actually just started using noise canceling headphones this year and my first reaction was “Oh Baby…where have you been my whole traveling life?” I don’t know about you but I adore shutting everyone out and just being in my own world for a bit and that’s exactly what these do – better than any other on the market. They remove all of the low level hums and buzzing from our completely plugged-in world, making you realize just how loud the world is.
17. Small Power Strip for Travel
More electronics means more needs for plugs in your room. Even nice hotels are sometimes deficient on plugs or on easy to reach plugs. Bring this Travel Power Strip with you and the problem is solved!
There are a number of brands I love for travel clothes. I’ve tested out many, but the ones I always love are Title Nine, Kuhl, Prana, and Exofficio are at the top of my list. They are a companies that focus on comfortable clothes that are often quick drying and sustainable fabrics. However I also have a few new items I’ve been trying out this year that have won me over!
18. Compression Socks for Travel
This is a travel gift idea that can save someone’s life. I had a very big scare recently with blood blots that formed during a long haul flight. I could have easily died; and many people do. Ever since I made it through that experience, I have been a huge advocate of wearing compression socks on any flight over 3 hrs. Along with things like getting up and moving around, they will reduce your chance of contracting blood clots. Every traveler needs a pair of these! In addition to long flight, compression socks are great for road trips too! I love the Vim & Vigr brand because they have fashionable compression socks!
Plus – use Discount code is SHERRY15 – good for 15% off through December 31.
19. The Perfect Travel Pants
I fly a lot. And when you fly as much as I do you want to be comfortable. I’ve been testing out various pairs of ‘flying pants’ this year and have come up with my favorite. Try out the comfortable and super soft Vuori Peformance Joggers. They are like butter!
20. LuluLemon Vinyasa Scarf
I had my eye on this LuluLemon Vinyasa scarf for over a year before I finally purchased it. First – I love anything reversible – just about as much as I love products that have dual uses – and this awesome scarf is both. It’s not just a scarf – it’s a little shrug, a blanket, a poncho – there are multiple ways to wear it. The fabric is super soft and I always carry it onto the plane for when I inevitably get cold.
21. Point6 Socks
My feet sweat a lot – but I’ve found a solution! Point6 wool socks are GREAT for travel. They dry really fast, don’t hold odor, and they stay warm in the cold and are cooling in the heat. Because they don’t get smelly, I only have to take a couple of pair in my suitcase. I run in them, hike in them, and wear them to bed when my feet are cold and have no one to snuggle with. They are the only socks I travel with!
22. Exofficio Underwear
These are best on the market when it comes to travel underwear – however I honestly have no idea if they have any competition! Who in the world specializes in travel underwear?! Exofficio does. Why are these underwear special? They dry super fast – which means you can only take a couple of pairs and wash them out in a sink at night and they will be dry in a couple of hours. Seriously – I’ve done this many times! Plus – they are comfortable. And if you want to vamp it up – you can forgo the sporty ones I get and get the lacy thongs if you wish!
23. Wallaroo Hats
This was one of my absolute favorite finds this year – Wallaroo hats! If you have followed me on social media then you know that I love hats; I normally pack at least 2 for each trip! They are perfect for sun protection, when I’m too lazy to shower, and bad hair days that happen frequently when I travel! Wallaroo is a Colorado company that specializes in sun protective hats that remain stylish. Each hat has SPF in them to help protect against skin cancer. Check out their many styles!
Plus, use OTTSWORLD20 promo code and get 20% off your Wallaroo purchase!
Buffs/Tubes are great for so many uses – a hat, scarf, eye mask, tube top, wash cloth, helmet liner and even handkerchief. My favorite brand I’ve recently used is Turtle Fur. They have some of the softest fabric around – and you want it to be soft if it’s around your neck or head! I’ve used mine for every single one of those situations… and never leave ‘home’ without it!
Travel Gifts That Inspire
Looking for some travel inspiration? Need to know where to go, or how to hike the Appalachian Trail, or how to travel on a budget? I’ve had a number of friends finish some books this year that are about travel – here are my favs for travel gift ideas when you are looking for inspiration!
25. For the Person Planning an Upcoming Trip
Ultimate Journeys for Two I know that I really specialize in solo travel, however this year I had a couple of good friends publish this awesome travel idea book for couples. If you are trying to figure out where to go, check out Ultimate Journeys for Two for ideas!
26. For the Person Who Loves to Hike
Make sure you pick up a copy of External Hiking Book from my friend Dustin. He finished the Appalachian Trail…but not without a few bumps along the way!
27. For the Person Who Loves Glamping
My friends Mike and Anne Howard have been glamping all over the US and have put together a book about this new craze sweeping the travel world. Learn about all of the incredible places you can stay in style in Comfortably Wild.
28. For the Budget Traveler
Long time friend Matt Kepnes wrote this book about how to travel cheaply, but still have a rich experience all over the world! Read Travel the World on $50 a Day
Shop My Complete Travel Gear Guides on my Amazon Store
This list really is only the new stuff I discovered and used this year in my travels, however, to see a complete list of all of my favorite travel gift ideas go shop at my Ottsworld Amazon store for all of my travel gear must haves!
This post contains some affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
I am a long-term traveler, blogger, and photographer with one goal in mind - to make you wish you were somewhere else.
I've been writing about my travel lifestyle and around the world adventures on Ottsworld.com and sharing it on my social media channels since 2006. In my 11 years of living nomadically I've circled the globe multiple times visiting all 7 continents.