Lifestyle Travel

Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Travel Lovers

November 25, 2016
personalized travel itineraries

Hey travel lovers (and the people who buy them presents), it’s that time of year again! Time to travel home for the holidays and get ready to start a new year full of new experiences. Whether you’re buying for yourself or others, stock up on gifts this year that will make travel in 2017 easier and even more enjoyable. And have a safe and happy holiday season no matter where in the world you’re celebrating!

Stocking Stuffers

Kind Bars – You can never go wrong giving the gift of a healthy snack, perfect for tucking into carry on bags for hunger on the road. The new seasonal flavor, dark chocolate hazelnut spice, tastes like Christmas.

Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle – These water bottles fold flat, which is ideal for throwing in your bag then filling up once you get to the airport.

Luggage Tags – Never lose luggage again. Also, aren’t they just so cute?

Sunglasses – You can never have too many pairs–one for every carry on bag!

Travel Candle – Make a hotel room feel like home.

Jet Lag Elixer – Ingestible elixir that helps prevent jet lag and relieves stress while traveling.

best gifts for travelers

Silk Sleep Mask – Economy class doesn’t have to mean no beauty sleep. This silky mask is comfortable and most importantly blacks out the world, giving you rest no matter your flight status.

GoToob Travel Bottles – I’ve written about these before, and they’re honestly one of my top packing accessories. They don’t spill, they’re refillable, and did I mention they don’t spill? Ever.

iphone projector travel gift

Pocket Sized Projector Can you think of a cuter way to show off your vacation photos when you get home?

Cozy Travel Slippers – Heading somewhere chilly? These are the best.

Compression Socks – (that aren’t hideous).

ultimate christmas gift guide

Passport Holder – Super cute plus slots for credit cards.

For Her

Travel Pants – Everyone wants to travel in sweatpants, but no one wants to look lazy. These Nau pants are the perfect solution, because they’re comfortable AND stylish. (I’m also wearing them right now as I write this).

best bra for travelers

The Bra Lab – This is the ultimate bra for travelers. You can mix and match backs and straps, so you only need to pack one bra to go with all of your outfits. The straps can be worn so many ways you’ll never have the wrong bra again, and the back straps are cute enough to show under backless dresses and tank tops.

REI Stratocloud Hoodie – This down jacket is incredibly warm, even retaining warmth when wet, making it great for adventure travel. I went to Iceland last year and wish I would have had this with me. Pack it into the included stuff sack and tuck it in your carry on!

Cosmetic Bag This one is great for travel because it can be cleaned easily, squished down if it’s not full, and has a pocket.

world map necklace

Travel Jewelry – There are a zillion options out there, like this world map necklace, this watch, and these custom bangles. Pack it all in a travel jewelry case.

Tarte Makeup – The Amazonian clay line stays put for — hours, so it’s great for long flights or overnight bus rides. I use the tinted moisturizer and blush.

best holiday gifts

Living Proof Travel Set – Sometimes, washing your hair on the road can be a hassle. You’re not in your own shower, you can’t find a hair dryer, or you simply don’t have time. Living Proof shampoo and conditioner leaves your hair cleaner for longer, and for touch ups (airplanes make everyone’s hair look bad), use the dry shampoo. It’s the only dry shampoo that actually cleans your hair, so you can show up after a 36-hour flight across the world, with layovers, and still look fantastic.

Travel Straightener – If you know me, you know I can’t live without a hair straightener. This one is always in my carry on.

Touchscreen Gloves – We’re all addicted to our phones, even when traveling frigid places. Embrace it with touchscreen gloves that actually look good. Now there are no excuses to not be taking photos with your phone!

For Him

map cufflinks customized

Map Cufflinks – Lots of cities available.

Travel Toiletries – and a case to carry them.

Water Resistant Jacket – This jacket folds up small, is stylish enough for exploring a new city or functional enough for an outdoor adventure.

More Gifts!

paris travel journal gift

Travel Journal – Everyone needs a travel journal. Even if they’re not the type to record their thoughts, it’s nice to have pen and paper on hand to jot down restaurant recommendations or directions.

Another Travel Journal! This one is a journal, checklist, and map in one.

Travel Calendar – To inspire and plan future trips.

Packing Cubes – These are lifesavers, especially on longer trips.

best gifts for travelers

Five Star Hotel Kit – This hanging toiletry bag has everything you could need for little emergencies on vacation. It includes a shower cap, a pill case with labels, a four-piece bottle set with labels, a sewing kit, a dental kit, a travel brush and a lint brush. Never rush to find a drugstore while on vacation again.

Mini Humidifier – If someone on your list is allergy prone, this can help. It’s the size of a small water bottle, runs via USB, and is break-proof.

camping hammock best

Camping Hammock – Lightweight and portable, a camping hammock is always appreciated by the outdoorsy traveler on your list.

Portable Keyboard – With this plus an iPad, you don’t need to lug a computer around.

Travel Pillow – No one looks good with a travel pillow around their neck, but they really do help to get better rest on long flights, and brighter eyes on arrival or worth looking a bit ridiculous in-flight.

Vinnibag – Bring home wine from Italy, France, Argentina…ok everywhere, with these inflatable wine bags that ensure the bottle never cracks or spills.

Universal Travel Adapter – Always appreciated. There’s little more annoying than arriving in a hotel and not being able to plug in.

Noise Cancelling Headphones – For getting work done on the road, keeping up with podcasts, tuning out crying babies, and so much more. (There’s an earbud version too).


travel home decor

Travel Inspired Pillows – I came across designer Alexandra D. Foster recently and am obsessed with these beautiful travel inspired pillows.

Icelandic Wool Blanket – I bought one in Iceland and it saved me when the heat went out in my Chicago apartment. So warm.

italy coasters gift

Travel Coasters – Sip the wine and Aperol you bought in Italy while admiring these cute coasters.

Globes and Maps – Plot future travels and mark where you’ve been on this cork globe or scratch off map. (I have the map and LOVE scratching off new countries!)

Travel Related Books

Homegoing: A Novel –  “The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.”

Are You Experienced – “Dave Greenford has heard the old cliche about how when you arrive in India, it’s like stepping into an oven. But, somehow, this doesn’t prepare him for the realization that when he arrives in India, it is like stepping into an oven.”

the geography of bliss

The Geography of Bliss – “Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author’s case, moments of “un-unhappiness.”

The Alchemist – “Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.”

Love With a Chance of Drowning – “City girl Torre DeRoche isn’t looking for love, but a chance encounter in a San Francisco bar sparks an instant connection with a soulful Argentinean man who unexpectedly sweeps her off her feet. The problem? He’s just about to cast the dock lines and voyage around the world on his small sailboat, and Torre is terrified of deep water.”

Wild: From Lost to Found On the Pacific Crest Trail – “At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.”

My Great Wide Beautiful World – “Juanita Harrison, a southern African American woman, overcame the obstacles of poverty, a lack of formal education, racism, and a little thing called the Great Drepression to fulfill her dream of seeing the world on her own terms. This collection of her diary entries, unedited for grammar and spelling, has captured the voice of a resourceful, intelligent, adventurous and charming woman.”

best travel books

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding – “Kristin Newman spent much of her twenties and thirties buying dresses to wear to her friends’ weddings and baby showers. Not ready to settle down and in need of an escape from her fast-paced job as a sitcom writer, Kristin instead traveled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year. In addition to falling madly in love with the planet, Kristin fell for many attractive locals, men who could provide the emotional connection she wanted without costing her the freedom she desperately needed. “

My Life In France – “Julia Child singlehandedly created a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she was not always a master chef.”

A Tramp Abroad – “A Tramp Abroad is a work of travel literature by American author Mark Twain, published in 1880. The book details a journey through central and southern Europe. While the stated goal of the journey is to walk most of the way, the men find themselves using other forms of transport as they traverse the continent. The narrator (Twain) plays the part of the American tourist of the time, believing that he understands all that he sees, but in reality understanding none of it.”

All Over the Map – “On a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, to celebrate her fortieth birthday, Laura Fraser confronts the unique trajectory of her life. Divorced and childless in her thirties, she found solace in the wanderlust that had always directed her heart—and found love and comfort in the arms of a dashing Frenchman. Their Italian affair brought her back to herself—but now she wonders if her passion for travel (and for short-lived romantic rendezvous) has deprived her of what she secretly wants most from life: a husband, a family, a home.”

books about India

Behind the Beautiful Forevers – “In this brilliant, breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.”

The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses, and Impossible Success – “In 1856, two intrepid adventurers, Richard Frances Burton and John Hanning Speke, set off to unravel a geographical unknown: the location of the Nile River’s source. They traveled deep into an uncharted African wilderness together, arrived at two different solutions to the mystery, and parted ways as sworn enemies. The feud became an international sensation on their return to England, and a public debate was scheduled to decide whose theory was correct. What followed was a massive spectacle with an outcome no one could have foreseen.”

Non-Tangible Gifts

New York Times or other newspaper subscription – It’s more important than ever to fund journalism in the United States and around the world. Give the gift of knowledge!

Donate to charities in the recipient’s name – Know Planned Parenthood or another organization is really important to someone on your list? Donate in their name and they’ll be thankful all year.

Spotify Premium – Give the gift of music, even offline on airplanes and overnight buses around the world.

Airbnb gift card – Let your loved ones go local with lodging in people’s homes around the world.

ultimate holiday gift guide

Customized Travel Itineraries – Tell me what types of things you like to do, any highlights you want added, and your travel dates, and I’ll put together the perfect itinerary for you. Or, buy one of the ready to download itineraries for Cuba, Italy, and more.

Passport to National Parks – The National Park Service celebrated its centennial this year, and there’s no better time to embrace the immense beauty around the United States.


(Did you think I would have a blog titled Curiosity and a Carry On without talking luggage?)

Beachy Travel Net Bag This bag is great, because it takes up next to zero space in your suitcase, but can be filled up with a beach towel and good book, or any souvenirs you pick up on the boardwalk.

Filson Twill Duffel Bag – Outdoor supplier Filson partners with Brooks Brothers for a stylish, functional bag perfect for a weekend trip.

best carry on bag

Tumi Rolling Carry On – Durable, easy to maneuver, spacious, and lots of colors. If you have money to spend, I also really love this Rimowa rolling suitcase.

Northface Terra 65 Backpack – Couldn’t have survived months of traveling around Asia without it.

scandinavian backpack

Fjallraven Backpack – Use this for day trips or a second bag. It’s also great for carrying my computer around Chicago. Makes it magically feel lighter!

Leather Tote – This is roomy enough to carry souvenirs from markets around the world, and is reversible for more outfit options. I’ve also been carrying my computer in it all year and it shows no sign of wearing down.

best weekend bag

Everlane Weekender – If you follow this blog you’ve seen this before, but that’s because I love it and use it for every weekend trip.

Check back throughout the month of December for new additions!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

I love to hear from you!

%d bloggers like this: